Everyday Mums Talk About Toilet Training (Potty Training): Approaches

Childhood 101 | Toilet Training (Potty Training) Tips- Part 2 Approaches to Toilet Training

Welcome to part 2 of a short series of posts about toilet training from the perspective of everyday Mums who have been there (and incidentally, all of them more than once). Today we are exploring the different approaches taken to potty training.

What approach did you take to toilet training?

  • Softly, softly, I never rushed my kids. We tried but if they had more than two accidents on the first day then I left it for a few weeks before trying again. SP
  • Waiting until our child initiated and then plenty of pants free time at home and taking a potty everywhere. We didn’t make a fuss of accidents and while we celebrated their success we didn’t use reward charts either. SH
  • Staying positive, making potty trips part of the daily routine, and using appropriate rewards (such as child chosen underwear). CO
  • Lots of positive reinforcement and rewards for using the potty (with results) for the first few days.  I bought underpants with characters that they liked, hoping that they wouldn’t want to mess in them (don’t know if that worked but they do enjoy putting on undies they like). TW
  • Child led. I tried the approach where you set a week aside and put them in knickers but it just didn’t work. Instead we went with pull ups and let them tell us when they were ready. AH
  • Our approach to toilet training was very relaxed. I didn’t want it to be a big, stressful experience so that she wouldn’t have issues going to the toilet.  I also decided that it would make the whole experience more enjoyable and help my daughter to pay attention if I rewarded her so we came up with the scheme of one dried apricot for a wee in the potty and 2 for a poo. She loved it! MJ
  • I have always been of the opinion that if you wait until the child is really really ready then it will happen quickly and easily. It was a long drawn out process with the girls, more than a year of what seemed like two steps forward, three steps back. At times I was very frustrated, upset and worried, but in the end I had to trust they would get it eventually, when they were ready and they did. Night training was a perfect example… I thought  they would never ever night train and I was very down about it, then one day Izzy asked if she could not wear a nappy in bed, I was reluctant but she was keen so I let her, she’s never ever wet the bed since. Zoe followed suit about a week later. We went with the same approach for Morgan. Entirely child lead. He initiated the desire to wear undies one day and we went from there.  KF

What approach did you take to toilet training at your house?

Great big thanks for sharing so generously go to Shae (Mum to 3 girls), Tanya (Mum to a pigeon pair), Amanda (Mum to 2 girls), Kate (Mum to 4 – two of each), Cath (Mum to 1+1), Monisha (Mum to 2 girls) and Sarah (Mum to 2 boys and 1 girl).

Read the rest of the Everyday Mums Talk Toilet Training series;

Get every post via email Get the monthly newsletter


  1. Anon in the US says:

    TT is so frustrating! My 2 1/2 yo is advanced in a lot of ways, in terms of her intelligence and personality, but she just doesn’t seem interested. I catch her “going” a lot of times and ask her if she wants to go on the potty, but she always says no. She will sit on her potty fully clothed and before her bath, if we read her a book. We’ve tried rewarding her with stickers and treats, but she just isn’t ready yet. Frustrating!

  2. I started sitting my daughter on the potty when she was 1 years old so she could get a feel for it and a couple of months before her 2nd birthday she started asking to go, so I kept up with it. She was was potty trained before her 2nd birthday. She had maybe two accidents at night and never did it again. She was a breeze, my son was completely different. My son was not ready by his 2nd birthday and was not asking for it. When he turned 26 months I dedicated a week to potty training and basically did nothing, but follow him around naked with a potty until he realized he had to go in the potty. A few months later I got serious and stopped asking him if he had to go, I would just take him to the potty every 1 to 2 hours and it worked. He stopped going on himself and now he’s potty trained. It has been and still is a process.

    • You are so right, Michelle. Every child is different with toilet training, like so much of their development. In my experience as a teacher (and this is a generalisation), boys are older before they really show any real interest. After all, they are too busy playing to bother with stopping for the toilet.

  3. We didn’t need rewards to get our son to wee or poo on the toilet. He was so keen to do it and wear undies like a big boy that we followed his lead at 27 months.

    At 3 years and 9 months I’m finally daring to whisper that he *might* have got it.

    I think some kids will get it no matter the approach, some kids will get it despite the approach or because of the approach – and some kids just won’t get it for a very long time!

    Good luck to everyone starting. Hope it goes smoothly!

  4. This is timely for me. Mr almost 3 is showing absolutely no interest, hates the idea of undies and after a few intial wees on potty he does not ever want to sit on potty or toilet. I think one time was a bad experience. Proudly insists on his nappy and even a pull up he is against as he wants his nappy that he is used too. I just hope he comes around before he starts kinder next year. I might try reading the book to him suggested in Part 1. Thanks
    (early stages of #2 on the way and defintely would like him going to the toilet by then!)

    • I have worked with many children, especially boys, who really aren’t interested in stopping their play to bother with the toilet, especially those under 3. I am sure the ‘peer pressure’ of being at kinder with others who use the toilet will help. Hope it works out for you both.

  5. introduced them slowly to the idea til they were just past two..lots of asking about the toilet showing them how to do it etc.. then I took nappies away and put the timer on every 10 minutes and every time it went off we’d try the potty out.. it worked well but Im not looking forward to doing it again x

  6. I have to admit we more or less ‘forced’ it on our 2.5 year old, mostly because I am pregnant with my second and also moving overseas shortly after. We wanted him well established on the toilet before these big changes were going to happen. Having said that, we talked about it for months before hand, explaining what going to to toilet meant, showing him and getting him excited about his ‘jockies’ (taking him to the shops and getting him to choose, plus telling him his favourite older friends all wore jockies helped!). We gave him plenty of warning we were saying ‘bye-bye’ to his nappies (we used cloth during the day, so packing these away and keeping the disposables for night was again helpful). When it eventually came to ‘the day’, it was easier than I thought. Took 5 days before he was completely accident free, using a big toilet. Fingers crossed for another good experience with the next child!

  7. It is great to read about other people approaches and problems and successes.
    I tried to trained my daughter at 2 and she was always about 95% successful having accidents if she was sick or very tired. 18 months later she regressed to rarely using the toilet. A urinary tract infection was confirmed and she improved slightly. Now a year on she is still only about 50% successful. We are following a physic program, with some success but if we let it slip slightly there are accidents. It is very hard to know whether to be patient and continue or if she might need further medical checks.
    Mr 2.5 will sit on the potty before a bath and sometimes wears undies over his nappy but has not shown any more interest. I am definitely going to wait until he indicates that we wants to take further steps. Hopefully he will train easier!

  8. We waited until he began to show interest then we did it really causal. We’d take him and make a big deal when he went but didn’t blink when he didn’t. Once he got used to he it started taking him every two hours but kept him in pull ups.
    Once he pretty much kept those dry we switched to regular undies. He’s a stubborn kid so I knew if we tried to push him to it too hard he’d refuse to go at all but instead we used his independent nature and now he refuses to let us “help”.

  9. I started putting all my babies on a tiny potty as soon as they could sit up alright with me holding them, usually around 5 mo. Soon I could tell when they needed to poo and would make it onto the potty for most. My 2 girls both were in underpants all day and night before 2. I think this helped because right from the beginning the norm wasn’t to sit around with pee and poo in their pants. My 3rd child, a boy, is almost 2 and is definitely progressing more slowly. He doesn’t like to take a break from his play to go to the toilet. I also have a 6 mo old though, so I am really looking forward to getting him out of diapers and only having one in diapers.

Leave a Comment