Potty Training Tips



My Daughter has really only just turned 2.  After Christmas she was showing signs of being ready for potty training, so we did some reading about potty training tips, consulted her grandmother and went to work. Here are some potty training tips that we’ve found helped us with her quick success.  The whole process took less than a week to have her completely dry during the day and we’re working on having her stay dry overnight as well.  Yesterday we removed the nap time diaper as it has been dry for a full week.  Here is what we did.


Potty Training Tips – Rules

We had some rules for ourselves that we followed fairly strictly.  Here they are with reasoning behind them.

1. No times outs or negative reinforcement for “accidents” while potty training
Potty training happened so fast that reacting to accidents in a negative way would have slowed down the process.  This also helped her feel safe to tell us if she did have an accident so we could help her get cleaned up right away.

2. Rewards are social and are not toys or candies
This has more to do with my daughters personality than a dislike of reward systems.  She doesn’t eat much candy and she absolutely won’t work for candy yet, but she loves when my wife and i sing songs to her, or give her high fives and clap, so that’s how we rewarded her.  Also, we gave her her phone for while she was sitting on the potty. Yes, she has a phone (it’s my old galaxy s3).


Potty Training Tips – Our Method

Our method for potty training was fairly straightforward.

Potty seat in the living room
Before we started the process we had put the potty seat in the living room for her to get use to seeing it, and for her to sit on it while clothed.  She had full access to explore the potty seat – and this one flushed and sang when she actually urinated into it, which we demonstrated by pouring a cup of water into the potty.  We would often encourage her to sit on the potty by asking if she wanted to “make it sing.”  We had the potty in the living room for 3 days before starting the potty training.

Remove the diaper
For the first 2-3 days of potty training we stocked up on cleaning supplies, extra toddler underwear and pants and explained to my daughter that she needed to sit on the potty to go pee now.  She was excited but also had no clue what we were talking about.  The first morning she was running around with no diaper and froze because she had urinated a bit.  When babies need to go to the bathroom, they just go and the diaper absorbs the urine away from their skin – so they end up peeing a small amount for a long time.  This helps in potty training because without the diaper the pants get wet, which is something they’ve never experienced before.  My daughter reacted right away and that gave us the clue to get her on the potty.  She was unsure at first, but with encouragement she was able to go pee.

Set a timer
Now that she understood what she needed to do and had actually gone pee on the potty we gave her drinks and started a timer.  We downloaded a potty training app to help track the time between potty use, but it didn’t work great and ended up ringing alarms when it wasn’t expected.  If i were to do it again, I’d just use a stopwatch app or any timer set around 45 min should do the trick.  We only used the timer for the first few days before we had a good internal clock of when she’d need to go based on when she drank last.

Extra fluids
At first she didn’t want to go to the potty. I’m sure most kids go through trying to hold in the urine until the breaking point – which is why we use no diaper, so there is no safety net.  To encourage urgency we gave her a lot of liquid.  As much apple juice, water and milk as she’d drink.  This helped stop the “holding it” behaviour because she just wasn’t able to.  We were ready to put her on the potty as soon as she looked like she was going to go.  This only really lasted the first 2 days and then she was telling us that she had to go.

Asking and Listening
I’m a big fan of having a real open dialogue with my kid.  Potty training was no different.  Once she was comfortable with the potty instead of telling her that she needed to go and having her sit on the potty at 45 min intervals, we started asking her if she needed to go.  Often her first answer was “no” and we’d let her continue playing.  Typically soon after she said she didn’t have to go, she’d come running to tell us that she DID have to go and would start running to the potty.  This reduced battles over having to go to sit on the potty, and helped her get to know her own body and when she needed to start going to the wash room, and all it cost us was a few accidents and reminders about when to go to the potty.

I didn’t know this, but it usually takes kids longer to learn how and be okay with pooping on the potty than it does for them to be okay with urinating on the potty.  It took my daughter between 3-4 days after consistently urinating on the potty to acclimatize to pooping there.  At first it was obvious that she was fearful, and then she just got bored with it and didn’t want to sit there for so long.  We encouraged her with songs and she got to use her phone while she was sitting waiting for the poops to come out.

Lots of celebrating and clapping with success
Every time my daughter would go on the potty was cause for a big celebration. High fives, and “good jobs” were handed out at every turn.  As much as we could we would praise her for how much of a “big girl” she is now etc etc.  Go with your kids currency – some kids will work for candy or prizes.  You know your kid best. My daughter loves high fives and being told how great she’s doing, so we went with that, and it had great results.

Consistency is key
The worst thing you can do when you start potty training is putting them back in their diaper.  Yes it’s easier. Yes, it’s cleaner. But it won’t get your kid potty trained.  Now, if your toddler isn’t ready for potty training, you’ll know pretty quickly (if after 2 days of no diaper they’re still not getting it, go back to diapers and try again in a month or 2 if they’re showing signs of being ready).

Reinforce the message
While we were potty training my daughter we had as many potty training books, videos and music as we could get our hands on.  Characters she knows going through what she is going through really helped. Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood was particularly helpful, and their song became the mantra we sang for the week (and occasionally still do sing..because it’s catchy, okay!).  Here is the awesomeness of Daniel Tiger – “if you have to go potty, STOP and go right away!”


Struggles that we’re still facing
As far as potty training goes, my daughter rocked it, but there are still struggles we face.  She doesn’t yet know how to take her own pants down for example, and so still needs an adult to help her.  This isn’t a problem, just something that i thought i’d point out.  Even kids who do great at potty training are going to need your  help – probably for a while.  That’s what being a parent is about I guess.


Beyond Potty Training

I know a lot of kids have trouble wetting their beds well into ages 4-5 and even later.  Here are a few post potty training tips that I’d like to share

Give opportunities for going to the bathroom often

  1. We are very routine based in my house, and part of the bedtime routine is brushing teeth and sitting on the toilet before bed.  This develops great habits that will hopefully be carried through until she’s a teenager.
  2. We have also been waking her up before we go to bed.  She’s at the stage now where she can’t go to the bathroom by herself, but also really dislikes going in her pull-up if she can help it.  So for a more comfortable and dry sleep overnight we wake her up between 10-11pm to go to the wash room. This has resulted in many nights that she sleeps the whole night through without being restless or waking us up at 3 because she needs to go to the bathroom.

Potty Training Tips – Final Thoughts

Potty training isn’t quick or easy.  Potty training is messy.  Once you get it done, however, it is great.  If you are consistent in your expectations and actions your child should be able to, with your help, “get it” fairly quickly.  Make sure you celebrate with your child; ensure they know how impressed by them you are. This will go a long way to improving their confidence with potty training and really, everything else.   One last thought: do NOT flush the toilet casually while your toddler is going poop, they will honestly believe the toilet is going to swallow them up.  They are not use to this and it will likely scare them. If your toddler is able to talk, they will yell at you for doing this (first hand experience) and probably cry uncontrollably for a few min (also first hand experience).

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