Tools for Effective Potty Training

by Darlena Cunha

Potty training is a task many parents dread, but there are tools for minimizing the work and maximizing the gain. The techniques for potty training range from having children go pantless to offering them rewards for using the potty, and each comes with its own shortcuts and tools. The key is finding the right fit for your family.

Pull-Up Diapers and Big Kid Underwear

While some parents prefer their children to go without pants during training, this method can get messy. It can also put unwarranted stress on the child if he's not ready -- and child readiness is key. If you are unsure that your child is ready to use the toilet, start using pull-up style diapers during the day. Your child can pull them down himself when he has to go, and back up when he's done. By performing these actions, he will be getting the point of training without the mess. When you feel he's showing readiness, ditch the diapers and let him feel wetness in his big-boy underwear if he makes a mistake, suggests That will solidify the end goal in his mind.

Potty Seats

Whether you choose little chamber pots for your potty trainee or a cushy vinyl seat that sets above the toilet bowl, creating a comfortable space for your child to train is imperative, according to Dr. Sears. The small chairs should be simple. You don't need a musical potty with a million tiny parts. Choose one which cleans easily and doesn't entice your child to get off and look at it.


Stock your home with coloring books, easy readers and mobile games like flashcards, and put your child on the potty whenever you feed her or give her something to drink. Sit and read or play with her to distract her and pass the time, getting her used to the potty. Without the stress of having to think about the process, urination may come easier for her.

Praise and Affection

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that word choice is incredibly important during potty training. Avoid words like "bad," "naughty" and "dirty." Don't berate or shame your child if he misses the potty. Use a matter-of-fact manner and vocabulary and act like it's no big deal, then clean up the mess. When he does make it to the potty, either with or without your help, heap praise upon him. Motivate him by telling him what a big boy he is and how proud you are of him.


Rewards, in addition to praise, can help a child associate using the potty with positiveness. But you don't have to give out treats. Try giving her added responsibilities with the potty. Child n' Parent Magazine suggests she can flush her own waste, for example, or at least take some time to look at what she accomplished. Actions like flushing and wiping can stand in for physical rewards such as candies or stickers.

About the Author

Darlena Cunha has been a writer and editor since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Connecticut. Cunha is also completing her master's degree in mass communication.

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