Three Secrets to Success

1. Wait until your child is ready.

  • This can’t be emphasized enough. See “When to Potty Train” for specific guidelines. Just because the pre-school won’t admit him or you don’t want two children in diapers at once, if you child isn’t ready; no amount of coercion will work.
  • If you start the process and realize that you did not pick a good time, it is alright to take a step back and restart it at a later time.

2. Make a plan and take it slow.

  • Build a potty vocabulary to describe the body parts and functions. Let him or her watch you toilet and describe what happens.
  • Explain the steps. The steps should include getting clothes off, sitting on the potty, wiping, flushing (or emptying potty) and washing hands.
  • Buy your essentials ahead of time. These include a potty chair or seat, training pants, potty books, (for parents and for child), and easy to access clothing.
  • Start on the week-end or vacation if things are less hectic. Be able to focus on hourly toileting reminders and be prepared to sit in the bathroom and do leisurely activities like reading or playing a game.
  • Dress in easy-to-remove clothes or allow him or her to go without bottoms if it is warm enough.

3. Offer exuberant praise and be flexible.

  • Give praise and stick with upbeat phrases.
  • Sticker charts that reward behaviors in addition to actually urinating are helpful. Milestones such as telling parents they need to go, sitting on potty, wiping, washing hands and pulling down pants can be rewarded with a sticker or profusely praised.
  • Make it as game-like as possible. Little trinkets can be used to make her smile and feel successful.
  • Reinforce little successes. It may take time for your child to connect sitting on the potty with urinating in the potty.
  • Know that accidents will happen. Be casual and not over-concerned. “Oh, I guess you forgot to use the potty. I bet you’ll remember next time”.