Potty Training Tips for Toddlers


One of the most dreaded tasks {well, one of many} of parenting is transitioning our toddlers between diapers and big kid undies.  Just the thought of cleaning up pee or poop time after time is never on the top 10 of all time favorite moments of parenting, but nevertheless, it’s something we all get to go through.   With my daughter, we did the 3 day method.  With my son, we took it slower and let him be more in charge. There were lots of times when I wanted to throw in the towel and say – forget it, just wear the dang diaper.  And about that time is when they suddenly “got it.” Now that I’ve been through it twice {which, by no means makes me an expert}, I’ve come up with a few tips that have really helped us – or would have helped us if someone would have suggested it – to have a less stressful transition with both of our kids: a boy and a girl.

Potty Training Your Toddler

Embrace the diaper.

Wait, what?  I thought this was tips on helping us get rid of the diaper!  Well, it is.  With my daughter, I felt the pressure to potty train her before she was quite ready, and she felt the pressure from me to master this task before she was ready.  With my son, we embraced the diaper and let him decide when he was ready to try the potty.  When others would suggest to him that he should go on the potty, I told him it’s okay to just go in his diaper and when he is ready, we would try it.  He eventually didn’t like to wear the saggy thing or to sit in his poo, but helping him know it was still okay made him feel more secure.

Make it fun.

With both of our kids, we made it a BIG deal to go to the store and pick out big kid underwear!  It was a special trip where we went just for that.  They got to choose that special package and that made them very proud of themselves – which in turn made it exciting for them to wear them!  Fun soap is also a great way to get them excited about hand-washing, which is a critical part in potty training!

Talk about it ALL the time.

I have felt like a broken record a time or two, but we incorporated “potty talk” {not potty mouth, mind you} into a lot of our day! We were big fans of Elmo’s Potty Time movie and sound book, and we watched and read that almost every day.  There are other great videos and books out there that will help your child, like The Potty Book for Girls or The Potty Book for Boys.  Books are so fun for the kids to listen to and see the pictures of someone else going potty!

Ditch the pull-ups.

I know, I know. These are supposed to help your child learn how to go potty, but in my experience, both of my kids still felt like they were wearing a diaper and didn’t utilize the potty like they should have when wearing them. It was only when we had them wear their super new & exciting underwear that they felt the sensation of going to the bathroom and didn’t like to feel wet or poopy.  In the beginning, we did use Pull-ups for when we went out of the house, just in case, but after a week or two, we went to using them only for naps and bedtime.

Use the BIG potty.

The tiny kid pottys are cute and musical and convenient…but what happens when your child won’t go on any potty BUT their tiny one?  I love the tiny pots for side of the road emergencies or a quick squat out by the pool in the summer, but otherwise, it seems more beneficial to get them a potty seat for the big potty so they can feel comfortable on it and won’t fall in.

Start sitting down.

With girls, this is a no-brainer.  But with boys, it’s tricky to learn that sensation of going pee and even harder to aim.  So unless you want to clean up the bathroom several time a day, start with him sitting down (but remember to point it down!) and eventually work to standing up.  He will not be ruined as a man if he sits down to pee as a toddler.

Know your child’s love language.

What is the way they love to be rewarded?  With my daughter, she loved a sticker chart.  That got her pretty excited to go pee-pee and then run get a sticker! With my son, he could care less about stickers and only wanted candy.  In fact, the way we got him to go poop on the potty was to offer him not one, not two, but three candies.  That was the way he felt rewarded.  Think about how your child will understand rewards and go with that.  And remember, it doesn’t always have to be candy!

Most of all, don’t push your child to potty train!

As parents, I think we often compare ourselves and our kids to our friends and their children – I know I did with my daughter when it came to her using the potty!  With my son, I learned the better way – kids master skills on their own timeline, not ours!  But until then, embrace the diaper, don’t stress about frantically finding potties out in public (which, a public restroom could  be a post all in itself) or having so many accidents that you want to pull out your hair.

Bottom line, go with your instinct as a mom.  Who cares if your kid doesn’t want to use the potty at the moment you think he/she should?  It’s going to be okay…and quite less stressful for you if you just wait until your child is ready.

What potty-training tips would you add to this list?


  1. […] Potty training is messy but not just because of the accidents. You will find a whole new level of public restroom filth that you’ve never known before. Things that should never come in contact with each other do such as hands and heads, yes heads, in toilets, tongues on toilet seats, entire bodies on bathroom floors, the list goes on. This is where those disinfectant wipes, spray and hand sanitizer come in handy. […]


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