Fun Potty Training Tips
by David Stegon
David Stegon is a writer, editor, and father of two based in Virginia. He has written for traditional and digital publications for the past 13 years. David holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Temple University and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.
Let’s be honest: Potty training is not fun. Between the stress, frustration, and clean-up, potty training can be a particularly not fun time for parents, especially when children struggle to learn. That stress, though, cannot find its way to the child. If potty training becomes a miserable experience – filled with yelling, scolding, and generally not fun times – kids will likely come to dread the potty training experience. In many ways, it reminds me of when my wife and I first got a dog.
This was three years before we had human children, but there are some similarities. We adopted an 8-week-old rescue puppy we named James. He did not come immediately housetrained, but everything we read had the same message: Celebrate when he uses the bathroom correctly, ignore it when he does not. We tried to do that as much as possible, although to be fair, James was pretty good from day one. When he went to the bathroom outside, we picked him up and hugged him, talked in an excited voice and gave him treats. The same strategy worked with our daughter. Here are some potty training tips that worked for us:
Potty Training Tip #1: As I discussed in a previous post, one of the things we did to help my daughter was to give her M&Ms, her favorite candy. We would give her one for simply sitting on the toilet, two if she peed, and four if she pooped. While bribery and children is always a difficult subject, the M&Ms at least provided her with something in the potty training experience she liked.
Potty Training Tip #2: We also allowed her to watch television while on her toilet. Our primary goal, at first, was to get her to sit on the toilet as much as possible. As we quickly learned, trying to get her to realize she had to go to the bathroom, walk to the toilet, and pull down her underwear proved difficult. We wanted her to stay seated on the toilet, but being an energy-filled two-year-old, she was not interested. As a compromise, we allowed her to watch some of her favorite television shows like “Sesame Street” and “Paw Patrol” while sitting on the toilet. That helped her stay entertained while sitting on the toilet. After some time, she simply began going to her toilet and sitting whenever the television came on, and our number of accidents quickly decreased.
Potty Training Tip #3: Finally, we took a page from our dog’s potty training playbook. Every time she used the toilet successfully, we cheered her like she just made the winning play in the Super Bowl. My wife especially would yell and cheer, occasionally banging on pots and pans, to celebrate the successful trip to the bathroom. The goal was to simply make my daughter feel good about the process. If she felt happy and rewarded about the process, she would be more engaged to master the skill more quickly. I cannot say as a parent I always kept positive. There were times I found myself on hands and knees with a roll of paper towels with some choice swear words. Potty training can do that. It is something that takes time, patience, and a little bit of ingenuity to master. You might as well try to make the experience as fun as it can be.