Potty Training 101

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Potty Training 101:

Toilet training is a big step in a child’s development! Many parents feel pressured to potty train at an early age, but I prefer to wait until the child has shown an interest and has reached several developmental milestones. For best results, I find that training before the age 2 closest to the child’s second birthday to start potty-training is most effective. (the terrible 2 stage usually starts around age 2 1/2 yrs till 3 ½ yrs) I like to have them trained before that stage….

Readiness signs:

  1. Your child announces when a wet or soiled diaper has occurred, and/or requests to have it changed. This shows awareness of bodily function, and also that the child dislikes the feel of a wet or soiled diaper.

  2. Your child can express and understand one-word statements, including such words as "wet," "dry," "potty," and "go."

  3. Your child shows an interest in the toilet or potty-seat by asking to use the potty or wanting to watch Mommy or Daddy use it.

  4. Your child has a tendency to wet or soil their diapers at about the same time period each day, and often remains dry for longer periods (2 hours or more) during some parts of the day.

  5. Your child shows facial expressions when wetting or soiling their diaper and may even hide in a corner or behind the couch or squat when wetting/soiling a diaper. This again shows awareness of bodily functions.

  6. Your child is able to undress without assistance to some degree. This shows the child has some of the physical coordination needed to do the work of toileting.

  7. Your child is cooperative and shows an interest in pleasing parents, teachers and caregivers.

Once several of these readiness signs have been consistently observed for a few months, then it is reasonable to consider potty-training. However, even if the child acts curious about toileting and expresses a dislike for soiled or wet diapers, that alone is not enough of an indication that the child will respond well to toilet training. If the child is not interested in cooperating and following directions, then all the curiosity in the world will not prepare him or her for successful potty-training. If a child is not bothered by a wet or dirty diaper, if she is uninterested or unwilling to sit on the potty, believe me, you are not going to get very far! A stubborn child may be physically capable of toileting, but will not successfully train unless willing to follow directions. In this case, it is best not to try training, but rather to wait a few months to see if the child is more willing to cooperate at a later time.

Also, if there are any major changes in the child’s life (such as arrival of a new sibling, loss of a parent, a new care provider, moving to a new house, changes in the parent’s work schedule, etc.) it is best to wait a few months until things have stabilized again before starting the potty training process. Starting to potty train during a turbulent time in the child’s and/or parents’ life only sets the stage for failure and frustration for everyone.

Assuming that the timing is right:

The first steps to toilet training include helping the child become self-sufficient. It is important for true independence in toileting that the child be able to first dress and undress without assistance. This can be facilitated by carefully choosing clothing that is easy for the child to handle, such as pants that are slightly larger than would otherwise be chosen, avoiding overalls and outfits that have lots of buttons, snaps, zippers, etc. Simple pull-on elastic-waist pants or skirts are the best choice, as are shirts that do not snap at the crotch. Even while the child is still wearing diapers, it is good to transition to looser-fitting clothing that the child can self-adjust in order to gain practice and confidence prior to toilet-training.
(KEY IS:  baggy clothes for potty training- please go a size or two up during this potty training time)  I suggest bigger diapers, pullups,  boys-boxers-later bigger underwear, girls-larger shorts and skirt/dresses, boys/girls -sweat pants with elastic gathered bottoms. Save all the frilly and complicated stuff for after potty training.  Your child will move from potty training to being potty trained --if you do the above suggestions.
 If a parent chooses to ignore buying the bigger clothes, diapers, pull-ups it will cause a LONGER more stretched out potty training process...  Once your child can pull their shorts, pull-ups, pants over their botttom--they are ready to learn how to wipe their BM themselves-with a toilet wet wipe (save the toilet paper for urine) Later when they have mastered wet wiping the BM they can move to toilet paper for BM. 
Another note:  Boys should learn to do both urine and BM in the potty first by sitting down on the toilet seat.  If a boy learns to urinate standing up before he has learned to do the BM in the potty,  there is a very high chance you will find your son trying to stand doing the BM.  After your child has been successful at all the above then later he can be turned around to start to do urine in the standing position.  (going to fast can regress a child) 
Since I'm taking your child as a class student when most Preschools won't take a potty training child in Preschool/Pre-K. I do expect the parent's to bring their child with a diaper on or a pull-up on to class-- while in "potty training".  
Class rule: All potty trainers must come to class in a pull-up or diaper.  I need to visually see that the child can go potty unassisted to claim they are truly "potty trained".  If your child needs any of the above help then they're considered a potty trainer.  I am happy to help your child potty train- while in  my class.  If you can make this easy for your child, it will make it easy for you and anyone else helping you potty train your child. Children should always have at least 5 diapers or pullups with them or stored in the diaper changer (per day). We never know if the child will have a diarrhea episode, loose bowels caused by an allergic reaction, a drink spill, food spill or messy art class project..... Parent's to supply wipes and ointments.  I need at least 10 wipes in a diaper bag per day or bring a wipe bucket to store in the diaper changer area. Some parents bring the freebie ointments from their pediatricians office --that's ok as long as it's in original container.

There are many methods of potty-training, most of which will work fine when the child is truly ready. It’s just a matter of practice and patience. Some of the best books on the subject that I have found are:

  1. Toilet Training in Less Than a Day, by Nathan H. Azrin, Richard M. Foxx

  2. Parents' Book of Toilet Teaching, by Joanna Cole

  3. Toilet Training Without Tears, by Charles E. Schaefer and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo

  4. Toilet Training, by Vicky Lansky

Also there are lots of great books for children which present the ideas of toilet training in a non-threatening way, including:

  1. What to Expect When You Use the Potty, by Heidi Murkoff

  2. Koko Bear’s New Potty, by Vicky Lansky

  3. Once Upon a Potty – (Girl and Boy versions), by Alona Frankel

When deciding to start toilet-training, I suggest you start by reading one or more of these books on the subject, and then choosing a convenient time when you can dedicate your full attention to your child for a period of at least several days. For example, a long weekend when you won’t be traveling or entertaining guests, or even a full week of vacation (if you’re lucky enough to have that to spare!). Read up and develop your plans ahead of this time, then prepare to devote yourself fully to this process for the time you have allotted. It’s good to also talk to your child ahead of this time about the idea of learning to go potty, presenting it as a positive thing.

This does not mean that your child can never have an accident while in my care in class. Although that would be wonderful, I don’t expect that to be the case. Whenever a new skill is being perfected, there are bound to be some mistakes and setbacks.

Some children may do well at toilet training for several weeks, then decide that it’s too much trouble and they don’t want to be bothered with having to remember to go on their own.
I find that giving the potty training child a goodie (somewhat healthy) 1 piece for going number  #1 and maybe 3 or 4 pieces for going number#2. When keeping clean while going potty will become soooo routine that they will soon forget about the treat eventually ….

If your child experiences a lot of accidents (more than one or two per week) and/or your child begins to experience other difficulties with toileting, such as refusing to go, willfully making messes, etc., then we will need to coordinate our efforts to help your child learn -- a week or two later.

Once you have identified that your child is ready:

He/she should interested, and cooperative, and that you have the time to devote to this, choose your time to start and stick to it. Some parents have found it helpful to tell their child “white little fibs” like “the store is out of diapers” or “they don’t make diapers in your size anymore” in order to reinforce that there will be no more diapers. This also takes some of the pressure off of Mom and Dad to say why this is the way it’s going to be. In any case, once you start, don’t go back. This will only serve to confuse your child and lengthen the time required to complete the potty training process.

Ideally, it would be great to have your child stay at home during this training period, preferably until your child has been completely accident-free for at least two weeks/14 days/no absences. However, since most parents don’t have that option, I require that the child continue to wear diapers/pullups at school until “success” has been achieved at home for at least two solid weeks of evenings and weekends. This means no accidents at all at home for at least two weeks straight and in my class. I need to be able to see the child do urination and  BM's in the potty and be able to wipe-without assistance to consider your child potty trained.

Although I wish I could offer each of my clients the service of potty-training their children for them, I simply cannot do that while also providing quality teaching to the other children in my group. For this reason, I also cannot on a regular basis deal with cleaning up potty accidents while your child is learning to use the potty independently. Your child

must go through toilet training at home, under your instruction and guidance. Your child must be successfully potty-trained before I can allow him or her to stop wearing diapers/ pullups in class. I simply do not have the resources to do otherwise.The potty trainer will learn to not wet the pullup --eventually-once you do the potty training at home.

Being successfully potty-trained means:

  1. Your child is able to announce when he or she needs to go potty.

  2. Your child is able to get to the bathroom without assistance.

  3. Your child is able to pull down his or her pants without assistance.

  4. Your child is able to pull down his or her underpants without assistance.

  5. Your child is able to sit on the potty seat without assistance.

  6. Your child is able to pee and/or poop in the potty.

  7. Your child is able to decide when he or she is finished going potty (i.e. when the flow of urine is complete, or when the bowel movement is finished)

  8. Your child is able to get a reasonable amount of toilet paper without assistance.

  9. Your child is able to wipe without assistance and put the soiled tissue in the potty, or can at least call for help if assistance is needed to properly wipe.

  10. Your child is able to flush the toilet without assistance.

  11. Your child is able to pull up his or her own underpants without assistance.

  12. Your child is able to pull up his or her own pants/skirt without assistance.

  13. Your child is able to climb down from the potty seat without assistance.

  14. Your child is able to turn on the water to wash hands without assistance.

  15. Your child is able to put soap on his or her hands without assistance.

  16. Your child is able to turn off the water without assistance.

  17. Your child is able to dry his or her hands with a towel without assistance.


*Please keep in mind that the burden of training your child to successfully go potty will need to reside with you at your home. I simply do not have the resources to devote to training your child for you since I care for more than one child at a time. I will do my best to assist you in your training efforts, and will consult with you to be sure we coordinate our efforts in order to present consistent expectations at home and at class. But ultimately the responsibility to potty-train your child must rest with you.

Feel free to discuss your concerns with me regarding your plans to potty train your child. I will attempt to help you to the best of my ability……

Games & Ideas…

Make this a game, make it fun and you will not run into stubborn opposition (after all it is the child's body). Go out and buy or find around the house items you don't normally let your child play with. Some examples might be toys that can be used in water (3 or 4 things), like little plastic pitchers, balls, tiny cups, whatever, but make them SPECIAL. The only real rule to this game is these special "potty" toys can only be played with while the child is sitting on the potty! This is very important; no breaking this one rule, or it won't work.

Once the child is sitting on the potty fill a large bowl or small bucket with lukewarm or tepid water, place the new "potty" toys in the bowl and set the bowl of water in front of the child. On the floor if the potty seat is low, or if it's a potty seat that sits on top of the regular toilet, set the bowl of water on a TV tray or something that provides a step, in front of the child. When the child places his/her hands in the lukewarm water to play with the toys, if the child needs to physically go, they nearly instantly go potty (it's almost an instinctive type of physical reaction), then cheer, cheer, cheer! Give lots of praise, and if you wish to give some type of a treat, go ahead.

Let them play as long as they want, as long as they sit on the potty. When they are done playing, put the toys away for next time. This is really great because it makes it fun for them so they cooperate, it totally ends all power struggles, and also no more waiting and waiting for them to go only to have them go potty as soon as the diaper goes back on. They also feel good because they have immediate success. Potty training no. 2 was more difficult I found, that just came with some time and patience and them learning in their own space and way, relax, it will happen.

Hint 1: With a red dot of nail polish at the center part of the toilet...they "aimed" at the target....also, no messy over spray on the wall of floor!! (Just need to stop the water in the toilet to let the nail polish dry long enough) or by taking one sheet of toilet paper and tossing it into the toilet and then telling little brother to sink it—like a target.

Hint 2: You can color the toilet water or a little water in their small potty, w/ food coloring or water soluble art paint, to be BLUE, when child pees into the toilet it should turn GREEN (if the right amount of blue is in there & not too much, experiment). I know this sounds silly too, but I read it somewhere in one of those books. I personally like the water toy idea or the sink the paper game!



Diaper Changing or Pull Up Changing Bladder Agreement:  Each child that is in diapers or pull ups has a different type of bladder--some don't need to be changed often because their bladder is VERY STRONG some children may need to be changed often because their bladder is VERY WEAK.  ( Every childs  #2 or BM get's changed ASAP or after they are finished)


Please circle the appropriate changing schedule for you child and intitial next to it--also. 


My child needs to be changed every 


  • 1 Hour    _______
  • 2 Hours  _______
  • 3 Hours  _______
  • 4 Hours  _______
  • None of the above,  I'll change my child  at  my home ________ because my child has a pretty strong bladder.


Remember --The longer your child can stay dry in a diaper or pull-up the closer they are getting to  being able to be potty trained....  (this does not imply not giving your child fluids to achieve this)


Parent's please keep this form updated as your childs bladder grows stronger over time.... 


Parent's need to bring more than 5 diapers per day and more than 10 wipes (just in case they get diarreah either from eating something that doesn't agree with them or illness related). We can store supplies in the diaper changing area and the cubby area. Some children can't tolerate grapes, corn, citrus foods in general so this could be one cause of having loose bowels.

Parent's arriving before contracted times need to change their child's daiper when they show up or when they go home. Your children will miss you and usually want the most familiar person (mom/dad/friend/relative) to change their diaper.  

Parent's please don't expect your child to be diaper changed when you arrive, if you come while they're sleeping-they get changed after waking from sleep. Sometimes your children will be dressed in outdoor bathing suits so to cool off from a hot day, they may not be changed to go home so they can participate-parent's will need to either opt to take them in bathing suits (if it's hot) or change them-parent's are on duty once you arrive.  I can try helping you out during the actual care time, but usually they've missed you and want your undivided attention, please give that to them when they are being positive. Another time children might not be dressed is if they are playing dress up in the dramatic play area, just help them remove the items and they will be ready to go....  If you come just before a diaper change they might be wet...










Sometimes parents can do reverse psychology and put the underwear on with the pull up or diaper on the outside of the underwear so the child can feel the wetness (usually pullups/diapers pull all the moisture away from the childs skin so they never really feel the sensation of being wet)  Try this if your child is sometimes staying dry with underwear but not with pull ups/diapers.