How I’m Getting My Toddler to Potty Train Herself

I know that right about now you’re probably thinking “that’s not possible”, but I assure you that it is. However, it may not be the solution that works for you, your child, or your circumstances. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the most important thing that my years as an early childhood educator taught me is that every child is different. So, feel free to try exactly what I’m doing, alter some of it, or throw it all out the window. Let’s be honest, no child will be wearing diapers forever, even though it may feel like forever when you are wanting them to be potty trained. I assure you it will happen. I have watched lots of children in their potty training process and it usually goes one of two ways. The first way is that the parent decides its time to potty train based on the age of the child or some other external circumstance. The second way is that the child decides they are ready, whether it be all on their own or by showing signs of readiness and being guided by their parent. I am a firm believer in the second route, it typically means less meltdowns, tears, and accidents. I don’t know about you, but those are the things that I would like to avoid at all costs. We started potty training because Elouise showed signs of readiness, and now she is essentially potty training herself.

Here’s how it happened for us, first we bought a potty for Elouise. About a month before her 2nd birthday we got this Summer Infant Owl potty after Daddy did a ton of research. We showed it to her and talked about what it was and what we were going to use it for. Then we kept it in the downstairs bathroom that is central to the living area we spend most of our time in. Every once in a while we would talk about it and go look at it, I would offer her to sit on it if she wanted, and at first the answer was usually “no”. This would usually happen when I already was going to the bathroom since she tends to follow me in there anyway. When she said no I never pushed her or argued with her, I would just say “Okay! Maybe next time!” Throughout the day we would casually talk about the highlights of potty training, how we get to wear big girl panties, we don’t have to wear a messy diaper, the little rewards she would get each time she went, and the big reward she would get once she was fully potty trained. Another thing we did was play with her dolls on the potty and the toilet she has in her dollhouse. One day when her doll was going potty in the dollhouse I asked if she wanted to try and she said “Yes!”, so we did! Nothing happened, so we praised her and went about our day. After a few more times of trying she finally went and we gave her a little reward. Since then she’s gone a handful of times, potty and poop, on her toilet. Now we are in the neutral zone. Once she goes enough times and she figures out that she likes one, or all, of the rewards that are involved, she will start going more and more. For us, there is really no rush so this could take days, weeks, or months, and we are okay with that. There will be no arguments, meltdowns, or stress surrounding potty training and so far its been a pretty fun experience! I’ve outlined some tips to motivating your toddler to potty train themselves.

4 Tips for Motivating your Toddler to Self Potty-Train

  1. Find the right toilet: Here’s the thing, there are so many different options for toilet set ups. Regular toilet, a fun and exciting toddler toilet, a seat that sets on top, a mini toilet that looks like the regular toilet, I mean the options are essentially endless. Do you research so you know what is out there and pick the toilet that you think is going to most motivate your child to get excited about potty training. You do have to take into consideration that once your child is out of their diapers they will have to be using a toilet when you are out and about. Think about how your child will respond, will they need to use their potty only, will they be comfortable going in a regular toilet. We picked the Summer Infant 3-in-1 Owl Tales Interactive Potty with Storybook because our kiddo loves to read and happens to love owls. I don’t anticipate that she will have a hard time going in the regular potty once she is “potty trained” but this potty is easily transportable if I need to keep in the back of my trunk when we leave the house.
  2. Let your toddler call the shots: This is one of the very few times those words will ever be uttered, or typed rather, by me. Honestly, this is probably the key to this going well. You don’t want to push your toddler into this, because it can create fear, frustration, and regression. Luckily potty training doesn’t have a a time limit on it and there is no right time to start it or achieve your goal. Relax, have low expectations, but celebrate the crap out of your kid whenever they have a positive interaction with the potty.
  3. Be consistent: I know this might sound like the opposite of letting your toddler call the shots but in fact it is not. Toddlers thrive in an environment that has some sort of structure, so you have to set up boundaries in order to allow your child to succeed at potty training themselves. Use the same phrases and buzz words, try to ask your child at about the same times in the day if they need to use the potty, keep the potty in the same place, etc. Another big thing is have a consistent reward system for them to get excited about, more on that next.
  4. Create a reward system: As I’m sure you know, toddlers are incredibly motivated by rewards. The good news is, you can start small. For just sitting on the potty we give a cheer and high five. For potty we have small chocolate coins, and for poop we have big chocolate coins. If she goes in the potty successfully she gets to wear her big girl panties over her diaper until she goes in her diaper again. The hope is that she wont go at all and will tell me if she has to go. If she does go in her diaper she has to put the panties back. She also has one big reward for when she is fully potty trained, she gets to pick out a princess dress at the Disney Store. We talk about the rewards often and use them as motivation. I even have the chocolate coins and the panties on display in the bathroom where her potty is.

Hey girl, go ahead and save me to your favorite Pinterest board:

Again, these are just guidelines based on what I’ve seen work in the past and what is now working for my daughter. I hope that you are able to use some of these tips and tricks to help you own kiddos learn to love going potty. If you have any more specific questions about how we are potty training just comment them below!


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