February 23, 2012


After a failed attempt to do so last summer, three weeks ago I began to potty train my 3 year old daughter.  The first week felt like a total loss.  The second week I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  And this week has been literally accident-free!

During the last few weeks, I have done a lot of reading about the best way to go about training my daughter.  And to be honest, I took a little bit of advice from various sources, but ultimately I had to rely heavily on my intuition as a mother and the fact that I know my daughter better than any "expert" before I really started to see results.

This has been a huge learning experience for me.  I feel like I can accomplish anything right about now, and I still have a ways to go before I feel like my daughter is completely trained.  So, I decided to share the wisdom I have gained, and hopefully it will be of some help to any parent that may be reading this.


I believe potty training is only as successful as your attitude.  I dare say the majority of your success is based almost entirely upon your ability to remain calm and cheerful and patient.  In order to do this, you must be prepared for this process to suck.  Even if it isn't as bad as you think, it is better to be pleasantly surprised than hopelessly discouraged.  The sooner I made up my mind to just embrace the horribleness of it all, the easier it was for me to accept accidents and the sweeter the pee looked in the potty.


Your ultimate goal is to teach your child how to recognize the feeling of needing to use the potty and then going to the potty to do so.  

After a week full of accidents, I realized my daughter wasn't connecting the dots, and it dawned on me that I never communicated to her what she was suppose to do.  I thought I was by rushing her to the potty every time she started to pee, but the verbal communication was not there. 

I started to ask my daughter, "Where do you go when you need to pee/poo?"  At first I had to tell her the answer, but eventually she easily answered, "The potty!"  All day long, every few minutes or so, I asked her this question so she cognitively understood what this entire process was all about.

I believe most problems in life arise from a lack of verbal communication, and potty training is no exception.


During the first week of training, my daughter pranced around our house in a T-shirt and underwear.  I had read virtually everywhere that this was good training attire.  At the beginning of the second week, two people told me to ditch the undies, and even though it seemed weird at first, it worked.  I immediately saw success, and I attribute it to my daughter having one less thing to do before she went potty.  Instead of quickly pulling down the undies and quickly sitting on the potty, all she had to do was sit.  Ditching the undies simplified the process.

It was at this point in time that I decided to


Stage One:  No undies and potty always in the same room
Stage Two:  Undies on and potty always in the same room
Stage Three:  Undies on and potty in the bathroom
Stage Four:  Undies on, pants on, potty in the bathroom

This may seem excessive to some people, but for my daughter taking things slow and giving her time to master everything one by one has really helped her be successful on a regular basis.  And, I'd rather take things slow and be successful than push my agenda on her and have accidents every day.


Of course, mastering the art of peeing in the potty at home is one thing.  Not having an accident in public is another.  Everything I read said to not do anything for a few days, and to be hermits until your child is trained.  Well, because my daughter wasn't completely trained in a few days, I had to interrupt the process every once in awhile.  And when we were out in public I put my daughter in a diaper, but the minute we got home she was back to her undies {or no undies depending on the stage}.  So long as I was consistent when it came to being at home versus not being at home, I felt okay about the interruptions.

Now that we're on stage four, I'm attempting to take her out in public with her undies on.  We'll take short drives or go to a restaurant and order our food to go.  All the while, I am asking her if she needs to go potty, and because our trips thus far have been short, if she expresses the need to go I always tell her we're almost home.

Another hurdle with being in public is public restrooms.  My daughter is currently using her own potty, so one of the things I am going to introduce to her soon is the big potty.  Because she does such a great job of letting me know when she needs to pee, once she is willing and able to go on the big potty being in public won't feel so daunting to me.

Any advice about being in public?


I let my daughter wear just her PJs or PJs and undies to bed for a week, and she consistently woke up wet.  So, after a lot of thought, my husband and I decided to have her wear Pull-Ups at night until she starts waking up dry.  I don't refer to them as Pull-Ups. I call them her underwear just like I do her real underwear.  I honestly don't think she realizes the difference because one morning she told me she needed to use the potty shortly after she woke up and was still wearing her Pull-Up. If she thought it was diaper, she would've just gone in the Pull-Up.  I know Pull-Ups have a bad reputation for deterring the entire process, but for my daughter it works.


Because we had been down this road before, my daughter fought potty training with all her might.  She didn't have an accident or go to the potty AT ALL until 2:00p one afternoon.  She held it in FOR HOURS just so she wouldn't have deal with the change.  One stubborn cookie I created let me tell you!

What did I do?  I began taking things away and turning things off.  No TV on.  No toys out.  And, the thing she hated most:  no yellow blankie.  I learned that as soon as there wasn't anything to distract her from going potty, the sooner she would go.  The idea to turn things off and take things away was inspiration from above because it worked like a charm.  Within minutes, she was going potty and I immediately gave her back her things because I wanted her to associate losing privileges with not going potty.


What did I reward my daughter with?  Hershey Kisses.  She loves them, but rarely eats them.  In fact, before our potty training began I think she had only had one her entire life.  In other words, getting a Kiss every time she peed in the potty was a big deal.

I learned that I needed to make the reward as enticing as possible because I have a smart kid, and she knew a crappy bribe when she saw one.  No pun intended.


Each and every time my daughter had a success, it was a BIG DEAL.  We clapped, we hugged, we looked at the pee in awe.  And, most importantly, we called Dad at work to let him know about the good news.  No matter what kind of mood my daughter was in before she had a success, she was ELATED afterwards.

And, don't worry about having to fake through this being a big deal.  It IS a big deal and if you're anything like me, you'll be just as elated as your child if not more so.


I can't tell you how many times I felt like a complete and utter failure.  After reading story after story about parents whose kids were potty trained in 3 days and knowing my daughter would be nowhere near trained in probably a month, I often wondered what I was doing wrong.  I constantly had to remind myself that things were okay and that everything would fall into place eventually.  My husband was a great support, and always told me what a great job I was doing.  He always told me how proud he was of me.  And pretty soon I stopped beating myself up because, in the end, I was doing the best that I knew how.

Ok, there's my wisdom on potty training.  I hope it helped someone out there.  And, please do share any tips or secrets you may have because the more wisdom I have the better!


  1. My daughter is stubborn too and refuses to go sometimes. She's been potty trained for months except for at night, then she's still in diapers. I agree that you have to communicate and wait until they are ready. As for the in public thing, it wasn't too bad for my daughter because she's good at holding it. She's still intimidated by the big potty but she'll do it if she absolutely has to. It's a long process and it's stressful for everyone but eventually she'll be completely there.

    I love the idea of kisses too. We bribed my daughter with nail polish to get her to go so I'm all for using whatever works!

    1. I love the nail polish idea. My daughter would love that!

  2. I had one heck of a time getting my 3 year old daughter potty trained. On advice of some of the ladies my husband co-workers I kept her in her underwear. She had a bunch of accidents for about 4 days then on the 5th day she just started sitting on her potty. She still wears pull ups to bed sometimes.

    1. I would've preferred my daughter wear underwear the whole time, but it just wasn't meant to be!

  3. These are such great tips and advice! Sounds like you did a great job. For public potties- if you can try and use one that does not automatically flush. They are so small and you are standing there and move and then it ends up flushing while they are on the toilet. My fearless Alex still has issues with public bathrooms because of this. If there are only sensor ones, cover the sensor with your hand and good luck. :)

    1. Thanks for the tip. I imagine the automatic flush would scare my little one.

  4. This is great advice, and I'm so happy things are going so swimmingly for you! We're also just starting on the potty training process. I still have to talk to Flintstone's daycare about how they deal with it.

    As for public, with Punky we took the little padded dora seat that sits on top of the regular toilet seat with us (in a plastic bag in MacGyver's backpack) EVERYWHERE for about a year after she potty trained. May have been overkill, but it worked for us (and MacGyver is a complete germaphobe).

    1. I have actually thought about doing that, so I'm glad it worked well for you. Ya, it seems kinda gross, but it's better than an accident!

  5. Okay, I almost feel like I should pin this on Pinterest, just so I remember it when I have a little nugget to potty train. You really know your stuff, girl!

  6. Great post! My daughter was SO HARD to potty train.

    You won the $10 credit to Crafty Crow Couture on my blog! Please e-mail me at Princess543@yahoo.com so I can pass on your info to the shop owner! Congrats!

  7. We are in the middle of potty training. He is just so stubborn and like your daughter he will hold it all day long. So far we have 0 pee's in the potty. It is hard to do when both of us work and we only really have the weekend so I am taking march break off to really focus on it.

    Stickers are our reward. So far his teddy bear has 2 stickers (he ran out of the bathroom to tell me that his teddy has used the potty).

  8. Sounds like you could write a book. Potty-training (or potty learning as I'm trying to call it) can bring you to your knees and be such a huge power struggle. Sounds like you did and are doing a good job. I like how you said you know your child best. Every child is different and there's no one-size fits all in my opinion. Just wait til you have a boy! Yikes!


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