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Potty Training How To

Updated on August 27, 2010
Toddler toilet training is a long process.
Toddler toilet training is a long process.

Potty Training: How To

Potty training a toddler can be an exercise in frustration. Not to mention messy. Here are some free potty training tips that will help parents keep their cool.

1. Accept you are not in control. Potty training is all about your toddler, not about you. Your job is to pave the way, to give your toddler the tools they need to use the potty. You can't force them to go, so don't. If potty training is becoming a power struggle, walk away.Go back to diapers and try again another time.

2. Remember potty training is also a psychological milestone too, which is why your approach is important. Toddlers are learning how to control their bodies for the first time. They are experimenting with family dynamics and potty training too. Sensitivity and gentle encouragement are more helpful than pushy demands to 'use the potty.'

3.Regressions are common. Potty training is a forward-backward process. Things improve. Then get worse. Then improve and get worse. This is normal! Potty training is all about uneven progress. Don't expect perfection!

4.Accept that your child is going to pee on the floor somewhere. Also realize they will want to or not want to go at the wrong or right time. It is not going to go smoothly! Lots of parents have expectations of fast results and are frustrated when their child hasn't mastered potty training in a day.

Rewards are good. Bribes are okay. Do what works!

4.Make it fun. If it's not fun, your toddler may lose interest. Make potty time something special. Read books. Eat a popscicle. Color. Do a puzzle. Not only will this keep your child on the potty, it will also create a positive association for them psychologically.

5.Use books and potty training dvds. See the Related Links section for a link to potty training dvd reviews and information on potty training books.

Toddler Toilet Training Strategy

1. Teach your toddler about going potty via books and DVDs. This is really important as it helps kids learn the vocabulary they need and understand what going potty is all about. Watch potty training DVDs and read books daily in the beginning. (Note: Elmo's Potty Time dvd is the best of the bunch, good music, good concepts and a very kind approach to potty training.)

2.Go naked. This ensures kids can sit on the potty the second they have to go. Getting it all into the potty does not mean they have the control to wait yet, so not having to fuss with underwear is important.

3.Keep the potty nearby in the beginning. Out of sight is out of mind for kids this young, so keep the potty right in their line of vision.

4.Have a 'party on the potty' to catch a pee. Bring in books, toys, special treats to keep kids on the potty until they are successful. Once they catch a pee, they can start making the connection of how potty training works.

5.Don't worry about poops. Have zero expectations about poop. Just focus on pee. If they poop in the potty, great, otherwise let them continue to use a diaper. Rome wasn't built in a day and guess what? Forget labor and breastfeeding, potty training is the single largest time investment of early childhood parenting.

Sorry to burst any bubbles, but you will be dealing with potty issues for years so settle in the trenches for a long campaign. Just work on pee to start, poop is a little more complex and we'll talk about that below.

Okay, yes, there are programs like Potty Training Bootcamp that promise magical instant results. Well, when was the last time any product that promised to make your life perfect actually worked as advertised?

True, some kids are easier to potty train than others, but it is almost never the case that kids are potty trained in three days and set for life.

6.Follow their lead. If your toddler asks for a diaper, offer the potty, but don't deny the diaper if they are adamant. Again, potty training is a major psychological milestone, the gentler you are and the more respectful you are of your child, the better potty training will go.

Did your child immediately start running the day they learned to walk?

Did they learn to read the day they sang the ABC song?

Did they perform a thirty minute Shakespeare soliquoy right after saying their first word?

No no, no. So why would you expect potty training to be an instant skill with absolutely no issues ever?

Focus more on your response as a parent and the way you approach potty training instead of worrying about what your child is or isn't doing on the potty. That will take you far.

7.Know that the first week never goes well. You'll want to give up. You'll get frustrated. Your poor toddler will be utterly confused and really needs your support right now. So take a deep breath and keep focusing on the skills you're trying to help your child build. If after a week, things are still a horrible mess, then it's not time to potty train, it's time to put the diapers back on, but keep reading the potty training books and potty training dvds.

8.Use pull-ups when outside of the house. Why? Well, quick do this math calculation in your head on your next grocery shopping:


Kind of hard to follow the list and work the problem, no? That's how it is for most toddlers. They can only control so much and being able to stay dry on outings is often the last potty skill to be mastered. The pull-ups give toddlers the option of using the potty (if they can) while dealing with any accidents.

9.Establish the habit of using the potty before leaving the house. This will save parents lots and lots of 'I have to go potty' twenty minutes away from the nearest bathroom.

Tip: Buy an extra potty to stash in the car. This is soooooo much easier and faster than locating a bathroom at a moment's notice. You'll also want some Lysol spray or wipes to sanitize the potty, hand sanitizer for hands, and toilet paper.

10. Remind your toddler to 'listen to their body' every 30-60 minutes. It's not necessary to require them to sit on the potty, but to stop and reflect about how their body feels so they begin to learn when they need to go. If accidents become an issue, then require toddlers to use the potty, but otherwise, give them the control over whether or not they need to go when you remind them.

11.Respond to accidents calmly. Oops, looks like your peepee got lost! Where does it belong?

Give your toddler some responsibility in cleaning up the mess, but stay positive.

Pooping on the Potty

Pooping is a common sticking point for many parents and toddlers. So even if your toddler is pooping perfectly now, realize poop withholding is still something you will have to deal with at some point.

Here's what to do when your toddler is not pooping.

1.Don't let your toddler go too long without pooping--that can actually turn into a medical emergency and/or cause painful fissures in the rectum that take forever to heal--this, in turn, just makes the poop withholding worse creating a vicious cycle.

So when you notice your toddler skipping a few days, run out to Walmart, Target or the local grocery store and pick up some Miralax. Little Remedies also makes a stool softener called Little Tummies too. Glycerin suppositories are an option as well. However, do NOT buy Pedilax, it tastes awful and your toddler will not drink it.

Use these 'poop aids' as often as necessary to keep things moving for your toddler's health.

2.Add fiber to the diet. 1/2 cup of ground flaxseed in a cookie or muffin recipe is undetectable and ensures regular, soft poops. Prunes make a great 'my toddler needs to poop' snack. Beans should be added to meals as much as possible.

Fiber makes the stool soft which means it doesn't hurt to poop--painful poops are a common cause of a toddler not pooping.

3.Let your toddler see you poop. Be honest about how it works. It does hurt to poop sometimes. Sometimes it's not fun but our bodies need us to poop and this is part of taking care of our bodies and being healthy.

4.Read books about pooping daily (you'll have to buy or borrow a few poop books). Talk, talk, talk and help your toddler process what needs to happen and work through their anxieties/control issues. The books listed to the side are excellent.

5.Go back to diapers if that will make your toddler poop. Because of the health risks of not pooping, this is not the time to draw a line in the sand and insist on using the potty or else. Work with your child, not against them. They'll get there without any unnecessary drama or trauma.

6.Have the biggest party on the planet once your toddler resumes pooping. Pull out all the stops to create a huge positive psychological association with pooping. Emphasize their control, that they did the work and listened to their bodies.


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      jc 4 years ago

      Try the towel potty training method.