The Potty Training Saga: Tips & Tricks


The Potty Training SagaI say potty training is a saga because so far I’ve seen 3 different versions and am looking forward to the 4th! I’m pretty sure the 4th will start soon. There have already been indicators that he might be ready.  He is taking off his diaper all the time and actually peed on my couch the other day….oh wait, it could just be he is a boy and likes to run around nude!

ALL children are DIFFERENT. Therefore, they need different potty training methods.  With this in mind, instead of giving you a how to potty train your child, I’m going to share my list of what I have found helpful.

[typography font=”Bubblegum Sans” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#7d1241″]My Favorite Potty Training Tips[/typography]

1.  Let them watch you use the potty.  Although we value our bathroom alone time, this will help them understand the process way before they are ready to potty train.  That way it’s not completely new.  My youngest hands me the toilet paper or tries to throw the whole roll down the toilet.  Either way, he understands part of the process!

2. Keep little potty next to the big potty.  This is more prep work.  It was awesome to see our kids mimicking whomever was sitting on the potty.  One of my girls would go to the little potty with her diaper on and use it.  Then, she was soon able to transition to taking her diaper off first before sitting on the potty.

3. Decide which method is best for you & your child.  From Elimination Communication to Oh! Crap, there are so many different methods that the best thing for you to do is evaluate what best fits the needs of your child.  I came across a book at the library about potty training by personality type.  It reminded me that each child is different and not to become frustrated if one method doesn’t work but to find the one that suits the child best.

4.  Wait until they are ready.  This is my biggest piece of advice.  If not ready, the frustration level will be high for both of you.  One cousin did a Picasso rendition on the wall with her poo because she was so angry her mother took away her diapers.

5. Decide how little boys should pee.  Most toilets are too tall for the little guys to use standing up.  Couple this with having to be super coordinated to get a perfect arc or risk a disgusting bathroom and I quickly opted to have my boys sit on the potty facing forward, and pointing their penis down.  Some of my friends sat their boys facing the back of the potty.

6.  Girls tend to train earlier than boys.  Don’t become frustrated that your boy is behind girls his age.  It’s normal.    

7.  Find some great how-to potty books, apps, or DVDs for your kids.  One of our favorite book/app is Once Upon a Potty, which has a version for girl & boy.  A few of our contributors used Potty Power, Even Pirates Poop, Even Princesses Poop, and Elmo Potty Time.

8.  Summer is the perfect time to potty train! You can send them outside without a diaper and if they eliminate, it doesn’t get all over your floor!  It’s fun for them too to see how it actually comes out.  Then, they begin to put the feeling and the function together.

9.  Lots of water.  During the day, give your child 4-6 oz of water and set an alarm to go off 20 minutes after they drink the water. Then, start asking them when it chimes if they feel like they need to use the potty.  This helps them have more practice feeling their body’s urine indicators.

10.  Keep a little potty near wherever the child is in the home.  I did this with my first child.  It was helpful to have the potty close so she could just hop on it and not have to make the trek to the bathroom.  I had my children so closely though, I had to nix this with the others, because curious younger siblings playing in the potty grossed me out.

11.  Understand that day-time potty training & night-time potty training are two different monsters.  I always day-time potty trained first and then tackled the night-time monster after a few months of my children being potty trained.  It didn’t put pressure on them to be conscious of their body at night but allowed them to feel the body indicator first and then understand it when they felt it at night. One of my kids used to wake up crying at night.  It took me a few times to realize that he was realizing he needed to use the potty but was too disoriented to go.  I would guide him and then all was well.

12.  Expect accidents.  It’s extra helpful to let your child know to expect accidents too.  That way when an accident does happen it doesn’t deflate the child.  S/he can simply learn from it.  Talk about the cue that might have been missed or how their body felt when it happened.  This will help them next time to recognize before it’s too late.

13.  Intensive potty camp.  With my first child, we stayed at home, sat on the potty & read books until she peed or pooped.  And we did this until she was completely trained.  It took her about 3 days.  (Again, I waited until she was ready.)

14.  Enlist the help of relatives.  Grandparents are fabulous to help with potty training, at least those that are patient.  It will give you a bit of a break from the constant monitoring and allow the child to either be in a different setting or get used to being encouraged by someone else.  The more people cheering on the child, the better.

15.  Utilize treats & reward charts after every potty attempt & CELEBRATE!  Every single time the trainee goes to the bathroom a treat is given and the child gets to put a sticker on a chart. Once the chart is filled up with 30-40 stickers comes a bigger prize like an ice cream cone or a special activity.  I usually give 2 chocolate chips for #1 and a lollipop for #2 along with a happy celebration dance.

16.  Enlist siblings to be cheerleaders.  In my house, every time a trainee uses the potty, a treat is handed out to every child, so the brothers & sisters will gladly encourage their sibling to go potty because they want a treat too.

17.  Introduce them to the potty, especially outside of the home.  Many kids get scared to use the potty outside of their house and will hold it until they return home.  It will be helpful to introduce them to the potty upon entering a new location.  This also helps them find it quickly when needed.

18.  When out & about, carry a portable potty & a big umbrella.  My oldest son actually potty trained on a car ride from Oklahoma to Florida.  I purchased a potty that folded up and used plastic grocery sacks with a paper towels inside to catch the waste.  Once he was done, we threw away the sack.  For instant access while still maintaining privacy, use the umbrella and position him up against the wall!

19.  Regression is possible with big changes.  Major life changes, like moving or a new baby, can cause a child recently potty trained to regress.  This happened to two of my children.  One occurred after moving and it took the child an extra 8 months before he was ready again.  Another time, my daughter regressed after being sick for a week and it was close to a year before she was ready to start again.  No amount of coaxing would bring her back.  I know many parents want to train their child right before having the next baby, but unless it’s many months before, I don’t recommend it.

20.  Dealing with lazy accidents.  Sometimes, kids watching TV or playing decided not to run to the potty.  When this happened, the child got to clean it up.  That usually stopped it from happening again.

21.  Double up on sheets. Make nighttime accidents easier to deal with by placing two sets of sheets on the bed.  Start with your mattress protection cover, then the fitted sheet, then the sleep sheet and do the same process again.

22.  Shot glasses are the perfect nighttime drink cup.  More than 1-2 oz of liquid at night can cause accidents so I choose to trick my kids into drinking a full cup of water that’s just the right size for their nighttime bladder.

23.  Extra clothes for you and the trainee.  I did not realize this was so important until my 3rd child came along.  We were at the State Fair enjoying the sights when she released with a vengeance one of the best bowel movements of her life right onto my white shirt!  I had a change of clothes for her but not for me.  Needless to say, even after doing my best to clean if off, there was a visable stain. Lesson learned: extra set of clothes for me & baby!

24.  Check out Erin’s list as well for a few extra’s.  

I hope these tips help you on your potty journey.  May the potty training force be with you!

[typography font=”Bubblegum Sans” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#7d1241″]What are your favorite potty training tips?[/typography]

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I'm a wife to an amazing husband and a mother to four super active kiddos ages: 7 & under. Seven years ago, I traded in my career outside the home for a career as an adventurous homeschooling mom and gave up microwave cooking for organic homemade meals. Truly, dance parties, lots of prayer, and laughter are the only ways I stay sane, along with working out, traveling, crafting & reading in my spare time. Most of all, I love serving God, my family, my friends and my community. My family is constantly looking for ways that we can grow and have fun together while blessing others with what the Lord has given us. I hope my words will be a blessing to you!



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