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Potty Training

Teach your child to tell you when he or she feels the need to go. If you notice the unmistakable signs, ask your child "Do you need to go pee-pee? Tell Mommy (or Daddy) when you need to go," and then take him to the potty. This will get your child in the habit of recognizing his or her physical sensations and connecting them with telling you and going to the potty. Children usually gain control of their bowel movements before urination, since holding in a liquid is much more difficult than controlling a solid.

After you have installed the potty chair at home, talk about what the special chair is used for, read a book about using the potty, and explain proper hygiene when using the potty like a big boy or girl. When placed on the potty for the first few times, your child will probably not understand what is expected of him or what to do. Try to be patient. It may even startle him when he does succeed in going in the potty for the very first time, so be sure to reassure him what a good job he did! Some parents use rewards to help potty training, such as stickers on the potty chair, toys, or extra play time. Avoid using food as a reward, as this can lead to unhealthy eating habits and associations down the road.

Don't be surprised if after you take him off the potty, he says he needs to go again a few minutes later; this is common, so try your best to be patient. Try asking him questions like, "Did you let all your pee-pee come out?" This will help him become aware that he has control over when he uses the toilet.

Allow your child to see you flush the contents of the potty chair down the adult toilet. Explain that when he gets bigger he will be able to use the adult toilet, and explain where the flushed contents go in simple terms.

Once your child is comfortable with going on the potty and has made it through a couple of weeks without a daytime accident, you can try switching from diapers to "pull-ups." Pull-ups are less absorbent than diapers and feel more like underpants, but will help catch accidents. The next step is training pants, which are only slightly more absorbent than regular underpants.

You can teach your child the finishing touches of wiping, flushing, dressing, and washing once he or she has the hang of going on the potty. Most toddlers don't have the manual dexterity to wipe themselves, so you will have to be on hand for this for another couple of years. Some toddlers love the flushing process and will insist on pulling the handle all by themselves; while others are scared of the loud noise and swirling water. If your child falls into the latter category, comfort him and don't force him to stick around for the flushing - he'll eventually get used to it.

Accidents will happen, so be prepared. Even if you've been accident-free for weeks or months, a toddler busy at play can easily miss bladder or bowel signals and have an accident. Just as you wouldn't scold your baby for tripping while learning to walk, you shouldn't scold your toddler for an accident. Developing any new skill involves occasional set-backs and mistakes. Scolding your child over an accident can cause serious long-term emotional problems.

It is also very common for kids to regress back to wetting or soiling themselves under stressful situations, such as a new baby in the family, or when they start preschool. Don't get discouraged, and don't become angry with your child. Renew your chosen positive reward to help him get back on track, but do not allow him to revert back to diapers - doing so will only confuse him.

When your child has mastered the basics of potty training and he or she is able to make trips to the bathroom at home all by him or herself, praise your little one and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

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