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The Right Way to Potty Train Your Toddler

Updated on July 3, 2016

When are They Ready?

Before even starting to think about potty training, you need to be sure your toddler is ready. A child is usually ready to start potty training if they begin to hide while they are "going", or tell you that they have pooped or peed in their diaper. This shows that they want privacy, along with knowing when they are done pooping or urinating. While most children are ready to potty train at the age of 2-3 years old, this does not mean that your child will be ready at that age. Every kid is different. However, if you have a defiant toddler, they are going to put up a fight even if they are ready.

How I Learned I was Doing it Wrong

There are a lot of articles that say if your toddler is showing signs of being ready, but then puts up a fight when you set them on the toilet, you should stop and try again at a later time. This is where I disagree. This is a type of "new age thinking" that magazines and motherhood books have been throwing at people lately, and I bought into it. My idea of how potty training looked was with my toddler running up to me one day and saying, "Mommy, I'm ready to start going on the toilet, and I won't scream or cry at all, Let's go!" Of course this was wishful thinking, but I believed it would happen. I was waiting for my child to be the grown up and let me know when they decided it was more convenient to go in the toilet instead of their diaper. Of course, this is nowhere near how our mothers and grandmothers potty trained us. When they were ready to potty train their kids, they did. They didn't wait for us to be happy about it. They just did it, plain and simple. I learned this from my mother-in-law when she stepped in to potty train my first little boy. I didn't start trying to potty train him until he was 3 years old, and even then I wasn't pushing him because I wanted to be the mother those magazines told me to be. Then we dropped him off with my mother-in-law for a week. I told her that we had "kind of" tried to potty train him and that she could try if she wanted. When we returned he was potty trained. And by that I mean going poop and pee on the toilet, with no accidents. IN ONE WEEK! I asked my mother-in-law how she did it. All she said was, "He's 3 years old! I will not wipe a 3 year olds poopy butt." That's when I realized that my mother-in-law was a genius and knew way more than all the magazines and books in the world about potty training. I asked her what methods she used and that is how I found out the real way to potty train a toddler.

Baby Steps

4 Simple Steps

Step 1: Watch and Learn

The first time you set your child on a toilet, they may not know what to do or be scared. After all, this is a brand new experience. This is why you should let them watch you do it. Of course, mom shows the girls and dad shows the boys. Your child wants to be like you and learns by imitating what you show them. If they see mommy or daddy going potty on the toilet, this will show them that the toilet is not a bad or scary thing, but something that everyone does.

Step 2: Make it Fun

If your child is still not wanting to sit on the toilet, make it a fun experience. Tell them what a big girl/boy they are and how proud you are of them. Give them stickers or a treat when they go. Another way is to put a cheerio, or other sort of cereal, in the toilet and tell them to pee on it. These things make it a happy experience rather than an unhappy one and your child will look forward to going potty in the future.

Step 3: Peer Pressure

This one works great if you have more than one child. When your toddler uses the bathroom, give both your toddler and their sibling a treat. This way their brother/sister will remind them to go potty and get excited when they do. Your toddler will pick up on their excitement and want to do it again. Peer pressure also works in the opposite way. If your toddler has an accident, their sibling will get frustrated with them and your toddler will be more careful not to have accidents because they want their sibling to be happy.

Step 4: Don't get discouraged

Accidents happen, they just do. If your toddler goes a week without having an accident you are doing amazing. My 5 year old still pees the bed if you give him too much water before bed-time. Like I said before, every kid is different.

Happy Toddler

Patience and Love

Though these steps worked well for my children, they may not work for you. I can't tell you this is going to work with every kid, but I do hope it gives you some ideas and helps with your potty training endeavors. Remember to have patience or you will go crazy wanting it to be quick and easy. Children respond well to new ideas when they know they are loved. So love them. Love them with all your heart.


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