Top 10 Tips for Potty Training

Potty training scares the living daylights out of a lot of parents, and rightly so to be quite honest with you!

There is not one single book that can help you potty train your child, despite what you are led to believe.

I have learnt this the hard way!! Every child is different, and has different needs. They all develop according to their own genetic make-up, and nothing you do can rush that development.

Potty training happens at all sorts of ages, but generally speaking you are made to feel guilty as a parent if you do not potty train your child as soon as they turn two! Two!? I mean my 2yo’s couldn’t even choose between Sponge Bob shaped pasta or Peppa Pig shaped pasta if their life depended on it, let alone control their own bowel movements!

When D1 turned 2 I contemplated potty training after reading a few books, but then I put it off and put it off, and put it off some more, ignored it a while longer, and put it off again. I mean who in their right mind wants to mess with poop?! Not me! Life with a 2yo is hard enough without having to be on poop alert all day long.I had decided to wait until I thought he was ready, like, really ready!

At age 3 I thought he was ready. Day one we explained it all to him and purchased a fabulous Thomas the Tank Engine potty. He was excited. We had a sticker chart ready for him, and off we went! After sixty minutes I had reached breaking point, he was literally squeezing the pee out of his winkle just to have clean pants on! We had one pee accident every 5 minutes, and got through 13 pairs of pants within the first 60 minutes.

I continued with the potty training the rest of the day and we did not have a single pee or poop in the potty!! We had pee on the rug, the sofa, the window sill, 48 pairs of pants, 48 pairs of socks, the stairs, the kitchen floor, the bathroom floor, mommas leg, mommas shoe, mommas lap, in the toy box, and on the cat! Everywhere except the flaming potty. I was cross, I was tired, I was fed up. I even cried. I cried about my child potty training. I was a failure!

Then I got a grip! Right, this kiddo was definitely NOT ready for this potty training even at aged 3, and despite only persevering for 24 hours I decided to put it on hold for a few more months. And it was the best thing I ever did!!

During the next few months we prepared him physically and emotionally for potty training, and we tried again aged 3 years 4 months. He cracked it within 48 hours and was dry through the night straight away!(Lucky I know!) Woop!

Potty training is hard work, and if it’s not done at the right time for your child on an individual basis, it will not happen or will take weeks of painstaking frustration.

I learnt some really useful lessons trying before my child was ready and then trying again when he was ready, so I thought I would share them with you!

I am no toileting guru and I am currently potty training my other child (which is proving hardwork) but I know how lonely it can feel when you’re struggling with it. Just yesterday I had to retrieve a big poop from under the train table in my kiddies room!!

So, here’s my top tips for potty training:

Wait until they are absolutely ready. You cannot force a child to potty train until they are physically, developmentally, and emotionally ready, but there’s nothing wrong with trying if you think they are. Then if they aren’t showing any interest after 48 hours I’d leave it a few months and try again. You’ll be surprised! The worst advice people can give you is to be persistent and to never go back. That will only prolong your agony, and the pee on your carpets! It’s ok to try and fail, but in my case, I gave a deadline of 48 hours, not to be trained, but for at least one pee in the potty. Set your own goals. You know your kids the best.

Make sure they can pull up their underwear and trousers independently! Spend 2 weeks prior top potty training making sure they can put on their own underwear and pull up their own trousers. This will help them in such a massive way. It never crossed my mind at our first attempt, but once we did this it gave D1 a massive sense of independence.

Let them create their own sticker chart. Shop bought ones are great, but making their own chart will give them a sense of pride, and it will boost their self esteem seeing their own creation up around the home, and will be their own visual reminder of the potty.

Buy their own box of special wipes. We purchased a small box designed to fit children’s toileting wipes. This gives them something special to take ownership of and it teaches them self-hygiene very early on.

Buy two potties. Potties and kids toilet seats are very cheap to buy, so we found having one downstairs and one upstairs was a very useful thing. We used a potty downstairs for during the day and a child toilet seat for when we were upstairs. We also had a soft little travel toilet seat that I took out with us. This was a big help!

Give them sticker rewards. Rewards are a fab way to reinforce correct behaviour in children, and most children love stickers, if not use whatever they do like. D1 was given 1 sticker for a pee, and 2 stickers for a poop. At the end of each day we counted them all up, which he loved. Praise is so important during this process.

Do not shout or discipline them for accidents! Praise Praise Praise the pees and the poops!! Whatever you do never lose your patience with your child if they pee or poop in their pants. Make potty training a positive experience for them, even when you are on your hands and knees mopping up pee for the tenth time that hour. Keep your cool, even when you have poop under your nails, and that WILL happen!

Don’t use pull-ups during the day. Try and stick to pants, pull-ups are very similar to nappies/diapers, and will only confuse them more. They are not underwear.

Don’t worry about being dry through the night. Dry nights will not usually happen at the same time as being potty trained during the day, and that is ok. Take the pressure off your child and yourself for this one. The recommended age for being dry through the night is around 5 years old. This is when they will developmentally be ready, but you will know yourself once you have a few weeks of dry nappies in the morning. Every child is different though.

Don’t take pee personal! It’s not you, it’s them! They’re little, they’re learning. Peed in pants do not a failure make!

And there you have it, my own tips for potty training, but essentially only YOU know what is best for your child – no book, no blog, no family member, just YOU. So, ease yourself in, and make it a relaxing experience, well as much as you can, after all you are training a miniature monster to pee and poop somewhere unfamiliar!

Go forth and potty train! 😉


Edit: My second child is now potty trained. It took 6 days. He pooped in various places, and I’ve had poop on my hand more than I care to write about, but he got it. Six days and he got it, aged 3 years 2 months.

9 replies
  1. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    My eldest is 3yrs 2months and still not potty trained – starting to feel the pressure now with full time school only 9 months away. She does seem to be more aware than she was, but still has no desire to sit on her potty or the toilet, so until she willingly does that, we’re kind of at a stalemate. Hat didn’t it?!

  2. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    Absolutely agree with these. My youngest boy is 3 years and 3 months and not yet potty trained. He starts nursery in September but I’m totally confident he will be trained by then. As you say when they are ready, they are ready and will train within a couple of days. This has been true of all my boys (all 5 of them) and I’ve never had weeks of pain as some of my friends seem to have. I understand that girls are easier and quicker to learn due to it all being inside whereas boys have to learn to recognise the feeling if you know what I mean x

  3. Mummy Muddler
    Mummy Muddler says:

    Great tips and v reassuring. My daughter is 2.5 and I feel under pressure to do it, but when we tried there was pee everywhere in the first hour, like you, and I panicked and put it off. She has a lot of changes happening at the moment (overseas move) so am waiting… and waiting…! I also have a new baby and just can’t face it yet (though the amount of nappies I’m changing is ridiculous so I looking forward to her being trained, just not the actual training!)

  4. Elaine @ Entertaining Elliot
    Elaine @ Entertaining Elliot says:

    THank you for this, it’s reassuring to read a positive piece about waiting until they are really ready and not when society thinks they should be ready!! My son is 3 next month and he just doesn’t want to wee on the toilet or potty. We’ve had a few attempts but he was just getting too worked up and upset so I’ve just put it on the back burner and tried not to worry about it. But it doesn’t help when you get other mums saying “My darling daughter has been potty trained for months now, is Elliot not trained yet?!” – like it was the worst thing in the world!! xx


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