What are the do's and don'ts of potty training?
If you’re like 99.99% of parents, you’ve wished at times your child came with a manual. What works for one child may not work for the next, and that leaves us to rely on experience—either our own or others’. If you’re embarking on the (sometimes stressful) task of potty training, we’re bringing you experiences and insights from a panel of professionals. Read on to learn about what has worked for them and what hasn’t. Not every piece of advice will fit your child, but you’ll likely gain some helpful perspectives from those who have been there, done that.
Amy Motroni is the Founder of The Postpartum Party where she covers everything related to pregnancy, motherhood, and those first few years where your life totally changes for the better (although sometimes it feels like the worst).
Kids need consistency
I tried potty training my toddler at 27 months and failed miserably. I tried again at 30 months and was successful in about a day. Here are the DO's and DON’Ts I learned along the way:
- Have a clear plan. Know what you are going to do, how you will handle accidents, and what your overall strategy will be with rewards and positive reinforcement.
- Load your kid up on liquids. Buy all the drinks and offer it to your child. The child who can pee ten (10) times on that first day will pick up potty training quicker than the child who only pees 3 or 4 times on the first day.
- DO make them part of the process. We got our toddler excited about it by talking about it a few days before we started, letting her pick out new underwear, and letting her help pack up all the diapers to say goodbye to them. This helped tremendously!
- Don't just wing it! Kids need consistency. If you are inconsistent with your approach, they will have a hard time too.
Dr. Lina Velikova
Dr. Lina Velikova, MD, Ph.D. from Supplements101.
The biggest do when potty training is consistency, just as losing consistency is the biggest don’t. When you figure out the way you want to potty train your kid (whether it’s letting them report they need to go to the bathroom or something else), you need to stick to it.
Children thrive on consistency, and they can be easily confused if you send them mixed messages. Sadly, parents are oftentimes tired, and they feel like they cannot deal with it after long hours at work. They might ruin everything they achieved if they decide to “rest for just one night.” This means if you choose to “blitzkrieg” your kid and leave them without diapers for good, you cannot put them back on just because you’re tired. Just be persistent, it’s more likely you’ll achieve your goal sooner.
Heather Hoke, the creator of the blog, Embracing Chaos with Love, helps readers enjoy the chaos of motherhood. Heather’s passion about motherhood is to inspire new moms to not just “make it through” but to thrive and make the most out of every moment.
Give them encouragement and praise
The following are what I found to be true and helpful.
- Do wait until your child shows signs of being ready. These signs include being interested in the bathroom, acknowledging they need to go, wanting to be changed right after they go, finding privacy when they need to go, and wanting to watch you when you use the bathroom.
- Do make it exciting for them to use the potty. This can be making a sticker chart or having them pick out their own underwear.
- Do give them encouragement and praise when they just sit on the potty.
- Do make it a big deal when they actually eliminate into the potty.
- Find books on going to the potty and read them often.
- Don’t force it. If you have been trying a while and it just isn’t clicking, take a break and try again after a few days or a couple of weeks.
- Don’t get angry or make them feel bad when they have an accident. • Don’t start if they aren’t ready.
- Don’t compare them to other kids or their siblings. All children potty train in their own time.
- Don’t be afraid to use rewards when they get it right, even if it is just them asking to sit on the toilet. Eventually, they won’t be expecting a reward and it will just happen.
- Don’t start right before a big trip or change in schedule.
Tyana Kelley, Founder and Life Coach of Purple Horizons. She is a mother of twins and a coach for women who want to break the cycle of trauma in their families. She has a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication and was a birth and postpartum doula for many years.
Every child is different
- Wait until your child is ready. There will be signs, like waking up from naps and the night dry, showing interest, etc. There may be several starts and stops, and that is normal and ok.
- Keep a potty chair in your car for road trips.
- Listen to other people on what is the "right way," or if your child is "too old" for diapers. Every child is different. Your kiddo won't go off to college in diapers. Deep breath. It will be ok.
Alexandra Gatto from Alexandra Wellness Doula. Alexandra is a mom of 2, an induction warrior mama to her first, and a home birth mama to her second baby born in her bathtub almost without her midwife. Alexandra is a former chef and a Birth + Postpartum Doula. She is passionate about holistic health and helping women eat, live, and birth better.
Reward your child
- Go all in
- Buy a fun, portable potty seat
- Buy a seat for the toilet as well. Different children may prefer different options
- Lead by example. Allow the child to watch you go potty
- Praise child when they go potty
- Reward child with stickers on a designated potty sheet
- Reward child with small rewards of your choice
- Commit to staying at home for approximately a week and pay attention to your child's cues to become in tune with their potty schedule and cues.
- Be consistent
- Allow your child to walk around without pants during this time for ease.
- Begin to use toddler underwear in order for them to feel what it feels like to be wet
- Bring the portable potty from room to room with you in your home
- Bring the portable potty with you in the car in the early days of potty training
- Take your child potty before outings, bedtime
- Reduce drinks after dinner
- Don't shame
- Don't raise your voice
- Don't be inconsistent
- Don't use diapers or pull-ups—there's no consequence
- Don't be reactive when there's an accident
- Don't ignore the child's cues
Geninna Ariton, Communications Specialist, Trendhim.
Listen to their bodies
I have twin toddlers, both boys, now at the age of 3 years and 3 months. I tried to potty train them twice, the first time was when they were 2 years and 5 months, and the next was about 4 to 5 months after that. Nothing worked.
I tried everything that I read on how to potty train, I was with them 24/7 for three days, and I gave up after that. I got them new cars, I asked them if they wanted to read something while in the potty, really, all kinds of technique online and in books. BUT nothing worked. I was so focused on wanting to get it right, on wanting to do it because I wanted to do it. I didn't realize that I was pushing them into something that they were not ready to do. And if only I tried to read the signs that they were giving me - they can't even tell me if they are pooping, they can't even pull down their pants, but I insisted.
Fast forward to a month ago. They could tell me, even if I didn't ask, that they pooped. If I asked them, especially when I smelled something, they responded. They could pull up their pants and pull them down again. Every single thing that they couldn't do before, they did with ease. I knew they were ready, and it was the best decision of my life.
Sometimes we felt pressured because our friends - or kids the twins' age - were already potty trained, but we were forgetting to listen to their bodies, to listen to what they could do. It's such a shame that I put them through that even though they weren't ready. I wish that other moms could read their kids better than I did because they didn't feel so good after those three days of potty training hell, and I did it again after a couple of months, not knowing any better.
Theresa Bertuzzi, Chief Program Development Officer/Co-Owner & Co-Founder of Tiny Hoppers, an award-winning international early learning center.
Teach them independence and maturity
Start to increase fluids and make sure that when your child pees in the potty for the first time that they are shown a great deal of encouragement. By replacing their diapers with underwear, your child will immediately have a different sensation and start associating with the potty training behavior. Once you create a regular potty schedule, encourage your child by using fun gadgets. These gadgets will help to signal that it is time to use the potty.
Keep motivational items that can only be accessed in the bathroom. This can be used as a tool to incentivize your child to use the potty throughout the day. Also, it's important to teach your child how to clean up when they have an accident and then bring them to the bathroom. This is an important task to teach them independence and maturity.
Remember that your child is learning, so potty training shouldn't be a battle. If you have given your child directions to follow when using the potty, reward them if followed. Do not pressure them in using the potty; simply remind them where they should be going to the bathroom. Children will learn to use the potty at their own pace, which will typically occur by the age of four. We do not recommend you start your training during a stressful period or use a set deadline to begin. These will only amplify anxieties!
Potty training is no easy task parents, but with time, patience, and consistency — your child will be using the adult potty in no time!
When it's time to take on potty training, equip yourself with added support to make it a success. Purchase your daytime and nighttime trainers today.
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