Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Potty Training Your Toddler: Tips and Tricks

At around 18 months, I (reluctantly) took the plunge and started potty training after my daughter, Payton, started asking to use the potty. This started after a weekend with family and she saw her three year old cousin use the potty many, many times. She asked to use the potty on her own, but it was apparent she had no idea what actually came next. Thus began a successful three day potty training marathon period. As I reflect on what I learned in the six months after starting potty training I wanted to share a few tips I have for you and your child.

1. Know Signs that Your Child is Ready
When I was working on my masters degree in counseling I interned for a psychologist who worked specifically with children. It was here that I learned what the professionals say are the three signs to knowing your child is ready to potty train:

* they can pull their pants up and down

* they can go at least 2 hours between soiled diapers

*they demonstrate a desire and can follow a few instructions

At 18 months, my child was still mastering pulling her pants up and down so we weren't 100% on that one. The challenge with that was that she had to get someone before going to the bathroom (risk an accident with the time delay) or she would try on her own and not have her pants pulled far enough down. I may have been wiser to wait until she had mastered pulling her pants up and down.

2. Make Certain You Are Ready
Even if you have an easy to train child, potty training is rough for caregivers. It's a lot of work and during the time your child is awake, you have to be 100% focused on potty training. It's consuming, has frustrating moments, and disables you from having the ability to multitask. I found the second I looked away, Payton would have an accident. Take the time to make sure you are really ready before you begin.

3. Plan to Focus ONLY on Potty Training
Read #2 above. It's quite the challenge to focus on any other task besides potty training for the first few days. You may want to consider prepping all your meals prior to starting potty training so you have more of your time available to focus on your little one. Laundry, basic cleaning, as doing dishes are tasks you may as well forget about! 

4. Rewards Work
Find some sort of incentive that interests your child and use it! For us, I had a basket with a few toy prizes and stickers (I spent less than $10 on this). She got 1 every time she used the potty chair for the 3 days. After that, I slowly decreased how often she received a prize. 

5. Find Role Models
Mommy and daddy constantly made sure to make a huge deal about going to the bathroom ourselves. We showed her what we do as we talked her through our process. I found though that Payton was most interested in her peers role modeling using the potty (thus her cousin really getting the ball rolling for us to start potty training). If you know another child who is potty trained and close to your child's age, it could be a great learning opportunity for your child to see how it looks when someone their own age goes potty. If everyone around you role models this behavior to your child, it will help them to learn the expectations.

6. Use Education Materials
About a month prior to even starting potty training, we checked out several potty training books from the library. These books helped to educate our daughter on what it means to go potty and the body parts used when going potty. Educating her beforehand and while we were potty training her helped her to better understand cognitively what we were expecting of her.

There are so many potty training tools to use. You can use books, movies, or tv shows to help you with this process. Your local library could be a great resource as you prepare for potty training.

7. Plan for Regression
The unfortunate news I have is that you may experience regression after succesfully potty training your child. We have experienced short periods of regression throughout the last six months.

The first regression we experienced was about 3 days into potty training. From what I have read, that's fairly normal. The first day of potty training we had several accidents as Payton learned what it meant to use the potty chair. She had only a few accidents the second day.  We then had many accidents the third day before getting back on track with few to no accidents following that.

After that, we went months with no accidents and then my husband left for several weeks for work. I think this major change in routine caused her to regress as she started to have frequent accidents. She got back on track after he returned but has since had a few accidents when she is too busy to stop playing and go to the bathroom. That seems to be fairly common with toddlers.

Overall, potty training has been the best thing. It was so great to push our diapers aside. I wish you luck if you are looking at starting to potty train your child. Let me know how it goes!

Thank you to Host Heather Leigh and Co-Hosts AllyFaithOur Family Grace, and Hannah for organizing the One Year and Beyond link-up. 

One Year and Beyond Topics:
April 15 // Potty Training. 
April 22 // Ways to distract a toddler while you're cooking/cleaning etc.
April 29 // Clothes shopping for your toddler. (Deals, where to shop, saving money, etc.)

This post was also linked up with Mommy Moments at the Life of Faith blog.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! We have a potty chair out, and have used it occasionally, but have definitely not done the whole potty training thing yet. Your tips and story is great to read as I'm preparing to do this with my little one! yikes!

    1. I hope potty training goes well for you! Getting started can sometimes be half the battle! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thanks for the tips! They will be very helpful for us. I look forward to pushing the diapers aside, at least for our toddler!
    Amy @

    1. Moving the diapers over is one of the best feelings!


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