Ann Pleshette Murphy's Potty Training Wisdom

Filed under: Potty Training, Books for Kids

When you want the best tips and information on anything related to parenting, look no further than proud mother of two, Ann Pleshette Murphy. Touted as America's favorite parenting expert, Annie is the ultimate authority on parenting issues. She served as the Editor-in-Chief of Parents magazine for 10 years and is the accomplished author of "The 7 Stages of Motherhood: Loving Your Life Without Losing Your Mind" and "The Secret of Play: How to Raise Smart, Healthy, Caring Kids". She is also the long-time Parenting Contributor for Good Morning America, and has her own show, Parenting with Annie Pleshette Murphy, which airs on ABC News Now. Quite an impressive resume, to say the least! So naturally, when ParentDish set out to create Potty Training Central, we (quickly!) turned to Annie for her advice on potty training.

ParentDish: What potty training advice do you have to share with other parents?
APM: Remember, you can lead a child to potty, but you can't make him/her pee. Some children will take to potty training with enthusiasm and stay on course, but most take three steps forward and then one or two back, which can be frustrating and confusing to parents. Patience is key -- not only in terms of timing, but also in terms of the inevitable "mistakes." If you are a cleanliness freak, potty training can be stressful, so try very hard to keep your disgust or frustration in check. As all of the experts will tell you, children are very different when it comes to readiness, so just because your sister's son has been out of diapers for months doesn't mean your own diapered toddler is "slow" or "behind." It's best to wait until your child can follow directions, communicate a need to go, stay dry several hours at a time, and shows an interest in using the toilet.

ParentDish: What are the main tips or strategies you would share with other parents?
APM: I had great success potty training my children in the summer, when they could run around half naked and -- in my son's case -- occasionally "water" the lawn while learning to name what he was doing: "Go pee!" Moving the process indoors was relatively easy once I learned to put potties in several rooms – not just the bathrooms. It's very important to help your children by learning their biorhythms; in other words, if your toddler tends to have a bowel movement every morning after breakfast, put him or her on the potty around the anticipated time, and read a book or listen to a tape together. If nothing happens, don't force your kid to sit there. Just try again later. Also, some children are freaked out by watching their poop get flushed down the toilet; they seem to think part of themselves is disappearing. You can flush later or let them decide when to do so.

ParentDish: Are there any funny anecdotes or horror stories you can share?
APM: One of the funniest potty training stories I ever heard happened to a couple I knew who were shopping for a bathroom sink with their toddler. They were in a major department store, discussing the faucet options when they realized their little guy had wandered off. They found him sitting on one of the displayed commodes, proudly finishing the job they had been practicing all week. "Go poopie!" he exclaimed as his horrified parents looked around to make sure no one else had witnessed the deed. Then -- as they ashamedly admitted -- they grabbed him, closed the lid, and ran!

ParentDish: Are there any products you found helpful or indispensable when you were potty training your kids?
APM: My kids had an easier time with potty chairs that sat on the floor rather than on the toilet seat. It was important for them to be able to put their feet on the floor rather than have them dangling.

ParentDish: Is there a specific method or training video you used when potty training? If so, would you recommend it to other parents?
APM: The book my kids loved during their potty training days was "Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi. No potty training advice, just lots of inspiring illustrations!

**Get more parenting tips and advice from Annie at her website: AnnPleshetteMurphy.com.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.