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Potty Training Twins

Ten Tips for Potty Training Twins

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Updated May 28, 2014

You long for the day when you can ditch the double diapers, yet potty training twins seems like a daunting task. Don't despair! With these tips, potty training your twins will be successful, and not stressful.

1. Ready, Set, Go!

Children eating.
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Are your twins ready for potty training? The ideal timing for toilet training can vary widely, beginning as young as eighteen months or as late as three years old. If your twins are not developmentally ready to train, you'll encounter more resistance and frustration. Evaluate your twins -- individually -- to determine the right timing. Signs of readiness include showing an interest when others use the toilet, the ability to go for an extended length of time without wetting a diaper, being uncomfortable with a soiled diaper, and wanting to wear "big kid" underwear. About.com's Guide to Pediatrics offers this Potty Training Readiness Quiz. But remember, your twins are individuals. They may not be ready at the same time.

2. Reasons for Seasons

Choose your timing wisely. Once you've established that your twins are ready, take a good look at the calendar. Though tempting, try to avoid instituting the process of potty training based on a deadline. If you are under pressure to train before the start of preschool or a family vacation, you may encounter resistance. Anticipate other big changes in your twins' lives; are you planning a move, a change in routine, or the birth of a sibling? All of the change may be too overwhelming to a child who is trying to master the toilet.

3. Tag Team or Solo?

Certainly, it is easiest to train both twins at the same time. However, it may not work for all families. Identical -- monozygotic -- twins are easiest to train simultaneously because of their similar metabolism. Boy/girl twins are more likely to require differentiated training. If you do potty train both at the same time, they may benefit from companionship and competition, encouraging and challenging each other's successes and setbacks. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if one's success causes the other to regress. You'll have to decide whether a one-on-one approach is more effective. For some twins, potty training together is simply too distracting and disruptive. Potty time turns into play time, often with very messy results!

4. Make Rewards Work for You

Many parents have great success using incentives or rewards. (Let's be honest: bribes!) With twins, this can work to your advantage, or create havoc. You know your twins best and will have to evaluate their dynamic. You only want to offer a reward with success; how will the other twin react when he doesn't receive one? Some twins don't have the cognitive ability to connect the consequences, and you'll only incite unnecessary tantrums. However, if your twins are competitive, the presentation of a reward for successful potty-ing may prove to be highly motivating. Find your twins' individual currency; what works? Is it candies, stickers or dollar-store treats? Perhaps it the promise of an adventure or activity is a more appropriate reward.

5. To Buy Two?

There are some things that multiples simply can't share. Buy at least two potty seats. If you try to get by with one -- even if they are training at different times -- I guarantee that there will be a showdown when they both try to go at the same time. For that reason, to reduce squabbles, I recommend potty chairs rather than inserts that fit into the toilet. You may even want to consider multiple sets to place throughout the house. If your twins are stingy about sharing, you can designate ownership, but in the long run, this can cause extra drama for children who only want to go in "their" potty. However, it may be more necessary to specify with a boy and girl, especially if you are using a splash guard or deflector on the potty seat.

6. Expect Double the Mess

While potty training twins, you can expect that there will be double the mess. There WILL be setbacks and there WILL be accidents. Know that they're coming and prepare your home accordingly. Stock up on cleaning supplies so that you're ready to address the mess. If you are concerned about permanent stains or damage, protect the areas of your house that cause concern. Use gates to keep potty training twins out of rooms that are off-limits. Put away expensive throw rugs or bedspreads. Cover furniture and floors with tarps. Don't freak out about accidents; simply enlist your child's help in cleaning up, and move on. Maintain a sense of humor; the retelling of these incidents will make for great stories later in life!

7. Be Flexible

Even though they're twins, a "one-size-fits-all" approach won't always work. Be flexible. Tailor your responses to your individual children. Some children respond to gushing praise; others prefer less of a fuss. Some need continual reminders; some need to control the process themselves. Some are open about their bodily functions, while others prefer privacy. You know your children best, and can determine the approach that will be most effective. While you may develop a successful routine during the day at home, different tactics may be required for other times. How will you handle naptimes, overnights, outings or day care? Flexibility is the key to success.

8. Stick to a Similar Schedule

Training twins at the same time is definitely the easiest approach. If that's the path that you choose, you'll find more success by keeping your twins on a similar schedule. Many parents relied on a schedule for their twins when they were infants and they find that it works effectively for potty training also. When twins eat, drink and sleep on the same schedule, they're also more likely to "use the facilities" together. Introducing potty time as part of their daily routine can help them use the toilet consistently.

9. Dress for Success

Many families prefer to potty train when the weather is warm. The comfortable temperatures require less clothing, which gets in the way and requires additional cleaning in the event of an accident. Help your twins feel confident and independent as they master their toilet habits by dressing them in clothes that they can manage. Favor easy access clothing, such as pull-up pants or skirts for girls. Forgo fussy snaps, zippers or buttons. Dry-clean only clothing and potty training don't mix; save the special outfits for a later date when your twins are more likely to stay dry.

10. This "Two" Shall Pass

Keep it in perspective. Like all phases of parenting multiples, potty training is a temporary transition. Your children WILL learn to use the toilet. You WILL get rid of diapers. You can look forward to a day when they stay dry and use the bathroom independently. It WILL happen. Be patient, flexible and loving. Down the road, you'll look back on this experience and think, "What was the big deal?"
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