You may be lucky enough to have the kind of child who takes to potty training easily. Believe it or not, they do exist. But for most kids and parents, it’s a struggle.
So if you find that the usual strategies aren’t working, try one of these offbeat approaches. Some are for kids just starting out on their potty training journey. Others are for kids who’ve been on it for a while—and refuse to reach the destination.
The screen-time method
The idea here is simple: Give your child something to keep them on the potty, because most beginners can’t tell when it’s coming. The longer they sit there, the better the chances of success.
A phone, laptop, or tablet holds most kids’ attention well, especially if their screen time is usually limited. But whatever keeps your child stationary for the longest is great—coloring books, being read to, sing-a-longs, or anything else you can think of.
The toy method
Head down to the toy store (or, pop open a virtual toy store on your laptop or phone). Let your little one pick out a special toy. When you get home, or when the toy arrives, let them play with it—but only for 15 minutes. Then put it where they can see it but not reach it. Tell your child they can play with it for 15 minutes every time they go on the potty.
The casual approach
Any parent will tell you that sometimes, the worst way to get your child to do anything is to make it clear that you want them to. This comes up a lot in potty training. It takes patience, but sometimes just pretending you don’t care can make all the difference.
If they’re competitive, you might mention a friend of theirs who’s making great progress on the potty. Or, because most toddlers want to think of themselves as big kids, maybe you talk about a baby who still uses diapers. By putting it out there without any urgency attached, you let them come to it in their own time.
Back to the future
Another way to take advantage of a toddler who wants to feel like a big kid is to motivate them with baby diapers. Pull-ups are the norm for kids over a certain age, which means there’s not much chance they’ll feel social pressure to start using the potty.
But for a lot of toddlers, the thought of being forced back into baby diapers is pretty scary. Given the choice between making the step up to the toilet or the embarrassing step backwards to baby diapers can be enough for some kids.