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Potty Training for Dummies – That Usually Means Daddies and Newbies

Updated on January 12, 2014
jpcmc profile image

I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest are just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learner, & development professional.


Let this sink in first – there’s no gene for potty training. So don’t you dare consult your pediatrician to inject some quick fix formula into your child! That’s just nasty.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s deal with the realities first. Even if we guys are known to belch in public, fart without warning or do both with ease, we must admit that we are no masters of bodily excretions. Just recall the last time you got drunk and peed on your car’s hood. If the pictures have not gone viral yet, just wait a little more. Furthermore, every parent (that includes 30-year old dads acting like school children) awaits the potty milestone of their child. The earlier they get potty-trained, the more it strokes the ego. Or perhaps it’s a reprieve for the times you failed to shoot it in the toilet. Lastly, if it has not dawned on you that you are now a parent, potty training can slap you back to reality. So for the sake of clean sheets and less nappies to buy please read intently. This dummy’s guide for potty training was created by a dummy probably like you.

Potty readiness is the key

It’s all about the child’s readiness. Let’s dispense with the technicalities on child development and how you can emotionally ruin your child. Suffice to say, your child’s readiness must come first. Forcing your child to go potty will be counterproductive as he/she may attach a negative emotion to pooping and peeing. Don’t fret; children get potty trained. However not all children get potty-trained at the same time. My daughter got potty trained before she was two. While others a bit later. But if you’re child still wears diaper to high school for not being potty trained, then something went grossly wrong along the way. It’s probably your fault.

How dads can help:

  • Observe your child’s routines. The more you’re familiar, the easier it is for you to guide your child.
  • Never compare your child with others
  • Drop that magazine filled with scantily clad women and read about parenting

Potty Tidbit

  • According to a Harvard research in the 1950's, 90% of 24-month old children were potty trained. But when the disposable diapers were introduced in the 1960's, the average age of children who were potty trained was between 36 - 38 months
  • in 2002, the average age children showed their interest in potty training was 24-25 months.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics along with the Canadian Pediatric Society recommends starting potty training by 18 months
  • Nighttime accidents are still occurs at 5-6 years of age.

Introduce the potty early

OK, before you go on a field trip to Home Depot and teach your child how the water closet works, please I implore you, stop yourself. Rather, introduce “going to potty” to your child as early as possible.

First, put a handle on the body processes. Sure, we all know what taking a dump means. However, children undergo the process without putting a name to the activity. So what happens? Children often use the grimace on their face or the sound they make while they poop to name the activity. OK, poop is no scientific word nor is pee. But these are a good start. Allow your child to communicate with you clearly that he/she needs to poop or pee.

Second, buy a potty trainer even before you start training. Having this handy tool visible makes it less creepy. Use it as a chair, play with it or let the Dora the Explorer toy pretend to go potty. Just make it visible to the child. If it is familiar, it will seem less ominous to the child. My daughter used hers as a chair before she even started potty training. Just make sure you get the right potty for your child.

Third, make her understand that this is a natural process. There is nothing to be ashamed of or frightened about. Yup, this includes farting. Of course there are socially acceptable behaviors – which many men gladly break, but underneath everything, they have to realize that everyone does it. Daddy does it, mommy does it, and even the person inside the Barney suit does it.

How dads can help:

  • Be a good example to your child
  • Use clear and concise words when talking to your child
  • Scout for the best potty for your child

Which do you prefer disposable diapers or reusable ones?

See results

Don’t reprimand for failed attempts

How would you feel if someone berates you for not dumping it in the toilet? For some readers with firsthand experience in getting reprimanded, I feel your pain bro. If an adult person feels bad after this, just imagine how a toddler would feel - pretty much worse. Moreover, this negative feeling can be associated with pooping and peeing which can be more disastrous. Holding your pee and poop for long periods of time can cause serious medical problems.

This point merits special attention for boys learning to pee in the toilet. It takes some mastering to hit the target. Some master it quite easily while others continue the learning process up to adulthood.

How dads can help:

  • Don’t label – bad boy/bad girl for failed attempts. Even at your age, you probably missed quite a few times.
  • Help ensure the child that he/she will get better at it
  • Have patience; remember it’s a learning process
  • Give pointers on how to do it better.

Yna with daddy and her teddy bear while going potty.
Yna with daddy and her teddy bear while going potty. | Source

Buy her books

My daughter loves A little Flush by Benoit Charlat. It's about a duck who goes potty. Whenever she has to go, she reads the book. At the last page, she can push a button and a toilet flush can be heard,

Reward and encourage

As a corollary to the previous, this is an essential step every parent should take. Rewarding your child for a job well done is a great way to encourage them to repeat the right behaviors. Some would give treats – preferably after cleaning up. However, I’ve seen my child multi-task while pooping.

I’ll spare you the operant conditioning lectures. This way you keep your sanity intact until the end. So what rewards can you give? Well, that’s up to you and how well you know your child. It can be anywhere from a clap and thumbs up for a job well done or a trip to Disney Land – if only my parents gave me this reward, I would have been potty trained earlier. It’s a toss-up between internal and external motivation. But let’s not go into nose-bleeding topics here.

How dads can help:

  • Be consistent when you reward the behavior
  • Choose a reward that you child loves
  • Talk with your wife about what is a good reward for your child
  • If you choose treats as reward, make sure it’s healthy
  • Scout for the best potty for your child
  • Buy and read books that will help your child understand and gain confidence

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My daughter Yna pretending to go pottyYup, she has her undies over her shorts.Reading books about potty helped my daughter.
My daughter Yna pretending to go potty
My daughter Yna pretending to go potty | Source
Yup, she has her undies over her shorts.
Yup, she has her undies over her shorts. | Source
Reading books about potty helped my daughter.
Reading books about potty helped my daughter. | Source

Role-playing is a child’s learning platform

This may sound weird but pretending to poop and pee in the potty is a worthwhile activity. Before you slam that beer bottle on my head, hear me out first. Role-playing is a valuable tool in instilling desired behaviors in a child.

We bought a potty trainer for my daughter and we let her play with it. It sounds weird, but she got to know it earlier. When we played house, we placed the potty trainer on one side and made her pretend to poop and pee. As such, she became more familiar what it was for. Likewise, she was able to associate these bodily functions with the potty trainer. In addition, there were times when she had her dolls go potty on her trainer.

Apart from the actual pooping and peeing, we even included role-playing the cleaning up part. Potty training does not end in shooting it inside. Go the extra mile and practice cleaning up after each potty episode. Obviously, this is a critical step you would never want to forget.

How dads can help:

  • It’s ok to be silly, so don’t be too shy when role-playing. Be animated.
  • Play as often as you can. It’s a great bonding moment with your child
  • Take note of your child’s behavior. Role-play is a glimpse of how your child sees the world
  • Ask the your child questions so you will learn what’s going on in his/her mind

Practice is required.

Here’s where it becomes tricky especially for boys. First, pooping and peeing are different. Daddies, you should memorize this: boys pee standing up and poop sitting down. Not the other way around. And girls do both while sitting down. However, my daughter tried to pee standing up several times. I actually let her. And in her own words it was “warm and icky on her legs”.

How dads can help:

  • Give pointers on how to do it better
  • Encourage, encourage and encourage more
  • If needed, show how to do it properly.
  • Be ready to clean poop from weird places in the house
  • Take note of your child’s behavior. Role-play is a glimpse of how your child sees the world
  • Ask the your child questions so you will learn what’s going on in his/her mind
  • At first, use the potty trainer at a place where you child is comfortable

Trying to go for it.
Trying to go for it. | Source

It takes time so please be patient

First, this is about acquiring the skills to actually use the potty. As I’ve mentioned earlier, there’s no quick fixes. You have to wing it out with your child. Again, don’t worry. Your child will get potty trained before he/she graduates from high school. Be wary though, boys are known to regress once they reach college or start to drink heavily with friends. Second, moving your bowel is different for everyone. From the initial tingling feeling to the actual the “eagle has landed” varies from person to person. You don’t believe me, you can tell me later how long you take to poop and we’ll get a consensus.

Every child will progress at his/her own pace. Even siblings will exhibit varying skills and pace. Take note that once, you were like them. Of course, chances you don’t remember it. But this should not discourage you from exerting a little more patience with your child.

How dads can help:

  • Make the experience pleasing to your child
  • Document the progress of your child
  • Assess your strategies and perhaps tweak it as needed
  • Enjoy the experience

Now, if you’re feeling a little woozy, it’s probably the impact of knowing you need to do all these things or it’s a little too much alcohol. Nope, this is not a hallucination; you’ve just completed a dummies guide to potty training your child.

Daddies often take a back seat when it comes to potty training. Whatever your reasons may be, it’s time to step up and be useful – apart from taking out the trash. Daddies have a critical part in potty training. Start with cleaning the poop and then work your way up. Who knows, you can learn a thing or two along the way.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello jc, My daughter is already potty trained. But I'm sure other readers will be curious about this method.

    • profile image

      jc 4 years ago

      Try the towel potty training method.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi cjarosz,

      Potty training is definitely a breakthrough worth celebrating.

    • profile image

      cjarosz 4 years ago

      I totally understand. Potty training is not fun, in any way. Once you have your mind set on it. You can make it work extremely well. Good for your for getting rid of the nappies. That is excellent news!!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello cjarosz,

      It was not all smiling faces. I had to clean poop in really awkward places. But now, she can do it really well. In fact, we no longer use nappies. It's great cause they cost too much.

    • profile image

      cjarosz 4 years ago

      That is amazing advice coming from a first timer! You are doing great. Hope that your potty training experience continues to do well.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello there tobusiness,

      I'm happy to put a smile on your face through this hub. These are my experiences as a first time dad and I hope people will learn a thing or two. Thanks for sharing.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Hey, thank you for the chuckle. :) This is delightfully funny and a very useful hub, up and sharing. Have a wonderful day and keep up the good work.


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