Potty Training Tips  

by Dr. Laura Jana, MD

Associate Director - Boys Town Institute for Child Health Research and author of Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality

The secret to successfully teaching your child to use the potty involves learning to read the signs of potty-training readiness, such as having your child hide when he has to go poop, express discomfort when he has a dirty or wet diaper, and take notice whenever he feels the need to go to the bathroom. Your efforts should be focused on helping your child become better acquainted with the bathroom, keeping the process stress- and battle-free, and making this monumental step towards independence fun. Children start to show many of the signs of being ready to potty train right around the time that they also develop the desire to be in charge. From the day you start teaching your child, try to let him be in control. Pick a potty seat you know he’ll enjoy; make the time you spend together in the bathroom fun by bringing along some books and plenty of patience, praise and words of encouragement; and be sure to teach by example. 

Potty Training Tips

  • Poop goes in the Potty. Have your toddler accompany you each time you take his poopy diapers into the bathroom, empty their contents into the toilet, and flush. This is an easy way to have him make the connection that all poop goes in the potty.
  • Focus on Flushing. By allowing your toddler to flush each time you or anyone else goes to the bathroom, you can increase his interest in the (appropriate) use of the toilet while decreasing the likelihood that he will become afraid of it.
  • Watch for the Signs. Watch for telltale signs that your child is ready to potty train. These include stopping what she’s doing, hiding in a corner when she needs to go, and asking to be changed when her diaper is wet and/or dirty.
  • Kid-Friendly Bathrooms. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time there, make your bathroom both inviting and safe by getting a fun potty seat for your child to sit on and putting a little basket of books next to it so he’ll be entertained (and willing to sit) longer. Be sure that all medicine and toiletries are safely out of reach and install a safety latch on your toilet seat to keep him out of trouble and out of danger!
  • Sitting Before Standing. Teach boys to sit on the toilet instead of stand – both so that their pee stands a better chance of actually ending up in the toilet, and because they need to be willing to sit in order to poop on the potty!