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List Three: 10 Tips for Successful Potty Training

Updated on July 24, 2009


I have decided to devote this list to potty training. My youngest daughter is currently 15 months old and will soon be ready to start potty training. Being that this is my 5th time around this block, I feel pretty confident that this will go smoothly. However, for first time parents this is not only an exciting milestone in their child's life, but a time of uncertainty and frustrations. So, I hope that this list will help make this step in life a little easier.

When Should I Start Potty Training?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question.  The typical age range for potty training is 18 months to 3 years of age. However, every child is different and every child develops at a different pace.  One child may be ready to potty train by 18 months while another may have no interest until age 3 or 4.  

Although you are the parent and the authority figure, potty training is a decision that you need to make with your child not for your child. Forcing them to do something as big as this will end with disastrous results.

So, how do you know when your child is truly ready to take this step? It's easier to know than you may think.  Simply watch your child and they will let you know when they are ready!  Children tend to give you subtle signals of their just need to pick up on them.  For example, if your child's diaper stays dry for 2 or more hours; they tug on their diaper after they have soiled it wanting it changed; and/or they are asking to use the potty or are asking to wear underwear.  These are really good signs of their readiness and willingness to potty train.  But, in addition to these signs your child must be able to follow simple directions and have a semblance of normal bowel movements on a daily basis.


Okay, we are ready to start potty training! Now what??

Now that you and your child have decided it is time to start potty training the question looms--what do I do now? Take a deep breath and relax. Here are 10 easy tips and tricks to make the transition from diapers to toilet easy.

1. Buy a Potty Chair: Getting a small portable potty chair makes the process easier on your child. They can reach it on their own, making them feel more independent and in control . Before you actually start the training process, buy the chair, bring it home, find a place for it and let your child decorate it with stickers--let them make it their own. They will be more likely to use it. I suggest doing this about a week before you start training.

2. Get some Books: Invest in some books about potty training for both you and your child. Take the time to read them and spend some time every day reading them to your child. Let them sit on the potty while you read them one of the books. Not only will this help your child get familiar with sitting on the potty, the books will help them understand what they are about to start doing.

3. Buy "big kid" Underwear: DO NOT USE PULL-UPS!!! These products are so similar to diapers that they can actually hinder the training process. I strongly suggest buying some toddler underwear for you child to wear. Preferably something that they have an interest in, such as Dora or Thomas the Train.

4. Model the Behavior: The best way for children to learn is by watching---they like to mimick what you do so let them go to the bathroom with you for about a week or so prior to training. Explain to them what you are doing and the proper bathroom routine like flushing and hand washing.

5. Establish a Routine: The single most important thing to remember is to set a routine and stick to it. Potty training is not something that can be accomplished sporadically or only when you feel like it. When your child gets up in the morning, put them on the potty. After they eat lunch, put them on the potty. After they have a snack, put them on the potty. After they eat dinner, put them on the potty. Your child needs to get in the routine of sitting on the potty at certain times throughout the day---they may not always use it, but at least they will be used to going.

6. Allow them Some Privacy: Hovering over your child while they are trying to do their business will put added stress on them and they will more than likely not go. By all means, help them get to the potty and get on it if need be but then you should leave the room so that they can peacefully go. Stay within earshot so if they do need you, you are readily available.

7. Keep them Hydrated: This may seem like common sense but it can be easily overlooked. If your child doesn't have enough liquids going in, they won't have any coming out! Let them drink as much as they want during the training process. I found that buying popsicles is a good trick. Give them a popsicle after they use the potty---this not only helps to keep them hydrated but it is a great reward (see below for discussion on this tip).

8. Reward Them: Using the potty is a huge accomplishment for your child and it should be treated as such. Reward them after they have successfully used the potty. I don't recommend sugary snacks like candies but items like popsicles or stickers work great! They are cheap and young kids love them : )

9. Stay Calm: Using the potty is a lot like learning to walk for your little one--it is a big task that takes time and practice. Don't ever get angry or yell at your child while potty training. If your child fell while learning to walk, you wouldn't get upset and scold them would you? Of course not. The same idea should be applied to potty training. Yelling and getting angry upsets your child and they soon learn to associate potty training with a negative stigma. This can undo all the progress that you have made thus far and will prevent any further progress.

10. Have a Potty Party:   This is a fun idea to really jump start the potty training process.  Invite other parents over who have children that they are trying to potty train and make it into a party.  Go buy party hats, balloons, noise makers, etc..and really make a big deal of it when one child uses the potty.  Do a little dance and make a little noise : )   If you don't know any one to have a potty party with, dig out your child's favorite toys and stuffed animals and have a party with them.

Patience is a Virtue

Despite what the books may say, I do not believe that you can fully potty train a child in only one day.  Potty training takes time and you need to be patient.  Your child will get the hang of it and you will both have made a big accomplishment together.

A Sneak peek

Okay, so this was List Three....only 7 more to go.  Here are some the topics that I plan to 'list' about:  Fun Feline Facts, Most Ridiculous Laws, Why you should exercise everyday, Most Disappointing TV Shows/Movies and many more.  

Tomorrows List: 10 Best Websites for Free Stuff, Games, Money and Much More!


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    • Kimberly Bunch profile image

      Kimberly Bunch 

      9 years ago from EAST WENATCHEE

      Good Info! This is also helpful:

    • NYMiskovic profile imageAUTHOR

      Kara Leigh Miller 

      9 years ago from Oswego, NY

      Hi AllMomNeeds2know!

      Thanks for the comment! It is definitely a battle of wills at times but hang in there. As you said, it will come : )

    • AllMomNeeds2know profile image


      9 years ago


      Great advice. I have potty trained one and now in the process of trying to convince my 2 year old to start. it's funny she'll tell me when she's in the pool but any other time she's gone back a few steps for awhile. oh well it will come.


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