Potty Training

One of my favorite potty training books.
My brother, the pediatrician, suggested I write a blog post about potty training. I told him I'd never do something so undignified, but what the heck! After potty training five and a half kids, I'm practically an expert, right? (I say five and a half because I haven't quite finished with child number six.) In my book, anyone who claims to be an expert at potty training isn't currently potty training or has never potty trained a difficult child. However, I have learned a few tricks as I've navigated the murky waters of potty training that I'll share with you. I'd also love any tips from readers since I'm still in the middle of potty training.

The most important rule of potty training is this: The child must think that potty training is his idea. (I'm using "he" because I have mostly boys.) He could care less about how tired you are of changing his diapers. Usually, you'll have to find outside rewards for his using the potty. I have used stickers, candy, cookies, paper airplanes, paper helicopters, special television shows, new underwear, play dough, verbal praise, and bubbles as rewards. Beware the escalating reward tendency. I had one child who decided a piece of candy wasn't enough. He wanted 2 pieces, then three, then a whole cookie. Stand firm and think of this as your preparation for the pre-teen years.

Getting the kid to go: Sometimes, when the rewards have gotten old, the child will need an extra incentive to go in the potty. For boys, you can try having pee pee races with an older brother or having him hit targets like little squares of toilet paper or cheerios. For boys or girls, you can dye the water with food coloring and tell them their pee will change the color. You can give them books, play dough, a special drink, or bubbles while they're sitting on the potty. Sometimes a book or dvd about using the potty will help motivate a child. I like to get children's potty training books from the library because who really wants to own a potty book?

Getting the kid to keep going: Just because the child learns how to go in the potty doesn't mean he'll go on the potty every time. It takes a lot of patience. Most kids have a lot of accidents. I try to make accidents as inconvenient as possible. The child can help clean up any puddles and helps transport clothes to the laundry room. You can also says things like, "That's too bad you didn't get to watch your special show for going on the potty. Maybe next time."

If you have any tips for me, I'd love to hear them. My patience with wet pants is running out faster than my laundry detergent.


  1. All I've learned from potty training five children is that I HATE it. Still have one more to go. Maybe next year. I keep hoping for that miracle child who will see what his older brothers are doing and want to be big like them. So far no luck.


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