Potty Training Tips

If you have two, three and four-year-olds in your early childhood environment like I do, you are probably dealing with different levels of potty training. I thought I would put together a few tips to maximize effective toileting and potty training. 

1. Put a potty training plan into place. 
If you do not have one already, put a plan together on how to deal with potty training in your classroom environment. 

  • When will you start potty training children in your program? 
  • How involved will the parents be in the program? 
  • Will there be accident rules (like putting a child who has wet or soiled their underwear three times back into diapers)?
  • Make sure all teachers and staff are on board with this plan and maybe have a written copy for parents to read and agree to as well.

2. Know when your children are ready.
A child will show clear signs of potty readiness. 

  • Physical readiness- when they are staying dry in their diapers for two or more hours in the day. The child should also be able to physically pull their own pants up and down.
  • Mental readiness- a child is curious about the potty and/or their bodily functions. They understand and can often express certain words like “wet” ,“dry”, “potty” etc.
  • Emotional readiness- A child will want to try sitting on the potty on their own.
  • Social Readiness- A child wants more autonomy and will act embarrassed when they have an accident or feel proud when they use the potty.

3. Use books to maximize success and encourage interest. 
There are many fantastic potty training books out there for children to discover. I recommend the books on this list.  These books should always be out for children to explore so that they may better understand the potty training process as well as keep their interest in using the potty. I like to add these books in a little basket in the bathroom so children may sit on the potty and read them. This encourages them to take more time trying the potty and also creates a comfortable, safe place for them when they are learning how to do something tied to many important feelings about their body. (These books will hopefully use appropriate language. Using the correct anatomical words should be the standard so children don’t feel embarrassed or confused about their bodies and or the things that are happening throughout the toileting process). 

4. Allow children to do as much as they can themselves.
Creating support for a child's growing independence means allowing children to do as much of the toileting process on their own. Let them take their own pants down and let them pull them back up. Show them how to wipe correctly and let them try (always make sure they are wiped clean by the teacher however, especially after a bowel movement to reduce bacteria and infection). When they have an accident, let them take their wet clothes off themselves teaching them about natural consequences. 

5. Regression will most likely happen.
Do not get discouraged if the children in your program regress and begin to wet or soil themselves again. This can happen if there is change in the program or at home, the child feels pressured or pushed into potty training, or for no reason at all. It can be frustrating for teachers and parents but stay calm, don’t make a big deal about accidents (having a child take off their own wet clothes and put new clothes on again can sometimes help the child get back on track) but never punish a child for an accident. If the child continues to wet or soil themselves, put them back in diapers and start again when they are truly ready.  

Click here for some books to help the children along with Potty Training.



Samantha Marshall, M.A.

Samantha is, just like you, excited to make a difference in our community and our world. With a Master of Arts degree in English Literature, you might ask how she found herself building and writing for a website focused on child care. From 1995 through 2001, Samantha started her career working for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsors which introduced her to the importance of non-profits, community and quality child care. Her experience with Sponsors, State Officials, and Family Child Care Providers left a great and lasting impression. Later in her career and her most recent position at SAGE Publications, an academic publisher, was as a product manager for a new online resource! During this time many of Samantha's passions collided. A love for the written word, children and the proliferation of knowledge as well as a fascination with the resources the internet gives us, building a community for child care on ChildCareInfo.com is the perfect way to make the difference she wanted to. Needless to say, she is very excited to be an active part of creating and building ChildCareInfo.com.