Aside from trying to nurse and soothe a constantly crying, colicky baby, potty training a toddler is without a doubt one of the more stressful parenting moments during those first few years.
Most children are not ready for the transition to the toilet until they're at least 2 or 3 years old, and even then they are still prone to plenty of accidents, which can be frustrating. The good news is that there are countless, parent-approved practices and toilet tactics that stand the test of time when it comes to getting things flowing and going.
One is the potty training chart, a reward system that helps monitor your little one's success. Here's what you need to know about this time-honored technique and how you can help your child become toilet trained in no time.
Just as its name suggests, a potty chart is a calendar that keeps track of your child's potty-training trends, progress, and success. It's also a way for you or your child's caregiver to log bathroom visits and can serve as a reminder of when a potty-training toddler might have to use the bathroom next.
Potty charts come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and forms. While there are plenty of pre-printed potty training charts available both at children's stores and online websites (many offer free potty training charts!), some caregivers prefer to make their own. This can be a fun activity that your child can participate in and shed a positive light on what can often be a daunting process. After all, anything that involves posters, stickers, and markers will be sure to catch the attention of a budding preschooler!
If you do choose to DIY your potty training chart, you can personalize it to your child's interests. First, start with a theme—maybe it's balloons, flowers, puppies, or your child's favorite superhero. You can, of course, draw these characters and symbols yourself, with the help of your child, or purchase stickers to use as decorations. One thing you'll definitely want to include is a large calendar grid. This will help you keep track of your child's progress.
Every day that your child does not have an accident, he or she earns a star or sticker of any kind (or maybe three stars or stickers—this is up to you to decide). Some parents also pair the sticker with a small reward.
If your child is able to earn stickers for five days in a row, he or she gets a small prize. This can be anything you deem sensible, but parenting experts warn against anything too "special," to soften the blow on the days when your child does have an accident. Collectible items, like toy cars, or small dolls and action figures, work well for potty-training peanuts.
Each week you start over again and, once your child has staying dry down pat, you can move towards a new goal, for example, moving to big kid underwear and seeing if he can continue to achieve stickers.
Potty charts are not only useful for the tot in training—they're also incredibly helpful for the caregiver. Potty charts keep track of successes and accidents, which help guide you through training and serve as a guide for updating your child's pediatrician.
Potty charts also help motivate your child, giving him or her a sense of self-awareness and realization that there is a right and a wrong way to do something. The reward system is exciting and unique, especially when the prize involves your child's favorite toy, movie, or game.