5 Tips for Successful Potty Training

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Potty training can be a stressful part of a parent’s life.  Occasionally, potty training can drag on for months and months, resulting in parents giving up all together.  All children are different, and what works for one child may not necessarily work for another, but with a little (sometimes a lot) of creativity, and some helpful tips, potty training can be a fun and low stress time in a child and parent’s life.

1.) Watch for signs of potty training readiness.

Check out the first post in our “how to know your child is ready to potty train post” for some of the signs of potty readiness.

2.) Have a potty chair available in the bathroom.

I put the potty chair out when the boys were about 18 months and beginning to show the first signs of potty readiness.  I knew they weren’t yet ready to start formally training, but I wanted to cultivate their inerest in going potty.  Don’t feel squeamish if your child wants to come in the bathroom with you and sit on their potty every time you have to go to the bathroom–modeling is one of the best ways children learn.  Also, let me just say, I am strongly in favor of a potty chair over a potty seat that goes on the big toilet. Here is why. Even if you only use the potty chair for a short time, a potty chair will help your child feel a sense of independence.  It is their special potty.  Having a potty chair will also allow your child to go potty by themselves if they need to (like what happens every morning when I’m showering).

3.) Once you begin the process of potty training let your child go without underwear for a couple months.

This may seem one of the strangest tips, but it is often the most important. (Later in our Potty Training Series I’ll devote an entire post to this concept.) Prior to potty training, toddlers are used to the feeling of the diaper snug against their bum. Anything tight against the bottom will feel much like a diaper. That is a definite con when you’re trying to avoid accidents.  If they aren’t wearing underwear (or anything from the waist down, which I recommend when at home) they will also notice much sooner if they start peeing.   How long your child goes commando will depend on their developmental readiness.  *Note: don’t take this approach until you trust that your child is at the point that they will (likely) not poop on the floor.* (Tip: A little pee on the carpet is easily cleaned up by simply laying a cloth diaper insert or other absorbent cloth over the accident and applying pressure until the pee is completely soaked up.)

4.) Be patient and VERY enthusiastic!

Our younger son, who started potty training at 20 months, is very stubborn.  Even though he decided to potty train earlier than my older son, he was not necessarily easier to potty train.  We found that if we insisted or scolded, he just pushed back and insisted even more stubbornly.  Instead we made a huge deal whenever his older brother went potty.  Little Brother looks up to his big brother so that was what we used to get him excited about potty time at those times he decided he didn’t want to do it.

5.) Use rewards or incentives.

Call it what you will, the fact of the matter is that these kids are learning a new skill.  They are likely out of their comfort zone, and they are working hard to do what Mommy and Daddy are teaching them.  The trick to making rewards work is to start small and start at the level your child is already on.  That way they gain a sense of confidence for what they can already do.  It will help them take the next step.  If your kid loves stickers, reward them with a sticker each time they sit on the potty, or go pee, depending on where they are in their progress.  When they master that skill, begin to intermittently (meaning not every time) reward them with a sticker. If they remain reliable in that skill then step up what you want them to do for that reward.  After my older son was, what I would consider, potty trained, he’d still have daily accidents because he didn’t want to stop playing to go to the bathroom.  I made him a sticker chart and each day he stayed dry all day he got to put a sticker on. When he got 3 stickers he got to pick a prize out of a bag.  The prizes were individual pairs underwear with his favorite movie characters, pencils, and random little toys. When he began consistently earning 3 stickers in succession, I moved it to 4 stickers, then to 5, etc.  Not all kids will need incentives, but they are an excellent help for those who need a little added motivation.

I know there are lots of other great tips out there that you’ve picked up while potty training your kids.  I’d love it if you’d share them in a comment below!

P.S. Stay tuned for a potty training giveaway tomorrow!


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. these are good tips- thank you!:) i need these for my baby!
  2. I ve never heard the no panties trick. It makes sense, I'm going to try that on my twins.
  3. Thank you for the tips. I am forwarding this article to a family member that is potty training a child. I think these suggestions will help her.
  4. Thanks so much, Amy! These tips are awesome! I have tried several different methods of potty training and the things you mentioned are always what I fall back to because they work! The hardest part of my second oldest what figuring out what would motivate him. Once I got that down, potty training was a breeze :).