Successful Potty Training!

Part II: What to Do

The Big Day Has Arrived!

  • What to do:  Talk to your child in advance (at least the day before but preferably for days before starting) about what’s going to happen Saturday morning. Explain that s/he is a big boy/girl now and is ready to potty on a potty chair or toilet and doesn’t need diapers/pull-ups anymore.

Then, the night before your child is going to begin potty training, ask for your child’s help. Have him/her help you take all of the diapers/pull-ups outside to the trash can and throw them out together, saying “Bye bye, diapers! Suzi is a big girl now and doesn’t need you anymore! Tomorrow Suzi is going to start going potty on the toilet/potty chair and her daddy and I are SO excited about Suzi being a BIG GIRL.” In reality, you can put these in a bag and pull them back out later when your child isn’t with you. It’s the symbol of what you’re doing. This may seem insignificant but it makes a BIG impression. After throwing the diapers/pull-ups away, go to the bathroom your child will use and show your child the bag of treats you have waiting for him/her everytime s/he goes potty! Explain that every time, no matter what time of day, when Suzi goes potty, she will get to pick out one treat from the bag. Make it seem like the most exciting thing! Express to your child how excited you are for him/her that s/he is a big boy/girl now and gets to begin pottying in the potty chair/toilet tomorrow morning! Mention all this and your excitement about it again as you tuck your child into bed. Praise him/her on how happy you are. You can’t reiterate this message too much. You are mentally preparing your child for the physical change to come.

The morning you begin to potty train, make sure you wake up your child before s/he wakes up. Take him/her to the bathroom and sit him/her down on the toilet or potty chair. This first time, since your child is still sleepy and not sure yet about what’s happening, feel free to push your child’s pajamas down yourself. Throw out the diaper s/he was wearing and sit him/her down. S/he may resist. Gently hold your child down on the potty chair if s/he tries to get up while the other parent or older child reads the potty training book. Continue even if your child becomes upset. Your child needs to sit down until 1) your child goes to the bathroom or 2) the book is done being read. This gives your child enough time to adjust to the new sensation of sitting down to potty and release his/her bladder. If your child pees on the potty chair before or by the time the story is done, go CRAZY in your excitement! (If you have a girl, you need to hand your child some toilet paper and have her wipe from front to back. Please model this the first few times. Feel free to hold your child’s hand that is holding the toilet paper and model the motion. The number one cause of urinary tract infections in girls is that they do not wipe correctly, so don’t assume she will know how to do it.) If your child poops, just like with a diaper, you need to wipe their bottom. Still keep those wipes on hand in the bathroom for those poops that need a wipe as well as toilet paper. (Tip: Don’t let your child wipe his/her bottom until s/he is older. Young children do not have the patience, understanding or dexterity to wipe well. Also, throw your wipes out in the trash can, not the toilet. If you flush your wipes down the toilet, in a couple months, you’ll be calling Roto Rooter because your sewer pipes will be clogged.)

Then let your child pick out the underwear s/he gets to wear that day and dress your child (and in rubber pants if you have them). After the first time your child sits on the potty, set a timer for 30 minutes and for the rest of the day, every 30 minutes, sit your child down on the potty. The reason? You are training them to understand that they need to relieve him/herself on the toilet/potty chair instead of simply releasing their bladder whenever they want to. That s/he must hold it until s/he reaches the chair. This is not a concept your child is used to (if your child is in pull-ups right now and still goes pee and/or poop, even occasionally, in his/her pull-up, s/he is not understanding potty training).

Give your child LOTS to drink that first day. You want them to pee as much as possible. Buy several different types of juice in advance if you think it will help.

Many children are uncomfortable pooping in a toilet/potty chair and will hold it for days or will only go in his/her underwear at first. This is normal and common. Eventually s/he will not do this. You may even need to create a new treat system just for pooping after your child has successfully peed for a week on the toilet/potty chair. Just be patient and continue to tell your child how proud of him/her you are for pottying in the toilet/potty chair and how you would be even more excited to see poop! On a side note, I had to buy Thomas Trains for my son after a week of him not pooping on the potty chair. But it worked! I put them all up high in the bathroom so he could see all the different trains. He pooped that day. I gave him a train every time he pooped until they were all gone (about 7 trains).

On the second day of potty training, you can lengthen the time between visits to the toilet by 45 minutes in the morning to even 60 minutes near the end of the day, but we don’t recommend waiting longer than that. Your child will take days and possibly a couple weeks to make the connection (I feel like I need to go to the bathroom…I need to walk to the bathroom and not pee until I get there…I need to push down my shorts…I need to push down my underwear…Then I sit…And finally I can tell my bladder to pee). It seems easy to us but for your child, there was no real thought process before – s/he simply went the second s/he felt the need to do so. Now there are actions that have to be fulfilled before peeing and this takes practice like any new skill.

Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!