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Potty training is never a task that I look forward to with my kids. Potty training your toddler can be a time full of frustration, tears, and annoyance. Slowly, you start to change fewer diapers, which is exciting, and you notice that your toddler is staying dry for naps and longer throughout time.
Potty training time is upon you.
I could tell you that potty training is just a matter of waiting until your child is developmentally ready, and that’s part of the deal. Parents need to have patience when it comes to potty training; it can take a few months up to a year to achieve the goal of potty training.
Potty training is a marathon, not a sprint.
It takes more than just patience to potty train your child. You need to try different strategies to figure out what works for your child. Remember, every child is different, so what works for your first child might not work for your second or third child.
I found that out the hard way! So, here are some tips for potty training your toddler that I’ve learned over the years.
17 Potty Training Tips
Wait Until He Is Ready
My first tip is perhaps the most important; you need to wait until your child is ready. Some parents try to force the issue, starting potty training early because of a variety of reasons. Even if your sick of changing diapers, that doesn’t mean your child is ready to potty train.
Kids become ready to potty train at different times. Your child might be inclined to potty train at two-years-old, but he also might not be ready until he’s four-years-old. Don’t forget that nighttime potty training can take a considerable more amount of time.
Use Proper Potty Talk
Using proper potty talk should start at birth. Make sure you use precise terms for anatomy, such as the penis. Try not to make a big deal about your child when he poops. It can make him feel ashamed by his bodily function, and that’s the last thing you want when you’re trying to encourage your child to use the toilet.
Show Your Child How to Use the Potty
Toddlers love to mimic what their parents do, and using the toilet is no different. You can try to explain to your child what to do, but kids do learn best by example. Show your child how to use the toilet, how to wipe, and wash his hands.
The bonus of showing your child how to use the potty is that it helps them build confidence. Remember using the toilet is a brand new experience for your child. It’s easy for your child to feel nervous about using a toilet, so seeing you using the bathroom can help calm some of those nerves.
Watch Your Child Closely
You need to observe your child to learn the signs that he needs to use the toilet. Some kids might cross their legs, wiggle, jump up and down, or bounce. He might pause when he has to use the bathroom, couching down to prepare.
That’s when you need to move your child to the bathroom. It takes time to figure out his particular signs.
Use Training Pants
When it’s time to start potty training, you want to switch to training pants, often called pull-ups. When your child is just beginning, it’s best to use disposables. He can pull them down just like underwear, but they absorb any accident. Plus, they can be ripped offer rather than pulled over his feet to reduce messes.
After you have some success, you can switch to washable cotton training pants or wear underwear.
Let Him Go Naked
To help your child gain awareness over his body signals and functions, let your child go naked in your yard or a room with a washable floor. Most of my house has tile or hardwood floor, so a bit of urine won’t harm. You don’t want your child peeing all over the carpet.
When your child doesn’t have clothes on, it’s easy for him to dash the potty without having clothes or pull-ups in the way. Make sure you keep a potty close by!
Don’t Ask “Do You Need to Potty?”
This tip seems strange; I know. This rule came to me from a friend, and it works. When you ask, “do you need to potty” you are opening yourself up for a power struggle. In reality, you want to take your child to the bathroom, so why are you asking? When you ask, you are opening up to the truth that your child might say no, and then the struggle begins.
Instead, use statements like “let’s go to the potty,” or “it’s time to use the potty now.” If you want to offer a choice, don’t make one of the options not to use the bathroom. Instead, ask questions such as “do you want to use the big potty or little potty?” or “should I use the potty first, or do you want to use it first?”
Of course, many kids live up for challenges. Try racing to the bathroom or asking if your child has learned how to use the potty yet. Just work on a healthy attitude toward the bathroom without the struggle.
Act It Out
Kids learn through play. Have you ever seen a child pretend to give their doll a shot after they received a vaccination? They process emotions through playtime, and that’s quite healthy.
Find a way to introduce using the potty in play time. Use playdoh to talk about pooping – it sounds weird, but it gets the point across. Try baby dolls, barbies, action figures, or whatever your child loves.
Introduce using the potty often with play. It doesn’t have to be serious; life is fun!
Don’t Offer a Diaper for Poop
Many children ask for a diaper when they need to poop. Pooping on the potty is a huge milestone, and it also can be one of the scariest things to try. Offering a diaper when you know your child has to poop extends the potty training process.
Rip off that bandaid and be as encouraging as possible. Your child can do this!
Don’t Deny Drinks
Some parents think that denying drinks is an excellent way to encourage their child to use the potty, but it’s not a good idea. It’s not healthy, and it’s unfair to your child, not to mention that it’s ineffective. In fact, giving your child more fluids can help your child have more opportunities for potty success.
Coffee Filters Help With Cleaning
This tip is really for you. Do you hate cleaning out the tiny potty as much as I do? It’s not a task I enjoy. I’ve found that putting a coffee filter into the little potty makes clean up easier. You can remove the coffee filter and put it into the diaper pail or trash. I love easy cleanup, what about you?
Try a Reward System
Some kids need a reward system to keep up with motivation. You can try a chart to show that he is working towards an incentive that he understands. For example, five stars equal a small ice cream cone.
What reward you pick is up to you and your child. He might want to earn his favorite TV show time, a trip to the park, or brand-new non-toxic crayons. Later, as your child gets more comfortable using the bathroom, you can change how many stickers are needed on the chart to earn the reward, gradually phasing it out.
Some parents say not to give treats, and it works for other parents. There is no perfect answer to this; it’s whatever works for your child.
One of my kids responded well with treats. He loved cookies, candy, and ice cream – in moderation, of course. So, I used those treats sparingly to make the most improvement that was possible. My other child didn’t care about treats but responded well to positive reinforcement.
Offer a Stool
If your child is using an adult-size toilet, they need to have a stool for their feet. It makes it easier to get up on the toilet. A stool also has something for them to brace against when they have to poop. Plus, then they can use the stool to reach the sink to wash his hands.
Dry Erase on Toilet Lid
Okay, this tip seems ludicrous. Who lets their child write on their toilet?
Well, if you lift the toilet lid and your child sits on the toilet backward, he can use a dry erase marker to write on the toilet lid. Sometimes, getting your child just to sit on the toilet can be the challenge. This tip is fun and gives your child a reason to sit on the potty.
Keep a Potty in the Car
Mastering potty training at home is hard, so mastering the skill once you leave the house is an entirely different story. You need to be prepared for when its time to use the bathroom outside of the home.
I like to keep a small potty in the car with me. Sometimes, you can’t find a bathroom soon enough, and using a port-a-potty is something that I won’t be doing with a toddler who can’t use the toilet.
You can find folding inserts that sit inside of public toilets, paper covers, and more.
My last tip is not to nag your child. That seems like a strange tip, but the most important thing here is that relationship is vital for your potty training success without tears. I don’t want to cry over potty training, and neither should you or your child.
Many children are stubborn, and nagging your child consistently makes him put up his back to the idea. Instead of finding success, you’ll find your child protesting using the potty, and you’ll lose any progress that you’ve made.