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5 Potty Training Tips That Will Help You On This Journey

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Potty training your little one? Most people will agree that potty training is the least fun milestone for a parent and child. While one thing may work for one child, it may be a disaster with another. It’s about knowing your child and what you think (and hope!) will work for them and get the job done the quickest. Some potty train for weeks and others take months and months to master it.

Here are five tips to help you on this rollercoaster ride.

Do not begin too early/young

This one stems from my own mistake. When my daughter turned two, I felt an intense pressure from the world that she was “supposed” to already be learning how to use the potty. I’d get comments and unsolicited advice about what I should do with her.

So I began to feel like I was running behind and had better jump into potty training quickly so she could catch up to the other toddlers. Because of this, a month after she turned 2, which was a week after having my second baby (dumb move), I forced her to start potty training.

She wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to accept that, because I was ready. But by starting too young, before she was mature enough to understand what I desperately wanted from her, I set us both up to fail. For over a year, I tried every technique in the book but what it all came down to was starting before she was old enough and ready. I wonder how quickly she would’ve caught on if I had just given her a few more months with no pressure?

Get the right potty for your child

You never know what will work best for your kid so in our year(+) of training, I tried all the different types. One I’d recommend is the Summer Infant My Size Potty.

potty summer infant x3
Summer Infant My Size Potty

It looks and even sounds like a real life toilet so it prepares your child well to use the bigger toilets without fear. Often, the sound of flushing is what scares kids, so I love that it has a flush handle, complete with noise. But just so you know, it doesn’t actually flush so don’t leave the contents just sitting there. It’s quite easy to lift the seat lid and pull out the bowl to dump and wipe clean!

potty Summer Infant

Find the little quirks that work for your kid

Potty training is a lot of guessing and hoping (with a moderate amount of praying, as well). You’ll have to figure out what each of your kids likes and play that up. For my daughter, she clung to the fact that when we flush, her pee and poop go down a pipe and into the ground below. Weird, but hey, it helped her not to be scared to use the big toilet, it’s big bowl beneath her, and to remember to flush.

Your kid may always want the same book while he’s on the toilet, or he might need to hold your hand the whole time. He might need you to put in drops of food coloring to the toilet water so when he pees, the water changes color. Whatever you find that works and will keep your trainee interested/engaged, exploit it!

Don’t be afraid to bribe

You are not a bad parent if you use stickers, M&Ms, toys, books, or whatever else to get your kids to learn their bodily functions. Kids learn through doing and through positive reinforcements. They learn through praise and physical things they can see and touch.

They learn through practice and seeing their progress in front of them (why sticker charts work for many), since their memory and attention span rival a goldfish’s. So to bring attention to when they feel they need to go, and to reward them for using the toilet, bribing is a natural reward most parents resort to.

It doesn’t have to be candy or toys—it can be with a sticker chart, a library trip, a new coloring book, a lunch date with daddy, etc. Don’t let anyone get you down for resorting to flat out bargaining or bribing to get your point across. Sometimes, that’s the only way potty training becomes successful.

potty training bribe

Be patient

I hate this advice, but I can’t deny it’s true. I am the least patient person ever and when it comes to having my hands wrist deep in my child’s crap, I’m even less patient. But with all my frustrated yelling and negative consequences (we tried every method, including the less popular disciplining route), none of it helped.

I knew my kid understood what she was supposed to do. I knew she just preferred to poop in her pants. But there was literally nothing I could do to force her to go consistently on the toilet so why waste effort and time being mad about it? This tip took a long time for me to get (kinda) good at implementing but it really is important to remember through this process.

Bonus Expert Tips

Avoid peeing up and over the splashguard by telling your kid to “make your knees kiss.” Yes, even girls are capable of peeing up over the seat instead of into it. Teach your kid to make their knees kiss every time and their legs will close, allowing the pee to direct where it’s supposed to be versus all down their leg and the floor in front of them.

Help your kid recognize the feeling of needing to pee by squirting water into the toilet while they sit on it. Many times, kids will just sit and sit on the toilet for forever and never pee. Encourage them to go by using a squeeze bottle (like the one you got from the hospital after birth to clean yourself with down there) to squirt warm water on their penis or vulva. Don’t have one? Run some water in the sink. The sound of running water may help them finally go! Never know ‘til you try it!

Potty added tip


How long do you let a toddler sit on the potty?

You know your child best but if they don’t go after 3-5 minutes of sitting on the pottylet your child get off the toilet and try again later. It’s best not to have your child sit on the potty too long that it turns into a punishment.

What is the 3 Day potty training method?

The 3 day method is just like training a puppy. You walk your child to the potty every 15 minutes, all day long for three days. Yes, it’s a commitment and most people will need to clear their schedules to do this. Cut off all liquids and snacks after dinner while potty training. At nighttime, you’ll take your kid to the potty one last time and then wake them up halfway through the night to pee.

*Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Summer Infant. As always, all thoughts, opinions, tips and suggestions are our own.

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