And Just Like That Our Little Lady Was Potty Trained

Potty training is one of the biggest events in early childhood and everyone appears to have an opinion. There are countless books written on the topic and the Internet is flooded with tips. Although I found the advice useful, every child is different and my daughter’s potty training journey didn’t replicate any of the plans I read online. Her journey from diapers to underwear was individualized and unique, just like her!

Now I have to confess something…our potty training adventure wasn’t exactly as quick as the title of this article implies. In fact, as I browse through old pictures I realize I have been doing things to prepare for this day for an entire year!

Although my parents never mentioned it I could tell they were wondering if I was ever going to potty train my daughter. After all I was potty trained before the age of three and in a little over a month my daughter will be three and a half! I began to feel like I was a bad mommy since all of my daughter’s friends were fully potty trained; many for almost a year now! With some, the parents were forced to speed up the process because of daycare. Some of her friends showed signs of readiness and potty trained at an early age while others had baby siblings on the way and potty training their oldest before a baby was added to the family just made sense.

Since I spend most of the time at home with my daughter and she won’t start preschool for another four months, we had plenty of time to spend on potty training. I carefully observed her for readiness signs and created a potty friendly environment for her to learn in. I believe in child centered learning but there are a lot of things that need to be in place for success. My daughter wouldn’t be potty trained without purposeful intent by me, her teacher. Below I describe the steps I took on our “tear free” potty training journey.

Modeling- When my daughter was very young I took her into the bathroom with me. Through watching me she learned the steps: sitting on the potty, wiping with toilet paper, flushing and washing hands. Although at eighteen months she wasn’t ready to abandon her diapers just yet, she often mimicked me by grabbing a fist full of toilet paper and pretending to wipe herself while she was fully clothed! As Lillian got older, many of her friends were toilet training and during play dates she saw her friends go potty. Through modeling, especially by her peers, Lillian showed more interest in going potty.

Picture Book- We began reading books about going potty shortly after my daughter turned two years of age. A friend gave us the book, “A Potty for Me!” by Karen Katz and it became an instant favorite. Around this time my daughter went through a Daniel Tiger phase and she fell in love with the “Daniel Goes to the Potty” book that comes with a button that makes a flushing sound. The reader is encouraged to press the flush button each time Daniel Tiger uses the potty. The book follows the same storyline and includes the catchy “potty song” that appears in the Daniel Tiger episode “Daniel Goes to the Potty.” “Everyone Poops” is a classic by Taro Gomi and we enjoyed learning about different kinds of animals and the various ways they go to the bathroom.

A few of our favorite potty themed picture books.

Selecting a Potty- Lillian helped pick out a little Minnie Mouse potty at the store and both sets of grandparents bought matching ones for their homes. This consistency proved to be helpful because Lillian didn’t regress when she spent the day or night with her grandparents. At first she sat on her potty but after awhile she occasionally went on the potty. She role played by having her stuffed animals use her potty. Her little potty is located in our master bathroom and that is where it has stayed throughout the entire process. Even though Lillian had her own little potty she sat on the big potty sometimes. In fact she loved trying out potties in public places and at family and friends homes. We never had a problem using bathrooms in public places because Lillian learned early on that there are potties everywhere!

Lillian’s Minnie Mouse potty.

Motivation Chart and Rewards- A few months after Lillian turned three I introduced a sticker chart for extra motivation. I waited until the holidays were over and we were back to a “normal” schedule with no out of town trips planned or any other unusual distractions. But the chart I selected simply wasn’t working. The goals on the chart were too ambitious for her and she wasn’t earning any stickers. I looked online and found a Paw Patrol Potty Chart! Click on this link to download the chart. paw-patrol-potty-training

The Paw Patrol chart that was a huge success!

Lillian is really into Paw Patrol and the tasks on the chart were attainable for a beginner. (Told an adult I needed to go, Pulled down my pants, Sat on the potty, Went in the potty, Washed my hands) After she filled an entire chart with stickers she got a small Paw Patrol toy. The chart followed her to her grandparents house and we made sure to add stickers if she went potty while we were away from home. When she began to show success and filled up the chart at a faster pace I changed the categories on the chart to include two columns for “Went on the potty” and then added a column for “Went poop on the potty” and “Staying dry all day.” This gradual release of increased expectation proved to be very successful.

Big Girl Underwear- I bought Lillian Minnie Mouse underwear when she was two years old. She showed no interest in wearing them. One day she spied some Paw Patrol underwear at Target and she got so excited I bought them. But she still refused to wear underwear. I thought starting her in pull ups before underwear would be successful but she showed little interest in wearing pull ups (even though they are very similar to diapers.)  So to my surprise we potty trained in a diaper. She would pull down her pants, rip off her diaper and pee in the potty, so I simply went with it. At first it required suggestions from me but soon after she was running to the bathroom and going independently. On Easter Monday I asked her if she wanted to wear big girl underwear and she said yes! She stayed dry all day and after that she never wore diapers again!

My daughter’s potty training story reminds me that sometimes all it takes is time, motivation and a little bit of encouragement for something to happen. Forcing someone to do something before they are truly ready causes tears and frustration for everyone involved. Learning is a process and everyone learns at his/her own pace, following a timeframe that often doesn’t match our own expectations.

27 thoughts on “And Just Like That Our Little Lady Was Potty Trained

  1. Daniel Tiger was a huge influence in my son’s potty training. We sang over and over, “if you have to go potty stop and go right away, flush and wash and be on your way.” I think one of the best points made here is that ever child is different. You kind of have to just let them guide the way.

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  2. These are great tips! We used books, sticker charts, and Paw Patrol prizes too, but I love that printable with the different things they have to do!

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  3. This is a helpful and encouraging read! We didn’t potty train our daughter till she was three and she got it right away! Sometimes kids aren’t ready and it’s ok if their older.

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  4. Oh Momma! I’m headed into round two of this wonderful milestone. Its funny how I cant even recall how we went about potty training the first and now that #2 is about ready, I’m dumb founded. lol.

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  5. Thank you for writing this! We are in the midst of potty training. My little guy is 3 and I agree with you, time is sometimes all it takes. We’re not there yet but we’re close. 🙂


  6. These are super helpful tips, thanks! We have potty trained two and one more to go. The chart is a great idea. I’ve found that it’s just different for every kid and so these are good ideas to put in my back pocket for later. Big girl underwear also really helped us when potty training as a special reward.


    1. I hope the chart works for him. I also bought Paw Patrol stickers at Wal Mart that she put on the chart when she completed one of the tasks. Changing the tasks on the chart after tasks had been somewhat mastered was a big game changer. And of course earning a prize after each chart was completed.

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  7. She is a doll! We used an app ( i think it was huggies) that would play a fun song when it was time to go potty. It was a big help! We also picked up several books from the library but I can’t remember what they were called! This is a huge milestone 🙂

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  8. I am about to attempt to start potty training my two year old, he is showing some signs of readiness and the summer seems like a perfect time to be diaper free and potty train. I am going to have to get this paw patrol check list and remember the idea of the small paw patrol toy, since he looooves paw patrol and this will be helpful for encouraging motivation!

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  9. Even though i got her a potty of different colours and shapes but nil but she started saying it and did sit directly on the bathroom itself which made it actually easy for all of us…I loved the mickey potty thought looks very cute 🙂


  10. Potty training! I think the main thing is to begin when both the child and the parents are ready to make a commitment to the process. At the end of the day, it requires effort from both parties. Also, I like the idea of having matching potties at both grandparent’s homes. It’s good that they were all committed to ensuring consistency

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