What's the best approach to potty training? Potty Training


boy sitting on green toilet
The rewards of potty training will be worth the work! There are many approaches to the process -- see how these moms and childcare experts recommend handling potty training.

Show Your Toddler How It's Done

"Boys need to be taught to urinate standing up. Ideally, there is a dad or a male relative who can show them. Boys tend to love to aim for a target in the toilet bowl or in the potty. I do suggest using the toilet bowl with boys, as they tend to splash. Girls do really well with potties." -- Elena Mikalsen, PhD, Mikalsen Psychological Services, San Antonio, TX

Use Positive Words

"Praising your child when things go right has been shown in research to work much better than negative reinforcement (criticizing the child when he fails). Never yell or punish the child for missing the potty, as this might cause the child to decide it's better to not release the stool or urine from his body, because he's afraid of failure." -- S. Daniel Ganjian, MD, pediatrician at Providence Saint John's Health Center, Santa Monica, CA

Dress Your Child Right

"Skip the cute belts, pants with hooks, zippers, snaps, and buttons while you're potty training. I work in a daycare center, and we see frequent accidents that didn't have to happen because the child wanted to do it themselves and couldn't get out of their clothes in time. The easier you can make it, the more successful the process will be."

Set a Schedule

"Every time your child pees or poops, mark the time. After a day or two, you'll know her body's schedule. I took my boys to the bathroom about 5 to 10 minutes ahead of the marked time, waited about 10 minutes past, and went back every 10 minutes until they had success."

Don't Push It

"Try, but if it doesn't work, back off for a bit and try again. If you push your child, it will take longer and be harder on you both."


Ease into It

"Buy the potty chair early and put it in the bathroom so they are comfortable with it. We got ours for our daughter's first birthday -- and she was potty trained by her second birthday."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.