The 5 Secrets to Potty Training Success


    little girl completing potty training

    Potty training. We are going to be saying the word “potty” a L-O-T in this article, so if you can’t stomach it then I advise reading another article from San Francisco’s Moms Blog until you are.  See, I am a Potty Training and Elimination Communication (EC) coach, so “pee,” “poo,” and “potty” are common words in my vocabulary, much like “the,” “and,” etc.

    A little back story, I used EC with my son on and off as an infant since he was about two months old. He was “officially” out of diapers at 18 months and was day and night trained by two years old. As a coach and a teacher I learned a lot and saw (still see) a lot more than your average parent or caregiver. Looking back, I learned things I wish I would have known from the beginning. So here are the top four tips to potty training that I wish I would have known:

    Mentally prepare for messes

    There will be accidents. It-is-G-O-N-N-A happen. The sooner you come to terms with it the better off you will be. There will probably be a point where your child will regress. They will be doing really great, and then suddenly out of nowhere, bam—accidents. At that point, you’ll think to yourself, “What the heck,” and possibly contemplate putting your child back into pull-ups or diapers. Don’t, if you can help it. Know there will be accidents. Perfectionism and potty training are complete opposites from one another.

    It’ll take longer than you hoped

    Most kids do NOT potty train in two days. Sure, it is possible, and it happens, but for the majority of kids, potty training is not a weekend thing. It is not even a week thing. It is a journey, a marathon if you will. Unless we EC consistently with our children, we have taught them to use their diapers as a toilet. For us to expect them to be near perfect after only two days of training is completely unrealistic. According to webMD, in 2001 children gave up diapers between 35 and 39 months. So, in general, we teach our child to pee and poo in their diapers for three-ish years and then expect this miracle in two days… not likely, sorry to burst your potty training bubble.

    The path to potty training is not a straight line

    Potty training is not a linear line of learning. Potty training looks like this: success→ regression→ lose some hope→ have a couple wins→ give up/ hope completely gone→ huge success!

    This is how learning happens with potty training most of the time. There are many reasons for regressions, and I can write about that in another post. My point here is that learning to go to the bathroom can take time, and it most likely does not look like you think it should.

    You’ll have to remind them to go potty

    Kids not telling you they need to go potty is very common, and most of the time they need prompting or reminders to go to the bathroom, especially when they’re totally engrossed in an activity of some sort. I use this example: before you get in the car to go on a road trip, you might ask your grown adult partner, “Do you need to use the bathroom?” Yes, we still prompt our grown partners, and we will have to check in with our children too, probably well into their teenage years.  So don’t expect them to tell you every time they need to go.

    Potty training means different things to different people

    Over time, I’ve realized that “potty trained” means different things to different people. It could mean being out of diapers while awake but still needing a diaper to sleep for naps or nights. Potty trained could mean having 1 to 3 accidents a day or having no accidents at all for at least a week or more. When you hear someone say their child is potty trained and you’re worried because yours isn’t, remember that you might be working off different definitions. I personally didn’t consider my son potty trained until he went at least a few days consistently without an accident, but again, that’s just my definition.

    Potty independence is more definable, and it is now what I am working on with my son. Potty independence means the child is completely independent and doesn’t need any assistance in the process of pottying.   

    What secrets or tips helped you be successful in potty training? Share below!



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