potty training boy

10 “Do’s and Don’ts” for Potty Training

Potty Training your child can be a daunting task.  Here are a few tips to help you accomplish the job successfully!

Potty Training

Potty Training Do’s:

  1. Watch for signs that your children are ready.  They may show interest in the potty, ask to be changed after they eliminate, or can tell you when they are eliminating.
  2. Write down when your child normally pees and poops during the day for a week.  This will help you determine an appropriate schedule.
  3. Find success with peeing on the potty first, so increase the fluids!  Pooping usually is secondary.
  4. No more diapers, except for night time!  The only way the child can begin to pair the behavior with the sensation of eliminating is to immediately feel it!
  5. Get the school and day care on board. 
  6. Create a personalized story about using the potty.  Use pictures of the child engaging in the routine.  Review the story every day and while he/she is using the potty.
  7. Create a regular potty schedule that is based on your child’s elimination routine.  Use a timer, a fun vibrating watch for the child, or alarm clock to signal that it is time.
  8. Have a potty party!  Keep highly motivating items (e.g., portable DVD player) only in the bathroom.  The only way they can have access to these items is by sitting on the potty.
  9. If your child has an accident, have him/her sit on the potty and help with the clean up (e.g., put clothes in the laundry).
  10. If your child is scared of the potty, try the following:  A. reward her/him for engaging in small steps (e.g., going into the bathroom and leaving immediately, touching the toilet, sitting on the toilet with their pants on, standing next to the toilet with their pants down, etc.). B. Keep a small potty in a safe area (e.g., living room). Slowly begin to move the potty into the bathroom.

 Potty Training Don’t’s:

  1. Don’t make it a battle.  If they are upset, calmly tell them it’s time to use the potty and remind them of what they are working for (e.g., portable DVD player).  Do not provide a lot of attention and attempt to wait until they comply with the direction.
  2. Do not let the child escape using the potty with their behavior. If the direction was given, you must follow through.
  3. Do not use time outs when your child tantrums about using the bathroom.  They will be escaping the demand.
  4. Do not expect that your child will quickly begin to ask for the bathroom.  The first goal is to just catch them eliminating by using an individualized schedule.
  5. Do not use “pull ups” or any type of underwear that will absorb fluids.
  6. Do not reprimand children for having an accident.  Calmly tell them, “You pee and poop on the potty”.
  7. Don’t expect night time potty training immediately.  But if you are attempting to potty train at night, do not give fluids before bed time.
  8. Don’t give into the pressure.  Children will learn in their own time.  Potty training should occur for typical developing children by the age of four.
  9. Don’t start potty training in a time of stress (e.g., moving, divorce, etc.).
  10. Don’t set a deadline (e.g., potty training in a day).  Some children are able to accomplish this task in a day.  Other children may have fears that need to be addressed that can not be accomplished in one day.

Most importantly, if you find the task to be overwhelming or too stressful for you and or your child, don’t be afraid to ask a Potty Training Expert.

I would love to hear your success stories with potty training!  Also, feel free share any funny potty training stories!

Download Your Free Potty Chart

12 replies
  1. Deborah
    Deborah says:

    Lyndsay, this is an excellent organized and positive way, straight to the point, for parents to get their kids potty trained! Way to go! I am sure you will be helping many families in the Chicagoland area and beyond with this blog!

  2. Riv Lynch
    Riv Lynch says:

    After three successful potty training, I can say that this article is quite true and correct. The best advice I ever got was from a preschool teacher who said to me, “relax! every child is individual, trust your child, trust the process.” Great article!

  3. Lyndsay Sarra
    Lyndsay Sarra says:

    Thanks for your feedback Deborah and Riv. I have one more potty training tip…

    -When conducting night time potty training, have the child put the underwear on first and then cover them up with pull ups. That way they will still feel the sensation and it won’t ruin your sheets!

    Also, check out this resource if you want to try to potty train quickly (Toilet Training in less than a day by Azrin and Foxx)

  4. Shakeh Gyurjyan
    Shakeh Gyurjyan says:

    Great article Lindsay.

    The next step after potty training is to get them to just use the toilet. My two and a half year old son now refuses to sit on the potty, he HAS to sit on the toilet and he HAS to flush the toilet himself, which is great! And when we are away from home and have to use a public bathroom we use Potty Cover to keep it consistent.

    Couple of years ago, when our daughter was 3, my husband designed Potty Cover, an extra large, waterproof toilet seat cover to cover the front and the sides of the toilet, for when we had to use a public restroom. It was a lifesaver, it took the stress out of taking our daughter to the restroom at the park or even a restaurant. When a child sits on the toilet they tend to hold on to the sides of the toilet, to maintain their balance, and their clothes and legs are dangling in the front, touching the front of the toilet. My husband’s invention covered all of those areas, creating a waterproof barrier.

    We found a manufacturer to make Potty Cover and now it is available online to all parents. We have it on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Potty-Cover-Disposable-individually-packaged/dp/B003JJX2IG ) and on Ebay ( http://cgi.ebay.com/Potty-Cover-Oversized-Disposable-Toilet-Seat-Covers-/250636779266 ).

  5. emt training
    emt training says:

    This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

  6. Rebecca Taylor
    Rebecca Taylor says:

    I have been trying to potty train my son for almost my entire pregnancy. i am about to have m second child in 6 weeks. he has no poop accidents and only has pee accidents in the house. not in anyone elses house or at the store or parks. just at home. he does this sometimes 6 times a day. i take him to the potty pretty regularly but sometimes he just goes on his own. i really dont know what to do anymore. he excels in everything else with flying colors but this one is hard. he will be three in 2 weeks.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] to keep your eyes open and be aware of the above signs when getting ready to potty train.  Also, make sure to remain patient.  Practice makes perfect. If potty training has become more […]

  2. […] by Robyn on March 9, 2012 ShareTweetIn today’s webisode a Board Certified Behavior Analyst Gives us the signs to look for when beginning potty training with a child!  To read a blog on the 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Potty Training, click here. […]

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