News | Published September 19, 2012

Potty training on-the-go

Potty training 'incidents' have made the national news lately: One report of a woman potty training in the middle of a restaurant and the other of a woman who was cited when her toddler urinated in public.

I've certainly seen lots of interesting ideas when it comes to strategies for potty training toddlers, but the "public potty" one is new to me. In my opinion, potty training in the middle of a restaurant is wrong, unsanitary, and, arguably most importantly, doesn't accomplish what potty training is: Teaching a toddler to control when and where they use the potty. I don't see how keeping them on a potty, as described in the first story, or urinating in public, as described in the second story, helps potty training one bit. It would prevent accidents on the way to the potty but doesn't serve the right purpose in helping the child learn to control their bathroom needs.

My approach to potty training is a positive one: Provide the child many opportunities to use the potty when they start showing interest and provide lots of immediate and positive incentives when they try. If they aren't interested, stick with the diaper as long as needed. After having a power struggle with my first child, I vowed never to try to push. It just doesn't work. We always kept a jar of M&M's on the back of the toilet and whenever they went they were allowed to have one (after washing their hands, of course!). It was eye-catching and an immediate reward that didn't cost a fortune and since it was a special treat given in moderation, it wasn't a nutritional problem. My later three children all potty trained in less than a week. The key was that they wanted to do it, they chose the timing, and we were there to support and cheerlead them through it!