Skip to main content Skip to help / support
Toddler Washing Hands

Potty training -- two words that cause more anxiety and confusion among parents of toddlers than any others. While success is inevitable, this time of year many parents find themselves faced with a looming deadline. Most preschools require children to be day-time potty trained.
So what’s a parent to do?

To get the ball rolling, start with these tactics, recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Decide what words to use to describe body parts, urine, and bowel movements. It is best to use proper terms that will not offend, confuse, or embarrass anyone.
  • Pick a potty chair. They are logistically easier for a small child to use because there is no problem getting onto it and a child’s feet can reach the floor. If you use a child-size seat attached to an adult toilet make sure you provide a stepstool to support the feet so he can push down during bowel movements.
  • Help your child recognize signs of needing to use the potty. If he lets you know after the fact, suggest that next time he let you know before wetting or soiling his diaper.
  • Make trips to the potty routine. If you notice the telltale signs, take your child to the potty. Explain what you want to happen.
  • Encourage the use of training pants to help your child feel proud, as this is a sign of trust and growing up. Be prepared for accidents. It may take weeks, even months, before toilet training is completed. If an accident occurs, simply say, “Oops. We had an accident. That’s okay. Let’s clean up, and we’ll try again later.”

Keep in mind that most preschools are prepared for the occasional accident and won't expect children to ask every time they need the toilet. Most preschools have a policy of offering gentle reminders. They will encourage children to use the toilet after meals or half an hour after having a drink.

Until potty training is well established, the preschool will probably ask that your child wears training pants. Dress your child in pants with elasticized waists that are easy to pull up and down, and send along two changes of clothes, including socks, pants or extra training pants in a named, waterproof bag that your child can hang on his peg or in his cubby.

Children tend to learn by example and encourage each other. If your child consistently sees his friends use a potty or toilet, he'll probably want to join in.

Try not to worry. Once your child feels happy and secure at preschool, and you become less anxious, it won't be long before he's successfully potty trained.

What tips do you have for parents trying to potty train pre-schoolers?

Peonies and Fern

Greenwrite is a prolific writer with an eclectic range of specialties that reflects her curiosity for just about everything. A former advertising creative director, she makes her home in Vermont, but escapes to a sunny beach whenever the opportunity presents itself.