Potty Training Your Tike

Potty training is an inevitable event that seems to quickly approach in your toddler’s life. And while it is a huge milestone for your little one and a joyous time, it can also be a time that is filled with anxiety, worry and pressing of patience for parents.  As you read this article, you might be ready to throw in the towel or you might just be starting your journey. Wherever you are on the road to potty training success, we have compiled some potty training basics we hope will make the process easier for you.

Knowing When to Start

The key to potty training is knowing when to start. There is not a magic age for a child to start using the potty, but typically between 2 ½ and 3, little ones begin displaying an interest. Do not be discouraged if it’s closer to 3—and sometimes 4—for boys; girls tend to learn sooner. Observe your child’s physical, behavioral and cognitive signs and if you are able to say yes to these signs, your tot is ready for the potty!


  • Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or soiled diaper.
  • Gives physical or verbal sign letting you know he is having a bowel movement.


  • Has dry periods longer than two hours, during naps or though the night.
  • Is coordinated enough to walk or run steadily.


  • Has words for urine and stool.
  • Can follow simple instructions.

Your child might display some of these signs as early as 18 months, but be mindful that starting too soon when your child is not ready will only prolong the process. Also, readiness and interest are two different things, and while some might have an interest in the potty, it does not mean they are ready to start training.

Get Pumped

Plan for it, make time for it and remember—no turning back. “Once in big kid undies, always in big kid undies is the motto at our house,” says Jessica Burke, Olathe. Remember to be consistent, calm and patient while carrying a positive “I can do this!” attitude. If you exemplify this behavior, your child will pick up on this and start feeling great about this process too.

Talk It Up

Talk to your child about using the potty a week before you actually begin. You can read books, watch TV shows, sing songs and even do a potty dance. Make a list with your child of all of the people she knows who wear underwear. This will give her encouragement throughout the training process. Play pretend with a favorite doll or stuffed toy, demonstrating how to use the potty. This gives your child the opportunity to feel power over the process. 

Make It Special

Take him to the store with you to help pick out his new potty and underwear. You can make hand washing fun, too, by purchasing soap that is his favorite character or that changes color. Stock up on your child’s favorite things to drink and little reward treats for staying dry or using the potty for the first time.

Clear Your Calendar

Mark your start date on your calendar and set time aside—at least three days—that will be free of outings. If you have other children, arrange childcare for them so you can give your little trainer 100 percent of your attention.

Set the Stage 

There are many ways to go about training. Some moms let their kids run around naked outside, while others lay painter’s plastic over everything and let them run nude inside. “I turned our bathroom into a man cave for our son,” Julie Morgan, Roeland Park, says. “We installed a TV, filled a cooler with his favorite juice boxes and snacks—he thought that was pretty cool!” 

The Big Day

Start the day off by collecting all of the diapers in the house with your child and explain to her that you are donating them to babies who need them. Make a huge deal about taking off the last diaper and putting on her first pair of underwear.

Potty watches and timers seem to really help when notifying your little one it is time to potty. It will save you from repeating “Do you have to go potty?” every five minutes, and it alleviates the pressure of being the bad guy for making your child potty. Pump your tot full of liquids and set the timer for every 15 minutes. You can increase or decrease the time depending on your child’s needs.

If your child is resistant to go, demonstrate the process, from pulling down your pants to washing your hands. “I would demonstrate for my boys how to potty and showed them that making bubbles was fun!” says James Dunwoody, Olathe.

Celebrate more the act of being dry than using the potty. If an accident does occur, explain that being wet feels yucky and help your child change into dry underwear.

Keep in Mind

Don’t worry or put unnecessary pressure on yourself or child and do shut out all the external expectations. You do what is right for you and your child and keep in mind that, more than likely, she will not be starting her first day of kindergarten in a diaper. So take a deep breath, relax—and good luck!

Jennifer Duxbury is an Olathe SAHM who was pleasantly surprised by how uncomplicated potty training her strong-willed child was!

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