Adventures in Potty-Training: 5 Tips for Positive Success

Potty training your kid is a personal endeavor, in every sense of the word. You might choose the 3-day method, or take a more gradual approach. You might start early, or wait until your child makes the decision to do it themselves. Maybe you practice elimination communication and essentially potty-train your child starting at birth. Potty seats, pants-less weekends, and pull-ups aside, I’m not here to tell you which potty-training method is best or easiest or right for your family. However, I have been an integral part of the potty-training journey of almost a dozen children, and I’ve accumulated some tips that can make the whole process a little smoother, whichever way you decide to tackle it.

potty training potty-training tips

5 Tips for Potty-Training Success

Make the toilet an adventure

When your baby is turning into a toddler, harness that “I can do it myself” attitude that comes with toddler-hood and let your little one check out the toilet! Allow them to sit on it, pretend to use it, and help you flush it, all with your supervision, of course. Proudly announce to your child when you need to go, and let them come with you on the adventure. (I know, going to the bathroom is the opposite of an adventure, but it’s helpful if your kid thinks it’s cool, so play along.)

Potty-training is like 90% attitude. And 10% battle of wills. And maybe another 50% stepping in wet spots on the carpet with socks on. But it’s mostly attitude.

Make the toilet routine

I know I just said that the toilet should be an adventure. But if you make it too exciting or high-stakes, it can be a little overwhelming. Since we use cloth diapers, we have to take the dirty ones to the bathroom to spray them off into the toilet before putting them in the wetbag. This little routine becomes part of the diaper changing process, and our kids learn early on that poop goes in the potty, flushing the toilet is fun, and we finish by washing hands.

At our house, everyone uses the bathroom before leaving the house and before sleeping. The toilet is part of our daily routine, not some foreign object that we spring onto kids when they turn some magical age.

Celebrate poop and pee

It can be hard to keep a poker face when confronted with an impressively foul diaper. But try. Congratulate your kiddo on what they did, because it will make them want to share their “successes” with you in the future! Making a disgusted face, using words like “gross” or “nasty”, and making jokes can lead to feelings of embarrassment and shame.

The goal isn’t to make your cherub think their poop smells like roses. The goal is to increase communication and encourage feelings of pride and confidence. An embarrassed potty-er is going to hide when they need to “do the deed”, and that’s not what you want. Put on a cheesy grin and pretend you’re impressed.

Focus on comfort

If we throw a party every time our kid fills his or her diaper, what motivation is there to ever graduate to going in the potty? As I mentioned above, it’s important to avoid negative labels, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be honest about the benefits of learning to go on the potty. But do it in such a way that it is motivating and positive, not shaming or punitive. As you wipe your baby, point out how much better it feels to have a clean bottom. Dry pants feel so much more comfortable!

Sitting in your own excrement isn’t pleasant, little friends. Using the potty is super cool.

Keep it positive

I asked my husband what the most helpful potty-training tip was, and without skipping a beat, he said, “THE SONG. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. I swear I can sing that song and they just start peeing automatically.” Here it is ladies, my most secret potty-training tip:

(To the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”)

Tinkle, tinkle, little pee! Go into my big potty!

Impressed? Well, the next one I have to credit my husband for:

Ploppy, ploppy, little poop! Please come out, when I stoop.”

A little dose of silly always helps!

Helping your child become an independent potty-er is a process. You’ll step in your kid’s puddles. Your enthusiastic, “Let’s go to the potty!” will be met with a defiant “NO!” probably more times than not. Take heart, mamas. It won’t last forever. Diapers eventually fall out of vogue, and soon your sweet babe will be motivated to ditch the dipes for good. And you can pat yourself on the back and pretend that your awesome parenting skills are the reason.

Side note: I once found my 8 month old daughter elbows deep in the toilet, scooping handfuls of used toilet paper into her mouth. Any time you’re feeling frustrated, you can feel reassured that you are almost definitely a better parent than me!

Tell me your worst potty-training stories in the comments! Diaper blowouts? Poop painting? Any other toilet paper eaters? Let’s commiserate, mamas. 


Lianna is a homesteading mama of three: a sparkly seven-year-old daughter, a joyful five-year-old boy, and a confident three-year-old boy. After graduating from the University of Iowa’s college of education, she started Wondergarten Early Enrichment Home, a multi-age, play-based early childhood program. A self-proclaimed Queen Dabbler, she has a long list of hobbies (from gardening and canning to sewing and painting), and doesn’t mind being only mediocre at all of them. She lives with her husband, mother, three kiddos, dog, cat, rabbits, dwarf goats, and chickens on an acreage in the country. The Cornally family spends their time talking about education, learning how to grow and preserve their own food, and romping around in their woods.


  1. Well, our worst experience was: We were arriving home from our vacation and once we got inside, our little girl was bouncing around saying she had to go potty, so instantly she found her potty chair and proceeded to poo poo in the potty, however, she only sat on the chair half way and ended with her poo poo all over the wall, floor, and outside of the potty chair… luckily, “Grandma” was the one to clean up the mess.. LOL

    • Oh, Casie! Aren’t grandmas the BEST?! Haha. I know a little girl (who isn’t so little anymore) who used to take off her diaper at naptime and paint the walls with her very own homemade “paint”. Yep. She grew into a wonderful young lady, so there’s hope for all of us!

  2. My wife always makes me carry the pee-filled plastic gallon freezer bag from our travel potty – to whatever garbage can I can find in the parking lot of whatever fast food joint we pulled over at….it’s usually pretty gross. Does that count?


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