I successfully potty trained both of my kids - boy
and girl - before age two and in less than a week. Here are fifteen
tips for successful potty training:
1. Don't believe the hype. Diaper manufacturers
would like us to believe that potty training should start at age 3,
but the American Academy of Pediatrics affirms that children's
elimination muscles reach full maturity somewhere between 12-24
months, with an average age of maturity at 18 months.
2. Cancel your plans. Plan to stay at home for
three days while you potty train. Play outside, but in the
3. Set the stage. One week before you plan to potty
train, start talking about using the potty often. Let your child
know that it's almost time for him to use the potty. Check out some
potty-themed children's books from the library; download some
potty-training videos. My daughter loved reading Miss
No More Diapers.
4. Talk it up! You may feel ridiculous doing it,
but talk often about how much you love going to the
5. Buy a child's seat that fits onto the toilet.
Potty chairs are a pain in the butt (no pun intended!) to clean up.
Purchase a child's potty insert and a stepping stool so children
are using the toilet from the get go. Also, you can take the potty
insert with you when you leave the home during potty-training and
your child will be used to using it eliminating any public restroom
6. Once you begin potty training, there is no
turning back! Say goodbye to diapers on day one. But it might be
wise to have pull-ups on hand for nighttime if you don't
think your child can hold his bladder for the entire night. Do not
reveal the new potty until day one of potty training and when you
do make it a grand reveal - involve the whole family and talk that
7. Hello to comfy underpants! Surprise your child
with a nice new set of underpants featuring their favorite
characters. As soon as they wake up, reveal the new potty and guide
them to use it for the first time.
8. Head to the potty every hour until your child
gets the hang of it.
9. When it's time to go potty, create a ritual. I
would run the water a little bit and we'd wait and listen for that
first tinkle or poop. Flush the toilet with fanfare and wash
10. Your child is used to the attention that you
gave during a diaper change. Give that same amount of attention -
even more - and sit with your child while he is on the
11. Keep a couple of special books in your
bathroom, so you have some potty-time reading material on
12. If there is an accident, don't make a big deal.
Don't give it any attention - neither negative nor positive. Just
clean up the mess, without commentary. Try not to give a bath. Some
kids view baths as rewards. Just wipe up with a warm
13. After three initial days of potty training,
plan three days of limited excursions. Bring a change of clothes
with you just in case. When traveling in the car, you may want to
place an absorbent towel on your child's car seat.
14. Celebrate. I never gave my children stickers or
rewards after each successful trip to the potty, but after three
consecutive days of successful potty training I did gift them with
a special commemorative "You're a big kid now!" treat.
15. Give yourself a pat on the back! Potty training
can be stressful, but once it's done, it's done. You've helped your
child reach another milestone!
Have you successfully potty trained your child?
What tips or tricks worked for you?
Amy Bizzarri is a writer, Chicago public school teacher and mom to two kids - a preschooler and a middle schooler - living in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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