Potty Training Tips and Techniques that Helped Us a Few Years Ago

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For parents going through, or soon to be going through, the potty training process, I have compiled a list of some tips, tricks and techniques that you might find helpful.

It’s been a few years since my daughter’s potty training stage, and it seems like a lifetime ago since we went through it.  However, I recently came across notes I had been keeping for a blog post I was going to post but never did.  So, since I kept the information, I thought I’d share it with those of you who might be able to use it.

First, is your child ready to potty train?  Timing is important, and children develop at different rates.  You know your child, so you will have a good idea of when he or she might be ready to start the potty training process.

There are many potty training readiness signs, including: showing an interest in pottying in the toilet; showing signs of wanting to be more independent in general; ability follow directions; not liking the feeling of a dirty diaper, or even asking you to change his or her diaper when it’s soiled; having an awareness of needing to go potty, talking about going potty, or telling you that he or she is going or has gone potty;  having long periods of time when his/her diaper is dry/clean (especially when waking up in the morning or after a nap); and, expressing an interest in wearing big kid underwear.

Just make sure you don’t force your child into potty training activities before he or she is ready.  Sure, you can suggest it, and even try it with your child, but if he or she refuses, stop for a while, and try again at a later time.  You want to make it a positive experience.

When we were going through the potty training process, my daughter had been expressing an interest in going potty in the toilet for a few months, although initially wasn’t ready to give it a try.

Potty Chair 3

When our daughter was about 2, we started casually talking about going potty in the toilet.  We had a little Princess Potty Chair (that my mom had gotten for her) sitting in the family room.  We had started using pull-ups on her during the day and asking her if she had to go potty at different times.

Then, it was like one day, she wanted to try.  So, our potty training adventure began.  Here are some of the tools and techniques we used:

All In – Prior to starting the potty training process, we prepared and planned for as successful an outcome as possible.  I read as many articles and book chapters on potty training as I could find, talked to friends who had been through the process and gathered some helpful tools and props.  Then, once we were ready to start, all the pieces in place, we fully committed.

Big Girl Underwear – We took our daughter shopping and let her pick out her very first big girl underwear.  Her choices included Disney princesses, Minnie Mouse, and Dora the Explorer. We washed them and let her put them in her drawer.  This added to the excitement and motivation for potty training.  She wanted to wear them immediately.

Elmo Potty Time DVD

Elmo’s Potty Time DVD – My daughter loved watching this DVD.  She had initially seen it at her preschool, and loved it, so we bought it for her to watch at home.  She watched it over and over, and got even more interested in potty training.  If Elmo could use the big kid potty, so could she.  http://www.amazon.com/Sesame-Street-Elmos-Potty-Time/dp/B000G0O5F0

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Potty Training Sticker Chart – I made a chart and hung it in the bathroom where most of my daughter’s big kid pottying took place.  I bought special stickers that I knew she would especially like and let her place them on the chart every time she went potty in the potty chair or toilet.  I explained to her how the chart was going to work, and she was excited to be able to use the stickers.

Books about Potty – Together we read some potty-related children’s books, which my daughter really enjoyed.  Here are some of our favorites:

Everyone Poops, by Gomi Taro: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everyone-poops-taro-gomi/1101405964?ean=9781929132140

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Where’s the Poop?, by Julie Markes: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wheres-the-poop-julie-markes/1111665359?ean=9780060530891

Potty, by Leslie Patricelli: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/potty-leslie-patricelli/1101956989?ean=9780763660260

A Potty for Me!, by Karen Katz: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-potty-for-me-karen-katz/1111952339?ean=9780689874239

Doll Going Potty      Potty in the Toilet      Potty All Gone
Potty Training Doll – I bought my daughter a Little Mommy Princess and The Potty Doll, which comes with a flushing toilet (“now you see the potty, now you don’t!”), a little sipping cup and hand sanitizer.  She loved having the doll “go potty” and then flushing the toilet to see the potty disappear.  http://www.target.com/p/little-mommy-princess-and-the-potty-doll/-/A-14112296

The Big Event – On the big potty training commencement day, we talked about what it meant to start using the toilet, and then we ceremoniously let her “throw all her diapers away” by putting several of them into a little waste basket (we didn’t really throw them out, this was just symbolic).  She then got to put on her new underwear (she still wore a diaper to bed at night for quite a while).  And, on the first few days, we stayed at home, and visited the bathroom frequently.

My daughter loved the sticker chart; it was motivating for her.  She continued to enjoy the books, DVD, and doll.  She gave up on the potty chair soon, preferring to instead use the regular toilet (like Mommy and Daddy).

I don’t quite remember how long the whole process took.  However, my daughter did great with number one; number two took a while longer to master.  We made it through, and I think that overall, the process was pretty smooth.

My biggest potty training tips are to be prepared, patient, positive, enthusiastic, and persistent.  Make a big deal if they do go; don’t make a big deal if they don’t go, or if they have an accident.  Reward attempts and celebrate successes.  Do what works with your child.  Figure out what motivates him or her.  Use frequent reminders to use the potty (but not force), and use positive reinforcement.

Another little tip for night time potty training: waterproof mattress covers are a must!  In fact, we used to cover her mattress with two sets of waterproof covers and sheets.  That way if an accident happens during the night, we could just peel off the first layer and she had a clean, dry set underneath.

It will eventually click.  Meanwhile, have fun, and enjoy the learning process.

When it comes to potty training, you provide the incentive, opportunity, and expectations, and your child will do it when he or she is ready.  Like the famous book says, everyone poops (and pees) … in the toilet eventually.

Potty Training Success Tips:

  • Make it fun, interesting
  • Read your child’s signs/cues
  • Introduce
  • No pressure
  • Keep it casual
  • Talk about it
  • Make it fun
  • Celebrate successes
  • Be prepared, patient, positive and persistent
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