If you think your child is ready for potty training and you’ve got all the bits you need (see Potty Training Part 2 for a list of essential items), here’s some tips to help you get started. Signs they are ready to start potty training, include telling you they’ve done a wee or asking to do a wee. Click here for a readiness checklist. The older they are, the easier it should be. It’s not a good idea to begin training during a time that the child might feel stressed. E.g. Starting nursery, moving house, new baby.
I started potty training just before my daughter was two. We went on holiday in September, so it was the perfect time. It meant she could run around outside with little/no clothes on, so accidents did not matter. I didn’t bother reading any of the potty training books out there (which was very unlike me) and decided to rely on common sense alone.
3 weeks after starting my daughter was fully potty trained (during the day that is). She used the big loo or potty, asked us when she wanted to use it, wiped herself and washed her hands afterwards.
Top 10 tips for potty training
Wait until the weather is warm if you can - they can run around in minimal/no clothing without getting cold. Alternatively turn the heating up!
- Stock up on underwear/casual clothes – Make sure you have a good supply of underwear and casual clothes ie leggings/tracksuit bottoms that are easy to put on/take off quickly.
- Be consistent – Once you’ve decided you’re going to begin potty training, take off their nappies when they get up and leave them off until they go to bed (except sleep times), otherwise it will confuse them.
- Be patient - You need a ton of patience. Go at their pace. Be prepared to sit by them whilst they’re on the potty and sing songs, read book after book, hold their hands. There may be countless false alarms too.
- Offer loads of encouragement and praise – every time my daughter used the potty/big loo, we would do a ‘high five’ and shout lots of hurrays! She now runs around and shouting ‘I did it’! She especially needed encouragement to do a poo. This is apparently very common especially with girls. She was scared of going and could hold it in for a good few days. Anything you can do to build their confidence will be a big benefit.
- Keep positive - however frustrated you might be if your child has an accident, say for example just as you are enjoying a coffee with a friend, don’t get angry or punish them. Remember they are learning a totally new skill. If you get angry you run the risk of setting them back and affecting their self-confidence. Instead calmly clear it up and suggest they use the potty next time.
- Reward success - Try anything from gold stars to an extra trip to the park and even the chance to watch an extra episode of their favourite TV show. At the beginning we rewarded Isabella if she sat on the potty for a continued period and then when she successfully used it.
- 2 hands better than 1 – Get Daddy on board too. It will be much easier with his help!
- Don’t give up – if you think they’re ready, i.e. asking for the potty and they know when they’ve done or about to do a wee or poo in their nappies then they probably are. We nearly gave up at one point, but didn’t want to ruin all her/our hard work. Isabella had been doing really well all week (about 2 weeks into it) but it all went wrong at the weekend. She refused to use the potty and would hold it in until she complained of a sore tummy! She would get upset, and it was difficult to know what to do (she didn’t want to put a nappy on either). It took a lot of patience and encouragement and the next day she was back on track.
- When travelling – sit them on a towel in the car seat/buggy in case they have a mishap when they’re sleeping.