Potty Training Primer Part 2


So you’ve been following my advice in the Potty Training Primer about developing ‘potty readiness’ skills, and now you’re wondering when it’s time to actually start hard-core training.
Here are the key signs I suggest you keep an eye out for before you move forward:

  1. Shows body awareness by saying “I peed” or “I am peeing”
  2. Does the pee-pee dance indicating their ability to hold
  3. Stays dry for hours at a time, also indicating their ability to hold
  4. Takes an interest in the potty, perhaps even had a few successful pees or poos on the potty during the readiness steps

If you’ve got all that going on, then BRAVO—you can ask your child if they would like to wear a Pull-Up (or something they can remove quickly) instead of a secured diaper so they can use the potty whenever they want to! They find this idea very appealing if they are truly psychologically ready to potty train. If they are not interested, sorry—you have to wait. It’s their body, it’s their time line so believe me when I say that any insistence will just invite resistance.

The next time they say they need to pee, ask if they want to go use the potty. Assist but don’t take over. Let them take the lead on getting undressed and pulling down their own pants as best and as fast as they can. This is their milestone, not yours! You are a witness to their development and success, so cheer them on and celebrate their success with a big smile, a hug, a high five and acknowledge them: “You really know how to take care of your body!”

If they prefer using the big toilet, that is fine, but be sure to use a foot stool, as planted feet allows the pelvic muscles to be engaged, and that helps with the whole biomechanics of elimination.

You may have a child who needs a little help getting started. If so, determine what time of day is their ‘usual’ for having a pee or poo, and ask them to see if they’d like to try. Help them relax by reading a book with them on the toilet, and if after five minutes they have not been successful, move along. You can easily become a hostage in the bathroom to a potty-training child who might want to keep your attention.

After a good spell of success, ask if they’d like to try underwear and take them shopping to pick their favorites. Expect some accidents and don’t admonish them if they happen. Instead, comfort them, and let them know that you would expect accidents to be part of learning. Teach them how to clean themselves up when they occur such as pulling off a pee soaked sock to put in the laundry pail. The more hassle and time the child has to spend cleaning up after their own urine accident, the more likely they are to move more quickly in the future.

If accidents become plentiful, address the fact that freedoms and responsibilities go together. If you want to wear undies, you have to try to use the potty. If you aren’t managing that responsibility well, you lose the freedom of wearing undies and it’s back to Pull-Ups for a few weeks or a month and then you can try again! With no rewards or punishments, and with a patient parent who understands that interest in training will ebb and flow, you’ll ride the wave of potty training until your child decides it`s time and success will follow!


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