How to Potty Train a Child

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Introduction: How to Potty Train a Child

I have successfully potty-trained eight of my children, as well as three of my siblings, while they were between the ages of 22 and 28 months, in the course of a week. In the next few minutes, I will share my secret method, and hopefully, you too can say good-bye to diaper doody, err, duty, once and for all!

Step 1: Readiness

Around the age of 22-24 months, a toddler will exhibit signs of readiness. Conscious pause in play to poop, whining to be changed when wet or poopy are some of these signs. Also, having the verbal ability to communicate the act (a simple "pee-pee and poo-poo will suffice) is important. Make an effort to determine how long the toddler stays dry on any given day. This means checking every hour for wetness. When the toddler can "hold it" for at least an hour, preferably two, he or she is ready for the next phase.

Step 2: Doo As I Doo

It may sound strange, but kids learn from example! About a week or two before starting the final phase, make a scene when you go potty. Don't worry, the child will not know you look foolish. Standing outside the bathroom door, grab the front of your pants and put an apprehensive look on your face, and say something along the lines of "oh, no! pee-pee!" and dash into the bathroom. I guarantee the toddler will follow out of sheer curiosity and to see what the heck your problem is. If you aren't comfortable doing the deed in front of the child, pretend. Perform that act once or twice a day. Within a week or two, you are ready to proceed.
Hint: If there are older, potty-trained children around, the toddler will almost likely want to know what on earth is going on in the bathroom, and often will pick up clues by watching them instead.
Pick up a potty chair with the child. A simple potty chair is best. No fancy gadgets with bells, lights and sound effects. No toilet paper holder. No book rack. Just. A. Potty. Chair.

Step 3: Seven Step Program, Part One

As in, seven days. Pick one week where you can give the child your completely undivided attention! In the days before the week commences, take the child shopping, and pick out "big boy" or "big girl" underwear. These should be the 100% cloth training pants that are basically underwear, with an extra thick padding in the middle. Not pull-ups, not plastic-lining-on-the-outside underwear. If the kid feels like he or she is wearing a diaper, guess what? They will treat it like a diaper.
At bedtime the night before the week-long training begins, remind the child that tomorrow he or she will be a big kid and will wear undies! YAY!

Step 4: The Hard Part

When the child wakes in the morning, make a big deal about how they are such a big kid! Remove the diaper, clean as usual, and then put the new training pants on the child. And that is all the child should have from the waist down! This gives the kids a chance to feel when they have wet or pooped. (I have done this method in EVERY season, they never freeze to death, I promise)
Throughout the day, offer the child dry snacks (to increase thirst just a little) and follow up with plenty of drinks, milk, juices, water, whatever the child will drink. This helps the child actually feel the bladder fill, and eventually correlate the act of drinking and peeing. Every hour, take the child to the potty chair, help them pull the underwear down, and help them sit. Encourage them to pee, using extremely simple language. "Time for pee-pee"! etc, using facial expressions of effort (yes, the grunt face). Wait a few minutes. It won't happen immediately, and most likely, it won't happen at all in the potty the first two days. After about five minutes, consider it a good effort no matter what happens. Offer praise (good try!).
The first two days, the child will wet themselves every single time. It's just how it is.
You aren't doing anything wrong. It has to "click" for the kid. You will be very frustrated, but persevere. Backtracking to diapers during the day is confusing. When an accident happens, feel free to look disappointed. Phrases I have used: "aw man! an accident!" and even "ew, stinky poo!" It's not making a child "feel ashamed of bodily functions". It's making the child aware that big people don't walk around pooping and peeing on ourselves and sitting in it.
At nap time, place a folded old towel under the child, or have some other absorbent but unobtrusive padding under the lower half of the toddler.As soon as he or she wakes, excitedly take them to the potty if they are dry. If they are wet, it's ok to be disappointed and say "aw, you had an accident!" in a sad voice. They can "help" clean up, and when all is right again, say "good job!" and give great big hugs.
At night, continue the bedtime routine, but insert a potty chair trip just before the last bedtime diaper is put on.

Step 5: Figuring It Out

The third and fourth days, continue the same steps as the first days, offering snacks, and fluids, but you will notice that the child will pee about 50% of the time in the potty and most likely will have a poop on the potty. Continue to watch clues! When you see the child grunting or pausing in play, especially if he or she is fairly regular like most kids are, say "poo-poo?!?!" and hold their hand, and dash to the potty. Even if they don't make it, they form the opinion that this poo-making business is serious, and therefore must be paid attention to. When they have a poo-accident, make sure they watch you dump the poop into the toilet, have them wave bye-bye to it, and holding their hand for reassurance, flush it. Some kids get nervous with the flush. But most kids have seen/heard it plenty by now, just from following you into the bathroom oh so many times.

Step 6: Fine Tuning

The fifth, sixth and seventh days are the fine tuning days. The child now gets the concept, and is working to perfect this new skill. You can now return to the regularly scheduled snacks and drinks. Do continue to ask the child every hour if the potty is needed, just as a reminder, especially when the child is concentrating hard at building a tower or some other fun task.
On the seventh day, take the brave step of a trip outside the house. Pack a change of bottoms. Pee before you leave, if possible. Ask every hour if the potty is needed. And don't take more than an hour and a half before going back home. This is almost like a test. The child sees that "Wow! People leave the house like this?!"
As for giving up the night-time diaper, wait until the child goes for at least 2 weeks without a single night-time accident before you let them sleep in their undies.
Don't forget to do the happy dance when there is success in the potty, no matter how minute. The child will make a grand effort just to see you do that again.
Good luck, and happy trails...

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59 Comments

After about 2 weeks of potty training, I’m delighted to say that our 2¾ year old Griffin is diaper free. YAY! While in retrospect, it seems easy; there were moments during this process, that I was thinking “this is harder than getting him to sleep through the night!” http://bit.ly/2DDVEXt

My Husband and I had been trying for nearly a year to potty train our boy to no avail. One day after a long search My Husband told me about this method We tried it, and it worked. While there were some accidents thereafter, that day was the major turning point in our potty training saga. I plan to use the same method with our other children. It works!

That was very Helpful. Thank you.

We did the 3 Day Potty Training Method (http://kidpottytraining.com). It worked great for both of my kids. It was a lot of work for 3 days but after the 3 days - my kids were both trained day and night (the poop took a little longer than the 3 days).

That was very useful

I am actually potty training my 22 months old boy and for the moment we
re in the middle of day 3 but nothing goes into the potty so far. He
can hold his pee though for a long while and askes me to go to the potty
but nothing is going into the potty. Its like he hasnt have the click
yet to manage to let the pee get out when he wants. shall I give him one
more day? when is it clear that they are just not ready yet? With my
first son we did the training at 25 months and it worked exaclty as you
described.

HELP !! lol So I've got 2 girls age 9 and 5 and a boy who is almost 21 months old. Both my girls were potty trained at 17 months old and in 10 days. Reading about the 6 steps I can say that I did that with my girls and it worked great, never had to google potty training before. So I started potty training with my son 6 days ago...and had NO success argh...loosing my mind :( He is refusing to sit on the potty when I ask him, but when I catch him in the act of peeing I always place him on the potty and he never rejects. I have to say that today though when he did a poop on the floor he came and told me. That is the only positive thing that has happened the whole week ahahha shall I maybe stop...or try for another week. I have another week off work so I can stay home. I took 2 weeks off for potty training, but I honestly thought he would have got it by now. Well at least tell me that he needs a pee, I ask him if he needs a pee he shakes his head and after a few minutes he does a pee on the floor...Never ever had this much difficulties with potty training before. They say boys are harder,,,Please help...anyone...thanks xx