A Teacher Led Approach to Potty Training, without Stickers or Rewards

As I have said before that I am a massive fan of learning through discovery and play. However, when I began to think about how we were going to tackle giving up nappies I thought that this may not be the ideal arena for learning through play and discovery, so we went with a much more teacher led approach.

About six months ago I purchased two potties, a toilet seat, a little stool and a couple of other potty training resources. We spent a couple of mornings at home with Lizzie running around naked. She did a couple of wees in the potty but most ended up on the floor and she showed no real interest, so I decided to leave it for a while.

Come February this year I decided to tackle potty training again, but this time with a more structured approach. I realised that during our first attempt at potty training Lizzie didn’t really understand what the potty was for so my first task was to help her understand. A friend recommended getting Lizzie to blow bubbles while sitting on the potty, she said that some people believe that this can encourage the child to pass urine. Well I am not sure if this is the case, but “potty bubbles” as we named them encouraged Lizzie to sit on the potty for ages and therefore she was on the potty enough time to go to the toilet. If she did go to the toilet then I would comment on what she had done, in the most enthusiastic way and sing a little potty song. After the first couple of times she would say “look mummy I have done a wee/poo”.

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After I was sure that Lizzie understood the purpose of the potty I reintroduced the naked mornings at home. Lizzie have obviously come along way since her first potty training experience, she didn’t have a single accident.

Then I tried to introduce underwear to Lizzie, but she wasn’t having it, she was either naked or dressed with a nappy. To overcome her ad version to knickers I introduced the knick-knack game, basically we both ran around in our knickers – please don’t ask. But it worked, she was then comfortable to wear knickers. Then a new problem arose, knickers confused Lizzie, she thought they were like nappies and she didn’t have to use the potty, her poor little face when she wet herself for the first time in knickers, after the second time she spotted the pattern and realised she needed to use the potty.

Then I did a lot of work with Lizzie on routines about using the potty, removing her leggings and knickers, that she needs to stand in front of the potty (when you are naked and don’t have knickers around your ankles you can just walk over the potty), hygiene.

Once I felt the Lizzie had mastered all the components of using the potty I cleared our schedule for a week and went cold turkey on the nappies. On days 1 and 2 she had two accidents each day, by day 3 we were going stir crazy so we drove for 40 minutes to my father’s house and she had no accidents, day 4 we had a morning out in Wimbledon and again no accidents. Days 5 and 6 she had one accident on each day. We don’t use any pull ups or nappies during the day and just a pull up at night time. I am not a big fan of pull ups, however Lizzie refuses to wear nappies, so I call pull ups “night time knickers” and she is okay with that. Three weeks in and we have only had two more accidents and she is dry at night, although I am still putting her in pull-ups at night – just in case.

Here are my top tips for potty training:

  1. Find something that will motivate your toddler to sit on the potty for at least a few minutes, we used bubbles, but it might be a book or a song that you sing together.
  2. Be specific in your praise, for example “well done for telling daddy that you need the toilet”, “you know that you do your wee-wees in the potty” ……………
  3. Before you go cold turkey with the nappies ensure that your toddler has all the necessary skills, can they tell you when they need to go to the toilet? Do they know how to use the potty? Can they dress/undress themselves?
  4. Don’t use pull ups with your toddler while they are awake, it will just confuse them. I have friends who have been potty training their toddler for over six months and still use pull ups everyday.
  5. Don’t be afraid of the odd accident – see point 4.
  6. Let your toddler pick out their own knickers/pants. Lizzie picked out the brightest knickers she could find, they’re covered in animals and princesses and she loves putting them on each morning and doesn’t want to have an accident in them.

I hope that this post is useful.

Emma xxx



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