A lot of men like to think of themselves as masters of all trades. When it comes to potty training, though, it’s easy for us to get lost. That’s when you need to seek out a higher power.
No, we’re not talking about God (though you may speak—or shout—to him a lot during the potty training process). We’re talking about your wife. She’s likely got a lot of family wisdom about potty training, and her maternal instincts give her an edge.
If you want to master this skill, it’s time to bow down to your sensei. Here are a few of your wife’s potty training tips that you can—and should—learn right away.
Tip #1: Potty Training Schedule
When it comes to potty training, guys tend to react. That means waiting for your kid to look like they need to go. However, when they’re still potty training, this means you’ll usually be too late. Potty training tip number one, take a cue from your wife and get them on a potty training schedule.
Ever notice how your wife does about a million things a day? It’s not magic, just good scheduling that helps her establish a routine for both herself and the kids. So, pick a couple of times a day (such as morning and afternoon) and a specific time frame (such as 15 minutes out of every hour for a couple of hours) and place your child directly on the potty. If they have to go, great! If not, just pull the diaper back up and let them go along with their day.
After a few days of this, try an all-day session. This means placing them on the potty for 15 minutes out of every hour, and even carrying a travel potty with you. The idea of this is for your child to start seeing the potty as a regular part of their life and to start recognizing when they need to go.
Tip #2: Communicating Signals
Guys don’t have a great track record with communication. Unfortunately, this is the most important skill in potty training. Your child will never master going to the bathroom if, well, they don’t know they need to go to the bathroom.
Potty training tip number two, start paying attention to how your wife explains complex things to your child. She is playing the role of teacher and breaking down complex concepts into something smaller minds can understand. You can be the potty training teacher: when you see your child start to squirm or hold on to their genitals, get them to the potty quickly.
Once you’re there, speak with your child about what these signals are and what they mean. You should also swallow your pride and discuss how you use the same signals from your body to know when you have to go. That helps everything feel more normal for the child.
Tip #3: Benefits of Nudity
Okay, the next potty training tip sounds weird, but we promise it works. When it’s close to your child’s scheduled bath time, let them run around the house naked. Take this time to ask them to try to go to the potty.
You may have noticed your wife letting kids have fun around bath time, like letting them run around stark naked. There’s a method to her madness. Many children have an easier time learning how to enjoy both bath time and potty time when clothes aren’t involved. Take a tip from her: you may have an easier time encouraging your kid to use the potty with no clothes on. Once they get used to that, you can introduce the finer points of clothing and bathroom time.
Tip #4: Bribery Works
In the best of all possible worlds, your children would master the potty because it’s the right thing to do. However, kids are surprisingly adult when it comes to one thing: they like a good bribe.
Potty training tip number four, think about how you and your wife negotiate responsibilities. There’s usually some quid pro quo; you take on a task she doesn’t like so she’ll later take on a task you don’t like.
If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for your kid—reward your kid for successfully completing certain bathroom activities. Things like offering small candies work best because you can give your child more for certain tasks (such as giving them a few Skittles for using the potty and a few more for successfully wiping themselves).
Alternately, you can bribe them with stickers that represent fun activities. Perhaps one sticker equals a piggyback ride, or three stickers can be turned in for a pillow fort. Try to keep the stickers they earn on an easily visible chart. This lets them see how much they stand to gain through potty training.
Be sure to thank your wife once your child has mastered potty training. Take it from us. She’ll be happy to have proof you really do listen to her!