Potty training tips that actually work

Posted on: December 11, 2015

potty time

Potty Training.

Two words all parents dread.

Potty training is not a task any parent looks forward to. It can be very frustrating for both parent and child. And all those parents you meet who say it was easy for them and that they potty trained their child in three days are lying to you! C’mon, let’s be realistic here…I don’t care what kind of experts you listen to or how many books you read, potty training takes a LOT longer than three days and it’s not easy on any level (and, yes, I have had a parent tell me that it only took them three days to train their child).

My oldest son Giovanni was definitely not easy to train. Perhaps it was because he was my first and I had no clue what I was doing. Maybe. Probably. But I learned a lot from my experience with him and it’s really helped in potty training my youngest child, Raylan. Potty training Raylan has been a totally different experience than it was with Giovanni. Mostly in that he trained a lot faster than Giovanni did.

Below are my methods and tips for potty training. Hopefully these will help you and your child as you venture down this bumpy road.

1). DON’T START TOO EARLY – As parents we so desperately want to get our kids out of diapers and using the potty. But, if you try to start potty training before your child is ready, it will only lead to crying, melt downs, and your child just out right refusing to go on the potty. Don’t rush things. Be sure your child is ready before you start training them (If they are telling you they went or need to go, they’re ready. If you see them go in a corner and sit there for a bit, check out what they’re doing…this is an indication they may be ready also.).

2)GET THEM USED TO THE POTTY SEAT/CHAIR FIRST – Introduce your child to the idea of sitting on the potty before you actually start training. Show them their potty chair/seat and have them sit on it while you are in there going potty. You can also have them sit on it and look at a book or sit there while you read them a book. The idea is to get them comfortable sitting on the potty.

3)MAKE A POTTY CHART – When you are ready to start training, make a potty chart and put it up on the wall where your child can reach it. Each time your child successfully goes on the potty, have them put a sticker on the chart. It’s a great way to encourage them and build up their confidence in their ability to be successful at going on the potty.

potty chart

4)START TRAINING WHEN YOU CAN BE HOME MULTIPLE DAYS IN A ROW WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE – This is key! In order to be successful at potty training, you need consistency. The best way to start potty training is when you can be home for multiple days in a row without going anywhere. Just stay home and strictly focus on potty training. No running errands, no play dates, etc. Just potty training. 

5)SET A TIMER– Using a timer for potty training was a huge help for me! Start with setting a timer to go off every 30 minutes (another reason #4 is important) and put your child on the potty each time it goes off. Try to make it fun for your child as well. Make it a game! We would always sing a little song when the timer went off and dance to the bathroom together as we sang, “It’s potty time. Oh, it’s potty time.” Let’s face it, putting your child on the potty every 30 minutes for multiple days is a tedious task. So you want to make it fun for both you and your child. Eventually, once your child gets the hang of going to the potty, you can increase the time to 40 minutes, then 50 minutes, then an hour, and so on. How quickly you do that depends on how well your child is doing. You might be able to increase the time after just a couple days or you might end up waiting a week. Go off of your child. DON’T PUSH THEM IF THEY AREN’T READY. If you push them too hard, they will regress and not want to train.

6)USE A REWARDS SYSTEM – Each time Raylan would go on the potty I would give him an M&M. It was a great way to keep him motivated to use the potty. If you don’t want to give your child candy, you can find something else that might work for them. I’ve found the candy worked best for both my boys, but every child is different. Eventually, I stopped giving Raylan M&M’s when he would pee on the potty and only gave them to him when he’d poop on the potty (It’s a lot harder for children to poop on the potty than for them to pee on it. I’ll address that soon.). Once he was successfully pooping on the potty, I weaned him off of the M&M’s completely.

7)GO STRAIGHT TO UNDERWEAR – This is a big one. I know no one wants to clean dirty underwear when your child has an accident, but potty training will go faster if you skip the Pull Ups and go straight to underwear. I say that in regards to day time potty training. Training your child for sleeping is totally different. I use Pull Ups at nap time and bed time. But, during the day have them wear underwear. The feeling of being wet or messy is a good motivator for many children to use the potty instead of going in their underwear.

8)DON’T EXPECT THEM TO POOP ON THE POTTY AS QUICKLY AS THEY PEE ON THE POTTY – It is much easier for a child to learn to pee on the potty than poop on the potty. This is because pooping on the potty is more psychological for a child. They feel as if they are losing a part of themselves when they do that. I know it may sound strange, but their little brains work differently than ours do and it’s important to remember that. Because they feel this way, it’s harder for them to want to poop on the potty. Some kids poop around the same time each day. Strange, but true. Write down the times your child goes and if you notice a pattern, put them on the potty at that time. You can also try putting them on the potty about 15-20 minutes after they’ve eaten a meal.

9)BE PATIENT – I cannot stress this enough. As I said above, potty training is not easy. It can become very frustrating. But, it’s important to be as patient as possible with your child. That will enable you to celebrate their successes and encourage them instead of accidentally causing your child to feel bad because they had an accident.

10)BE AWARE REGRESSION CAN OCCUR – If you have a major life event occur while you’re potty training your child, it’s very possible they will regress and you’ll have to start all over from square one. Things like moving to a new house, a new baby in the family, divorce, etc. change the child’s daily routine and causes the child to regress. This happened with Giovanni. He was doing very well potty training and then when Raylan was born he wouldn’t go on the potty anymore so we had to start all over.

11)FIND SOME GOOD RESOURCES TO HELP – My cousin gave me a potty training book she used that I absolutely loved. You can find it at  The book is called Potty Training Made Easy, Fast, and Simple by Johanne Cesar. This book was a fantastic resource! I highly recommend it. You can also use your friends and relatives who are currently (or have finished) potty training their child. Find out what worked for them. Their tips might help you too.


What are your potty training tips?






4 Responses to "Potty training tips that actually work"

We have just started this process, only because my son is adamant to learn. I was really hoping we could delay it for another year, or lifetime, perhaps… alas!

Good luck! I hope it goes well for you. 😀

Here, here, and amen. I feel as though my perfectly pp potty trained son will never never ever poo on the pot, but that’s not realistic, is it? It will happen. All good things come in time.

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