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5 min read

Potty training is a breeze for some kids and a source of intense frustration for others. It can be pretty difficult to predict how a toddler will react to the task of potty training. For any parent that is facing this challenge, there is a lot of information out there about what works and what doesn’t.


Somewhere between 18 months and 3 years, your little one will begin to show signs of readiness for potty training. Staying dry in their diaper for longer intervals, curiosity over mom and dad’s toileting habits, and recognizing when they have soiled a diaper are all strong indicators.


One thing is for sure, there are plenty of opinions out there about how you should do it. Despite all of this information, the most important thing to remember is that each child is a unique individual. You can try all of the conventional tips and see what works for your little one. But be mindful not to measure or compare your child against common potty training myths.


Myth No. 1 – Once you Start, There is No Going Back

Potty training is not as linear as some chalk it up to be. Most children will show some regression in potty training and that is perfectly normal. In fact, it is not that uncommon for a child to initially get the hang of it and then seemingly give up on it. When it is new and interesting, it is a lot more fun. But many tots find that it is just plain inconvenient.


Stubborn potty trainers might take two or three attempts at it before it really sticks. If this happens, try not to get hung up on the failure. Keep trying. Continue to encourage them to use the potty. Talk about using the potty and express to them your desire that they give up diapers. If your child is really resistant, give them (and yourself) a break for a few days and then pick it back up.


Myth No. 2 – Your Child Should Start Potty Training Between 18-24 months

Development varies for every child. At the pediatrician's office, the guidelines for motor skill and speech development are talked about in terms of age ranges so why would potty training be any different? There are some children that do show signs of readiness to potty training between 18 and 24 months. But more often, children are much older.


Only 60% of children in the US achieve potty training by age 3. If your child doesn’t manage to accomplish this milestone by their 3rd birthday, they are far from alone. Furthermore, studies support that there may be no benefit of beginning potty training early.


Myth No. 3 – Using Pull-ups Makes it Easier/Harder to Toilet Train

Love them or hate them, training pants like Pull-ups are intended as an aide for a potty-training child. For some children, they provide the simulation of wearing ‘big kid’ underpants while still providing the protection of a diaper. For other children, it may be easier for them to pull on or take off. And yet some feel no need for them at all.


Whatever your feelings are towards disposable training pants, they are not likely to hinder your efforts. When you do need to use them, it might even be helpful that they are different than regular diapers. This way your child can learn to separate their toilet habits from the traditional diaper.


Myth No. 4 - Discipline will Help Potty Training

While discipline can help with behavior-related issues, most reluctance to potty train has nothing to do with willful disobedience. From a young child’s perspective, the potty may simply be scary. It is big, it makes scary sounds, and it sucks things down a hole - never to be seen again. By comparison, diapers are comfortable and familiar. It is very foreign to get used to putting pee and poop somewhere outside the body. Gentle, nurturing reassurance is almost always more effective than cold discipline in potty training.


Myth No. 5 - You Should Make Your Child Sit in Wet Underwear so they Want to Potty Train

Not only is this tactic unhygienic and leads to uncomfortable rashes, but it is also down-right humiliating for the child. The only thing that this method will accomplish is making the child feel shame over their bodily functions. It may lead to low self-esteem, which effectively inhibits potty training success.


Confident, self-assured children will progress through potty training much faster. Using methods that build your children up such as praising small accomplishments and positive feedback will go a lot further than harsh discipline and shame tactics.


Myth No. 6 - You Can Potty Train in One (or Three) Days

There are a lot of catchy gimmicks out there implying that you can successfully potty train a toddler in 1-3 days. It is a nice idea, and most children will probably understand the concept after one solid go at it. Most will show some regression and that is perfectly normal.


Little kids have many more fun and interesting things to do and they simply grow bored with toilet training. Sometimes accidents happen because they are playing and not paying attention. Sometimes accidents happen because they are stubborn. And, sometimes accidents happen just because.


Potty training during daytime hours is also a different concept than potty training for overnight. And for some little ones, there is a big difference between potty training for pee and potty training for poop. For any momma that is struggling with potty training, just know that the ‘you can potty train in one-weekend’ gimmick is a 'results not typical' situation. I am sure some small number of children have done it successfully, but don’t feel ashamed if yours does not.


Myth No. 7 - Putting them on the Potty will Train Them

The simple, repetitive act of ushering your toddler to the potty every thirty minutes and making them sit is not the golden ticket to potty training. In the first few days, a timer can help establish a routine. But as your child progresses, they should learn to identify their cues for needing to potty and go on their own.


Potty training is a big challenge for most small children. It is a brand new habit that they have to learn. It involves recognizing cues that tell them when they need to go, the timing for making it to the bathroom, the use of new facilities for pottying, and new routines. All of these things are comparatively much less convenient than their trusty old standby - diapers. Motivation is as much a part of the equation as ability.


As a parent in the throes of potty training - try not to get caught up in Judgey Judy’s telling you how your child should potty train. Try different things out, take a break and start again if you need to. The only right way is the one that works best for you and your child.