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The 10 Commandments of Potty Training

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You may not need to bust out your desert staff or duck into a burning bush to learn the ten commandments of potty training, but rest assured that you will be properly baptized into the process.

And as you make your way through the sea of training pants, potty chairs, and the long car rides when all you can do is cross your fingers and pray that the potty training gods will smile upon you, you might just want to consider these rules as your Bible for right now.

1. Thou shall bribe.

Oh, what’s that, you say? The thought of bribing your children makes you uncomfortable? No problem. Instead of sharing with you that I have proudly bribed each and every one of my potty-trained children with candy, chocolate chips (my personal favorite), Tic Tacs, bubbles, TV time, and trips to grandma’s house, I will simply say that I utilized some extrinsic motivational tools to reinforce positive behavior. It may roll off the tongue a little sweeter, but the bottom line is that no one is beneath bribes.

Also? They work.

2. Thou shall not covet the neighbor who potty trains with seemingly no effort.

When it comes to potty training, every child is different. Keeping up with the Jones’ on this one just won’t pay off. Follow your own child’s cues and try not to get swept up in competing with the parent down the street who started potty training when her daughter was only 6 months old. (True story.)

3. Thou shall try the pretty reward chart and stickers.

And when they amount to absolutely nothing, you will jump directly to the Fourth Commandment.

4. Thou shall not get discouraged.

I would do well to remember this commandment myself because I’m currently in the throes of a formerly potty-trained toddler who has regressed back to wetting his pants regularly and I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t discouraged. Potty training can feel like an exercise in futility, and if I didn’t know any better I would swear to you that the little punk does it on purpose. But the truth is, there is a real brain-bladder link going on in there that has to send the message that it’s time to go, and sometimes, that message gets lost in transmissions.

Bottom line? The child is learning and you’re not failing.

5. Thou shall not force the process.

One of my biggest regrets as a parent is forcing my first child to be potty trained before she was ready. She eventually got the hang of it, of course, but not without significant stress on both of our parts. I was a foolish first-time mother who thought she “should” be potty trained and I definitely pushed the process along. Since then, I’ve introduced toilet training, but have also followed my children’s cues to gauge how ready they really are.

6. Thou shall not punish your child for pee-pee pants.

Shame is not part of the potty-training game. Accidents are 100% part of the process, but I learned the hard way that our children are not being deliberately defiant when those accidents happen. Don’t shame, punish, or otherwise beat down your child emotionally when he or she is learning a potentially frightening body change. Not only can it shame them, but it might also work against you and lead them to start “holding” their bowel movements or bladder.

7. Thou shall not dread it.

When I was pregnant with our fourth baby, I swore up and down that I wasn’t even going to attempt to potty train our two-year-old son before her birth. I dreaded potty training so much because I just knew it would be horrible, hard work. So you can imagine my surprise when the day we brought home a newborn, my husband started potty training the toddler — and had him trained in only a week. Sometimes, putting off potty training might just be worse than actually going through it. Kids can surprise you when you least expect it.

8. Thou shall be consistent.

Consistency is key when it comes to potty training, especially when it comes to getting started. It’s called “training” for a reason, right? Pop that kid on the pot in the morning, before naps, and at bedtime. You want to make sure you’re consistent so he/she can expect a routine of potty time.

9. Thou shall always pack a change of clothes.

Because despite the best of intentions and even in the most potty-trained of children, accidents can happen. Also, you may as well pack a spare for your spare change of clothes. You can thank me later for that one.

10. Thou shall keep holy your humor.

Sometimes, there is no easy way to get through potty training. But a wise parent once assured me that most children eventually do potty train without an ample amount of frustration on their parents’ part, so when all else fails, at least you can keep your sense of humor intact about the whole process. Potty mouth, anyone?

Starting your potty training journey? Visit the Pull-Ups® Big Kid Academy for tools, activities, and resources to make potty training fun for you and your toddler!

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