How to Potty Train

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Learning to use the potty is a big step towards independence for your child. Follow these steps to teach your child how to use the potty.

Things You'll Need

  • Potty chair
  • Underpants
  • Ring insert for regular toilet
  • Reward chart
  • Stickers or treats

Getting Ready

  1. Choose the optimal time to initiate training. At a minimum, the child should be able to follow simple commands and use words for toilet, pee and poop. Chances for success increase in the child who can pull his own pants up and down and who demonstrates a desire to cooperate and be independent.

  2. Buy a potty. You might take the child with you on the shopping trip to get her excited about using the potty. Choose a model that's easy to clean, and has a splash guard if you have a boy. You can also select a padded ring that fits on the adult toilet to transition to later.

  3. Stock up on underpants. Special training underpants are made with padding to help contain accidents. Underpants featuring your child's favorite book or television characters can be used as a reward for a child who remains dry. Buy at least 20 pair.

  4. Start a conversation about the potty training by reading your child a book about toileting written for his level of understanding, such as "Once Upon a Potty" by Alona Frankel.

Start Training

  1. Devote ample time to training at the beginning. An extended weekend allows you to focus on the child and clean up accidents.

  2. Adopt a casual attitude. If your child sees you getting angry or upset when he has an accident, he might associate the potty with unhappy times. If you force your child to sit on the potty, she could turn training into a power struggle.

  3. Dress for success. Girls can easily lift a skirt or dress at potty time. Boys will find pants or shorts with an elasticized waist easy to manipulate. If possible, avoid training in the dead of winter when the child has to struggle with layers of clothing.

  4. Respect the child's need for privacy. Not all children want the parent at their side offering encouragement during their efforts. Self-aware children with a high need for independence might want to leave the bathroom door shut.

  5. Reward the child's successes. Many moms swear by the candy reward method. Others prefer to use a sticker chart. If the child receives a small reward for her success, she might feel more control over the process, because she is toileting for a treat and not just because you said so.

  6. Expect setbacks. Regression can be caused by illness, the arrival of a new baby, or a temporary stubborn streak. Stay calm, and offer the child reassurance so he does not feel that his accidents lessen your love for him.

  7. Save disposable training pants for nighttime use until the child has dry nights. During the day, the high absorbency of these products encourages the child to urinate in them like any other diaper.

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