Potty Training: Ready and Willing

Had enough of potty training advice lately? It seems no matter where you turn these days, you’re faced with 5 easy steps to potty train your child, your child can be potty trained in 3 days, or potty training made easy. There are several different styles and methods to choose from. It’s like going shopping, except less fun and it can get messy.

So, why you ask, am I contributing to the potty training advice overload? Well, let’s just consider this not so much advice, as simply my point of view that may or may not help you in your potty training endeavors.

I like to keep things simple. So much of parenting these days can be laborious and challenging, why not simplify if you can? My approach to potty training is pretty straight forward: wait until your child is ready and keep it low key. I don’t mean to sound trite here or to oversimplify. I truly believe that waiting until your child shows signs that he is both physically and emotionally ready to use the toilet independently, will save both you and your child much frustration.

How will I know when my child is ready?

  • He likes to mimic you
  • He shows interest in and can dress and undress himself
  • He tells you when he has to go pee or poop
  • He stays dry for long periods of time
  • He has shown interest in using the toilet
  • He takes pride in his independence

These are just a few of the readiness signs your child may exhibit. Remember that your child’s temperament plays a big role. My son needed more of a nudge, while my daughter practically potty trained herself. The common thread was that I started at a time when they both seemed amenable to the idea of using the potty. This happened at around age 3 and a half for my son and before the age of 3 for my daughter.

Now that you and your child are ready to give this a try, here are my tips on how to keep it low key:

  • Take frequent potty breaks
  • Encourage but don’t punish
  • Let him run around sans diaper and expect some dribbles here and there
  • Realize that success does not happen overnight
  • If needed, create a reward chart
  • Dress him in clothes that are easy to pull up and down
  • Don’t be afraid to abandon ship and try again later if the frustration starts to build
  • Realize that going poop in the potty can take longer to master and that’s okay. Let him have that pull up for poop time.

In my experience, the key to potty training success is patience and following your child’s lead. Try not to get boxed in by thinking your child has to be potty trained by a certain age. As with other childhood milestones, there is no magic age number. There are only ranges.

This low key approach may or may not be your parenting style. That is for you to determine. As with most parenting issues we face, only you know what will work best for you and your child. Just remember to keep the big picture in sight: your child will not always be donning those diapers. Soon enough, the days of diaper changes and sippy cups will only remain as bittersweet memories of his childhood.

About the Author

Melissa is a board certified pediatrician and mom to two wonderful children ages 3 and 5. She writes about all things related to parenting and children's health. She also candidly shares her parenting moments on her blog, Confessions of a Dr.Mom.


9 Responses to “Potty Training: Ready and Willing”

  1. Thank you so much Stefanie for featuring my post here today. Such a pleasure to work with you 🙂

  2. I wrote a similar post a couple of weeks ago…there’s no right way to do it and way too much pressure from outsiders! They get potty trained if you just let it happen! Great post!

  3. Laura says:

    So true, Melissa. Listen to your child and keep it low-key. Some great practical advice here!

  4. I give my little man chocolate chips when he poops in the potty. They look the same. I hope he doesn’t confuse the two. 😉

  5. 30ish Mama says:

    It is very reassuring to hear you say that we should wait to potty train when the child is ready rather than try to stick to a schedule of milestones. I think this is one of those situations where a lot of parents feel pressure to get their kid potty trained by a certain age because they know of some other kid who was potty trained by that age. A friend of mine recently had to stop potty training because it was too stressful and her toddler became constipated. She put pressure on herself to get him out of diapers before the new baby’s arrival and now she feels like she has set him back.


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