Potty Training 102

Okay, we’ve had the “you’re getting to be a big girl now “talk with Abigail. We let her into the bathroom when we’re in there so she sees us using the potty with no fear.  (Yay, us!) We took her to the store and let her pick out her own potty to use.

Abigail is dressing and undressing herself. She hates to be wet. She will remove wet diapers by herself. Sometimes she’ll say “Uh oh” then wet her diaper. So…she’s ready.  Right?

Okay, what now?

According to my friends at What To Expect, the best thing to do is keep in mind some DO’s and DON’Ts.


  • Use Pullups. They pull up and down like underwear so your child will get used to that. If accidents or uh…smelly things…happen there instead of in the potty, pull-ups can be torn at the sides and removed like a diaper. And, after some success with the pullups you can switch to regular underwear.
  • Let him run around naked. (What?) This is every toddler’s DREAM. I have yet to meet a child who isn’t running from mom or dad yelling, “NO NO NO” when it’s time to get dressed. The experts say this works because you can’t ignore urine when it’s all over your leg. And the floor. Children will realize something just happened and will then begin to recognize the “trigger”. Keep the potty close by to ensure some success. (We keep ours in the living room. If Abby has to go, or realizes almost too late that she has to go, she doesn’t have to run through the house and we don’t have to carry a dripping baby through the house). I also keep it in the living room because that’s where we spend most of our time during the day, and I don’t have to pry her away from blocks, toys or even a DVD. There are no tantrums about going potty (which can make her NOT want to use the potty) and she doesn’t feel like she’s missing any of the action.
  • Choose easy on/off clothing. While we’re home Abby is just in a pull-up, or pull-up and cotton diaper covers with t-shirts or dresses. You don’t want your child to try to be a “big boy” or “big girl” and get frustrated when they can’t get out of their clothes or can’t get out of them fast enough to successfully use the potty alone.
  • Pay close attention. You may be able to recognize signals that your toddler has to go. Watch for fidgeting, pulling, or listen to the sound of urine hitting the pull up. 🙂  If you think your child might have to go it’s ok to ask and encourage him or her to sit on the potty. If you’re too late, coax your child onto the potty anyway. It’ll help make the connection.
  • Offer praise when bodily functions are announced. It takes practice for kids to recognize when they have to go and make it to the potty on time. Even after a “miss” it’s worth praising. I’m happy Abby knows, “hey, I’m wet and I peed!”
  • Keep the motivation going. In the beginning little ones may need more than “WOOHOO!” when they go. Some kids like stickers on calendars, others like the sound of a penny being dropped in their piggy banks. It may take some effort to find what works for your child, but a small reward will help. As they get better at going to the potty you can phase out the rewards as their own motivation will take over.
  • Teach your child to check for dryness. This gives him/her a sense of control. If your child is dry, give them a “good girl” or a pat on the back.  Don’t criticize if he’s wet. He’ll get it.


  • Don’t expect too much too soon. When I had my first baby I thought he was the cutest and smartest baby on earth. I KNEW he would walk and talk before the other babies, and he was going to be easy to potty train. I planned on having stickers on a calendar next to the potty and he may need a week or two, but it was going to be easy. I was so off the mark. SO. OFF. THE. MARK. We went through a list of rewards: stickers, candy, underwear, toys…nothing worked with him. He wasn’t going to potty no matter what. Months went by. We went through the list again. Nothing worked. He wasn’t going potty. I backed off for a while waiting for him to be ready to try. What happened was he didn’t start actively potty training until his little brother started. He didn’t want to be outdone by “the baby”. THEN he took about two weeks. But that two weeks was two years in the making. These days I figure, Abby will do what she’s going to do, I’ll support, praise and love her. Not many kids are in diapers when they go to kindergarten…or get married…so it’ll happen sooner or later. 🙂
  • Don’t scold, punish or shame. Stay cool. You don’t want to give your child the impression you don’t think he or she can do it. Making them feel bad for things they don’t have control over never works. They’re learning.
  • Don’t ration drinks. Some parents think if they cut down on the drinks their child has they decrease the chance of accidents. This is unhealthy. We need to keep drinking throughout the day. Some experts think it’s an even better idea to increase your child’s drink intake to increase their chance of potty success.
  • Don’t nag or force. You may turn your child off the whole idea of using the potty which will only frustrate you. (Your child has been happy using a diaper for years.) If you force him or her to sit on the potty even if you know he or she has to go you’ll create resistance. Eventually you won’t be able to get him or her on the potty at all. Relax.
  • Don’t create a battle. That kind of goes with what I just said above. This isn’t war. Everybody learns to go in the toilet eventually.
  • Don’t lose hope! No one walks down the aisle in pullups!



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