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The Dos and Don’ts of Potty Training

Potty Training
Samantha Allen of NYC Potty Training shares the dos and don’ts of teaching a toddler to use the toilet — see what she told Us WeeklyTerence Langendoen/Getty Images

Does the prospect of potty-training your toddler fill you with dread? Early-education specialist Samantha Allen — founder of NYC Potty Training, Inc. — is here to help flush away those fears by spelling out the biggest dos and don’ts during the journey ahead.

DON’T take a gradual, halfhearted approach. “It’s much more effective to devote a couple days to concentrated potty-training rather than dragging out the process. Nobody wants to be wetting their pants for months.”

DO ditch all the diapers and pull-ups. (Yes, really!) “It sends a mixed message to tell a child that pee and poop is supposed to go in the toilet and then essentially dress her in a wearable toilet.”

DON’T ask if your child has to go. “Posing it as a question gives her the option of saying no. Would you ask your kid, ‘Do you want to go to bed now?’ Instead, position it as, ‘It’s time to go!’”

DO foster overall self-sufficiency. “If you’re still feeding and dressing your child, how is he supposed to be able to take responsibility for using the potty himself? In order to be successful, he needs to more independent across the board.”

DON’T back down. “Parents are so afraid of pushing too hard that when a child shows resistance to using the potty, they’re often like, ‘OK! OK!’ and they give in. Kids respond best when you set very clear expectations, and follow through. There’s a huge difference between setting limits and ‘forcing.’”

DO keep your cool. “The goal is to be calm, confident and relaxed. If you get stressed, they will too. And never physically hold a kid down on the potty — why would they want to sit there again after that?”

DON’T talk it to death. “Constant discussions about using the potty — or reading a million books to your kids about it — adds pressure and creates anxiety, making it more of a ‘thing’ than it needs to be.” 

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