Potty training can be a process, but using a few tips and tricks can help get the job done in a week (or less!). From training in sessions to giving rewards, these are the nine potty training tricks that worked for me and my little one when he reached the potty training age. For additional help, and to make the process even easier, think about including potty training products like potty seats and step ladders into your routine.
Have Confidence: You can do it!
Trust me, potty training doesn’t have to be hard or stressful. Even as a first-time single mom with no dad in the house to help out, I managed to potty train my son in less than a week (actually, 5 days!), and you can too. Read on to find out how I did it.
Potty Training Tip #1: Potty Train In Sessions
The book Potty Training Boys the Easy Way: Helping Your Son Learn Quickly – Even if He’s a Late Starter by Caroline Fertleman and Simon Cove suggests starting off with potty training sessions. This means that you’ll want to train your child in the morning and afternoon for a few hours at home. Let them eat, drink and play as normal, but every 15 minutes put them on the potty. At the end of a session, revert back to a diaper or pull-up and go on with your day. When you get home, have another session. On the third day, go for an all-day session. If you leave the house, have a spare potty in the car or visit places you’re sure have public restrooms.
Potty Training Tip #2: Try Naked Time
Let your child peruse your home…naked, or in just a T-shirt. Because they’re not wearing a diaper or underwear, they’ll have no place to put their pee or poop; they need to put it somewhere—in the toilet would be a good idea! When they do put it in the potty, make sure you both have a look (yuck, I know, but the visual is important.) Make flushing a huge deal by pointing at the swirling water and acknowledging the cool whooshing sound.
Potty Training Tip #3: Give a Reward (and Get Creative!)
Stickers, stamps on the hand, bubbles or a single M&M are all good potty prizes. Kick it up a notch by taking your child to the dollar store so they can pick out a super-special potty prize for a training milestone like the first full day in undies or staying dry overnight. Food prizes like a pizza party for dinner or ice cream sundae bar for dessert (set out sprinkles, gummy bears and cherries in bowls, and let your child create their own sundae) are also great ideas. If you don’t want to spend money, look around your house for an art project you can do together and display it so they can show off their “potty prize.”
Potty Training Tip #4: Give Praise and Affirmation
Each time your child uses the potty correctly, sing their praises. Ask relatives to fuss over them, too.
Internalized rewards build self-esteem, and kids usually relish attention more than any toy.
Avoid going overboard, says Christophersen. “Then, when your child has an accident, they may be deflated by the lack of support.” Tell them that accidents happen!
Is it right for you?
Words of encouragement are always a smart choice. Soon you’ll be patting yourself on the back, too—for escaping the changing table’s clutches!
Potty Training Tip #5: Be Proactive at School
Be sure to alert your child’s teacher to the fact that you are actively potty training at home. Teachers are busy with lots of kids, not just yours, so if your child needs a reminder to go, be sure to share this with the teacher. Make going potty at school less scary by exploring the facilities with your child. Try drop-off a little earlier so you can accompany your child into the bathroom and watch as they do their business. If you reward with stickers at home, bring some in for the teacher—she’ll gladly give them out to your potty pro.
Potty Training Tip #6: Show ‘Em How It’s Done
For single moms, teaching a little boy how to stand and pee can be an obvious challenge. Sure, you can pop him on a stool and tell him to go for it, but trust me, a visual is much better. Have a male role model like grandpa, a godfather or uncle show your son exactly what to do. Make it more fun by giving him things to aim at, like bright Fruit Loops or Tinkle Targets. In no time, your son will be standing and peeing on his own (phew, since public facilities are so germy).
Potty Training Tip #7: Take It on the Road
I love Potette—it’s a portable potty your child can use in the car or discreetly at the park. Potty seats come in handy when they need to use a public restroom. Wipes and spare clothes are also important to store in the car and in your child’s cubby at school. Buy a few cheapie pairs of pants so you always have a clean set when you need them.
Potty Training Tip #8: Limit Bedtime Drinks
Lay off milk and juice at least an hour before bedtime to help your child stay dry at night. That might mean you serve a later dinner so your child’s full and doesn’t need more food and drinks right before bed. Remember, nighttime training often comes later than daytime training; you might want to focus on one at a time so you don’t overwhelm your kiddo. It’s fine for them to start off sleeping and napping in a pull-up. They’ll likely wake up dry if you reel in the drinks, and soon they’ll be ready to hit the sack in underwear.
Potty Training Tip #9: Read Potty-Themed Books
My son is a fan of Diapers Are Not Forever. It’s bright and engaging—and, bonus, the back cover lists potty training tips for parents. Everybody Poops is another easily digestible book your child will love, especially if they’ve mastered peeing in the potty but are reluctant about going No. 2.