Potty training is both an exciting and challenging time for parents and toddlers. Make the process a little smoother with the following six potty training tips.

1. Prepare your child

Some children will suddenly decide that they want to use a potty and just begin, but that is usually not the case. More often than not, it takes some preparation to get the child comfortable with the idea. Start talking about it with them and build up some excitement about it.

You will also need to decide which supplies you will use. Some people choose not to use a potty chair and instead use the grown-up toilet. For some, it works and for others, it does not. Most toddlers are scared to sit on the big toilet because they are afraid that they will fall in. This fear can sometimes be eradicated by purchasing a potty seat that fits on top of the regular toilet, but not always. Potty chairs tend to be more effective as they are toddler size and they have nothing to fear.

If you choose to use a potty chair, let your child help pick it out as well as the “big kid” undies. Involving them in the buying process starts to open them up to the idea. Even if your child is not quite ready, have the potty in the restroom where you plan to keep it. It may be intimidating to your child at first, but having it around will help them get more comfortable with it.

2. Patience is a virtue

You are not going to undo two or three years worth of diaper habits in one night. Potty training is a journey, not a sprint. In the beginning, you will find yourself taking your little one to the restroom every ten or twenty minutes. It can get tiring and you will probably feel like giving up. Try not to do that, though, because you will bear the fruits of your labor. When your kiddo is going to the potty on her own and you are no longer buying diapers, you will be thankful you persevered.

Also, understand that there will be accidents. It happens and there is really nothing you can do to stop it. Be sure that you do not fuss at your child, as this will destroy his confidence, and confidence is something he needs right now. If he fears getting fussed at for accidents, he will not want to potty train anymore because it was safer when he was in diapers.

When there is an accident, remain calm. Say something like, “Uh oh! We have a little mess. Let’s get you cleaned up.” Then, do exactly that. You can talk about the accident- ignoring it is not helpful- but be careful how you approach it. Pay attention to the tone of voice you use. Ask him why he thinks he had the accident. Get him thinking about it so he understands and, hopefully, catches himself the next time.

3. Lead by example

My youngest son was the easiest of my children to potty train because he followed his daddy and older brother to the bathroom. Seeing the “big guys” do it made him want to do it as well. He was out of diapers a week after beginning to potty train. Children love to mimic parents and older siblings, so take them to the restroom with you. Sit them on their potty when you sit on yours. In no time, they should be making great progress.

4. Make it fun

There is nothing fun about sitting on a potty, staring at a wall, and just waiting for something to come out. Keep a stack of books or some toys near their potty to keep them occupied. You might try reading to them or playing a game, such as, “I Spy” to make the time pass faster.

5. Reward success

Be sure to reward them for making it to the potty. This does not mean you have to give them mounds of chocolate, though that is an option. My youngest brother had a potty chair that would play music when he used the potty. He thought that was the funniest thing in the world, so he would go try to potty every five seconds.

Any time my children succeeded, we would do the “Potty Dance”. Basically, we would form a conga line and go around the room saying, “(Insert name here)pee-peed in the pottay! Pee-peed in the pottay!” for a minute or two. This was always great fun for them, so they were excited to do it over and over again.

Rewards do not have to be full of sugar. Anything that makes them feel good about going to the potty is great. Sticker charts work great for some. Setting milestones then going to the park when those milestones are met works well for others. Find something that works for your kid and go for it.

6. Bare the bottom

One very effective method in potty training most children is to let your child run around with no bottoms on. Little ones become accustomed to pottying in a diaper. When that diaper is missing, they become aware that they need somewhere else to go. Many people who try this method have a kid potty trained in a weekend.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to potty training. Each child is different, and it often takes trial-and-error to find what works. Using these six potty training tips can help guide you to an effective method for your child.