Potty Training Hacks and Incentives That Work

Like all good confessions, this one must begin with complete honesty. I’ve been trying to potty train my last child and it’s not going quite as I’d planned. He’s 2 1/2 years old and right now it’s all I can do to just convince him that the potty won’t swallow him whole.


But that’s the way potty training goes, and when you have four kids like me, you’re bound to get a different experience every time. For this little guy—who has an Owl Potty Personality and very reluctant—I knew I was going to have to get creative. So for all you parents out there who are gearing up to potty train or are powering through it right now, here are some cool hacks and tips that just might help!

Potty Training Hacks

Wait until they are ready.

I know this isn’t the magic answer you were waiting for, but it is true. These little people have BIG personalities and waiting until they are ready is the best thing you can do to set you both up for potty training success. Don’t let age be a motivating factor to potty train. Some kids are ready at 18 months and others are over three years old. Instead of looking at age, look for these signs and take the quiz to determine if your child is ready.

Cereal Aim Game

Potty training has to be fun for both parties, plain and simple. When kids realize they are in a secure, low-stress environment, potty training becomes entertaining rather than a chore. Here’s a great game that has worked for my little guy!

Place some colorful cereals in the potty and see if your child can aim at them. This is a fun way to get them motivated to get on the potty and give it a try.

Potty Fort

Make potty training even more fun by turning his or her potty space into a cool fort for their new potty supplies and Pull-Ups. Set up a tent over the potty or enlist older siblings to create a unique space for little brother or sister.

Use a Potty Timer

One key to successful potty training, especially in the beginning, is being consistent. A lot of times we get distracted by a task and forget to take time to potty. We use Pull-Ups Time to Potty App, which is a new take on a classic potty timer.

Not only does it remind you when it’s time to go, but it automatically adjusts based on your child’s progress. Plus, it’s loaded with fun games to celebrate every potty break.

Keep Pull-Ups Handy

Pull-Ups Training Pants
are such a great tool for potty training. Actually, 3 of 4 moms prefer the Pull-Ups©!* Here’s a cool hack my girlfriend shared with me once: keep Pull-Ups in a basket by the potty, then stash a few in your purse, the stroller, and your car so that you have them in all the places you need where accidents might happen.


Some kids get scared to go in other potties when you are out and about. Rather than fight them on it, pack a little portable potty seat with you. This will help your toddler to feel comfortable using the potty wherever they go!

If I’m going to the store, I put my little guy’s potty seat in a reusable shopping bag and bring it along with us. That way it stays hidden and discreet in the shopping cart, but it’s there when you need it.

If you’re traveling, check out these great tips!

Sticky Note Trick

Toilets with automatic flushers can be scary to kids (heck, sometimes they scare me!). Here’s a cool hack—keep sticky notes in your purse and place one over the sensor of an auto-flush toilet. This will allow your little one to go potty without triggering the sensor.

Incentives That Work

We all need a friendly incentive every once in a while. Incentives motivate us to work harder and achieve goals—as adults, we want that bonus or raise. For kids who are potty training, incentives are HUGE. But how do know which ones work and which ones flop? Here are six incentives that have given us the best results.

1. Small Treats

Treats are one of the most classic and effective potty training incentives for a reason. Kids love ‘em and they work. But go small; there will be lots of potty opportunities and a child should get some type of small incentive (like a Skittle or M&M) each time they even try to go potty. Celebrating even the smallest attempts is important!

2. Disney Rewards Chart
Help your child see and measure their potty training milestones with this fun and unique Disney Rewards Chart from Pull-Ups.com. As you and your Big Kid work together on your training adventure, print out this customizable Minnie Mouse rewards chart to keep track of their goals. Let your child color his chart and you can write in the training moments that you want to highlight – put a sticker on together for every milestone he achieves!

3. One-on-One Time
Sometimes the best incentive is time. Offer your child special one-on-one time with you for sitting on the potty, going pee in the potty, or going poop in the potty. Special time together might mean playing ball, pushing them in a swing, taking them to a park alone (without any siblings), or reading a book together.

4. Squirt Bottle
For some reason, this one just works for us. Have a squirt bottle full of water sitting by the potty. When your child sits on the potty or goes potty, they earn the squirt bottle. I let my little guy squirt water into the tub next to the toilet as he sits on the potty. If he goes potty, he gets to take the squirt bottle outside for 10 minutes.

But the squirt bottle is only for potty times. That way it becomes a special potty incentive. My little guy loves it!  

5. Find Their Potty Personality
Your child is unique and so are their potty training experiences. The very best incentive may be the one that helps them find their happy. Since Ezra is an Owl Potty Personality, he responds best when he is in control. Letting him feel he is in control of the situation is important and letting him pick out all the potty supplies gets him excited. Also, since he is a reluctant trainer, giving Ezra tons of positive feedback and verbal praise helps.

I found these tips for potty training Owls (as well as Squirrels, Puppies, Turtles, and Bear Cubs) incredibly helpful.

Good luck and check out Pull-Ups.com for helpful tips (including finding out your little one’s Potty Personality) and more incentives to make potty training fun!

*Pull-Ups offering includes product, packaging and in-pack prizes and activities vs. Pampers© Easy Ups©

Nicolette McKinlay is an English and Journalism teacher turned freelance writer and full-time mom of four.  Life is loud, crazy, and profoundly sweet.  She’s always observing people and life through a writer’s lens; many of her articles are born from curiosity and people-watching.  Her brain is always abuzz with thoughts, ideas, and the novel she’s been writing in her head for years.  Nicolette is a writer, content contributor, and the email manager for HowDoesShe.

Potty training parents unite! Thanks to
Pull-Ups Training Pants for sponsoring this post and helping us get some fun potty training incentive ideas.

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