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Potty Training Tips for Toddlers

Potty Training Tips for Toddlers – by Laurette Lipman, MA, LLPC, NCC of Embracing Life Counseling, LLC and Oakland County Moms.

Every mom dreads the time her baby reaches the age where you have to start potty training. We often put it off because we don’t feel they are ready. In my experience, it is much easier to teach a child when they are younger around 2.5 or 3 years old. If you are able to utilize the following steps, not only will toilet training be much easier for you and your child, but it can be done in as little as 1 week!! The most important part to remember is it isn’t only about your child being ready, but are you ready?



Potty Training Tips for Toddlers – PORTABLE POTTY VISIBILITY – Start by having a portable potty out in the open (the bathroom or any room) to spark their curiosity. There are so many fun ones that have automatic rewards built in. Some toilets play music or make animal noises, and some have a fun flusher that toddlers love to play with. Even if you aren’t ready to start actually training yet, they can get used to seeing it around, they can play with it and use it as a chair etc. My first son loved using it as a chair for awhile so I didn’t force him to move too quickly while I was getting him used to it. The point is for it to not be aversive to them. You want it to be fun, you want them to like it, and you want them to be curious about it.

Potty Training Tips for Toddlers – BUY FUN UNDERWEAR – Be ready to get rid of all the diapers! Have them pick out some underwear that they love ahead of time. We bought the thick white training underwear and they may have been used for a total of three days until my son wanted to wear his cool superhero underwear. Again, you are hoping to get them excited about it. Once you start training, you are not allowed to put a diaper or pull up back on until bed time. No matter what! Try to remember to talk about using the potty a lot and make it sound fun. You can read potty training books together, and watch shows that talk about it etc.

Potty Training Tips for Toddlers – 1ST DAY SUCCESS – When you decide to start potty training you cannot turn back. The best way to ensure they have minimal accidents is to have them sit on the portable potty for the whole day on the first day. Just have then sit on it bottomless until they go, because it will be so difficult to catch otherwise. When you do it this way, you are explaining what you want them to do by showing it, not by saying it. They will have no understanding yet as to what it feels like to have to go, because they never had to hold it before and they just went in the diaper. This is the most important part because you are ensuring success. You want this to be a positive experience with minimal failure.

Potty Training Tips for Toddlers – A GREAT REWARDS SYSTEM – While you are waiting for them to go, make sure you have great rewards ready to be given when it happens. The best rewards are ones they do not normally get otherwise, so they will have some motivation for success. As soon as they go, they get a reward immediately and tons of praise. Keep in mind they can hold it for a long, long time. My warning is that you will be doing this all day long, so make sure you have a whole day to do this. Continue to give them water or juice, snacks, and set up some books or a tv nearby while they are sitting. It is a good idea to have toys they can play with while sitting, or board games that you can both play together so that they, and you, do not get bored waiting. I believe my son went almost 7 hours before he finally went on the portable potty for the first time! But as soon as he did, a lightbulb went on immediately.

Potty Training Tips for Toddlers – STICK WITH THE PLAN – Let them get up to play temporarily, but do not put their pants back on or assume they will be able to catch it the next time. Keep putting them back on the portable potty every thirty minutes to an hour or so. You don’t want it to be too short of a time where they will start hating the potty because they don’t get much of a break, but not too long where you miss catching it and it causes an accident. Of course there is always the chance for an accident the first few days. However, if you keep them bottomless they might sit on the potty without prompting if you keep it near by. Eventually the time between sitting on the potty will get longer and longer. Your child will eventually learn to recognize the feeling to go and may initiate sitting on the potty himself. Remember to give huge rewards for this, when it does happen!

Potty Training Tips for Toddlers – KEEPING THE SUCCESS GOING – Continue to do this for a few days depending on how well your child seems to grasp the concept. Approximately, after the first day they can wear their underwear but still no pants. After the first few days, they should be able to wear pants as long as they are easy to pull down. All children wait way too long until they have to go potty so just be prepared that they will always say they don’t have to go, until the very last minute. The best thing to do, is to not ask if they have to go, but just say, “let’s try going potty again.” If they do end up having an accident, go back to step 3 and just try to have them sit more often on the potty where they can’t get up until they use the potty again.

I will leave you all with two important potty training for toddlers tips

  • Praise for success, but never punish for accidents.
  • The first two weeks I drove with garbage bags over the car seat just in case! I also kept the portable potty in my trunk for emergencies.

Laurette Lipman, MA, LLPC, NCC has over 2 years experience as a mental health therapist, and as a graduate of Oakland University, she is currently under supervision of a fully licensed professional counselor.

Embracing Life Counseling, LLC
Larette Lipman, MI, LLPC, NCC
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