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Hop on the potty training train with these helpful tips

First of all, is your child ready for toilet training?

Toilet training is most successful when your child shows signs of readiness- both developmentally and behaviorally. Every child is different, with some showing signs of readiness between the ages of 18 and 24 months and others showing signs of readiness at older ages. In the U.S., successful completion of toilet training frequently occurs at around age 3, with girls typically completing the process a few months before boys.

Problems in toilet training often come up because parents don’t wait until their child is ready. Successful toilet training requires help from patient, understanding adults, and a child who is ready for the transition.

Specific signs of toilet training readiness may include when your child:

  • Can follow simple instructions.
  • Understands words about going to the bathroom (pee, poop, potty, etc.).
  • Knows what the toilet is for.
  • Can “hold it” for a short period of time when needing to go.
  • Can use words to express needing to go.
  • Is willing to stop activities to go to the toilet.
  • Shows interest in wearing a clean diaper or “big kid” underwear.”
  • Keeps a diaper dry for two hours or more.
  • Can pull down training pants or underpants and clothes.
  • Shows an interest in using the toilet.

Here are some ideas for getting your child started with toilet training:

  • Talk about going to the toilet and use words to describe it.
  • Talk about the body sensations your child may feel when needing to use or when using the toilet.
  • Read books about going to the toilet.
  • Let your child watch you (or another trusted adult or siblings) use the toilet and talk about it. Imitation is a very good way for children to learn.
  • Dress your child in clothes that are easy to take off or pull down.  
  • Involve everyone in the family, and make sure all caregivers follow the same routine.
  • Encourage your child to tell you when their diaper is wet or soiled.
  • All aboard the porcelain or plastic (in your kid’s case) train! There is so much information available on toilet (AKA potty) training, and we want to provide a quick guide for when your kids are ready for that transition. Follow these tips and your child will be ready for restroom independence in no time.
  • Empty soiled diapers into the toilet and tell your child, “This is where poop goes,” and let your child flush the toilet. Or try to “catch your child in the act” and suggest sitting on the toilet or potty chair at these times.
  • Go together to purchase a potty chair and “big kid” underpants. When using an adult toilet, consider putting a footrest in front of the toilet so that your child’s feet are supported when trying “to go”.

Lastly, here are some essential do’s and don’t when potty training your child:


  • Start the process when your child shows readiness.
  • Practice using the toilet or potty chair at times that you think will be successful. For example, if your child’s diaper is dry after a nap, ask your child to sit on the toilet potty chair and try to go. Other good times to ask your child to try may include a half hour after drinks or food or at the time of day your child typically has a dirty diaper.
  • Encourage your child to try, even if nothing happens.
  • Set routine times to try, and gently guide your child to use the toilet at these times.  
  • Show support by staying in the bathroom if your child wants you to.
  • Teach healthy hygiene habits such as wiping from front to back and washing hands when done.  
  • Point out effort, successes, and progress with hugs, kisses, and praise!


  • Force your child to sit on the toilet or potty chair.
  • Punish or make your child feel bad when accidents occur.  
  • Nag or lecture about toileting. At this age, children are establishing independence so avoid creating battles over toileting.
  • Be disappointed or angry during the toileting process. It takes time for children to learn how to relax the muscles that control the bowel and bladder. At first, your child may have a bowel movement or urinate right after being taken off the toilet. While this may be frustrating for adults, it’s important to continue to praise your child’s effort.

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Toilet Training Tips for Proactive Parents

Let’s begin by challenging what we think we know about potty training…          

Disposable diapers are perhaps one of the most essential inventions to appear in the last century. They are more comfortable, they are aesthetic, and they save us the inconceivable burden of hand-washing dirty cloth diapers, just as our ancestors used to do.

Having said all that, disposable diapers are also linked to the fact that today, more than ever before, we are facing tremendous struggles and difficulties when it comes to potty training.

According to recent statistics, the average age for potty trained children is  around 2.5-3 years. Some studies (sponsored by big diaper companies) claim that babies and toddlers do not have the developmental skill that allows to control their bodily secretions. That is, of course, not at all true.

Today it is considered normal to wait for our children to be “ready.” Parents now postpone the potty training process until they feel the child is willing to participate. This very common approach, however, does not take into consideration the fact that babies actually do have the physical ability to control their own sphincters almost since the day they are born. By diapering them during these first few days, and by keeping them in diapers for the first years of their lives, we are essentially putting that mechanism to “sleep.” Statements such as “potty-train readiness” are completely invalid then, since all babies are essentially born ready.

People mistakenly think of potty training as a developmental process, when in fact it is an educational one. Crawling, sitting and talking are developmental; the need for diapers is plainly cultural. Cultures in which the infants are raised diaperless have always existed throughout human history. In today’s Western culture, there are also some who stand by this diaperless approach as well. Of course, I am aware of how unrealistic this approach can seem to most parents, especially in this day and age.

My recommendation for parents is to not wait beyond the age of 24 months, as I try to aim for potty training around the age of 18 months. That is because after that we begin to see the “terrible two’s” stage, in which the toddlers tend to become opinionated, rebellious and independent, and so our willingness to potty train them could potentially only upset them even more. They do not necessarily want us to change their now well established habits. This, of course, could and will lead to difficulties. Unfortunately delaying the potty training process is the source for all different kinds of problems.

Yet there is another factor that is as important, and perhaps even more so: The educational approach in which parents tend to “flow with the child.” In its core, it is a misguided approach, especially when it comes to potty training. The role of the parent is not to flow with the child, but instead to be proactive and to lead the child: The parents are the responsible adults, they are the ones who are in charge of setting the educational goals for their children, and they are the only ones who are able to lead their children towards achieving these educational goals.

Ultimately, it is only you, the parents, that can and should be proactive in the potty training process. It is your responsibility, exactly like every other educational process is your responsibility. You should not expect full cooperation from the child (even though cooperation is welcome.) Parents who are loving, warm, respectful and sensitive can and need to be, at the same time, the ones who are in charge, set rules and keep things in order. If, in that sense, the parents are the ones that have the hand on the wheel, it is completely possible to potty train at 18 month old in the course of a week. The truth is that the ones who need to be “ready” for the process, are the parents themselves. Parents who are willing and ready for potty training, will be able to see this process through, and will not back down when their child shows a slight resistance.

The more you delay the potty training process, the more difficulties you could potentially face. That is since by the time we start training, the child will become more hesitant, as well as more suspicious of this new and unfamiliar process. The act of pooping will not be of any interest for a 12-18 months old as it will a 3 year old child, who is much more aware of his or her own body.

These two things – postponing the potty training process, and an unauthoritative parental approach – are main factors behind many of the problems parents face: toilet anxiety, constipation, stool refusal, encopresis and more. By knowing how to potty train correctly, and by doing it on time, you are reducing the chance for these types of difficulties to occur. That is why in order to succeed in the potty training process, you must not wait for the child to be ready, but instead take on a more assertive and proactive approach, that will lead your child towards a diaper-free life.

Success in potty training could lead the child to much more than just bodily control. It could teach the child the concept of delayed gratification, self-restraint, as well as empowering the child’s independence and his or hers self-image. If all those things are not enough, early potty training is also more hygenic, more economical and more ecological.

6 Tips For A Calm (Yet Proactive) Potty Training:

The “PROACTIVE PARENTING for POTTY TRAINING” approach is both based on academic research, as well as years worth of clinical practice. Here are my tips for parents who are about to start the potty training process:

  1. Be confident and decisive.  Remember not to expect your child to necessarily  help you in the process. You took this task upon yourself, and so it is you who will spend the energy and the time to make sure it is done right.
  2. Remove the child’s diaper during waking hours. This means a complete withdrawal from diapers, even if you go to the zoo, or to visit grandma. When the child is awake, he or she are always dressed in underpants (nighttime withdrawal will come later on.)
  3. Take into account that accidents will occur. It could take a day or two until those go away,  or a week or two, but it could also last a month or two. And when those mishaps happen (and they will) you must be able to clearly express to the child that this behaviour is unwelcome. However, do so without expressing any anger: don’t say “oh no, look what you did!,” yet also avoid saying things like “don’t worry, everything is fine.” What you could say is: “Look at that, you peed your pants. It’s wet. it doesn’t feel good. Next time when you want to pee, you will do it in the potty.” After making that point come across, you should go ahead and change the child’s underpants and pants.
  4. Follow your children, learn to ‘read’ them and learn to predict their urinating and pooping times. Every child has his or her habits. Try to notice their facial expressions, their body language. Don’t assume they would come to you and tell you “I need to pee.” Learn your child’s schedule, and if you noticed he/her hasn’t peed in a while, take him/her to the potty, no questions ask.
  5. As I mentioned before, it is very important to know how to be sensitive, yet authoritative, at the same time. Do not let your child’s fears (or caprices) and wants shape the dynamics of this process. If the child refuses to go in the potty, under no circumstance bring back the diaper. Do not give up on potty training your child even if the child shows signs of restraint.
  6. There is no need for lengthy explanations or exhausting persuasions: potty training is based on core principles of behavioural-cognitive psychology, and its success is determined by the proactivity and willpower of the parents themselves.
Daphna Tayar is a developmental and therapeutic educational consultant who consults and guide parents. Her renown results from this book and her regular column on YNET, the largest web site in Israel, branding her as a unique, fresh, and more reliable voice on the subject of toilet training. Daphna is a mother of four who now has the pleasure of seeing her grandchildren toilet training according to her method. If you are in the throes of potty training, her “PROACTIVE PARENTING for POTTY TRAINING” book is just for you!

Potty Training Tips from a Mom of Nine

In honor of this hilarious video, How to Potty Train a Toddler in 22 Easy Steps, we present unto you practical advice on potty training from Gretchen, a mom of nine.

I have helped all nine of my children graduate out of diapers and into undies. My first few kids were subjected to all kinds of nonsense, fueled by advice found in parenting manuals. Barrels of tears were cried as accidents mounted. Frustration and angst hung in the air as my main focus in life seemed to be the state of my little one’s innards. It took a long time to learn that bladders don’t know how to read anything, especially parenting manuals. Bladders don’t blow out birthday candles, either, so they aren’t aware they just turned two.

When I began thinking about potty training our fourth child, a thought occurred to me. My three oldest kids had terrible times mastering the numerous skills that need to come together. Kids need physical self-awareness, the ability to anticipate, savvy timing, communication skills, and muscle control. It’s a lot to piece together. If one or more of those elements are missing, all the candy and gold star stickers in the world won’t help. The kindest solution is one thing: Time.

In other words, back off—but be ready.

The potty training experience with our next four kids was profoundly more pleasant and easy-going. Why? Because I didn’t hound them about the potty. I didn’t spend our days with naked toddlers running amuck. When they ran amuck, they were mostly clothed. No peeing dolls were embarrassed, no charts filled with star stickers, no barrels of tiny candies were doled out as reward. Gee, potty training in our house sounds boring. But isn’t that what relieving oneself is, actually? Otherwise, I wouldn’t be typing this post while sitting on the toilet. Just kidding. But seriously, where are my M&Ms and my gold sticker?

My number one bit of potty training advice is this: Wait until your child announces he or she is done with diapers. As in, “I’m not going to wear diapers any more.” When it is the kid’s idea, they take the decision to heart. My first three kids had many accidents and tearful moments regarding the milestone. My next four kids were given these gifts:

~ A stack of clean, ready-to-go undies and the knowledge they belong to your child and can be used whenever they want. Put them in an accessible place.

~ No hounding or stalking their bowels. Reminders are okay. Constant reminders are highly unwelcome. Give them knowledge they can sit on the potty when they wish or feel the urge, but don’t make the bathroom your new living room OR a prison cell.

~ Willingness to steady them on the potty if they are small. Don’t bother with rings or potty chairs because what happens the first time they try to go in a public restroom? Where’s the chair? Where’s the Elmo potty ring? My purse isn’t that big and neither is yours. Most kids don’t care about switching things up, but the last place you want to risk a meltdown is a public toilet when they are desperate to go.

~ No overblown celebrations or promises of toys and candy. You don’t throw ticker tape parades over consuming the food to be digested, so why go overboard when the digested food exits? It’s a fact of life, like respiration or contemplating the cosmos. We clap and call daddy when the first successes occur, but we keep it all in perspective. Pride is very real and deserves to be shared, high fives are given, but frankly, I’m more thrilled about the hand washing part than knowing the poo looked like Ferb. Yes. Yes it does.

~ No overblown sadness or anger when accidents occur. It’s laundry, not a character flaw. Your toddler didn’t embezzle pension money to pay for gambling debts so don’t act like it. You say “uh-oh” and move on.

~ Time. The essential elements of potty training come together around age three. I have two little ones still in diapers. When I think about the future, I don’t have a toilet icon pinned over their heads until around their third birthdays. If it happens earlier, that’s awesome. If it doesn’t, that’s fine, too. I’ll have underwear ready, arms steady, and a promise I won’t make the elimination of bodily waste into something bigger than they—or I—can handle.

Humor: Potty Train a Toddler in 22 “Easy” Steps

My potty training days are thankfully well behind me. Call it PTSD, but anytime I see a parent struggling through the process, I’m taken back to that fiery descent into hell. Parents who have had a child who refuses to potty train know my pain. My son was easy…it took under a week. My daughter took years (and I’m not exaggerating). 

La Guardia Cross produced this hilarious video that parents everywhere will be able to relate to. “This is the most honest 22 step process I can give you to potty train a toddler. It’s not based on what’s most effective, it’s based on exactly what my wife and I did, getting frustrated with the process, then seeing it all work out in four days.”

He’s one of the lucky ones. 

25 Pranks to Become a Certified “April Fool”

The first day of April, not a legal holiday, but who can resist the fun of a little tease or prank just one day out of the year? This silly tradition has been around for centuries, with the first recorded account in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, dating back to 1392. Some countries end the fun at the noon hour – after that you’d be considered an “April Fool” for trying! Thankfully, in the U.S. we can act silly all day long, so why not start extra early this year…like 3:00 a.m. (Check out prank numbers 12 & 13.)

Kids Say the Funniest Things: Sorry, Mystery Pooper!

I recently took my son Owen to Sam’s Club to do a little post Halloween/my diet starts on Monday shopping. As I was chasing his sugar high up and down the isles he stops mid stride and says, “Mommy, I have to go potty!” By the look on his face I could tell this situation was about to get serious. I threw him over my shoulder hurdling shopping carts and stiff arming innocent taste samplers, praying I had put him in pants that were easy to pull down.

As we sprinted into the bathroom the first stall was occupied. Respecting the bathroom code of ethics we went a few stalls down and stripped him of his clothing in the nick of time. I stood there eagerly listening for confirmation that I was by far the best mom in Sam’s Club by getting to my child to the bathroom on time….when it happened. The Mystery Pooper from a few stalls down let out a giant fart. I covered my mouth trying not to let my immaturity show when Owen yells, “Do you need my mom to come wipe your butt?”

Channeling my off-duty teacher I gave Owen the silent signal and assured him I would not be wiping anyone else’s tush. Then as we had regained our composure she did it again only this time it seemed to echo throughout the stalls.

Owen shouted, “Good job!! It’s coming! Push your belly.” I was convulsing with “silent” laughter as my son coached the Mystery Pooper through what seemed to be a painful experience. I praised him for being a good friend but told him that people don’t really like to talk in the potty. He smiled and wrinkled up his face, as he does when he is proud of himself, and gave me a thumbs up. Then the finale hit making it impossible to ignore. Knowing now that people don’t like to talk in the potty he smiled at me with his volume on high and said, “Whoa, that was a big one!” At which the lady quickly left the restroom.

As Owen finished up his business, which was a false alarm, I could tell he was thinking about something while he was washing his hands. I asked him if he was ok and he said, “Ya know, that person didn’t wash their hands.” Which made me thankful we had already passed the produce section!

Dear Mystery Pooper,

Hope everything came out alright!


Coach Owen

Ashley Gustafson is a mom of two young boys (3 and 1), a kindergarten teacher and a stay-at-home comedian. She currently has her own blog where she shares the good, bad, and ugly about parenting, womanhood and humanity

These Colorado Parents are starting a war on Pampers: Potty Training Made Easy!!!

My husband Josh Moffatt and I are Colorado natives and are starting a war on Pampers! Parents can spend up to $200 a month on diapers.  As a parent you save time and money once your child is potty trained but as we all know, potty training is extremely difficult and every child is different.  joshheatherWe’ve designed an experience to make potty training fun, exciting and easier on parents everywhere.  We are so confident in our product, that if your child is not excited to use our Poop ‘n Pull and go on the potty, then you can send us all your dirty diapers.

The Poop ‘n Pull is different from all other potty training products currently available on the market. The package consists of a small reward dispenser hung on a bathroom door out of the child’s reach. The Poop ‘n Pull is preloaded by a parent with reusable reward capsules and ready for pulling immediately after a successful potty experience. The capsules can be filled with small toys, stickers, treats or other rewards that will engage a little pooper.   

The Poop ‘n Pull experience also includes an illustrated children’s book titled “Whales Wear Underwear” and a sticker sheet featuring characters from the book for the parents and child to decorate the dispenser together. The Poop ‘n Pull helps parents create a sense of achievement for their kids and themselves by reaching potty training goals fast.

capsulesWe want to make life easier for all other Colorado parents out there.  We spent over a year attempting to potty train our son with little success and a lot of frustration.  Two days after we created the Poop ‘n Pull, our son couldn’t wait to go on the potty.

Americans throw away 570 disposable diapers per second. Besides the huge negative impact on the environment, it means hundreds and thousands of dollars in expenses for a family per year. We would love your help supporting our Poop ‘n Pull Kickstarter campaign, which will help you save money and speed up the potty training process while creating a positive, guilt-free atmosphere for you little ones.

We spent over a year attempting to potty train our son with little success and a lot of frustration. Two days after we created the Poopn Pull, our son couldn’t wait to go on the potty.  We have a perfect 5 star review rating on followed by positive Potty-Training-Parent’s success stories and testimonials (please see website for more testimonials…

Q: What made you decide to take it to the next level and make it available to others?  

The Poopn Pull worked so well, we decided to make them ourselves and sell on  The response was amazing and we loved hearing all the parents who were having trouble potty training (which is very common) and got the Poopn Pull and it worked. The new Poopn Pull would be manufactured right here in Colorado at Columbine Plastics in Louisville.  

Q: What has been the best and hardest parts of launching a new business?  

The best part has been working closely with our long time friends to write the book, create the product and build a great experience for parents and children to make their lives just a little bit easier.  The most difficult part has been hearing parents tell us they need one NOW, and we are unable to build till we get the funding from Kickstarter for manufacturing and development costs.

Q: Now that you’re a potty training expert, what tips do you have for parents to potty train their kids?

The best tip we have is to remain calm.  Potty Training is extremely difficult and every child is different.  While potty training can be extremely frustrating for parents, it can be equally frustrating for the child.  The more patience and understand we can show the better off the experience will be for everyone.  But don’t worry…if you have a “Freak Out Moment,” that’s okay.  Just about every parent does at one point.  

To purchase a Poop ‘n Pull please visit


In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

A potty training descent into hell and the realization I am not above bribing a mouse

I could write volumes upon volumes of books about potty training the most stubborn kid on the planet. I’m a few years removed from the trauma but believe me,  it was bad. As in we-went-to-seminars-at-the-Colorado-Children’s-Hospital-and-later-to-a-specialist kind of bad. (Read about our descent into hell here).

My friend’s recent announcement of how thrilled she was her son was finally potty trained and she only had one in diapers brought back my potty-training-induced anxiety attacks. I would rather sludge through a thousand hours of homework than go back to those dark, dark days.

But it wasn’t always dark. In fact, in the beginning potty training was a rather hopeful activity. Sure, we had some failed jump-starts where my daughter demonstrated she was perfectly content to sit in her polluted diaper for extended periods of time. But we were careful not to pressure her, though I was sure there were animals who were more interested in improving their bathroom habits than she was. I know. I watch cartoons.

My husband Jamie decided we needed to up the motivation ante so he pulled in the big guns: a visit with Mr. Chuck E. Cheese himself if she went on the potty. My daughter loved him more than a mere mortal which is kind of funny because he isn’t even human. Err..or is he? (see below)

One fine day, she decided she was going to use the potty three times in a row. To reward her, we took her to see The Big Mouse that very night. But imagine our disappointment when we arrived and he was hiding in his mouse hole (this is according to our daughter; a very big Chuck E.-sized mouse hole at that).

I queried a high-school-age employee. She confirmed that Chuck E does not make regular mid-week appearances unless it’s for a big bash.

“You don’t understand. This is a party. A Potty Party. And Chuck E. is the only one in this world who can motivate my daughter to continue to potty train.”

“Maybe we can arrange something.”

“Fantastic. Hey, can he talk?”

“No, he’s a mouse.”

“I know he’s a mouse. But there’s a real person inside those overstuffed ears. A real person who can comment on her bathroom habits, which would encourage her along the path.” After all: is Chuck E., if nothing else, a master motivator?

“He doesn’t talk.”

“Fine. Just bring out your mute mouse, OK?”

I then pondered the possibility of slipping Chuck E. $10 but scrapped the idea. If he really is a mouse as she professed, what use would my money be to him?

Eventually, Chuck E. did make his triumphal entry, which according to my daughter, was no less thrilling than when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey. She squealed, danced, hugged and reveled in her own rendition of Chuck E. Idol.

I was thrilled with the outcome of the evening until when I tucked her into bed that night.


“Yes, dear?”

“I was so excited to see Chuck E. tonight that I peed my pants.”

And so it began.

Preoccupation Pottyitis and an Accidental Foray Over to The Dark Side

We all pray for the day – the day when our little angels can use the potty all by themselves. We all expect it to happen in one day just like Dr. Phil said it would if we followed his potty party in a day philosophy. Well, I can tell you folks, it ain’t always that simple. For us, the day was more like two months but once she got it, she got it. No more pull-ups, no night-time accidents and hallelujah, no more diaper bag. Well, hold on there, almost.

We still deal with what I am terming “preoccupation pottyitis.” P-squared for short. This is a self-inflicted illness that commonly occurs in toddlers and small children in which playtime or some other mind-inhibiting activity causes the child to wait until the very last second to rush to the potty in hopes that he or she will make it. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t. It typically occurs following an hour of an adult asking the child every 30 seconds if she or he needs to use the potty.

Preoccupation pottyitis struck us last week. We were in the mall play area and my daughter looks up with that panicked look mouthing the words, “I’ve got to go potty.” You would have thought that Nieman Marcus was giving away free Chanel bags if you had seen me grab her hand and tear through the mall at speeds unheard of in the posh Cherry Creek Mall. We rounded the corner where the sign points to the restroom and the big W comes into view. I crash through the door without a glance in either direction with my eyes like laser pointers to the first stall door I could find.

Potty Training in Public: A mom’s inaugural encounter

A mom and a toddler walk into a public restroom… This is uncharted territory for the both of them. Up to this point their potty training efforts have been confined to the house, daycare, and grandparents houses. But this? This was public.

The mom’s palms were a bit clammy as she entered into what was surely a toddler mom’s rite of passage.

Luckily the giant public space was empty except for the two of them. Relieved the mom ushered her son into the “cleanest” of the stalls and started explaining to the boy how this was not like home.