Potty Training: The Positive & No Pressure Method (Part I – when to begin)

Miss3yo was a year plus when I started collecting information on what it to expect and how to prepare for potty training. I thought other Mums may like to know too, so I shared it on Instagram. Many Mums contributed to the discussion with helpful tips and we were able to start our own potty journey armed with these wonderful tips. I hope to pay that forward to you guys with this guide.

So, thank God for time and progress, we went through it, she is both day and night trained now. The write ups from before are still relevant, but I will fill in all the gaps and add some snippets from our experience, too.


What does a Mum need to know about potty training?? Here it is:

If ou know your child is ready and you just want tips to get started on the actual potty training, click here. If you want to know if they are ready or just get a bit more information on what to expect in general, read on below.

Age guide

‘They’ – the experts, typically say:

Girls are ready at about age 21/2 – 3 (but could be before or after).

Boys are ready at about age 3 – 31/2 (but could be ready before or after).

This is just to give you some indication. In knowing when exactly to start your child, it is better to check their cognitive skills against the readiness signs below. Do not use age to determine when to start!

It is best not to compare with their friends, or classmates or siblings, either. At 19 months old, miss3yo’s best friend started potty training. I am not going to lie, we felt the pressure a little bit, but my little one really was not ready. She would sit but only pee when off the potty. So we stopped even trying and when she was ready, she showed it. To be honest the day she said she was ready, I started asking myself if I was ready, haha. Yes oh, Mums, it is very important that you feel ready too because the process asks a lot from you – you will need to be patient, consistent, keep things positive, catch poo in your hands – lol, I don’t want to scare you but,  it can be quite an experience!

Two stages of potty training:

There are two stages to the potty training process.

1.The potty preparation stage: These are the steps you take as you prepare your baby for potty training. During this period, they are still in diapers but you make toilet activities part of their daily conversation and include demonstrations. More on this below.

2.The training stage – These are steps you take when baby is out of diapers and the training officially begins. More on this in Part II.

Note: During naps and sleep time, you can put your toddler in diapers. Do this till about age 3 or when you notice your child is dry during naps or night time sleep – check the diaper after they wake up. You might also consider buying some mattress protectors – waterproof, to put under the sheets, for the couple o accidents that may occur.


Potty Training method – Potty Without Pressure (PWP)

There are different methods you can use, I am going to focus on the ‘potty without pressure’ (pwp) method.
This is the child-led method, which means you start only when your child is showing signs that they are ready or tells you they want to. They say following this method makes the process quicker and easier and based on our experience, I found this to be true-ish.

You can also choose to do it when you feel ready and I have spoken to mums who this worked for. They were consistent and their children got trained. So it is also possible to do the training even before your child shows full signs of readiness. Just be prepared in terms of your expectations. It may (or may not) take longer. You may (or may not) need to stop, if progress is not being made.


Readiness signs

There are cognitive signs that your child will show, which let’s you know they are getting ready for training. They may not be fully ready yet, though. But you can start stage 1 – the ‘Potty Prepping’ stage, when you see most of these signs.

The cognitive signs are, your child:
1. experiences discomfort when wet or soiled
2. has regular bowel movement on a fairly consistent basis
3. can follow simple two-fold instructions: pick the bag and bring it to mum
4. can tell you of need to wee or poo before it happens
5. can show or tell you when she has a dirty diaper
6. can sit on a potty for short period of time (15mins), though may need distractions
7. shows interest in watching or imitating activities related to toilet use, e.g. likes to flush the toilet, talks about toilet activities.

The emotional signs:

Make sure your child is not going through any major life changes. The biggest ones are moving house or starting a new school or a new sibling has just arrived. Starting potty training during these major changes may make it more stressful and difficult for your child and likely you, too!

Potty Preparation Stage – the steps

This is the time to:

1. Amp up a lot of talk about the potty.

2. Have the potty on display in the toilet, so that when you do diaper changes the potty is there and you can point and talk about it.

3. Model and talk about potty behaviour relating to your own bowel movement. For example: Mummy feels like she needs to wee. My body is telling I need to poo, I’m going to sit on the big potty/toilet and push it out, lol – the things we have to do in this mum life!

4. I am going to do a small wee wee (we recently started calling it tinkle), or I am going to do a big wee wee (a gush of wee). These different elements of the discussion help keep the experience interesting and fun and reduce the pressure hat may be associated with using the potty.

5. Let your child watch you wee and poo (if you’re comfortable with that).

6. Buy or borrow books about potty training and read them to your child. We loved: I want my potty (girl), other mums suggestion: Elmo’s Potty Time (boy). Consider buying one you think your child will enjoy.

7. Talk about  flushing the toilet, whether you did a wee or poo, cleaning with tissue, washing our hands. As much as possible, let them get involved, too, with these. Toddlers typically love to flush the toilet.

8. As often as possible, carry out diaper changes in the toilet, with your child standing up not lying down. This starts to prepare them physically for the new style of doing their ‘business’.

9. If they will be happy to start sitting on the potty first thing in the morning or last thing at night, you can try that. Do not put pressure if they don’t want to though. Just keep trying points 1 – 8.


Signs your child is still not ready

Once you have done the prepping stage for a while you may get the feeling your child will be receptive to actual potty training. Your child may even tell you or just start removing their diaper. You are officially ready to start the actual training stage (details in Part II).

If you start the training stage and notice any of the three signs I will explain below, it means your child needs more time. Stop the training process. Go back to putting their diaper on and following the prep steps, then you can try training again in a month or two, or when they show interest.

If you see these, your child is not yet ready, consider waiting:

a. Hiding while doing a poo.

This is not all bad. If a child is hiding while doing a poo, it means they can tell when they are about to poo . But it may mean they’re not emotionally ready to go ahead and poo in the potty. With this you have to wait and don’t put pressure on your child. You can suggest poo-ing in the toilet (while still in their diapers), explaining that the toilet room is the place for poo-ing, but don’t over push it if they still dont want to go there.

b. Sits on the potty happily for minutes but the moment they get up and take a few steps, they wee or poo on the floor.

This could mean that your child is still nervous about the potty. With this you just have to go back to the prep stage and and try the training stage in a month or two’s time.

c. Says no to everything.

If your child is going through a stage of asserting their independence, where they say no to everything, you may struggle with the potty process. It may be a sign that you should hold off on potty training for a bit longer. Again, with this, go back to prep stage again and wait a month or two to try training stage once more.


The actual potty training process?

There are many ways to approach this. I’ve shared details in Part II – How to begin the potty training process. It will also cover:  What you need to get ready for this stage. Other details you need to know. Our experience of potty training my daughter from when I  started to try at 19months old.

Thanks for reading :). Drop a comment or Instagram DM to let me know you found this useful or if you have any questions!

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