5 Stages of potty training

Potty training a toddler is no one’s idea of fun. It's messy, it’s time consuming and it can take weeks (if not months) for your little one to get the hang of it.

But that’s the worst-case scenario, says Jamie Glowacki, author of Oh Crap! Potty Training.

“It requires attention and focus on your part, I won’t lie to you. This is all you’ll be thinking about for at least a week or so,” Jamie says. 
What is Jamie’s magic formula? 

There are no secrets to success, she says, just a number of common sense tips to help take your toddler through a step-by-step toilet training program:

Step 1: Start within the ideal potty training ‘age’ window

There is an ideal window to get started, Jamie says.

“Potty training [tends to be] easiest when done between the ages of 20 and 30 months,” she says. “It certainly can be done before and after those ages, but most children younger than 20 months won’t connect the dots as fast… and kids over 30 months are that much smarter and much more skilled at manipulation.”

Step 2: Don’t use sticker charts or rewards

Attaching rewards to toilet training takes the focus of what your toddler is doing, which is simply learning a normal milestone.

“Did you give your child stickers or chocolate for learning to walk?” Jamie says. “Did you beg and plead and ask her a million times a day if she felt like walking? Did you consult everyone you knew and research the topic endlessly? Probably not.”

Sing, clap and celebrate their toilet successes, but save the stickers for good behaviour.
little person on toilet

Step 3: Once you get started, be consistent

“It’s amazing to me that we would expect a child to step
up to the task of toilet training without consistency,” Jamie says.

If you sit little one on the potty or toilet occasionally, but put a nappy on them for the rest of the day, they’ll become confused about what’s expected of them.

We blocked out a week and let our little one run around nappy-free, making sure the potty was accessible and we were watching for ‘pee pee dances’. 

Step 4: Don’t worry about what the Jones’ are doing

Is your little one still using a nappy at 2-and-a-half, while your neighbours’ 15-month-old is happily using the potty?

Don’t get frustrated with your child’s progress, or compare them to other kids; it’s unhelpful, as each little human learns at their own pace. Repeat steps one to three until your child gets the hang of it. They will get there eventually!

Step 5: Expect accidents

When toilet training happens with consistency and focus, most kids will take around three to seven days to ‘click’, Jamie says.

It may take longer to wean your kids off nappies overnight, and accidents during the day will happen. “I like to say that accidents within the first week aren’t accidents, but learning tools. Both you and your child are figuring this out,” Jamie says. “Just remember that potty training is a process. Your child will get better and better at it, and each week will get easier.”
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