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10 Potty Training Tips For A Child-Led Approach To Potty Training

10 Potty Training Tips For A Child-Led Approach To Potty Training

When and how to potty train your child is a heated debate in the parenting world.

Some parents choose to start their children as early as 18 months, while other parents don’t start till after 3 years old.

Honestly, it all depends on your child! Every child is different and there are many determining factors to consider before starting potty training.

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of articles talking about super moms who’ve potty trained their child in three days.

While those moms obviously rocked the potty training phase… Not every child is able to get potty training within three days time!

For those who have successfully potty trained their child in three day went with a parenting-led potty training approach.

Although there’s nothing wrong with this approach, I’ve found it doesn’t work for (my own) stubborn toddler of 2 1/2 years old. Trust me… I’d love it if I could potty train my son in three days!

I tried it and I was met with regression and many tantrums from my toddler.

Instead, I am not taking a different approach. A child-led approach.

If you’ve had the same troubles with potty training as I have, you may find these child-led potty training tips to be extra helpful!

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Let me start by saying that I DID try to potty train my toddler in three days.

However, I was left with a massive amount of mom guilt because my son just was not understanding, nor telling me he had to go potty.

Even though I still have some mom guilt about my son not being potty trained before my second child is born… I realize now that I can’t push something he is not developmentally ready for!

For some children (especially the stubborn ones) potty training is a long process. Many experts suggest that successful potty training during the day takes three to six months!

For nighttime bladder control, it can take up to age 5 (on average).

So with my epic three day training fail and mom guilt, I’m letting my son take the lead!

I’m now a believer in not rushing a child and letting him or her decide when to potty train.

Related Articles: 20 Summer Activity Toys To Erase Boredom For Toddlers

Benefits Of Child-Led Potty Training

  1. Child-led potty training allows your child’s bladder to develop in a healthy way

Children who are potty trained early (especially before age 2) are more likely to have bladder control issues. In other words… Potty training at an early age is actually counterproductive!

For children who are early potty trained, they learn to hold their bladder. However, their bladder might not be developed enough.

Studies have found that early trained children exhibit bladder problems like constipation, wetting, kidney damage and urinary tract infections.

While this doesn’t happen to all children, the possibility is still there.

2. The child-led approach is less potty training regression

Regression is when your child is doing well with few to no accidents and suddenly abandons all potty training practices.

For instance: Your child tells you when they need to go potty and goes to the bathroom by his/herself multiple times a day.

Suddenly, three weeks later he/she stops using the toilet all together.

This is followed by constant accidents and when suggested to use the toilet he or she says ‘no’ or throws a tantrum.

3. There’s less pressure for parents

Many parents get stuck on a suggested as range for a child to be potty trained. But as we all know that doesn’t happen with each child.

Every child is different and learns at their own pace.

Potty training is a huge skill to master for a toddler.

Not only is it too much pressure on kids, but it’s too much pressure on parents as well.

Instead of picking an age to suddenly start potty training, let your child lead the way.

Just watch your child closely for signs of toilet training readiness!

He or she will show signs of toilet training readiness when they are physically and mentally ready.

By watching for signs of potty training instead of you pushing your child toward toilet training, there is less pressure for you! Say goodbye to mom guilt!

Potty Training Tips

Well I started child-led potty training after my son turned two, I didn’t really know this was the approach I was going to continue to take.

Honestly, I though the three day toilet method would work!

It has for all the other moms out there. But I’ve been saying… Every child is different and my son was not receptive of the three day method.

It only led to more tears, tantrums and regression.

To start the child-led approach, here are some potty-training tips that are working for my 2 year old!

1. Introduce Potty Books

No you don’t have to go with the old standby book of Everybody Poops. Personally, I find that book a bit boring!

But introducing books that talk about using the toilet open up a line of communication for you and your toddler to talk about potty training.

A central theme in many potty books is that… “Everyone uses the potty and there’s no shame in it.”

You want your child to understand…

  • Everyone pees and poops
  • They don’t have to be embarrassed
  • Accidents happen
  • Communicate with an adult that they need to “go”

This can all be accomplished and understood through simple story telling to make it fun for your toddler!

My son’s two favorite potty books are Everybody Potties! and Potty-Time With Elmo.

Reading a book or using a potty time app is one of the many potty training tips to lead success with the child-led approach.

2. Buy A Toddler Potty

This is one of the potty training tips that are a necessity! You can’t start potty training without a potty…

Sometimes a big “adult” sized toilet can be intimidating for a small child. Let’s face it… A toilet is a new concept that can be scary to some children. To eliminate toilet fears, purchase a toddler sized potty!

There are a million options out there when it comes to a toddler potty and all of them are simple adorable!

Most toddler potties are equipped with sound effects and favorite child characters. This helps children ease fears when it comes to potty training.

My son has the Mickey Mouse 3-in-1 Potty System. Not only is it a potty just for sitting on the floor, but it’s also a step stool and the potty ring can be moved to the toilet seat.

With 3-in-1 systems you don’t have to worry about later purchasing a small cushion seat for the toilet!

If you’re looking for more toddler sized potties click HERE.

3. Try Sitting On The Potty

Although your toddler now has a “big girl/boy potty” of their very own, it still takes time to get use too.

Instead of taking off their diaper and setting him/her on the potty, try sitting them on the potty with a diaper on.

It may seem pointless, but there’s a good lessen beyond this!

Sitting your child on the toddler potty with a diaper on teaches them that they are suppose to sit on the potty.

Sometimes if a child is placed on a toddler potty without a diaper, you may hit some resistance from your toddler.

Instead, warm up to the idea of going to use a potty toilet.

4. Use A Potty-Time App

Potty training tips like using a potty-time app work in conjunction with sitting on the potty.

Remember a toddler is a toddler and they don’t hold still.

It takes a lot of patience for your child to sit on the potty for an extended period of time. Even if it is just a minute!

To help hold your child’s attention, you can try a potty-time app. There are many apps that help explain the use of a potty through songs and some even come with timers.

This will help your toddler build patience overtime.

If you don’t want to use an app, start reading potty books while your child sits on the potty.

Anything to hold their attention for a while!

Building patience for sitting by using an app or a book can be done with your child is sitting with diapers on or off.

It just depends your child’s development and how comfortable they are.

5. Ask Your Child Often

Children are very receptive! Sometimes more than we give them credit for.

Child-led potty training is all about letting your child take the lead without force on your part.

This is accomplished by asking your child if they need to use the potty.

When you first start asking your toddler “Do you need to use the potty?” it may seem ridiculous.

Especially if he/she has no interest in potty training or is not developmentally ready yet.

But it serves a very important purpose!

By asking your child if they need to use the bathroom OFTEN, it starts to remind your child that bathroom breaks need to be taken.

Plus, as your child develops more they may begin to make the connection that their bladder may be full and they need to go.

When I first started asking my son, it seems completely pointless. I always thought “There’s no way he’s going to start telling me he has to go potty.”

But overtime, I was eventually getting yes or not replies from him! This was huge.

Not only did I get yes or no replies, but with yes replies he would follow me to the bathroom and sit on the potty and go!

Asking him if he needed to go potty was paying off.

The question of whether my son needed to potty or not was helping him to stop and think about whether his bladder was full or not.

Although we’re still working on and he’s still wearing cloth diapers, it’s good progress!

To help you remember to ask, just start asking your toddler about going to the potty every time your headed to the bathroom.

Related Articles: What’s In My Toddler Diaper BagAnother one of the potty training tips is to ask your child often if he or she needs to go potty.

6. Set An Example

Children learn best by imitation. If you can’t seem to use the bathroom by yourself anymore without the company of your toddler… This is actually a good sign!

You toddler is showing an interest in potty training on his/her own by watching you use the toilet.

By having your child watch you use the toilet your setting a wonderful example of how “big boys or girls” use the potty.

This will only help your child in the long run to become fully potty trained.

7. Don’t Force The Potty

This is one of the biggest potty training tips I can give when it comes to the child-led approach!

Forcing your child on the toilet will only make them not want to potty train more.

If you’re met with tears and constant “no’s” when it comes to sitting him/her on the potty, then don’t force it!

If you force the issue of sitting on the potty to “go” the child will associate the potty with a punishment rather than a fun learning process.

8. Be Patient

Like any potty training approach, it takes so much patience on your part.

Since many children are not fully daytime potty trained for three to six months, there will be many accidents!

You may even feel like your child is not making any progress at all when it comes to potty training!

I know because I am currently is this situation with my son. Some days are fabulous!

He goes to the potty when asked and he has very few wet diapers (and will even poop in the potty too).

Then other days, he won’t go to the potty once!

I’ve definitely been struggling with potty training lately! My son’s second molars are coming in slowly and most days he’s in pain and doesn’t want to go potty.

A combination of teething and potty training are just too much for him right now!

9. Don’t Scold Accidents

Potty training tips like this need to be observed!

Scolding a child for accidents while potty training will only lead to feelings of hurt and shame for your child.

Accidents happen. That’s why there called accidents…

Instead of scolding and showing frustration at his/her lack of progress in potty training, try the following positive statements:

“That’s OK! Accidents happen. Let’s clean it up together.”

“We’ll try next time to make it to the potty!”

It’s OK! You let mommy/daddy know the next time you need to use the potty.”

Two of the most important potty training tips is to remember that accidents happen and not to scold your child when they do happen.

10. If Regression Occurs… Take A Break

Let me be very honest with you… Potty training regression sucks!

It takes an extreme amount of patience from you.

One day your child is fully potty trained and the next day he or she refuses to go at all!

Your left wondering, “What did I do for my child to suddenly hate potty training?”

But fear not! Odds are you didn’t do anything and many toddlers go through multiple regressions when it comes to potty training.

A regression can simply mean that your child is overwhelmed with potty training and needs a break.

If a regression occurs, take a break for a while. Pushing your child to still use the potty during a regression will only make the regression last longer and cause a power struggle with you and your child.

Related Articles: Diarrhea In Children: Causes, Symptoms and How To Cure It

Final Thoughts

I didn’t plan on doing the child-led potty training approach, but here I am. Taking it one day at a time… Slowly!

This approach is all about allowing your child to naturally become physically and emotionally ready for potty training.

There’s no force on your part about completing potty training within a certain amount of days. It focuses on positive reinforcement and slow progression .

Yes, this approach takes much more time than compared to a parent-led approach, but for many children this approach works better!

If you’re tired of the power struggles when it comes to potty training, it may be time to take a back seat in your child’s potty training.

Instead, let your child take the lead when it comes going potty.

Look for signs of potty training readiness from your child. Even though verbal communication may still be lacking, your toddler may be showing non-verbal signs like pulling at a wet diaper or watching you use the potty.

By following these potty training tips, you can start the child-led approach early on to pave the way for a positive and successful potty training experience with your toddler.

So give these potty training tips a try with your toddler today!


Works Cited


How long should it take to potty train a toddler? Patience is essential

Is early toilet training harmful?

Easy potty learning for toddlers

A doctor responds: Don’t potty train your baby

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