Potty Training or Mommy & Daddy Training

So many people think potty training is this huge, big deal.  But should it be?  Look around a little and you’re sure to find tons of articles offering all kinds of advice and techniques on how and when to ‘potty train’ your child.

I recently saw an article that ‘guarantees’ your child will be potty trained in 3 days!  Really?

And let’s not forget all of the well-intentioned advice from family and friends on this subject.  My Mother-in-law swears that her son was completely potty trained by 1 year. Really?

Granted, potty training is a big step for parents and kids alike, but it doesn’t need to be a big, stressful deal. Consider this – do you know any adult that isn’t potty trained?  I don’t.

The secret to success?

Patience, AND a basic understanding of your child’s development.

Potty training success hinges on physical and emotional readiness, NOT a specific age, and certainly not a ‘technique’.  Most kids will begin to show an interest in using the potty by about age 2, some a little later.  But most children will have it figured out, with or without your help, by the age of 4.

Your child will let you know when he’s ready

I recommend parents start introducing the potty to their child at about age 2.  This is the age when children begin to feel uncomfortable in a wet or dirty diaper.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for kids to hide behind a chair or something else when they’re ‘going potty’.  It suddenly feels unnatural for them ‘go in their pants’.   This is a sign they’re emotionally ready.  If it doesn’t bother them to be in a dirty diaper, nothing you can do is going to speed them along – so why push it?  They don’t ‘get it’ and you’ll both just end up frustrated.

Developmentally at this time, they are beginning to have a sense of their bodily functions, and a sense of some control over it.  Plus, at this age, they are genuinely curious and are watching everything you do.  They want to be ‘grown-up’ just like you.

A Place For The Potty

So place a potty chair in the bathroom, or try one of the models that actually sit right on top of the toilet.  Let them sit on it, and get familiar with it, but don’t push it.  If your child isn’t interested or doesn’t want to sit on the potty – it’s okay.  It means they aren’t emotionally ready yet.  They’ll let you know when and if they’re interested in ‘learning about this new thing’.


Once you introduce the concept of going potty in the toilet, just relax and let nature do the rest for you.  It’s really that simple!  It’s a basic evolution of development.  A newborn baby has no concept of going ‘potty’ in their pants, nor any physical control over it.  Neither does a 6-month-old or a one-year-old.  Every child develops at their own pace, but none are capable of doing what is physiologically impossible for them.

Parent Training

Anyone that tells you that their child was ‘potty trained’ at age 1, is really telling you that THEY were trained to put the child on the toilet at such regular intervals, that they lucked out and had all the waste in the toilet and not in a diaper.


I was talking with some young parents of an almost 3-year-old who told me that their son was ‘potty trained’ at school but not at home.  They were completely frustrated and concerned and not sure what they were doing wrong.  Upon further examination, we find out that when he’s at school, he wears ‘big boy pants’ and they take them to sit on the toilet every 45 minutes – no accidents.  But at home, he’s having accidents all the time.  And because he’s wearing ‘big boy pants’ it creates a pretty big mess, which of course is extremely frustrating, for Mom and Dad AND for the child.

So, who’s ‘trained’ here?

The people at the school are.  Mom and Dad could continue this and put him on the toilet every 45 minutes and have the same success.  But is it really a success?  I guess it depends upon what you’re really trying to accomplish.  It certainly won’t hurt anything to do this as long as the child isn’t made to feel bad if he has an accident.  But the only person trained here is the parent.  Why not remove this pressure?  When a parent is frustrated and concerned about anything, it spills over to the child.  Putting that kind of stress on a child over something he has no control over yet could potentially cause emotional problems down the road.

This generation has the most amazing invention of all – The Pull-Up Pants for toddlers – USE THEM!  Toddlers think they’re just as ‘grown-up’ wearing these pants as they are when they’re wearing underwear.  If they can pull them up and down to go potty, they think they’re ‘big’!

  • Encourage them to use the potty, but don’t force it
  • When they use the potty, Praise them by celebrating how ‘big’ or ‘grown up’ they are
  • NEVER make them feel bad about having an accident
  • Have a little patience and let nature takes its course

You can no more ‘train’ a child to go potty before he’s ready than you can ‘train a child to walk before he’s ready.  So relax – the pressure is off.

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