Nov. 6, 2013 at 12:34 PM ET
Whether you call it potty training, toilet training or, ahem, the worst part of parenting, getting your kid out of diapers can be totally intimidating. (We don't blame you if you've been putting it off!) Here are 10 tips to help you get the process started and get your kid into underpants.
1. Figure out if the timing is right. Kids are often interested in using the potty between 1½ and 2 years, but girls are often ready before boys, and it’s not uncommon for kids—even over the age of 3—to have the pee-in-the-potty thing down before they have bowel control. Pushing a not-quite-ready kid just means you’re going to be potty-training for a longer period of time.
2. Consider the fast-track method. Think your kid is really ready? Try one of the one week-or-less methods out there.
3. Avoid the automatic flush. These toilets—which are in almost every public bathroom under the sun, it seems—can terrify your toilet-training kid. (And really, can you blame him?) We're with the parent who advises covering up the sensor with a Post-It note, so you can control the flush.
4. Consider going cold turkey. This means lots of one-to-one attention, naked time and trips to the bathroom. "As soon as you think your child is ready to potty train, then pounce—just go for it and get it over with," advises one dad who did just that with his 2-year-old daughter.
5. Model good behavior. You’re already used to that not-going-pee-alone thing—so turn the lack of privacy into a teachable moment! Or, enlist a (probably eager) older sibling for demonstrations.
6. Don’t make it traumatic. More important than the method you use to potty train is the message you send while doing it, experts say. Plan on giving your kiddo plenty of positive reinforcement, keep your temper in check and be prepared for lots (lots!) of accidents.
7. Try a Bribe. We say potty training is the perfect time to bust out a prize. Whatever gets your kids excited -- be it Little Mermaid big-girl underpants, Matchbox cars, stickers or candy—can be doled out when your child goes pee or poop in the potty.
8. Throw a party. If the whole “Binky Fairy” thing worked for your kid, then throwing a “Bye-Bye Diapers” party might be motivating, too.
9. Schedule it. We’re not talking “Tuesday at 10:00 am” scheduling, but “we didn’t just bring home a new baby” scheduling. Make sure you initiate potty training at a time when you’re not stressed out or overly busy.
10. Don’t Ask. Asking your child if she needs to use the potty will more likely than not get you a “no” answer. Instead, lead your child to the bathroom throughout the day for potty practice.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.