Re-Thinking Potty Training

child with a toilet seat

Ah, the holidays. There were parties, presents, too much food, and potty training?

Potty training? I had a friend whose goal over the holiday break was to toilet train her little man.

She's savvy, she's smart (a teacher) and she had everything in place: rewards, make-it-fun, new undies, a plan to stick close to home, a timer, stickers.

You name it, she had thought of it and was jazzed up to begin this new adventure.

She shared her potty training progress via Facebook. I loved the updates.

Day 1: “Looking for tips/ideas/strategies! We are ready to potty train!”

Day 2: “Six pairs of underwear, but finally success! It was worth the six pairs of underwear.”

Day 3: “It's not even 10am and I've been peed on multiple times. No success. Will I make it through the day?”

Day 4: All is quiet on Facebook.

She then private messages a few of us who had been cheering her on. She began to question whether this was going to work OR NOT. Her munchkin had a few successes, but they had been home for four days and there seemed to be no magic moment on the horizon that was going to signal her kiddo was officially potty trained and ready to head out of the house in his big boy underwear. She was tired. She was discouraged. She had spent four days at home with the best of intentions only to wonder if they were going to be met with success.

What would YOU do at this moment? As her friend, what do YOU say?

I had to ask the questions, “What was the point in trying to make this happen RIGHT now? Did he have to be potty trained to enter into a new program?”

After finding out that it was just about thinking it “was time, he was old enough,” I suggested she come back to it another day. 

Not to give up, but back off.

What is your strategy for toilet training? What is working? What is not?

Toilet training can seem like rocket science. Figuring out what works for some kids, IS harder than rocket science.

Then, there are some kids who just get it. Right away.

Like most things in parenting, you have to figure out when and what is the right thing for your child.

For my buddy, backing off took the pressure off her and her kiddo. They got out of the house. They enjoyed the rest holiday break together. The pull-ups came back out, but the underwear stayed out too.

It was time to re-think potty training. Some days are like that.

What are you re-thinking today when it comes to helping your child develop the skills they need to grow?


What do you think?

Re-Thinking Potty Training

Jeannie Fleming-Gifford is a mama to one little lady, freelance writer, and the director of education for a non-profit community school of the arts. Graduating with a B.A. in Music and a M.A. in Child Development, Jeannie began her career in quality child development programs as a teacher, then moved into creative administrative roles with science centers, symphony orchestras and arts programs. Owner of 170+ year old house, Jeannie loves living in small town America where walks to the park and ... More

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  1. Profile photo of Gina dhillon Gina dhillon says:

    I have a 22 month old daughter who is potty trained. She basically tells me she has to go potty. But I still have to put a diaper on her because she is not yet “pee pee” trained. I’m trying to get her to tell me when she has to pee pee but it just doesn’t happen. Any suggestions?

  2. Profile photo of JNay28 JNay28 says:

    It took about six months to potty train my boy. He used to be terrified to poop in his little potty. He’d go so far as to take off his diaper/pullup and go poop in a corner, hoping to not be seen. One of the biggest helps was his 2-year older sister. He has always loved to copy her, so when she’d use the big potty, he’d want to copy her and use his little one. Her praise went a long way with him. It took patience, but eventually he got it. Now that he’s 4, it’s a matter of, "WATCH WHERE YOU’RE AIMING!!!" 🙂

  3. Profile photo of Mailyn Mailyn says:

    So far my 2 years old son likes going to the "big potty" to pee. My husband and i decided we had to get him a potty cushion for the toilet since he complaint with the traditional potties. But he doesn’t seem to want to do poop in it.
    I started by taking his diaper off and constantly saying to do ‘pee pee and poo poo’ in the "big potty", of course there were a few accidents but after a few days he got the hung of it. Then came the little briefs first time had an accident but now he tells me he has to go pee pee. I’m a bit stuck on the whole him doing poop in it too but he doesn’t seem to want to, hopefully by summer he will and we’ll graduate to start doing it when out of the house.

    Hope this helps someone!

  4. Profile photo of EbyMom EbyMom says:

    For sure child training is not easy, it takes alot of patience and devotion. potty training is not easy especially doing it when the child is not ready. i’ve tried it and discovered that if the child is not ready and you the mother persists it will result in negativity. be patient.

  5. Profile photo of Nancy Nancy says:

    I think it’s so hard 🙁

  6. Potty training is just one step at a time, a gradual process. When my daughter started walking and following simple instructions was a good indication. So on her first birthday January 2012 she got a potty! She is so proud of it. But most of the work is up to me. Getting her to go when I go and then some times in between, but I like her are in no rush. You never want to overwhelm children in this big step in life.

  7. Profile photo of sheenaholman sheenaholman says:

    So not excited for the day that I have to start potty training!

  8. Profile photo of neisha neisha says:

    try sticking to pull ups and taking him to the bathroom regularly until he stops wetting his self then move to underwear

  9. Profile photo of neisha neisha says:

    I waited to see signs of interest I then started putting pull ups on them the whole purpose of pull ups is to potty train, i would take my child to the bath room to use sometimes she would sometimes she wouldn’t an if she had an accident she had pull ups not underwear u have to continully wash. Then I noticed she hardly had any accidents and then I moved her to underwear.

  10. Profile photo of ChrisS ChrisS says:

    They have this technique that I applied to my son. You have to be diligent about it. Basically you need to have him not wearing anything at all, butt naked for 3-5 days (except at night), until he get use to going to the potty without underwear or pull-ups on his on. Ones he understand it, then have him wear the brief.
    To use this technique you have to be fully available. You can’t go anywhere, no errands or chores, nothing but only training your toddler to potty.
    Trust me it works! Within three days my son got the hang of it, he was 32 months old.

  11. Profile photo of sukismom sukismom says:

    This article calls in "potty training" and another article on this site calls it"potty learning", maybe that is where she messed up?.. Did you have her take the "Toddler – Potty Training Tips & Tricks" course? lol

  12. Profile photo of NicoleReilly NicoleReilly says:

    my son is almost 3 and he does seem like he wants to go on the potty but when i put underwear on him he pee’s in them so i am confused on how to get him to go.

  13. Profile photo of Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    I agree! Potty training needs to be a partnership and not pressured for either party.


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