Ask the Moms: How do You Make Potty Training a Positive Experience?

This question comes from blog reader Mindy.

“My 3 year-old has been potty-trained for a few months, but has really struggled with going #2 and won’t tell us when she needs to go. We have to tell her to go most of the time. This is a step backward – it wasn’t this way in the beginning. She’s improving again (I think a lot of this is about control), but I’d love to hear tips from other moms about how they approached potty training and made it a positive experience.”

I’m also wondering, at what age did you begin to start the process of potty training your kids? When I joked that I was potty training Lucas early, many of you said that you started Elimination Communication with your kids around this age. I would love to hear how you went that route at such a young age!

On a side related note- can kids pee outside in Alaska? You know.. like boys? I am just imagining this in my head right now. We’re at the park or in the wilderness on a walk (with a moose), and Lucas says mom! I have to pee! And what will my reaction be? No, you can’t go pee because you are wearing 23 different layers and it will take to long to take them off? Or, no you can’t go pee because you might freeze? But don’t you dare go in your pants because then you will have a frozen ice pee chunk in your pants!

These are the things I think about.

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

6 thoughts on “Ask the Moms: How do You Make Potty Training a Positive Experience?

  1. Some moms might not like this response, but with Logan, I bribed him. We had “potty prizes” lined up on the counter in the bathroom. I had tiny tupperware containers with, like, 5 Smarties or M&Ms or whatever in each of them, and those were pee prizes. When he pooped in the potty, he got something bigger. I had taken him to the store and he had selected a few of the die-cast Cars movie cars, and when he pooped in the potty, he got to choose one. It worked like a charm. He was PT in one week.

    Perhaps getting her something she likes, books or Littlest Pet Shop animals, or something small like that, would be a good incentive?

    Like we used to say in cheerleading, “You gotta want it to win it!” 🙂

  2. My dd just turned one, and so now I'm starting to think about how we're going to approach this issue in the future. My biggest concern is that I'm a working mom so I'm not with her during the day. How do other WOHMs manage this?

  3. With my older two boys the potty training experience started at about 1 1/2, We made it a positive experience by allowing them to choose their Big Boy Underwares,and choosing their potty. We had the potty chair out and about and they sat on the potty for pretend, then when it was time they we familiar with all that was involved in the process.. Lots of encouragemment.. I remember the first time Jacob went # 2 in the potty the whole family came into the bathroom and we were all clapping and saying great job! Lots of encouragement.. Stay Positive! A bribe is a good thing too, stickers, jelly beans.. There is nothing wrong with rewarding them!

  4. I am a working mom, so my daycare was fabulous in helping once my daughter (now 3) turned 2. They have little mini potty's that they are encouraged to use and also asked to use every 2 hours.

    At home, we had a potty in our family room to remind her that, 1) it was there if she needed to use it, and 2) she could be close to us and not have to go into the bathroom to the BIG toilet. Every night before bath, we would sit her on a little potty so she would get used to it. We are now doing this with our 20mo and it is working wonders! She pees in her potty just about every night and morning.

    We used m&m's for encouraging going #2 on the potty. We also got fun soap so she would have something exciting to wash with after she went #2.

    It takes a lot of patience and perseverence to make it happen. Some kids don't need a lot of encouragement, while some do.

    My now 3yo was potty trained at about 2 years & 2 months, of course with accidents along the way (which you can't ever show your frustration with!!!). My 20mo seems to be on the same path.

    We also have a book about going potty and we have a little mini potty in the car that we use frequently (much cleaner than public bathrooms, eewww).

    Good luck!

  5. With my son, I did EC but had to stop full time when I finally went back to work and daycare thought I was crazy.
    The daycare tried when he was close to 2.5 to PT him so he could advance to the next class. He was doing okay but there was a horrible mean teacher and his potty training skills went back to him crying for a diaper and having LOTS of mistakes. I kinda let it slide and the next summer was nekkid outside time. He learned to pee on trees. When my MIL (also my neighbor ugh) started to complain we moved onto reward stars. Every time he went pee he would get one, poo would get 2 (sometimes 3 if I didn't have to ask him) after 10 stars (a row) he could get a toy… usually a matchbox car.
    I also used unstuffed fuzzibunz when we would go out. That made me feel a bit better.
    Once dd was born, it was like something magically clicked and he's never looked back or had an accident.
    I was also told by my aunt that boys in our family potty trained later like close to 4.

  6. no tips on the pooping thing. my daughter is 2.5 and we've been battling this for over 6 months now. so i'm curious. will have to come back and read everyone's answers.

    we started PTing at 20 months… took a break b/c of the new baby, then started up again just before 2 years old. are you reallky PT'ing lucas early? our boys are just about the same age and w/ all the crap (pun intended) going on with the toddler, not sure i could handle PT'ing another one. please share your experiences.

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