Putting the ‘P’ in ‘Potty’

[Image - Ryan McGuire]
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Potty training can be a tough period for both parents and their little ones.

Toddlers generally don’t master the art of getting to the bowl until they’re around 2-3 years old and most potty-training stories aren’t the immaculate miracle new parents might imagine.

This can also be a challenging and anxious time for your child, and sometimes all they need is a bit of encouragement and familiarity. Rest assured, your toddler taking their time to make the transition certainly isn’t a sign of low intellect or any lack of understanding.

A child’s bladder has to adjust to the change over time – it usually takes until they’re around 3 years old before their bladder has grown enough to “hold it in” – and not being able to get to the potty in time isn’t a reflection on how quickly they’ll develop in other areas. For what it’s worth, Einstein could well have struggled to get to the potty…

With this in mind, we’ve put together a few helpful tips and tricks for putting the ‘p’ in ‘potty’… so to speak.


Good old-fashioned bribery! Kids love to have their eye on the prize and it’s amazing how quickly they’ll pick something up when they have the right incentive.

Stickers. Kids love stickers and sticker charts. A day-to-day sticker chart sets your child’s goals and can be personalised to include stickers from their favourite movies, TV shows or books. If stickers aren’t their thing, putting their favourite books in the room with the potty can be a nice motive, letting them read when they’re all finished and clean.

If it’s toys or nothing for your little one, try getting them to design and decorate their own reward bag; you can fill it with inexpensive little toys and treats that they can choose from whenever they manage to do the business in the bucket.

It’s a “grown-up” thing…

You can get your little one to come and choose some new ‘big kid’ underwear – letting them know that they’re now ready to wear them, just like all the bigger kids.

Telling them that they’re big now and ready to take on the potty will give them the confidence and motivation they need to prove just how grown up they can be. Reassure them that this is what you do too and it’s all part of growing up!

Dolly does it too

This one’s both sneaky and adorable. By encouraging your little one to potty-train their doll or action figure, they will unknowingly be teaching themselves how to use it and will soon realise it’s not such a scary thing after all. This is most effective with a ‘drink and wet’ doll.

Personalising the potty

Again, think stickers! By using stickers and paints, your youngster can make their potty their own. A simple but effective touch, your toddler will begin seeing their potty as their pride and joy and will be excited to use it when possible.

Help from Teddy

Sometimes, when entering alien territory, all we need is a little familiarity at-hand. Something as simple as letting your child choose their favourite comfort item to take with them to the potty, can lead to them feeling safer and happier with the new way of doing things.

Siblings to the rescue

If they have older siblings who have already been through potty training, they might want to step in and hold their hand or offer encouragement. They can even talk them through the process step-by-step having been through it much more recently than mum and dad.

For many toddlers, having their big brother or sister by their side can make them feel extra safe and secure, and older siblings are often happy to play the role of teacher!