10 Best Potty Training Tips

Parenting truth: there is no one-trick-fits-all solution for really anything. This is especially true when it comes to potty training tips. While there is one universal truth with potty training: it isn’t fast and it isn’t smooth, generally speaking, parents find their own groove. Whether it’s scheduling a diaper-free booty camp, using song and dance, or reading poop-related books, there are plenty of methods to try all in the name of graduating to big boy or girl panties. (Rhetorical question: is there anything more darling than toddler underwear? We didn’t think so.) Here are 10 potty training tips that can help train your toddler in no time.


Tip #1: Assess his readiness

Typically between 2 and 3 ½ years kids will signal they are ready to start the toilet-training process. But remember, just because your two year old acts ready for the big potty doesn’t mean the process will be easy. You may have a start and stop phase for awhile before he truly feels ready.

Try this at home: Gauge his readiness before you prepare for the big switch. Does he show interest in other people using the bathroom? Does he want privacy when he fills his diaper? See what happens if you ask him about wearing underwear. All of these may be clues to start potty training.


Tip #2: Getting started

One of the biggest hurdles for toddlers is getting over how scary the big potty is. Some are terrified and want nothing to do with it. Others are completely disinterested. One thing that can help to build confidence is to see what other toddlers are doing. Does a friend at daycare use the big potty? Maybe your toddler can give it a shot. Another thing that helps is providing a sense of empowerment. Teach them the first steps by having your toddler pull his pants down and up all by himself. You can also ask him to get his own toilet paper to use. Books can also help kids get used to what the process entails.

Try this at home: There may not be other toddlers around but you can have an older sibling, cousin or friend demonstrate how fun it is to use the toilet. If your toddler refuses, maintain patience and don’t force the issue to the point of a temper tantrum, but do keep offering. Start changing diapers in the bathroom, and suggest tasks he can help with such as pulling down his pants, tearing off toilet paper and flushing.


Tip #3: A big toilet vs. toddler-sized

When you’re out in public, obviously the choices are limited. But the big toilets are certainly intimidating to toddlers because they are big and loud. Toddlers are also smart and know that a little potty isn’t what mom and dad use, so they may refuse to use one.

Try this at home: If your toddler shows interest in the big potty, drag out a stool to help him climb up. The best strategy is to have both a potty and seat insert for the toilet and let your toddler choose whichever one he feels comfortable using.  


Tip #4: Accidents are normal

If your toddler has an accident, there’s no shame it’s all a normal part of the process. If an accident keeps happening it may be a sign of something bigger, like the child not feeling well or a big change in the family dynamic.

Try this at home: Being upset or punishing him for an accident is the worst reaction. It’s a temporary phase that shouldn’t last long. If it persists, talk to him about it and see if there’s something going on underneath that you can help him through.  


Tip #5: Praise goes a long way

When a child uses the toilet and is praised, it helps develop his confidence and encourages him to keep doing it for more praise. Sharing the news with other kids can help him feel a sense of autonomy and pride in his progress.

Try this at home: Keep a sticker chart in the bathroom and when your toddler tries to go, he gets to put a sticker up as a reward for his willingness to try. Make sure that whatever reward system you establish is sustainable. Stickers and check marks are good motivators. And don’t underestimate the power of your own affection and praise. Saying “great job,” with a big hug can go a long way.


Tip #6: Timing is everything

In the beginning of the potty training process, establishing a consistent routine can make or break the success in the early stages. The best case scenario is to build a consistent routine around the child, and then get them to stick to that schedule.

Try this at home: Set a potty schedule at home according to when your toddler has to go more frequently. Remind him that it’s almost time to potty and encourage him by saying the toys and play will wait until he gets back.


Tip #7: Having the right apparel

Contrary to some thoughts, training diapers can counteract the whole process because some kids think they can do the same thing as they do with a diaper. Going directly to underwear is often better because kids know when they’re wet and they think underwear is a really big deal.

Try this at home: In the beginning, you can try having him wear the training diaper and underwear for a two-week trial period. He’ll know when he’s wet and there’s less mess for you to clean. If you’re serious about potty training him, go with the underwear. They can be a huge motivator for the kids.


Tip #8: Number two requires patience

Fact: most kids take their time when it comes to learning to poop. And it can take a while. Some kids are nervous about it, or think they will get in trouble. Others just have to work up the courage to go.

Try this at home: If you’ve caught on to his natural routine, try to encourage a visit and then give him a book to read. Sometimes it can be distracting and he might poop without realizing it. Even if it takes several months, always offer encouragement and make it a really big deal when he finally goes number two.   


Tip #9: Figure out the fear

If your little one is truly scared to go number two, try to figure out where the fear comes from. Some doctors have hypothesized that children may view bowel movements as part of their body that they’re afraid to flush away.

Try this at home: Try reading books to him on anatomy and explain how the digestive system works. If they know that they’ll be ok and it isn’t hurting them, they may be more apt to finally go.


Tip #10: Be prepared

The potty training process is one that often has its ups and downs, which is completely normal. Figure out the right bribes and make it a fun game that your children enjoy. And be prepared for road trips, being out in public or anything that may cause a natural bump in the routine.

Try this at home: Travel with a small toilet and removable seat for getting your toddler used to other big potties. If the automatic flusher may scare him, use a post-it note to “turn off” the sensor. At the end of the day, listen to your child, make him as comfortable as you can and praise, praise, praise. The journey is a long one, but oh-so-worth it in the end!   

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