Tips for Successful Potty Training

Potty training can be a challenging process for both parent and child.  Here we set out some thoughts which may support our parents when embarking on potty training.  Please feel free to discuss potty training with us.  Potty training will be more successful when we work closely together.

Children can vary on what age they are ready to potty train, from 15 months to over three years old.  However, most children aged four years are clean, dry and reliable.  The key to successful potty training is bladder maturity and awareness and understanding of the potty training process.

For a child’s bladder to be sufficiently mature to start potty training, the child should be able to hold urine for at least an hour, but preferably an hour and half, before releasing it completely.  You can check this by seeing how long your child’s nappy remains dry after changing it.

Once a child has bladder maturity and they are aware of when they are passing urine or a number two, you should not delay in starting potty training.  A child who stays in nappies for several months after showing bladder maturity and awareness, may become used to wetting and soiling their nappies and can lose the motivation to become clean and dry.

An adult’s bladder alerts the adult that it needs emptying from being half full, giving the adult plenty of notice!  A child’s bladder alerts the child very late, ie when the bladder s nearly full.  This is one of the reasons why children may have accidents.  So as soon as a child alerts the parent that they need to pass urine, the parent should jump into immediate action!

In preparation for potty training, buy a robust and steady potty ahead of time; if they show an interest in the potty, encourage your child to sit on it; and share books about potty training with your child, such as ‘I Want My Potty!’ by Tony Ross.

Starting out

When your child is ready for potty training, slip on a pair of pants instead of their nappy and talk to your child about using the potty.  Ensure the potty is close by, because there won’t be much notice between them saying they want to go and it happening!  You may want more than one potty in different rooms.

On day one, it is important for your child to have some success. It is, therefore, worth waiting an hour or so and encouraging your child to try using the potty as their bladder is likely to be getting fairly full.

If they are not interested or do not produce anything, don’t make a fuss and don’t make them stay. Instead, simply say something such as ‘It looks like your wee wee is not ready to come out now.’ Later, if you see that your child is showing signs of a full bladder, say something such as ‘Your wee wee is ready to come out.’

Don’t worry if there are accidents on day one, as children have to learn the signals associated with a full bladder. The speed at which children get the hang of potty training does vary, but if after day two or three there have been no successes or near misses, you might need to go back to nappies and try again in a few weeks’ time.

Tips for successful potty training

  1. Make sure that your child is drinking regularly. On average, a child needs six to eight cups of water a day.
  2. Ensure you stay calm throughout the process.
  3. Be guided by your child – some children like privacy when they are using the potty, some children like you to keep them company. Follow their cues.
  4. Avoid constantly reminding them to use the potty – your child needs to learn what it feels like to have a full bladder.
  5. Once boys have mastered potty training, it is likely that they may wish to wee standing up. If you place a ping pong ball into the toilet, it provides something for them to aim at!