The Preschool Trick to Potty Training a Toddler in No Time

After my daughter turned 2 years old, conversations about potty training and preschool frequently came up among family and other moms. During those conversations I hoped to pick up fabulous potty training tips, but I was adamant that I was not enrolling my kid in preschool.

Fast forward to year 3 and I started to get frustrated. Potty training would not stick. What was I doing wrong? Why couldn't she get it? What finally convinced her to ditch diapers surprised me.


Rissa started showing interest in her special potty chair around 2 years old. She sat down on it, fully clothed, and looked through books. She hid toys inside of it. Since she accompanied me almost every time I used the bathroom (seriously, why is it so hard to pee alone?), I kept hoping she'd be one of those kids who suddenly starts using the bathroom on her own. I was afraid to put too much pressure on her, especially with little brother's arrival.

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After going on it a few times, she was excited to transition from regular diapers to "big girl" diapers she could pull up and down by herself. Unfortunately, she lost interest, so I stopped pushing it. Having two in diapers is no joke, but trying to focus on potty training while caring for a newborn was not happening in our house.

We attempted potty training off and on, doing our best to follow our daughter's lead. We tried sticker charts, singing, dancing, candy, and toys. She picked out big girl underwear. All of those things provided short-term motivation. If coaxed enough, she would try going to the bathroom, but she wouldn't go on her own. Accidents didn't seem to bother her very much.

I was at a loss.

Then a few months ago after dance class, Rissa asked to go to preschool. The other girls in her class were also working on potty training and getting ready to start school in the fall. My daughter had been paying more attention to our mom chatter than I thought.

"If you want to go to preschool, you have to learn how to use the potty like a big girl," I said, holding her little hand in mine as we walked to the car.

The next morning, Rissa refused to wear anything but underwear and asked to go to preschool again. All my reasons for not wanting to enroll her meant nothing if she really wanted to go. I agreed to sign her up if she started using the bathroom all the time. Seeing how determined she was that first day, we set up a tour. That made her very excited. She suddenly got it and was mostly accident-free within a week. Once I unlocked her motivation, there was no looking back!

What motivated your child to potty train?

Image via Darcy Zalewski

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