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Potty Training Tips

I put up a request for blogging topics on my Smockity Frocks Facebook fan page, and three people replied with, "Potty training tips, PLEASE!" (By the way, feel free to post requests or any chit chat you'd like on that fan page.)

These are the tips that have worked for me through six children. Give them a whirl if you'd like, and remember patience is the key.

  1. Only consider beginning potty training when you are positive the child understands the concept.  With my first two, I was so anxious to begin that I pushed ahead when one wasn't ready and caused a LOT of unnecessary stress.  Some signs of readiness I look for are: a) the child regularly announces what has taken place in her diaper, like "Mommy, I tee teed." b) the child wants to go to the potty and talks about it. c) the child is old enough to understand what you want to happen and where. I have found between 2 1/2 and 3 is the best age to begin, depending on the child.
  2. If at all possible, I like to potty train in the summer. This allows me to spend a lot of time outside in the backyard with the trainee wearing thin cotton panties. Naturally, accidents will happen, but the good part is the child can feel what is happening and relate that to the feeling of needing to potty.  Plus, there's the whole easy clean up scenario of being outside.
  3. Set a timer and have the child sit on the potty for a few minutes every hour throughout the day. If nothing happens, don't make a big deal about it. If something DOES happen, heap on the praise!
  4. Have a jar of candy (I like to use Skittles) in plain sight to offer the trainee when the right thing happens in the right place. I posted about "Potty Training in a Large Family" and wrote about how I reward the trainee AND anyone who helps her get to the potty in time.

 What about you? Please, share!  Leave any tips or questions in the comments.

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  1. I haven't been reading blogs regularly lately, but I come by and you are talking about potty training! wow! Well, TODAY was My son's first day with NO Accidents! (WHoo-hoo Celebrate!)

    My tip: If an incentive is needed, figure out what works for your little one. With my daughter, praise and a candy treat were given, but barely needed. My son (the one potty-training now) was not very interested in the candy treat. I decided to try a sticker chart and wow! that was a very exciting thing. He's all about going potty and putting his sticker up now. how funny, huh :)

    Nice to be back. I always enjoy your insight.

  2. Dana~Are We There Yet? says:

    Of our 5 kids, one is still in diapers (14 mos old) and two have significant disabilities, so I feel like I'm in some sort of potty training pentathalon. My best advice is to look for developmental signs of readiness which include:

    the ability to understand and follow multi-step directions (take your cup to the kitchen, then bring me a book)

    the ability to pour water from one container into another (playing with measuring cups in the bathtub)

    a dislike for soiled diapers

    the ability to remove one or more pieces of clothing (not including socks)

    Doing things to earn your praise without being asked (bringing you a tissue when you sneeze, putting a book or toy away without being told)

    Reaching these developmental milestones indicates physical, social, emotional and communicative maturity that make potty training much smoother. Our daughter with cerebral palsy was fully trained at 3y6m, and our son with autism was trained at 3y11m. We were told that both of them would possibly never toilet independently. I decided to focus on building readiness and take the potty training (if it came) as icing on the cake.

    Our two "typical" children trained in the 2y4m time frame.

    Great discussion, Connie!

  3. Great tips!! And just as Kathryn mentoned, I had 1 who loved the candy and 1 who loved a sticker (1 sticker for #1 & 2 stickers for #2…sorry if that is TMI :P)

    I have a little Sam who is getting ready for this big event! :)


  4. ...they call me mommy... says:

    Sorry "Amos" is my hubby! 😀

  5. Hi Smockity!

    My daughter decided she wanted to start using the potty about a month ago at age 2 1/2, since then she has only been in diapers at night, yay! The one problem I am having is what to do when we go somewhere, she is afraid of the big potty! Sometimes at home if I set the little potty seat on the toilet she will go on it, but most of the time she want to sit on the small potty. I have resorted to putting a diaper on her when we go somewhere, but I feel like that is counter productive. So what do you do when you go out?

  6. Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae says:

    I'm giving myself until Adam gets his cast off and then we're gonna buckle down and finish this thing. She knows what to do, she knows when she does it, she just… doesn't do it right.

  7. Point number one is key- I've been way too frustrated with a couple girls I tried to push too early. Mine have been such late potty trainers I really did start to feel pressure and caved under it, turning the pressure up on my toddler at the time, turning 3 and untrained… each time, when I gave up and gave in, went back to diapers, it was only another month or so before they were ready on their own.
    My current 2 yr old is about 98% trained, and I knew not to even bother starting her training until she was really, really, ready. Another month or 2 in diapers was not really all that inconvenient, or such a great expense, when I think of the frustration is saved us all!
    Enjoy them-

  8. We are almost there with our 3 yr old. Gummy bears did the trick for him, but only because MIMI gave him the gummy bears and told him there would be a big prize when they were all gone. :)

  9. So glad to read people talking about later, and when they are ready, than early. To me, I think whatever is simplest is the best. And simple to me is to wait. We have waited until they were older, and ready, and they were done in a matter of days. All night long, too. So simple, and not so much worrying on my part of when they last went and ME being trained. The more kids you have, the harder it is to keep track of when someone last went to the potty! And M&M's worked well for number 5. Number 6 won't be ready for awhile, and that is fine with me!

  10. I haven't potty trained any children yet (mine are 18 months and 6 months) but my 18 month old sits on the potty every night for a few minutes, and goes at least once a week then. I offer the potty occasionally during the day, and put him on it if I can tell he needs to go. The baby, on a good day, gets put on the potty in the morning, for her very predictable daily BM. I've read, and been told by a friend who potty trained her 10 kids, that starting gently and early gives them familiarity and understanding with the process. I'm not pushing them to be potty trained, but I don't mind not changing diapers for the times they successfully potty! Anyway, I'm giving it a try. :)

  11. Christine says:

    my son was 3 in March. I have been potty training him somewhat actively since he was around 2. He goes regularly in the potty which I try to take he once per hour. However, he rarely goes a day without an accident and does not care that he is wet. (He is either in a training pant or actual underwear.) I just wish he would tell me he is wet but he doesnt seem to notice until I have him go potty and then sometimes he wont go again because he is wet. Sometimes he will if I dont mention he is wet. He poops in the potty some but mostly just lets me that he has pooped by walking weirdly to the bathroom. I am unsure of how to approach the situation and would appreciate some tips. He like to go to the bathroom some but has a fit at other times and I am unsure of what to do when I tell him to go and he says no. If I let him go, sometimes he wets right away and sometimes he stays dry until the next time I tell him to go. However, since he wont tell me I an unsure of when to take him.