23 steps to potty train your toddler in one short year

Are you trying to potty train a stubborn toddler? Have you tried every method out there with little success? Throw the research out the door, stop clinging to those last remaining shreds of dignity, and come on over to the dark side. Crafted especially for the indecisive and weak-willed, my 23-step method is sure to drag out the process for as long as possible. See below for detailed instructions:

1. Read the potty training articles. Talk to other parents. Weigh your options carefully and choose your method: when your toddler shows signs of readiness, you will try the three-day no-pants method. No pull-ups, just straight to underwear. Sticker rewards are a possibility, but you will never, ever use treats or other food items as a reward.

2. Your 18 month-old begins to poop at the same time each day. Decide that this qualifies as a sign of readiness. Try putting the child on the potty. He does not protest – yes, definitely readiness. Motivate him with stickers. Avoid changing a poopy diaper for one week. Pat self on back. You are almost there!

3. 18 month old refuses to ever sit on the toilet again. Choke back tears. Rescind back pat.

4. For the next year, every time your obviously pooping toddler heads to the corner of the living room for some “lone time,” offer stickers and other non-food rewards if he will just stop and come to the bathroom. Occasionally, beg. When he refuses, tell yourself he’ll be ready on his own time.

5. Spend time thinking about how infant poop is just so different from toddler poop. Toddler poop is like real people poop. You are very tired of getting up close and personal with real people poop. Wonder if there is a way to transfer your motivation to your toddler.

6. Tell your obviously pooping toddler that diapers are for babies. He must be a baby, not a big boy. Wish desperately for the power to turn back time when he agrees, putting on a screechy, whining “baby” voice and demanding to be carried like a baby.

7. Certain that it will not work, in a moment of frustration, offer a chocolate chip in return for a poop on the toilet. It works. Toddler happily runs to the toilet and does his thing.

8. You are now committed to chocolate chips as rewards. Stickers have lost their motivational power. Feel ashamed for a minute, then embrace the chocolate chip. Use chocolate chips for everything.

9. Recognize that the chocolate chip reward train has officially left the station when you observe your husband offering 5 chocolate chips in return for the toddler’s consumption of 5 black beans. This is not sustainable.

10. Curse your weak will when you cannot give up the chocolate chip bribery.

11. Curse your toddler’s strong will when he decides he is over chocolate chips, and resumes pooping in his diaper.

12. Remember your original plan to cut out diapers altogether with the 3-day no-pants method. Take heart – you just need to stick to the original plan and everything will be fine! Plan to spend a week at home doing the no-pants method. Pat self on back for this excellent decision.

13. Realize that you have a lot planned this week; maybe you should postpone until next week.

14. Realize that next week is Halloween; you should definitely postpone until after Halloween. Rescind back pat.

15. Buy cool underwear to motivate your toddler.

16. On the first day of no-pants potty training, remember that it’s the day after the fall time change. Oh well, that doesn’t really affect toddlers much, right?

17. Google the best method for cleaning pee off of your couch.

18. Rush to the store to buy more cool underwear, because all the cool underwear you bought last time is already in the washing machine. It is still day one.

19. Your toddler is a wreck. Wish again for the ability to turn back time – actual time, not just the clocks – so that you can tell yourself to postpone potty training until after your toddler has adjusted to the time change.

20. This whole debacle happens. Quit potty training for now and decide to resume maybe next week.

21. Try not to act surprised when after the spectacular failure described in #20, your toddler decides he wants to try again.

22. Your toddler refuses to wear pants inside. Resign yourself to the fact that your home is now pants-optional.

23. Have your first accident-free day. Pat self on back. Job well done.


8 thoughts on “23 steps to potty train your toddler in one short year

  1. I recognize this method, it’s the one I used with my first child. For my second child, however, I simply waited until she didn’t want to wear diapers anymore. Then she was potty trained. In three days. What happened between child one and child two is that I realized that I really had very little to do with the childs’ potty training. They do it when they’re ready, and if they aren’t? You’re screwed till they are. Eh, such is life.


  2. I’m not looking forward to this process and still hold out hope that my son will just one day decide he’s done with diapers and wants to use the toilet. Sometime before he’s three. I do confess to singing a “pee pee in the potty” song every time he sees me or my husband using the toilet in hopes that he’ll want to join in on the toilet-using fun. 🙂


    • I love the songs! At first I was doing a celebratory dance every time anyone in the house used the toilet, but that got old pretty quick, for me, not Bean. He still sometimes requests the “potty dance” and on occasion will do his own potty dance for me or my husband. This is not embarrassing at all when it happens at someone else’s house…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My 26 month old grandniece appears to have little interest in toilet training. Her mother is perplexed and frustrated. I suspect that Little One thinks this is very funny. Adults are so stupid for dropping everything and running to the bathroom. Don’t they know you can poop right where you are and continue the fun of whatever you happen to be doing? I suspect that she may have something there. If only she’d learn to change her own diapers, I’d chalk it up to a bohemian lifestyle preference. Perhaps she’ll turn out to be a tortured artist. Someone just needs to tell her that feces is not an acceptable medium in much of the legitimate art world.


  4. My daughter finally got toilet trained at 3 years and 2 months. I wish I understood beforehand how it really is all about when they’re ready! This post made me giggle because it was just sooooo accurate. Bribery ultimately worked for us, but only towards the end.


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