How to Start Potty Training and Make it Fun
I knew that after my son turned two, I would have to start thinking about potty-training. I was dreading it.
My son is one of those kids that some people might use fancy adjectives to describe such as, “strong-willed” and “energetic.” I personally tend to use “wild” and “crazy.” My son is the one kid not sitting nicely during his daycare Christmas performance. All the other kids are calmly singing and smiling and my son is doing push-ups and swinging his bells around his head like a lasso.
I had no idea how I was going to get through potty training. I talked to my son’s doctor, I Googled, I asked other moms. Everyone had different tips and tricks and strategies for potty training.
While there are countless methods you can try, most experts agree on a few basic steps. I compiled this simple Potty Training Checklist for you to make it as easy as possible.
I want to tell you that I got myself all worried about potty training for no reason. I got through it, and you will too!
If you are getting ready to begin potty-training your toddler for the first time, or if you are having difficulty with potty training, I want to give you advice that I wish I could go back and give myself:
Relax, it will be okay. Try to go into it with a positive attitude and recognize it for the exciting milestone that it is. Make it an enjoyable experience, because it really can be fun if done right!
So read on for these easy potty training steps to try with your toddler. You got this!
- Step 1: Read Books about Potty Training
- Step 2: Buy a Potty.
- Step 3: Let your Child Pick Out Big Kid Underwear
- Step 4: Choose a Reward/Offer BIG Praise and Encouragement
- Step 5: Go for it….CONSISTENTLY
Before starting, you want to make sure your child is ready. There are developmental signs of readiness including staying dry for up to two hours, verbalizing when he or she needs to go, and showing interest in the potty. It is very important to make sure that you don’t force potty training on your child if he or she is not ready. This should be a positive experience.
For more information on preparing for potty training and determining if your child is ready, you can reference the Mayoclinic Website here.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Step 1: Read Books about Potty Training
We started by reading books about using the potty. We discussed all the steps. My son could talk about the potty and the whole process (especially flushing and hand-washing). He showed interest when we were using the bathroom as well. Most books will also help with explaining that sometimes accidents happen and that’s okay! My son had three different Elmo potty books which he loved and really helped us have good conversations to prepare him for potty training.
Step 2: Buy a really cool potty.
When I started researching the whole potty-training process, I discovered that I could either buy a miniature, kid-sized potty, or a cushioned seat that fits on the existing regular sized toilet. Being less than enthused at the thought of having to clean another toilet, I figured that it would be easiest to just buy the seat that goes on the toilet. However, that really didn’t work for my son. He didn’t like sitting on it and couldn’t get comfortable. It was a struggle to get him to sit on it on the big toilet. We took him to the store so that he could pick out whichever potty he wanted. We ended up with a Thomas the Tank Engine Potty. The kid-sized potty worked much better and he was able to sit comfortably and have a more relaxed experience than he did with the seat on the toilet.
If you decide to go with a seat on the regular sized toilet instead of a smaller potty, make sure you have a step stool for your child to step up to the toilet and to be able to rest his or her feet on. You will also need a step stool so your child can wash his or her hands at the since. Something I love about his Thomas potty is that when he is finished, the lid closes and becomes the step stool for him to wash his hands at the sink.
Step 3: Let your Child Pick Out Big Kid Underwear
Next, my son got to pick out his “Big Boy” underwear. Again, we went to the store, talked up the whole experience to him, and it was fun to see him get excited about being a “big kid” and getting to pick out underwear. My son loved these Sesame Street ones, and I loved that they were made of a thicker material to help in the case of an accident.
Step 4: Choose a Reward/Offer BIG Praise and Encouragement
At the time (this is no longer the case) my son only got to eat candy or sweets on special occasions. So, we bought a big bag of candy to use for positive reinforcement. He knew the deal: if he wanted that candy, he had to use the potty.
The positive reinforcement, or reward, should be something your child only gets when he or she uses the potty. Some may argue against using food as rewards (for potty training or otherwise). Others recommend sticker charts or small toys instead. Do what works best for you and your family.
Rewards don’t have to be anything tangible at all. When my son used the potty, we cheered for him. We did a “potty dance” to celebrate and I think he liked it more than the candy. We made sure he knew it was a big deal if he used the potty. Again, it’s okay to be silly and have fun with it!
Step 5: Go for it….CONSISTENTLY
This is the most important step! We followed all of the previous steps, but we were still having difficulty with potty training our son because we were not having him use the potty regularly throughout the day and making it part of his daily routine. We started by asking if he wanted to try the potty. We didn’t want to force it, so we waited…and waited…and waited.
He would sometimes sit on the potty and occasionally go, but he was not consistent with it because we were not consistent with it.
We weren’t checking the clock to make sure we were asking every hour or even every two hours. I was about 8 months pregnant when we started attempting to potty-train my son. Then my daughter was born and naturally life got a bit crazier. There was just a lot to remember, and consistently getting my son to use the potty was not always at the top of the list.
Enter the single most valuable piece of potty training equipment of all: The Potty Watch.
A friend suggested the Potty Watch to me after using one with her son. I decided it was worth a try, and I am so glad I did. It made all the difference for my son. Once we started using the watch, my son was excited to use the potty. There are different types of potty watches that you can choose from with various functions, features, colors, and themes for girls and boys. We found one on Amazon that had a spy theme and my son loved it.
We began making potty training part of the daily routine. He would go as soon as he woke up and then every two hours was a time interval that worked well for us. You always want to make sure your child uses the potty before nap/bedtime and before leaving the house too. (Something I still have to remind my husband to do)!
Before the watch, my son never wanted to stop playing to go use the potty. But as soon as his potty watch when off, he would jump up and be so excited to go use the potty! But honestly, the biggest benefit of the watch was that it helped us remember that we needed to be having him try to use the potty consistently.
Using the potty was fun for him, and we all got used to making sure he was using the potty regularly throughout the day. It wasn’t long until he didn’t need the watch at all because it was part of his routine. We continued to use diapers or pull-ups only at night before beginning night time training.
So please, don’t stress. I never thought I would say this, but potty training really is an exciting experience to share with your child as he or she gains independence. Follow these steps and have fun with your child. If your child is having difficulty with potty training, I highly recommend trying a Potty Watch. The exact watch that we used is not currently available on Amazon, but I have provided links to similar ones.