Potty Training Doesn’t Have to Mean Being Stuck at Home

Ready or not, eventually the time comes in every parent's life for potty training. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. From spending days naked from the waist down, to sticking close to home while feeding your child cup after cup of juice to make sure he has to go, to spending upwards of $2000 to have someone come to your home and potty train your child in a day, there are many ways to tackle training. 

But, for many parents, even while potty training, life goes on.  Groceries must be bought, music classes must be attended, and older siblings need to be picked up from school and playdates.  When every moment could lead to an accident as you're potty training on the go, what's a parent to do?

potty training
Image via Flickr/ Manish Bansal

Dr. Jack Maypole, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and Director of the Comprehensive Care Program at Boston Medical Center, along with Advisor to The Goddard School has some advice based upon his years of experience and his knowledge of learning theory and motivation. 

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Dr. Maypole believes that you set your expectations low and not feel pressured to succeed in potty training when you are a family on the go (no pun intended). Kids are smart and will pick up if you are stressed about NOT having an accident.

If you are concerned about having your child have an accident when out and about, continue your good work at home and have your child wear a diaper when you go out. Talk frankly and reasonably to your child and explain that wearing an ‘about town' diaper when going to the supermarket is normal when learning to use the potty and that they should still tell you when they have to go.  Is your child unhappy about a diaper? Make it a ‘big kid pull-up.”

As with all things potty training, maximize praise for compliance and meeting goals (Peeing in the toilet, or letting you know that they need to go … or just went), and avoiding–at all costs–getting upset, freaked out, or mad if there is a (well named) accident even when away from home.

If you are ready to take a chance, push the envelope and take a child out without a diaper if they are progressing well with their potty training at home.  Begin with short hops, such as a trip to the corner store, a nearby playground, or a short dog walk sans diaper. 

If your trip out of the house without a diaper or pull-up is successful celebrate when you get home.  Offer plenty of praise, clapping., stickers, and high fives.

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Once short trips out of the house are successful without a diaper, over the next few days, venture further and consider going without a diaper as long as a child seems engaged and excited about doing well. Don't fuss over the inevitable setbacks – they will happen.

Once you are ready to leave the house without a diaper, make a pit stop before you run out the door. And go as light on the beverages as possible until potty training is well established.

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Taken altogether, kids will soon (and eventually) arrive home dry every time. Celebrate accordingly when this happens!

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Potty Training Doesn’t Have to Mean Being Stuck at Home

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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