Cracking the Potty-Training Code


Another personal story told by a father attempting to potty train his child. Read on for more.

by Josh Burrell, for


As the father of a son and a daughter, I have had the pleasure of experiencing many expected – and unexpected – milestones in my children’s lives. One of these milestones has always struck fear in me: potty training.

As the time neared for us to begin potty training our oldest, I became excited about the prospect of not changing any more diapers (and the financial gains of not having to buy said diapers). I also became incredibly frightened that this process would, at the very least, cause conflict and stress between me and my wife. At the worst, I was convinced it could go on for years as we struggled through the process, failing at every turn.

Yet that was not what I experienced. Rather, I learned that by keeping a few things in mind, potty training could be a fun and exciting time for parents and kids. Here’s what I learned:

Start when both you and your child are ready.

Children are ready for potty training at different ages, so don’t feel pressured to start at a certain time (no matter what your crazy neighbor tells you). Your child needs to be ready physically, able to get his pants down on his own and climb on the potty safely. He also needs to mentally understand what’s going on.

Potty training takes time. Make sure you have time to really commit to whatever system you are going to use. Your child deserves more than a half-assed attempt, no pun intended.



Related: One Miraculous Way to Get Your Kids to Listen!

There is no one-size-fits-all solution.


While there are a lot of good potty training techniques out there, I don’t think there’s one that works for every family. Instead, do your homework. Think about how a specific solution will work with your child’s personality.


For our son, setting rewards worked well (like father, like son). Recognition for being dry for a certain number of hours was a big deal for him. Don’t be afraid to try different solutions until you find one that clicks.

Focus on the action first, not the result.

You are asking your child to do something totally foreign to him; he’s being asked to control something that has been an almost 100% passive endeavor until now. Realize this is both a mental and physical action.

Related: Kids and Discipline: What You Do and Say Matters



Placing our son on the potty every 30-45 minutes and making him go was an act of concentration for him. He actually had to work to go to the bathroom. A passive act was becoming an active endeavor.

Once he learned to go, he was able to slowly begin to anticipate when he needed to go. He was learning to recognize and assign meaning to previously passive feelings.

Be proud of yourselves.

Potty training has had its moments. I was initially not ready for the commitment that we were going to need to make; it took me and my wife a couple tries to find a good solution for our son. But as we learned what worked – and what didn’t – and really committed to the process, it became a fun experience for all of us.

I never thought I’d say that, and I can now say this: I feel confident in my abilities and look forward to potty training our daughter!



What are your best tips to other parents who are potty training right now?

More from


This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.