OB: Potty Training – The Method

REPOST:   The long awaited potty training method post :)

This is the method I used for my son when he was 25months old.  It is what I’ve used for numerous daycare kids (in-home), foster children, and I tweaked to make work in childcare centers.  The average child can do this at 16-30 months old.  If you try at the younger levels for a day or two and see they just aren’t getting it, try again in two or three months.  Almost every child will potty train by 2½ years old.  The longer you wait, the harder it is because 1) they have gotten used to sitting in their mess and 2) they start really ramping up the orneriness  :)

  • Daycare children have the benefit of positive peer pressure.
  • Most children have the benefit of wanting to please mom and dad.
  • Foster children have the challenge of this being a key thing they can control as well as often not having the secure attachment to their caregiver to try to please them over everything else.

Please keep these points in mind :)   Above all else, do NOT do the following if you are likely to be stressed out about the process.  It really is not beneficial for the parent (or parent figure) to yell, spank, punish, or even show disappointment.  And it can cause the process to take much longer.  Worse, it can cause not so fun issues like encopresis, long term holding it, etc.

Okay, so here we go:

GOAL:  To teach child 1) to recognize when he needs to go to the potty, 2) what happens after he has the need, and 3) how to handle things like clothing, wiping, etc.

Get Ready:  You’ll want to be ready for a party.

  • Snack foods (I call this the Cheetos method because Cheetos work well; but various snacks that will cause thirst such as crackers, snack mixes, etc would work).
  • Juice and water, whichever your child will drink more of.  The more you get the child to drink, the more successful you’ll be.
  • VERY watery foods like watermelon if you would like SOME healthiness in the method.
  • A child’s potty if that is what you want to use.  A stool for the big potty if you are using that.  If you are a daycare teacher, you have THE best set up already as you probably have child-sized, but real(!), potties.
  • Wipes, toilet paper, etc for cleaning kiddo
  • Cleaning supplies for messes.
  • Something for soiled undies and cloth cleaning supplies


  • Set up shop in bathroom or kitchen (a room easy to clean up messes in.  In summer, outside parties may work if you use a potty chair.
  • Keep upbeat
  • Tell child that we’re going to learn to use the potty
  • Eat and drink and be merry :)   This is THE key
  • Possibly teach a baby doll
  • Every 10-20 minutes, depending on the kid (15 is pretty normal), have child try to use the potty.
  • Child should be taught to pull his pants down himself.
  • If you are using a child-sized real potty or a stool in front of the real potty, it is easier to teach boys standing up.  Have them hold the seat up for this phase of learning.  That has them hitting the water with the pee :)   For a potty, boys and girls should be leaning slightly forward.  Boys should be encourage to hold himself down (We use anatomically correct wording here, but I’m not brave enough to say it on the internet as I don’t need wackos coming to be blog).
  • I teach boys a quick shake.  Girls learn to wipe.
  • If you are using a reward, give it after they potty (a resistant child may need some extra motivation for sitting on the potty even)

Other points:

  • If kiddo has an accident, help him clean it up; but let him do it.  He may need help manipulating wet clothing, but only help. Don’t do it for him.
  • Daytime training often comes before night time training.  If your child was night time dry before you tried, expect a few days of night time wetting but within a couple weeks, he’ll probably stay dry at night again.
  • Urine training sometimes comes before BM training.  Some kids can take an extra 3-6months for BMs; but in my experience, most don’t.

Why does this work?  Mostly because if a child is going to the potty every 15-ish minutes:

  • he is getting the sensation of needing to urinate many times close together.  He doesn’t have a lot of time to forget inbetween which will allow him to LEARN the sensation and REMEMBER it from one time to the next.
  • he is learning that when he gets that sensation, pee pee comes out of him.
  • he is getting A LOT of practice manipulating his shorts and shirts (girls also learn to manipulate dresses).

After 4 hours, your child will have had a LOT of opportunity to learn the above.  You should be able to tell by the end of the four hour party if you will need to do it again tomorrow or if he has gotten the idea.  I wouldn’t worry at all about nap time and bedtime for right now.  In the afternoon, you can offer the potty every 30-60 minutes (most children do beautifully with 45 minutes between tries).  Just go based on your child’s needs.

Success rate?  All but two children I’ve taught with this method has learned with few/no accidents within a week or two.  I have started working in a daycare (twos room) at the beginning of summer twice.  Both times, I’ve had all but 1 or 2 kids potty trained in the first week.  The hold outs were potty trained the next week. At home, it may be easier to get success sooner because you can do a full potty party for 1-3 days as necessary where daycare teachers have to tweak the party.  My son potty trained, at home, at 25months old, despite delays, with one potty party day, no daytime accidents from day four and on.

There were two long term hold outs.  Both were foster children with physical issues.  I’d still do the potty party for 2 or 3 days every couple months.  Just know that they do have control on this issue and these kids often take the control when they can.  Physical issues MAY hinder their ability to notice the sensation of needing to go OR to get to the potty in time.

I hope this helps a little :)


3 thoughts on “OB: Potty Training – The Method

  1. Pingback: Review: The Squatty Potty | An Intentional Life

  2. I so need you to be in my house!! I’ve been trying with my 3 1/2 year old for 8 months. We put off potty training because of his speech delay. Can we hire you?

    • 🙂 I really think it can be more challenging when you wait. At the same time, is it going to matter at 10 whether he trained at 2 or 4? I doubt it 🙂

      At 3½, there could be three issues. The first is whether or not he understands, “I have this feeling then the pee comes out.” That is what “the method” addresses. The second is that he’s been pretty comfy peeing on himself for a few years now. It may take a little convincing that he doesn’t want to do that! And thirdly? Now he has become independent with his own independence and just may not want to comply with your “silly request.”

      He won’t graduate high school still using a diaper. Slow and steady wins the race 🙂

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