You might wonder how to potty train your child? Let me tell you that you are not alone in this! Especially, if you have a stubborn child. I’m a mom of two girls and I have potty trained many kids in the past. My psychology background has helped me to prevent power struggles and made potty training easy every. single. time. Follow my 5 useful tips to make your potty training journey as easy as possible.
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1. Start To Potty Train When Ready!
Start the potty training journey when your child is ready and not when you are ready. I see so many books out there that tell you to start at 18 months, 36 months, etc. Nope!! Start when your child is ready. Because every child is different.
I know that is not what you want to hear because you want a magic number. That number does not exist! But I will guarantee you that you will know when your child is ready! And that’s a promise.
You will know when!
For instance, my oldest was never that interested in the potty and after she started preschool her bestie started potty training 3 months later. One morning, Charlotte got up and announced “I don’t want to wear diapers anymore. I’m a big girl.” And that is when we started to potty train her.
Believe me, that was not when we were ready because we had a long weekend planned full of fun activities. Instead, we canceled our plans and potty trained our little girl.
Now you might not get these exact words from your child, but you will feel a change. That your child doesn’t want to be in diapers anymore. That’s when you start potty training.
Watch out for potty train signs!
- When your child is getting uncomfortable wearing diapers (this was a huge sign with every child I potty trained).
- When your child announces that he/she is peeing/pooping.
- Your child has to be able to pull his/her pants up and down.
- Is asking to go potty.
- Is interested in you or older child using the bathroom.
- Your child is interested in potty books.
- If your child is at least 2-years-old.
2. Get The Right Potty Train Supplies
Baby Bjorn Potty
For both of my kids, I purchased the Baby Bjorn Potty. I absolutely love this potty because my kids are very comfortable on it since it’s not too high off the ground. Perfect for their short legs. And very affordable!!
List Price: $19.99
Now, you might think “that’s it?” Yes, that’s it. Sure, you can get a fancy potty with a cute design and lots of noises. But I found this rather distracting than helpful. And why spend all that money??
I recommend having a potty available to your child on every level of the house. You don’t want to run up and down the stairs when your child has to go right away. And believe me, at the beginning they will have to go right this second. You want to be prepared!
List Price: $11.99
I wanted to mention this potty seat for when your child graduates from a potty. It’s very sturdy and your child can’t pee over the seat.
Let’s talk about a common scenario here:
You are driving down a road about to go grocery shopping. Traffic is pretty heavy and there are no restrooms anywhere near you. Suddenly, your child happily announces “I have to go potty, mom.”
Believe me, we all have been there. And this doesn’t have to be a nightmare scenario when you have a travel potty in your car. I simply pulled into a shopping center and put her on the travel potty.
In addition, this has happened to me in a large shopping mall where the restrooms were on the other side of the mall and I knew my little one wouldn’t make it across the mall in-time. I unfolded my daughter’s travel potty behind her stroller, she went potty, and I simply tossed the bag… And moved on with my life! No stressful scenario here.
List Price: $19.99
Now, this travel potty can be unfolded to fit on a toilet seat. However, one of my Instagram followers and I noticed that it doesn’t always fit right on every toilet seat.
Foldable Owl Toilet Seat
List Price: $9.99
For that issue, this foldable toilet seat (check out the picture how small it folds up) is very useful to have in your diaper bag.
This toilet seat is even great for older kids.
3. Find The Right Entertainment For Potty Training
When potty training your kids it’s important to keep them on the potty for a couple of minutes at a time.
Reading books to them is a wonderful way for you and your little one to relax and bond throughout this experience. Potty training doesn’t have to be stressful!
Here are a few of my daughter’s favorite books:
Potty by Leslie Patricelli
List Price: $6.29
Both of my kids loved this book and on the last page, it introduces “undies” to them. That’s when I took them to the store and bought them their first pair of undies. Both kids picked their favorite character.
A Potty For Me! by Little Simon
List Price: $7.68
This is one of my favorite potty books because at the beginning the little girl states that she isn’t ready yet. And it shows how her mom sits with her to support her. That is what children need!!
It is okay not to be ready. And they need to know that mom and dad will be there no matter what!! Putting pressure on kids is not the right way.
My kids loved this book because you can fold pages to make them bigger and that always kept them engaged.
Potty Time! Daniel Tiger by Scarlett Wing
List Price: $7.98
My oldest daughter loved to bring books to the potty that make sounds. This one was her absolute favorite. I have to say she always responded well to Daniel Tiger books. She gets the point behind it.
4. How to potty train? No pants/pull-ups allowed!
Now that your child is ready and you have all the supplies you need.
Let’s talk about potty training. The actual act!
Create a safe and judgmental free space for potty training
This is very important! Let’s just think about this for a second. For 2-3 years your child was allowed to pee and poop whenever he/she wanted without any consequences. Suddenly, it’s time to potty train and this habit needs to be broken. It’s hard!! And it’s confusing to them.
Some adults even get constipated while on vacation because they are not in their normal environment and can’t relax enough (or whatever other reason there might be) to use the bathroom.
And we expect kids to get it within 3 days without very many accidents.
You have to be there for your child and support him/her throughout this process. It’s a process after all!!
Be ready for accidents during potty training
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared!
Roll up your carpet – We have a large carpet in our play area and for the first three days of potty training we rolled it up to protect it from any accidents. It worked well and my oldest was excited to help roll it up.
Put training pads on your couch – A little side story here when we got our puppy everyone told us to buy puppy training pads. So, I had 100 training pads laying around that I never used because I used an incredible housebreaking schedule instead. In case you will get a dog at one point. 😉 Sorry for getting off-topic.
But these training pads came in handy so many times. I put them on the couch and in my bed after delivery!
And I used them during potty training. To protect my couch! Worked like a charm.
List Price: $19.99
I still have some of these pads laying around and I consider them a lifesaver.
Protecting what is important to you will help you to make it less stressful.
Let’s Ditch Those Pants/Pull-Ups!
- When your little one starts potty training, make it a big deal and ditch those pants! Note: Everyone has to be on the same page! Parents, care provider, grandparents, etc.
- Let your little one go naked from the waist down for at least 3 days. Or until he/she seems to understand when to go potty. And make sure there is a potty near your child at any point.
- Make sure your child is well hydrated and offer to take him/her potty every 10 minutes (you can slowly increase this time to 30 minutes and later an hour). Bring entertainment and stickers. And let your child help you to set the time again.
- Every time your child tried the potty let him/her decorate the potty with a sticker or create a sticker chart. My oldest responded better to “decorating the potty.” Now, some people use candy. That’s up to you. But make sure the same rewards are offered with other caregivers.
- If your child has an accident don’t get upset!!! Clean it up and say “it’s okay and the pee/poop goes in the potty.”
But what about the car you might wonder? Sorry to break this to you, but you will be stuck at home for a couple of days. I know that’s annoying, but it needs to happen.
Continue potty training with undies
Furthermore, when your child has the peeing part down add undies. Again, make a big deal about it. But don’t put your kids in pull-ups during the day. It will be a setback!
Your child might have a couple more accidents than usual around day 4-5 and that is totally normal. Because you added undies and it creates a similar feeling to a diaper. And because the initial excitement is gone. Just keep doing what you are doing and pay attention. Especially when your child hides in a corner to go number 2.
This is the moment you are really breaking this habit with lots of love and support!
Potty training and going number 2
In addition, pooping on the potty is by far the hardest part for kids. So be aware and supportive. Again, observe your child well and put him/her on the potty when he/she is squatting or hiding in a corner. Your child might fight you, so try to make it as fun as possible. “Well, let me read you a book, or you can play with your favorite toy, or offer a treat.”
And that is when we stepped up our rewarding game. When my oldest pooped on the potty 5 times in a row she was able to pick out a small toy at Target.
If your child simply can’t go number 2 on the potty consult your pediatrician. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help! You don’t want your child to get constipated.
Again, I don’t believe in pull-ups during the day, but they are a great tool at night.
How to potty train at night?
In addition, most parents wonder about night time potty training. I say don’t do it right away.
But when your little one has it figured out during the day or he/she really doesn’t want to wear pull-ups at night that’s when you start.
And it is so simple. A bit exhausting on your end. But not a big deal!
How to potty train at night the right way…
- Limit your child’s water intake at least an hour before bedtime. Don’t go overboard you don’t want your little one to be dehydrated.
- Add a potty to the room and a nightlight (if you don’t have one).
- Also, add a training pad and make sure your mattress protector isn’t damaged. You could even double up.
- Make sure you have a clean spare sheet, pillow, blanket, etc.
Then, set yourself an alarm for 1 AM and put your child on the potty (my daughter’s pee hour was 2 AM). But start a little earlier just to be safe.
Your child will be half asleep. Don’t talk to your child. Just say “let’s go potty.” That’s it. Pull your child’s pants down (no undies, no pull-up) and take your child potty.
Clean the potty and go back to bed. Make sure to leave the potty in the room.
Now do this for at least 3 weeks. You will notice that your child will pee less and less.
Why do this…
Because you are gently training your child’s bladder and you are teaching your child that it is okay to use the potty at night. Because it is!!
5. Don’t nag your child during potty training!
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see parents make a lot. They nag their child and it turns into a power struggle. And that is when potty training goes sideways and you may add a couple of months to your process.
“Do you have to go potty?”
Don’t sound like a broken record. “Do you have to go potty?” “What about now?” “You still don’t have to go potty?” (with a sad face). DON’T DO IT!!!!
Now you might wonder “well what should I say?” Four words that will make all the difference!
“ARE YOU STILL DRY?”
A couple of things will happen:
- Your child will stop what he/she is doing.
- He/she will check.
- And he/she will give you an answer.
- If your child is dry say “Yay, you are such a big kid.”
- Or your child will run to the potty.
My oldest daughter is a stubborn child and I love her for it. She has so much willpower it’s exhausting at times. But somehow comforting as well. When she told me she was still dry we had a secret “celebration dance.” 🙂
Asking her “are you still dry?” took out the nagging in her potty training process and it made all the difference. Celebrating and motivating her throughout her potty training journey made it stressfree for me and she felt loved, respected, and supported.
Additional Resources on “How to Potty Train” your Kids!
Now, as I said every child is different and I won’t let you go without giving you and additional resource that has helped me tremendously. A supportive Facebook group. I do not run this group, but I found it very helpful.