We know we need to be careful of the words we use when talking to our kids. It's almost impossible to take back inappropriate or hurtful words, and your 3-year-old will remember it for sure. So to make his potty training a positive experience, it's vital that you phrase your thoughts well.
Which words should you use or how should you talk to your kid about potty training?
Don't "ask" but "tell" your tot to go potty
Asking a toddler to go potty is a request based on your tot's feelings (what if he doesn't feel like it?) and invites a power struggle. Instead of asking, remind him ("time to go potty, honey!") or give him options ("Should I help you go potty now or five minutes later?").
Don't offer diapers when potty training
Potty training begins when your toddler shows he is ready for it and YOU can commit to making it happen. If you feel at any point that you may end up asking your child "do you want to wear a diaper just this one more time?" then we recommend you delay your potty training, so you don't send your toddler a confusing message.
Don't use negative words
When we think of poo, the words "dirty," "stinky," and "messy" come to mind. The negative connotations associated with these words can have an impact on your child's self-esteem.
"Kids respond to praise, positive reinforcement and loving encouragement," pediatrician Dr. Janice Heard, M.D., from Calgary, Canada, tells Today's Parent. “Sure, you might be able to get them to do what you want by being negative or angry about it, but that’s a fear response.”
Don't go overboard with praise
We parents can be overly eager for our tot to be potty-trained. Sure, act happy when your toddler has done it successfully the first time, but you need to rein in the praise (and the rewards, too!). "Too much praise turns the experience into a high-pressure situation," says early childhood education consultant Lisa Poelle, who is also the author of The Biting Solution. She has worked with families and on child care programs in the U.S.
Don't show disappointment
Don't punish your kids for having an accident. Heard explains, “Children should never be punished for something they don’t have complete control over. That facial expression, like ‘oh no, not again’ can be counterproductive.”
Punishment is not a good motivation to succeed, and your sighs of frustrations will only make potty-training harder on you both. "Celebrate successes and ignore the mishaps as best you can," suggests pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D. Try not to compare your tot with his siblings or other kids as well.
Potty training is a milestone, but it entails a lot of work on the part of your toddler. Not only do they need to learn to recognize their body's cues to pee or poop, and do it on their own; they also have to overcome fears, such as using the toilet, having a wetting accident, and more.
Your toddler will need your understanding, love, and patience so you can both reap the benefit of being diaper-free once and for all.
For more articles on potty training, click here.