22 Potty Training Tips For Modern Moms

I have to admit. Potty training has been the hardest thing I’ve done as a mother thus far. It has really tested my patience and my ability to stay calm during difficult situations. It has brought many embarrassing moments and nerve wrecking moments. And many moments where I wondered, Why am I doing this? Diapers are easier to change than cleaning up after poop and pee in carpet.

My Potty Training Experience

My oldest daughter, Kaye, was almost 2 when she started to show signs of readiness of potty training. In fact, the first day I pulled out the potty seat, she pooped in it the first time. Then peed in it the second time. All in the same day. But I held off potty training because we were leaving for a trip to Taiwan.

After our trip to Taiwan, I decided I wanted to transition Kaye into sleeping in a big girl bed before potty training her. I was pregnant with our second and wanted to use the crib for the baby.

Once Kaye turned 2, she still showed signs of readiness of potty training, but took no interest in it. My motivation was I wanted to get her out of diapers before the new baby came. I didn’t want to do potty training while nursing a little one. Plus, it was much cheaper to purchase diapers for one child instead of two. So I went with it. It wasn’t too bad. She was fully potty trained in about 2 weeks.

22 Potty Training Tips

If you have read all the ready signs of potty training, looked into it a bit and decided to give it a go, here are a few tips that might help you in this arduous task. Remember that each child is different. What worked with your friend’s child may not work with yours. What worked with your first child may not work with the second or third. So read up and do what will work best for your child.

  1. Toilet Training in Less Than A Day. This was the book that answered all my questions. It told me exactly how my child was going to react to potty training and the different tactics they will use when faced with this situation. Then it had all the answers and responses as to what I needed to do as a parent. It’s a short and fast read. Well worth it.
  2. Wait it out. I have friends who waited until their child told them they were ready. And when they did, it was much easier to have the child be the one who initiated it.
  3. Be prepared to devote at least 1 whole day without distractions to it. Clear your calendar. Forget about your emails. Ask someone to watch your older kids, if necessary. Devote an entire day or two to this and really get serious about it. Potty training is one of those moments where you need to give your child uninterrupted attention. Once they get the hang of it and know what is going on, then get back into regular routine.
  4. Be consistent. At this age, they are testing you. They want to know if you are in on this. Because if you are totally into this, and you convince them you are, then they’ll get with the program. And to do that, you have to be consistent. Show them that this is not just something temporary. Or something that you will give up if it doesn’t work the first few days or even weeks. If you give up, they will too.
  5. Involve them. Take them to the store to pick out their new underwear. Have them pick out a potty seat. Ask them what treats or reward they would like. Have them set a goal to work toward.
  6. Potties vs. training seats. We had both. Potties are nice because they are kid size. They don’t need a step to get on it. The down side is you have to clean it. Sure it is suggested that you have the child take the poop/pee container and dump it in the toilet. But they don’t actually clean it afterwards. Training seats are nice because they get your child used to going to the toilet in the first place. Although it can be tricky for your child to get on a step, pull down pants and turn around to sit on the potty alone without falling. It will take some getting used to.
  7. The second day will be the hardest. The first day, they are excited to get with the program. The second day, they have accidents on purpose. The second day will make or break you. Though not all moms will experience this, lucky you if you don’t.
  8. Balance reminders with trust. In the beginning, you will remind them constantly to go potty, and sometimes taking them to the potty even if they don’t need to go. Then as they start to get a hang out it, back off the reminders. Make them less frequent. That was hard for me because by that time, I was tired of dealing with accidents. But I noticed, the more I backed off on reminders, the more willing she would go on her own. I would only ask her if she needed to go potty when I could tell she was holding it.
  9. Throw a party. Get them excited about it. I did it on the first day to introduce Kaye to potty training. Since she was into princesses at that time, it was a pink princess potty party. I decorated the living room with little underwear and had lots of pink drinks around (juice, strawberry PediaSure or strawberry milk). I made a special pink breakfast. Her grandma bought her a potty doll. We had a collection of children potty books. Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day is a book with themes, ideas and activities for potty parties. This book is different from the one mentioned above.
  10. Don’t yell. This will be a hard one, especially when you are dealing the 5th or 6th accident of the day and you are at wit’s end. But if you yell, they will resist or feel being punished.
  11. Make them accountable. When they have an accident, have them clean it up. Have them undress themselves and put away the dirty clothes. Have them put on new clothes with some assistance if necessary. The cleaning part. They won’t get it as clean as you. But have them clean what they can and you do the deep scrubbing of the carpet. If they are accountable for their mess each time they make one, they will learn that they don’t want to make messes anymore.
  12. Be prepared to sit there with them for a long time. They will sit on the toilet and tell you they don’t need to go. But as soon as you let them off, they hide in a corner and let it go. So next time you see them holding it, put them on the potty and sit there with them. I sat on the floor while Kaye was on the potty. We sang songs, I told her stories, we read books, she flipped through children magazines or catalogs. Whatever it took for her to sit there until she went.
  13. Find their motivator. What motivates your child? Positive attitude, support and encouragement? Or nagging, threats and punishments? Motivation can come from outside sources, too. Perhaps they love cars, princesses or dinosaurs. Maybe they have always wanted to go to Built-A-Bear and make a doll.
  14. Make it come alive. When Kaye reverted after the new baby was born, we purchased a set of little Disney Princess figurines. If she went a few days without an accident, a princess will show up on her pillow before bedtime with a personal note. The note encouraged her and praised her for her success. And once in a while brought up some pointers for things she needed to work on. It was better coming from a “princess” than mom.
  15. Rewards can come in many forms. There are instant rewards and long-term rewards. Make the instant rewards small. Candy, stickers, a small toy and lots of praise. I wasn’t too keen of candy rewards because I, personally, don’t give my children lots of sugar. That’s just me. So I went all out on the stickers. Make the long-term reward a little more meaningful. A trip to the museum, a sleepover at grandma’s house, a bigger toy they have been eyeing or something else they really want or would like.
  16. Celebrate with others. When they are successful, make them feel proud of their success. Call dad at work. Call grandma in another state. Have them tell of their achievements. It provides positive encouragements.
  17. Potty Power. I admit. It was a cheesy movie. But kids love it. I used this as a reward sometimes because Kaye enjoyed the movie so much. She wanted to watch it all the time.
  18. They are smarter than you think. Haven’t we heard this before? But really. Unless you are potty training at 1 years old or your child has special circumstances or disabilities, they should be able to grasp the concept. I know I thought to myself many times, Does she really understand what I am doing here? Does she know that it is embarrassing to pee on yourself?
  19. Don’t travel. If you are traveling or moving shortly before or during potty training, you are sabotaging yourself and your child. Stay at home and potty train.
  20. Drop everything and go. That will be one of the hardest concepts for the child to comprehend. They are used to going while playing. Now they have to stop what they are doing to go? No way! Teaching them this concept takes time and patience. Show them that the quicker they go, the sooner they can get back to playing. Pause the movie if you have to.
  21. Public bathrooms may frighten them. Be patient. Kaye was frightened by public bathrooms. She didn’t like all the noise, the size of everything, the loud flushing and the fans and hand dryers. I would bring her into a stall, allowed her to get acquainted to this new environment and waited until she was ready. There were times she would try to convince me she didn’t need to go. So I had special rewards or treats in the diaper bag for such occasions.
  22. Put extra clothes in the car. You will most likely have a set of extra clothing and underwear in the diaper bag or your purse. But also keep an extra set in the car. You never know how long you will be out and about. Sometimes they might go through both sets in one trip. Or you might forget that you used the set in the diaper bag last time and forgot to refill it.

» Tell me… What are your potty training tips? Share your secrets.

Read other potty training articles… back to basics tip for auto-flush toilets, your potty training questions answered, download a free potty training chart, 5 children’s potty books and adventures of modern mom story about when they revert.

59 Responses to “22 Potty Training Tips For Modern Moms”

  • Whitney

    Perfect timing! I have been contemplating taking the potting training plunge.
    Thanks so much for these tips!

  • Emily

    My second is in potty training mode. We usually just clapped and shouted hooray when she went potty and that is good enough for her. I think the hardest for her was getting to the point where she could recognize that she needed to go and how to tell us that she needed to go. For her “Peepee” is the code word for peeing and pooping. However we are being as consistent as possible. She wears panties during the day and diapers at night. She still has accidents but I am not worried about it. It is one of those things that happens.
    I keep a bucket in the bathroom for the poopy panties. Once a day they go to the laundry. One thing to remember though is to have plenty of panties on hand for the accidents.

  • Nicole Robinson

    Been at it for 3 days, and only 2 accidents in his underwear (I’m not counting what he does in his pull-ups when he sleeps). He’s been pretty good at it, though he is starting to dis-like the timer. I’m still frustrated though. He doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “listening” to his body. Still no luck with going #2 in the potty. We can’t seem to find the right motivation for him. :/

    • ashley

      hi, i have heard that if you tell them that the poopie feeds the fishies they will go #2 lol you could try it!

  • Kelly

    I’m at the tail end of potty training #5 and have done the same thing with all five. I start them right after they turn two and clear our schedule for at least a week if not two. I plan fun things at home for the older kids so they don’t get bored. Once we put underpants on, we do not go back to diapers. (except at bedtime) I set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes and we go sit in the bathroom until they go or until five minutes are up. We read books and sing songs, celebrate if they go and then set the timer and do it again. The key is consistency. Once you start you can’t turn back. Well you can but you’re just asking for trouble. 🙂 I know a lot of parents who have waited until their kids have told them they’re ready but I think if you are super consistent & super patient you can teach them right at two. The “intensity” of a week or two of serious potty training is totally worth it!

    • Rachael

      It’s hard to clear “a week or two” when both parents work full-time jobs.

  • Hillary

    I read a digital book when I did my first and I think it really helped. The one thing that change for me was asking “Are you panties dry” instead of “Do you have to go” because then it puts confidence in them, and a time to praise them! Simple but it worked!

  • marisa

    Great tips! We have 5 children and each and every one was different. We have 1 with high functioning autism and sensory issues. That was the hardest obviously. I DID think they got the whole potty thing but some kids with certain disabilities do not. This could be from low muscle tone to constipation. Our 4 year old had sensory processing issues as well and this caused a delay. I am currently trying to train our only daughter and this is the hardest!

    • Tiffany

      oh my, marisa! i totally look up to you and surviving potty training 5 children! please give us tips on how to potty train children with disabilities.

  • Amanda

    Oh my goodness Thank you! I have been wanting to potty train my 2 year old but nothing has seemed to work. These tips are exactly what I have been looking for. My daughter is stinkin smart and everything else that I have found on how to potty train make it sound like they just don’t understand it. I know she can do it, it’s me that needs to learn some patience.

    • Tiffany

      you’ll like the toilet train in a day book. our kids are smart too. so that book really helped. check to see if they have that book at your library.

  • Sarah Lee

    These are some great tips. I could have used these when potty training! My son, Tommy was so ready for potty training, he just doesn’t like change and didn’t want to lose his diapers. Well, we warned him we weren’t buying any more diapers. When we ran out, that was it! So, it was essentially cold turkey – with some warning. We also had a reward system. For every five successes on the toilet he earned a toy car. It worked so well. And by the time he finished the chart he didn’t need the reward system anymore.
    I think it helped that we potty trained him after the baby was born, so there wasn’t a reversion issue. We still have accidents, but we try to stay positive and make sure we involve him in the clean-up since he made the mess.

  • anh

    great tips! def forwarding to all my friends and family with their first child.

    ps come by my blog for a giveaway from shabby apple!

  • Cecilia

    I’m currently potty-training my oldest, and it has been a long and frustrating road, but she’s getting there. I just wish I had started earlier, but then, she wouldn’t have been able to do it all herself…

  • ella@lifeologia

    I did pretty well. She was completely trained with #1 at 2 and 4 months. I just took the diaper right off and dealt with the accidents 😉
    Then she got pretty good at holding it and going to the potty BUT got too good at holding #2 – we had a dilemma with serious constipation – unhealthy and painful for her …. so we took a step back and I insisted on diapers again for when she needed to poop. That relaxed her a bit and now she’s successful at both. She’ll be 3 in a few weeks and she’s a SUPERSTAR at being a BIG GIRL 😉
    Good luck to all the mommies out there taking the plunge. lol.

    • Tiffany

      yes. i have heard children who hold it too long with #2 and have constipation problems. miralax helps with that. it’s over-the-counter, but consult with your doctor or pediatrician before giving it to your children.

  • Destri

    The best advice I have is what I did to get mine potty trained….

    Go on a cruise and leave them with Grandma who hates to change diapers!

    Seriously! I came home to a fully potty trained little boy, and he has only had two accidents since. She did an awesome job.

    • Darla

      Too funny! I have thought of that in my desperate, bad potty training days! But I plunged on myself–Gma doesn’t mind changing diapers.

  • Steffany

    Great tips, after potty training my triplets; I swore I would never have any more children–just because I didn’t want to potty train them! The memory faded and we do have two more children. The youngest is now ready…I am the one procrastinating. The only thing I can say is that they are all different and waiting until they are ready is worth it.

  • Kristin

    We tried the 3-Day method & I wanted to die when we quit & failed! Turns out my little girl is her own person! Ha! Who would have thought 🙂 Anyway, we both quit (back in May) & we’re going to give it another try next week. I’m PRAYING she takes to it & I can hold strong this round!

  • Nicki

    oh geez.. I’m glad we are past this phase. Ugh.

    For us it took putting my little girl in boys briefs because they had diego on them and a Diego Jeep on display in the bathroom for graduation.

  • Jenny Yarbrough

    Okay Tiffany, do you have a hidden camera in my house? I am at my wits end with my three year old… MY WITS END!! Ask my husband, I had a complete meltdown today over this. I think I need to get this book, like tonight! Thank you for your tips. My daughter was so easy to potty train, but Luke is so difficult.

    • Tiffany

      hehe. yup. i’m watching you, jenny! i hope the book helps you. it’s a fast read.

  • Kristi @ Creative Kristi

    My son holds #2 until we put a diaper on him. Days sometimes. It makes me nervous…how do I get him to go #2 on the potty? He’s not afraid of it and LOVES his big boy underwear but just won’t do #2! One time I insisted no diaper (I was just going to clean poop off the floor if I need to)but he just held it and held it until he pooped in his sleep! Argh! Any advice?

  • Secret Mom Thoughts

    I’ve been potty training since June. My son has the pee thing down butstill will not go poop on the potty. I’ve offered him everything to train. It is just not working. Any specific tips on that? I need him trained by September for preschool. He turned 3 in May.

  • Nicole Robinson

    Day 3 (today) was my day 2. It really almost broke me… Prayer helps!

    My question: How do you get them to poop on the potty? He’s not afraid of the toilet.

  • Whitney S.

    My son is 3 and absolutely refuses to go at all in the toilet….he has before when we weren’t really trying to potty train him but now just won’t at all. We try to get him to just sit on the potty, but we screams and cries when he just does that. As for bribery and charts…..he will pick out a cool toy and when he learns that it’s for potty training he decided he doesn’t want to do it and doesn’t want the toy anymore. Candy doesn’t work either. We’ve tried movies and books….they don’t help. We’ve tried potty seat and a potty chair…..he doesn’t like either. Basically, we don’t know what to do now…..I know he could do it, he is just so stubborn! Someone told us we might just have to force him, but that just seems mean. Any tips on this one?

  • phalloeun

    We took a 2 week period when my husband was on vacation to focus on potty training our 2 year old son. We had lots of talk about it before the vacation time so that he would not be surprised by it. We didn’t do anything, but potty trained. When we would go out, we brought the potty with us. If we were on the road, we’d stop and have him go in there. It was gross, if you really thought about it, but so is parenthood sometimes. But by the time my husband went back to work, it was a done deal. We had a successful potty trained boy!

  • Jacinta

    Those tips are great thanks. My oldest is almost 2 but she isn’t ready … so I’m still with the two under two in nappies but i’d rather do that then clean up her mess.

  • Jill

    My 3 1/2 year old son has been potty training for a year. He knows how to do it. He stays dry every night, even waking up in the middle of the night to go. He’ll stay dry for a week or two, but then he’ll just decide he hates it and will scream every time he has to go. This week he’s refused to put on underwear; we still have diapers because my 1 1/2 year who happens to be enamored with the potty is still in them. I have no clue what to do. I’m trying to be patient and positive, but a year of this seems to be draining the life out of me! Help!

    • Jill

      So, thinking about this I realize that we’ve moved twice since he started potty training, but neither of those moves was planned when we started potty training. Our last move was 3 months ago. The moves probably affected him, but that’s life! What do I do about it?

  • Nikki

    Thanks for doing this Tiffany. Diapers just seem too easy for me, so I wonder if it is worth all the headache to enforce potty training with an uninterested two year-old, even though he has been physically capable of it for awhile. Especially with two moves coming up in the next few months. But if I wait he’ll be three by the time we do it… urgh. Maybe I’ll order one of the books you recommended.

  • Jaimie

    Thank you for this! Evan will be 2 next month and I know he isn’t ready YET, but I hope he will be this winter.


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