How to Teach Your Toddler to Use the Potty

by Jennie Dalcour

    When you bring your newborn home, they are cute and precious, even their little diapers. By the time your newborn grows into a toddler, those cute little diapers have developed into large nuisances. Although you might feel as though your munchkin will be in diapers forever, children rarely head to college in training pants. Most toddlers start to show signs of being ready for the big potty around 18 to 24 months. If you think your toddler is ready to ditch the diapers, gather up your patience and get ready for the toilet training adventure to begin.

    Items you will need

    • Potty chair or seat
    • Potty book
    • Small candies or stickers
    Step 1

    Determine that your child is really ready to toilet-train. The first sign that your potty princess might be ready to ditch the diapers is that she shows interest in using the toilet. She needs to be able to express through hand signals or words that she needs to go potty. Your little one must go at least a couple of hours with a dry diaper and recognize when she is peeing or pooping in her pants. Finally, she must be physically capable of toilet-training. She needs to be able to get on and off the toilet or potty chair and pull her pants on and off.

    Step 2

    Provide the right tools. Your child will probably need either a potty chair or a potty seat that fits onto your regular toilet. The regular toilet alone might be too big or intimidating. You might also need a step stool for her to climb onto the toilet and to reach the sink for hand-washing.

    Step 3

    Offer your munchkin choices in the potty training process. (see ref 1 and ref 3, “starting potty training”) Ask her if she wants to use the toilet or a potty chair. Does she want to wear the new rainbow big-girl panties or a diaper?

    Step 4

    Show her how it’s done. If you’re like most moms, private time in the bathroom is just a memory. Let your child know that this is how big girls go potty, not in diapers.

    Step 5

    Give your child the right words to use. Ask her whether she’s going potty in her diaper and let her know that you go potty in the toilet. You can take her poop out of her diaper and place it in the toilet. You might want to close the lid before you flush because young children are often frightened of the flushing sound, motion and the disappearance of the poop.

    Step 6

    Set up a potty schedule. Suggest that your little one sit on the potty when she wakes in the morning, before each nap and bedtime, and within 15 to 30 minutes after each meal. Take this time to read a special potty book or sing a song. If she doesn't have to go within five minutes, try later.

    Step 7

    Offer praise and positive encouragement at each potty trip, no matter the result. Your positive reaction will encourage her to keep trying and she will feel in control of her body. Bribes can motivate your toddler toward toilet-training success. Offer your tot small candies or stickers each time she uses the potty.


    • Expect accidents and don’t lose heart! Potty-training a toddler can take three to six months, according to


    • Punishing your little one for accidents could prolong potty-training by starting a battle of the wills.

    About the Author

    Jennie Dalcour began writing Internet content in 2009. She has worked several years in the telecommunications industry and in sales and marketing. She has spent many years teaching young children and has spent over four years writing curriculum for churches. She is now pursuing a Masters of Arts in clinical psychology at Regent University and has ample experience with special needs children.

    Photo Credits

    • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images