What We Wish Someone Told Us!

We’ve done a ton of research to identify the best methods and teaching techniques for potty training, which we’ve laid out in our step-by-step guide, The Potty Proud Approach. That, however, is a long read for parents in the midst of potty training. 

What if you’re a parent who hasn’t started training just yet or who has tried a different training approach? We’ve got your covered at One Proud Toddler our ‘Top Ten Potty Training Tips’ described below:

#1 - Start Early

The trend towards training at age three and up is actually a relatively recent phenomenon that began the in the 1960’s and 1970’s and coincided with the advent of widely available disposable diapers. In fact, studies show that prior to the 1960’s over 90% of children in the United States were potty trained by 18 months old. The way they accomplished training back then was a bit barbaric, but it all goes to show that children can be trained much earlier than would seem possible if you were to listen to the advice of some of the ‘experts’ in the field.

At One Proud Toddler we think the best age to train is between 20-and-30 months old. We refer to this age as the "golden window" when children are physically and behaviorally ready for training. This is because children in this age range have the physical dexterity necessary for successful training and have not started too far down the path of ‘individuation’ (i.e. the process of recognizing their own sense of being) that can make training a battle of the wills. You can read all about this and more in our post “Why Early Potty Training is Better Potty Training.”

#2 - Incorporate Daycare Into Your Training Plan

If your child is or will be in daycare, then it’s crucial to proactively incorporate daycare into your ‘potty training plan’ before you start training. All the great work in the world at home won’t amount to much if your daycare facility insists on a radically different training approach. Thankfully, perfect alignment of training procedures at home and at daycare isn’t necessary (or likely even possible) because children can differentiate between the two environments. What is necessary though, is to have a plan for handling the transition and for explaining to your child why things may be done differently at home and at daycare. You can read all about how to handle this crucial transition in our post “The Daycare Handoff.”

#3 - Don't Do 'Child Led'

One our key training principles at One Proud Toddler is that you are the adult. This may sound like common sense, but in the area of potty training that’s not always the case. Specifically, the trend towards later potty training in the United States also corresponded with the introduction of the “child led approach,” which posits that children will essentially up and train themselves “when they are ready.”

At One Proud Toddler, we believe that Potty Training is one of the first major life skills your child will learn to master. We feel that learning something this important and particularly when to begin, is something that isn’t best left to a toddler’s judgment. After all, we don’t rely on our toddlers to tell us when they should be going to bed, whether they're ready for school or if they should sit in a car seat—potty training shouldn't be any different. You can read all about the different potty training methods out there in our post “Making Sense of Different Potty Training Methods.”

#4 - Don't Do Rewards

At One Proud Toddler we feel that rewards are a recipe for disaster. Specifically, we believe that the regular use of external rewards, such as candies, for a natural process like going to the bathroom can lead your child to expect a reward for everything they do, with predictable consequences.

Instead of we recommend using praise as a positive reinforcement. This is because praise is a social stimulus that children universally respond well to and one that will help your child to develop a sense of intrinsic self-motivation.

#5 - Use Behavioral Training Techniques

If you read our training guide, The Potty Proud Approach, you’ll see it heavily utilizes behavioral training techniques such as “Potty Pals” and “Manual Instruction.” Using teaching techniques like this is a great way to speed-up the learning and retention of potty training skills.

Both teaching techniques can be used regardless of the training method you decide to utilize and are useful in contexts outside of potty training as well. You can read all about them in “The Potty Proud Approach.”  For quick reading, we've posted the relevant Training Toolkits where they are introduced The Potty Proud Approach below. 

Training Toolkit

"Potty Pals"
This is a powerful training tool you should use with your child to reinforce potty training concepts and the general social importance attached to being potty trained (the awareness of which is a powerful motivator):

The first is to show approval when your child successfully completes a potty training step. This is done by explaining to your child how proud grandma / daddy / superman / the neighbors—essentially anyone who is important to your child—is of his or her accomplishment.

The second is as a reinforcement mechanism by asking and answering questions like: “Where does daddy / superman / grandma go to the potty? That’s right, in the toilet.”

Training Toolkit

"Manual Instruction"
This is a powerful yet simple learning technique for your toddler that some may refer to as "manual prompting" or "manual guidance." Essentially, you first clearly explain to your child how to perform a task. Next, you let your child attempt it on their own, understanding that even simple tasks take toddlers much longer to perform. After patiently watching your child attempt the task, you place your hands over theirs and "manually guide" them to complete the task. This technique is great for teaching children a variety of potty training skills, including how to dress-and-undress themselves and flush the contents of the potty chair.

#6 - Don't Give Up

Consistency is the KEY to successful potty training. What this means is that once you start potty training your child, do not give up. Lapses in training or approaches where you “kinda potty train” one day and don't the next can cause confusion. You are teaching your child a new and difficult skill, if you aren't consistent it will take them a lot longer to ‘get it.’

#7 - Plan For Accidents

In The Potty Proud Approach we tell readers that accidents are literally part of the plan. What's more, the way your respond to your child's first accident will literally set the stage for the rest of your potty training journey. Whether your try our training approach or something different, it’s important that you plan for accidents, stay calm and supportive and carry forward with your training program.

#8 - Get The Right Equipment (Ahead Of Time)

You’ll need three tools to potty train: (1) a potty chair, (2) a potty seat and (3) a travel potty seat. We explain how to use each of them in The Potty Proud Approach, but even if you use a different training method you’ll almost certainly need these tools. Get them ahead of time so that you’re not running around at the last minute after you’ve already started training.  For in-depth advice on selecting these devices check out our posts "Why Potty Chairs ROCK!", "Features to Look for in a Potty Seat" and "Why Travel Potty Seats Are GRREAT!")

#9 - Be Confident

Your child will be able to tell if you are nervous or uncertain about potty training. Be confident, know you can do this and your confidence will be reflected in your child.

#10 - Have FUN!

Potty training is a major life milestone as crazy as it may sound to some. What’s more, it provides the chance to spend a significant amount of quality time with your child. Make it fun. You and your child enjoy the process a lot more and it will create ‘good vibes’ for future life lessons you’ll need to cover.

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