Potty Training Success

Don’t worry. Your child will not wear a diaper to college! I tell all the parents at our preschools that patience is the key to success – at potty training, introducing new foods or sleep routines.
You have all heard the saying “you can lead a horse to water – but you can’t make him drink.” This is too true with potty training. And, often parents make it worse. (Sorry!)

The very first step to potty training is making sure the child’s ready. None of us would begin a meeting, suggest an early departure or even leave for work until we were confident we are ready. So why do we expect our children to be ready to potty train because we are? But you can begin to stack the deck… play videos and read books about potty training, let your child join you for the carefree bathroom routines. Talk about how adults and older children use the potty (or whichever bathroom term you deem appropriate). Then keep an eye out for interest. Look for body language that suggests he/she is able to begin the process. Are there more and more dry diapers each day? Are bowel movements becoming a little easier to predict? Does he/she hide to poop? These are all good signs! Next, can he/she walk to and sit on the toilet? Can he/she pull down his/her pants and pull them back up again with success? Do you feel comfortable that your child is able to wipe properly? If yes! They are likely ready!

Now what?

Be positive! Be patient! And be prepared! Have a ‘parent / caretaker meeting’.

  • Agree to dress your child in easy to remove clothing – no belts, overalls, buttons – it’s ok if their pants hand low for a little while!
  • Agree to change your child in the bathroom as often as possible. They will associate the bathroom with the place to take care of such matters.
  • Agree to be a good example and allow him/her to join/watch you in the bathroom.
  • Agree to let him/her try without pressure!
  • Agree on whether to use the reward system – candy/stickers, etc? Or praise… or another method.
  • Agree to take a potty chair or toilet converter seat with you when you go out. I have pictures of my daughter using her potty chair at the outside the carwash – while it was usually #1 and we carried Lysol Wipes everywhere – we had scented bags for disposal in the nearest receptacle.
  • Agree to carry a fresh change of clothes for accidents and last but certainly not least…
  • Agree NEVER TO MAKE YOUR CHILD FEEL BAD FOR ACCIDENTS…. they happen! Don’t nag, reprimand, deprive them of liquids or make them sit under duress/or with tears.

Next step… Give it a go! (No pun intended!) Encourage your child to sit on the potty. Be casual. Make it fun.

Keep the diaper/pull up on… you’ll want a few days of dry diapers/pull ups before moving to underwear. If the diapers are still wet, it may help to go ‘free-style’ – often they will make better connections when their ‘release’ is felt trickling down their leg. This is ideal in the warmer months and outdoors. If all goes well… there will be small bumps in the road. Not to worry!

If you feel like you are fighting with your child to use the toilet or they are not interested, frustrated on simply unresponsive… back off! You cannot drive this. Children must be excited to excel here. Pressure is not going to help. Positive reinforcement in other areas that show they are becoming more responsible/mature might encourage him/her to want additional praise and inspire a trip to the toilet. After a nice break – you can begin again from the beginning.

While some people say it is ok to go back and forth from diapers/pull-ups to underwear, I believe it is counterproductive. If you wait for completely consistently dry diapers/pull-ups between changes, you will have fewer accidents once they begin wearing underwear.

Know that night-time training often doesn’t end until children are between 5 and 7 years old – don’t be discouraged!

You got this!

Here is a link to some books:


Here is a link to videos: