I’m writing this post for a friend.

She is afraid of potty training.

I can relate because I am, too.  After potty training 4 kids you would think I’d be a little less scared, but I’m not.  There are so many things that can go wrong.  Fortunately, there are some things I know now that would have helped me with my first and are helping me with my current one.

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You can teach them concepts that will help them be ready before you actually potty train them.


There are many lists such as this one, that will tell you some of the signs, which show your child is ready, what I didn’t realize is that you don’t have to sit around waiting for them to magically happen, you can teach them.  Some of these items you could teach are to:

  •  Figure out when your child typically has wet and dirty diapers and writing down a typical schedule.
  • Play games that teach him to follow directions.  Here is a great list of ideas from Katie at Play with words 365
  • Teach them to pull their pants up and down.


Potty training is a process.

It can be frustrating to hear phrases such as, “I potty trained my child in less than 24 hours and you can, too.” I’m very happy for you, if that worked, but if your child still seems clueless after a day, don’t feel like you failed either.  Typically, what people mean when they say that is that their child knows how to go in the potty, not that they’re going every time.

According to  this article from WebMd, the average time it takes to potty train a child is 3 months, longer for boys.  While, you can and should, set aside some time to actively teach your child to potty train, expecting them to go from wearing diapers one day to always going in the potty the next, may be setting you and your child up for unrealistic expectations.  It’s not a weekend training session, it’s a process.  It is also, good to know that it’s okay to take off a day or afternoon here or there, you will not be totally confusing them, you will be giving yourself and them a much needed break.


You can make it less difficult for you.


Potty training is hard, for most, but you can find ways to make it a little easier.  For me, that has meant establishing some rules and being prepared with supplies for the inevitable accidents.  Our potty training rules are:

1-  You must try to go to the bathroom before leaving the house, going somewhere it would be really inconvenient

to go to the bathroom, or before bed.  

2-  If you have an accident, you have to help clean it up.

3-  If you’re not remembering to go on your own, you will have to go according to a set schedule (every 2-3 hours).

These rules last as long as they continue to have accidents and I try to enforce them as kindly as possible.

Here are some of the supplies, I would recommend having on hand all the time, which will help make this phase of life less difficult, as well.


Extra underwear and change of clothing.

Paper towels

Plastic bag

Clorox disinfectant wipes

Carpet cleaner

You can do the method and the timing that works best for you.

For all of our kids, we’ve gone through a similar process.  We get them underwear and a potty and let them play with them.

We read books and watch shows that talk about it.

We say things like, “Someday, you’ll be big and go in the potty, all by yourself, won’t that be fun?”

One day, when we’re feeling especially ambitious, we teach a favorite stuffed animal or doll how to go potty.

On another day, usually the next, we ask them if they want to wear underwear, we set the timer and have them sit every 45 minutes on the potty, while they’re in their underwear (that’s all they wear for awhile, at home, by the way).  We think of something we can do while we’re waiting there (this time it’s watch 1 minute Storybots shows) and we give them lots of juice.

When they go potty, we praise them with words and sometimes, a small treat.  When they have an accident, we give them paper towels to help us clean up and talk about ways they will be able to avoid accidents in the future.

And then, we let them mostly take it from there.  We ask them if they want to wear underwear or go in the potty, we support them if they want to and don’t push it if they don’t.  It’s pretty laid back, but then so are we, so it works.  If this way seems crazy to you, you may want to check out this post by Parents magazine for some other ideas.

You’ve got this.

The most important thing, I wish I’d known with my first.  That she was capable and so was I.  That there would surely be some rough days, but that we would get through them and when we really had trouble we could find answers.




What is some advice you would give yourself or others in potty training their first, or fifth child?

Write it down in a journal, talk it over with a friend, or leave a comment below or on Facebook.



And come back next week, when we will be answering some potty training questions and going over the various methods of potty training.