Potty Training Success Tips

What worked for this mom might work for you

By Go-To Mom Amy Blanchard , Wilton, NH

Last month I wrote about potty training troubles: my frustrations, my daughter's indifference, and the whole messy experience. I knew the next time I attempted potty training, I would need more planning, more help and more patience if I expected success.

Well, it's done. She's potty trained! But how we got here is rather different than how I thought it would play out. Simply put, Ella was ready and I had a plan.

I also had the help and the time I needed. My husband was supportive, working with me to encourage Ella to use the potty. We trained her over the long Memorial Day weekend, plus I had one extra day off from work. So I had four good days at home with her to focus on potty training.

Plus, there were rules.

Rule number one: Stay bottom-naked and off the carpet (fortunately, our downstairs is about 80 percent hardwood). (Narmin's Note: We call this the naked & $75 method for potty training!)

Rule number two: If you're going to sit, sit on the potty chair.

Ella took to these rules just fine. And they were very helpful to me. Cleaning accidents off the wood floor was easy and I didn't have to rush her to the potty every time she had to go.

Eventually, she'd pee in the pot and the celebration would ensue. Stickers and chocolates were awarded. Hooray!

But four days into the training, she was still having accidents. Still not "getting it." And we were frustrated.

Then we went back to work and Ella went to Nana's house. After two big accidents on her new carpet, my mom had a "serious talk" with Ella. "You will not pee on my carpet again! Do you hear me?!"

Guess what? Fear works. The very next time Ella had to pee she stopped her playing, told my mom, and they got to the potty in time. No accidents! Yay!

In fact, she's been accident-free ever since.

Now Ella's pottying like a pro! She's still getting used to pooping in the pot, but she knows she has a special treat waiting for her whenever she does. And we now give her candied pineapple chunks for her regular potty-time treats. She loves them and pineapple's ability to aid in digestion gets her pooping more easily. A win/win all around!

A plan, rewards, and a little fear all helped. But Ella's readiness to learn was the real key to our potty training success.


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This is not fear (3/15/2012) Reviewer: Victoria (Fredericton, NB) I don't believe this would be considered "fear", more the grandmother emphasizing the importance of not peeing on the carpet, and the grand-daughter realizing how much it meant to her grandmother that she did not pee on the carpet. Not wanting to disappoint her grandmother, she paid more attention and made sure to make an honest effort to use the toilet. People in her life are going to express disapproval over her actions from time to time, from teachers, to friends, to co-workers and bosses. If she does not learn what "serious talk" is, what then are you setting her up for? Serious talk isn't a fear tactic, serious talk is used for a child, who doesn't yet have the mentality to instantly listen seriously to - and remember - everything said to him/her, to emphasize the importance of what you're saying. It can be as important as teaching them the difference between not jumping on the couch, and not running into the street. I'm quite certain anyone would speak more "sternly" and "seriously" in the case of the latter, as it is obviously more important and needs to be emphasized. I hate to think that someone would treat running into the street with the same candor as not jumping on the couch, or chasing the cat. It is ludicrous to believe that having a "serious talk" with a child about potty training will in itself manifest a mental disorder. Mental disorders are born from years of anguish and incidents, and in some cases one or two major events. Not something so small and insignificant as a talk about potty training. Yelling and screaming? Yes. Threatening? Yes. Physical abuse? Yes. Serious talk? No. This is not psychological abuse. Anyone who considers it psychological abuse has a lot to learn about actual psychological abuse.
fear is not a good tactic (3/27/2011) Reviewer: cate (los angeles, ca) I disagree completely that using fear is a positive tactic. I normally avoid telling other parents how to raise their kids but really? Basic developmental psychology will tell you that using any type of fear or shame in association with potty training will psychologically damage your child and possibly result in various personality disorders. Not to mention, using fear or scaring them into compliance regrading something all humans do is basically psychological abuse. While a positive reinforcement method such as treats for using the potty is highly effective, I would steer clear of any use of fear unless you desire to pay the price with your child's mental health.