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Posted by on Jul 31, 2012 in Articles, For Moms, Mom 2 Mom | 0 comments

Mom 2 Mom: Get the Potty Started for Potty Training Woes


Dear Mandy:

For the past six months, I have been endeavoring to potty train my daughter, who is almost 3. I would not say that I am past exhaustion with this task. But I would say that my husband and I have tried many different methods of getting our daughter to learn the in’s and out’s of using the potty. But we need help! Is there something that we have not tried that is successful?
Wants Her Daughter To Be a Big Girl,

Dear “Wants Her Daughter to Be a Big Girl”:

If you have tried and tried to potty train your daughter with no success, it is possible that she may not physically be ready for potty training. The first thing to do is check for potty readiness signs. These include the following:


  • Has a dry diaper after nap time and for at least 2 hour stretches
  • Urinates a good amount at one time
  • Has fairly consistent bowl movements
  • Is bothered by soiled diapers
  • Squats, hides, or grunts when having a bowel movement
  • Is interested in using the toilet or watching others use it
  • Can walk and run and pull up and down pants easily
  • Can sit still for several minutes at a time

Regardless if she is showing readiness signs or not, you can always start working on the first part of potty training: teaching your child how to use the potty. Then, when she is ready, you can move on to part II: motivating her to do it.


Here are some tips to helping your child learn to use the potty:


  • Get a potty training doll that actually wets with anatomically correct parts (you can find them at Amazon, Target, and Toys-R-Us) and have your daughter help you “teach” the doll to use the potty.
  • Let your daughter go naked or use cloth diapers and/or training pants so she can see and feel the wetness. This will help her associate the feelings of having to go to the bathroom with the actual act of going.
  • Read her books and let her watch DVDs about going to the bathroom. The library has a few, and I would highly recommend the book,You Can Go to the Potty by Dr. Sears. Elmo’s Potty Time books, DVDs, and dolls are also big hits with toddlers.
  • Model using the toilet. Every time you go to the bathroom when you are with your daughter, take her.
  • Get your daughter to drink, drink, drink. The more practice she gets, the better.

Once your child understands the ins and outs of how to use a potty, then you have to motivate her do so. This can be tricky. After all, being able to use the toilet means she has to stop playing to go the bathroom and sit still for several minutes at a time– two things most toddlers hate. Also, tots thrive on familiarity, and diapers are familiar, so many resist the change. Others are embarrassed and may need privacy in bathroom, and still others are scared of the toilet.


But, whatever the case, here are a few general tips that should help motivate any child to use the potty:


  • Keep toilet training a positive experience. Never punish a child for having an accident or not learning quickly enough. Also, try not get too frustrated (though it can be hard!). Kids pick up on the frustration.
  • Reward her for trying. Give her a sticker every time she tries to go to the bathroom.
  • Reward her for going. Buy some cheap toys from the dollar store or Walmart, wrap them up, and put them in a basket. Tell her she gets to pick a present each time she goes. Reward her every time at first, then every other time. Eventually, move to a rewards board where she can move a magnet every time she goes. When she lands on a reward square, she gets to pick a present, watch a special tv show, or whatever you decide.
  • Let her pick out a potty and decorate it with the stickers she gets for trying to go potty. Also, give her the option of using the big potty with a special potty seat.
  • Let her pick out her special “big girl underwear.”
  • Buy her potty time coloring books (found at Walmart).
  • Reward yourself when you go in front of her. Dance and encourage her to cheer you on. (Reserve this for at home only. It can get pretty embarrassing.)
  • Save special privileges for the potty. For example, when I started potty training my son, he had never watched TV before. Once he started training, I let him watch it, but I only let him watch it on the potty.
  • Have a potty party. Let your daughter help you prepare for it a few days ahead of time. You can make invitations for the family. Decorate the bathroom with her favorite things. Spend most of the day in the bathroom reading books about the potty, watching potty DVDs on a computer or portable dvd player, and coloring. Throw a mini party for the doll each time she uses the potty, and throw a mini party for yourself. Make it a big production.


If you are looking for even more advice,  you may check out the book, Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day  by Teri Crane, found at Walmart. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your pediatrician. They are a great wealth of information.


Best of luck.



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