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The Art of Potty Training: Perspectives from Two Parents on Either Side of the Transition

Potty training is a significant milestone for both kiddos and parents/caregivers. It can seem like a daunting task to get your toddler to ditch the diapers and make the transition to using the toilet, but it’s a challenge that many parents and children have accepted and conquered. Hear from two parents on either side of the transition: one that is preparing to embark on the journey with her two-year-old, and one that successfully navigated those waters with not one but two kids at the same time (hello, twin parents!):

 Questions from a mom about to embark on potty training:

As we begin to think about the upcoming transition to potty training, I feel a lot of hesitation,  trepidation, and even excitement about the process. I know that it will take a lot of time and patience from all parties involved. And while I am not looking forward to the idea of cleaning up accidents at the grocery store or in the middle of the night, I know that this is a necessary step in my daughter’s growth and development and that many caregivers/kids have gone before me. So with that being said, here are a few questions I have about the process that I am asking literally any parent/caregiver I come into contact with:

  • How will I know if my child is ready for the transition?
  • What can I do to prepare my child and myself?
  • Are there specific potty training methods that work better than others?
  • How long will the transition take?
  • What are some potty-training supplies that would be helpful?
  • What should I do when there are accidents (aside from the obvious task of cleaning it up)?
  • Any best practices to tackle bed-wetting?


Reflections from the other side:

If you’re fortunate enough to have 72 consecutive hours of your life as a busy parent to devote to the 3-day potty training method, good luck with that. For the rest of us, here’s what I’ve learned:

No two kids are the same and neither are their developmental journeys. Around one year of age or so, I began with simple exposure. I set up a little potty corner with some encouraging photos of toddlers sitting on a potty, developmentally appropriate toilet training books, a step-by-step visual how-to guide poster, and finally, a small plastic potty seat with a flusher that made real flushing sounds. I didn’t make a big deal out of it and let them explore on their own. My kids also just followed me to the bathroom and saw Mommy go potty to learn by example. As they got older, I noticed more signs of readiness like staying dry in their diaper longer and waking up from naps dry. When the time felt right to tackle this transition more head-on, we set a routine for sitting on the potty around the times they seemed to naturally need to go. I encouraged them with lots of praise and shared clapping and talked them through what was happening for them to learn proper vocabulary and have expectations; but otherwise, didn’t make it forceful and scary.

Random tips: Pull-ups are just more expensive diapers. Sometimes wearing underwear can help give extra incentive by reinforcing a natural consequence. Generally, girls tend to potty train faster than boys do. Daycare can help a ton with kiddos wanting to keep up with their peers. Expect pooping in the toilet to take longer. Expect accidents. Get a mattress protector and plan ahead for outings. Your child could learn and then regress during a phase later on and this is totally normal. If your intuition tells you something is off, talk to your child’s doctor about any concerns.

A final thought is that as with most seasons of parenting, it can feel a lot bigger and longer when you’re in it, but remember that this is just one blip in you and your child’s life that will likely (unless there are greater needs) come and go. My neurotypical daughter was potty trained early at 2 and my autistic son was over 4 before he was fully trained. Now it is all a distant memory and we are tackling the tears and joys that come with a new developmental stage. 

Have you been through this phase before? Feel free to share your experience and tips in the comments below!

By Carli Mosby and Valerie Frost