Potty Training Tips and Tricks

Potty training is a big move for children and parents alike. The secrets to success? A little Zen-like patience and a lot of creativity. If your child is ready for toilet time, try these parent-tested techniques.

Create a throne

It’s no ordinary toilet seat when it’s emblazoned with sparkly fairies or bold race cars. Let your child pick out a potty chair design that inspires him, or let him embellish the potty seat you already own with bright stickers so he looks forward to using it.

Make potty time fun time

You’ve heard of a man cave -- so how about a potty cave? You can make the bathroom a potty haven by stocking it with potty-themed books and toys that will help your child sit longer. Add some stuffed animals of your child’s choosing for company. Encourage him to show his potty pals the right way to use the toilet.

Gear up with gadgets

Children need to be reminded to take potty breaks regularly -- they’re so busy playing, they often don’t notice they have to go until it’s too late. But nagging isn’t fun for anyone. Instead, try setting a timer -- on the microwave, on your phone, or, better still, on an inexpensive wristwatch your child can wear. Also establish a routine with your child and prompt him to go after, say, every mealtime and before bed. When that time comes or that beeper goes off, he will be psyched to announce: It’s potty time! 

Make it a game

Put a few pieces of O-shaped cereal in the toilet and challenge your son to do some target practice. You can also experiment with color: Drop blue food coloring in the toilet bowl and watch how your child’s pee can turn it green. It’s practically magic!

Offer fun undies

If your child loves firefighters, the promise of underwear featuring a bright red fire engine might just be all the motivation he needs to graduate from diapers. Let him know that big boys who use the toilet get to wear cool underwear.

Wait it out

Forget the suggested timetables and let your child decide when it’s time to ditch the diapers. Look for signs of readiness: showing an interest in the bathroom, telling you when he has to go, or wanting a diaper change right after pooping. And that may be it -- no bribes, no tears, no accidents.

Regardless of which strategies best fit your parenting style and your child, it always helps to stay positive. Spend quality time with your child while he’s trying to use the potty, and beam with pride after each successful attempt. Help turn “I think I can” into “I know I can!”