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    7 Steps to Successful Potty Training

    Elizabeth Wilcox       

    You’ve determined your child is ready for potty-training, what do you do next?

    As a parent, you can help your child master this important milestone while making the process empowering for you both.

    “Children learn through observation, modeling, guidance,” says Beginnings Founder and clinical psychologist, Dr. Donna Housman. “How we respond is very important,” she says.

    To ensure success, Dr. Housman recommends the following steps after you’ve determined your child is ready for potty-training.

    1) Initiate Potty Training at the Right Time
    Make certain children are ready physically, that they can communicate to you when they want or need to go, and that they understand and can follow directions. Best not to introduce potty training during times of change, such as birth of a sibling, moves, divorce or holidays.

    2) Help Children Understand Why
    Explain to children that we go to the potty or toilet to get rid of what is no longer needed in our body and to help make us healthy and strong. Giving children reason also clears up confusion and reduces fear.

    3) Get Out Equipment
    Learning and comfort involve practice. Ensure the potty is in a place where children can access it easily and get on and off the potty independently. If you use a toilet, ensure the seat is small enough and you’ve put a stool below it for children’s feet to be firmly grounded. Start with urinating then bowel movements. Move to standing for boys when bowel training is complete.

    4) Establish Routines
    Schedule times after meals or when children show the need through holding self, fidgeting, hiding or other telltale cues you’ve learned to read. Introduce children to the potty briefly at first and then lengthen time, providing a book if convenient. Encourage children to sit regularly, trying every few hours even if they don’t need to go.

    5) Incentivize through Encouragement and Praise
    Use your words. Words of encouragement and praise are far more motivating than candy or toys. Tell children you are proud of them, even if for trying.

    6) Celebrate the Transition from Diapers to Underpants
    After several weeks of success, move to underpants. This transition is a time to celebrate. Have children participate by allowing them to pick out their own underwear. Remember, you want to encourage independence and a sense of control so clothing needs to be able to be easily removed (no belts, overalls, or tiny buttons!)

    7) Provide Ongoing Support
    Talk with your child about their questions, feelings, concerns, worries or excitement. Reading books are a great way to share information, spur questions, and provide answers!

    Recommended Books:
    Flush the Potty
    By Ken Wilson-Max

    Potty Superhero: Get ready for big boy pants!
    By Parragon Books

    Even Firefighters Go to the Potty: A Potty Training Lift-the-Flap Story
    By Wendy Wax, Naomi Wax

    Big Girl Panties
    By Fran Manushkin

    Big Boy Underpants
    By Fran Manushkin

    By Leslie Patricelli

    It Hurts When I Poop! A Story for Children Who are Scared to Use the Potty
    By Howard J. Bennett, M.D.

    The Potty Chronicles: A Story to Help Children Adjust to Toilet Training
    By Annie Reiner

    You Can Go to the Potty
    By William Sears, Martha Sears, Christie Watts Kelly

    My Big Girl Potty
    By Joanna Cole

    My Big Boy Potty
    By Joanna Cole

    The Potty Book: For Boys
    By Alyssa Satin Capucilli

    Potty Time
    By Caroline Jayne Church

    Diapers Are Not Forever
    By Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen