Potty Training for Active Families: 11 Quick Tips

{Third post in a series on potty training for active families}

We’re active.  Even when we’re not traveling somewhere, we’re off exploring our local area whether that’s just getting exercise through walking, hiking, and biking, getting things done around town, rooting for our favorite home teams, or participating in community events.  We like to get out.  

Because of this lively lifestyle that we love, visions of serious potty training terrified us.  Yes, we wanted so badly to be rid of the diapers.  However, the thought of being homebound for a even a few days or a weekend was paralyzing.  We dreaded it.  Those 3-day potty boot camps (as much as we wanted to be over with quick) just wouldn’t work for us. 

So we took our time and figured out an approach that worked for us and allowed us to continue our adventurous lifestyle with just a few changes.

For this third post in the series, I’m sharing 11 quick tips for those families who may be taking the potty training plunge soon.  Now that Bergen (2.5 years old) is without diapers during the day, we took some time to reflect on what worked and what may have made a difference in his success (and what didn’t) in order to gain some perspective, and pass along a few good tidbits of help.

To learn more about the potty training necessities we bring along in our backpack when leaving the house for training on-the-go, check out the first post of the series.  To learn more about the basic potty training steps we took, check out the second post in the series!

Potty Training for Active Families: 11 Quick Tips | WildTalesof.com

1. Don’t Ask, Just Go.

Especially in the very beginning, we just made going to the bathroom a regular thing.  As soon as we got to a location (library, store, park, etc.) we went straight to the bathroom.  Even if Bergen just went a very little bit, it was a success–he was using the potty!

2. Purchase a Travel Potty.

Not only did it make the transition from pottying at home to pottying in a public restroom go smoothly (because he was used to it), it’s was a necessity for us! His little tush just doesn’t fit on those larger toilets and they are too tall for him to go standing up, and plus it provides a clean surface without a bunch of fuss.

Also, when a restroom is not available, thanks to the liners that come with the travel potty, we can create a private space for him to go almost anywhere.

3. Bring Child to Public Bathrooms well before Training even Starts.

The fact that we are already active people and always out and about probably helped a bunch when it came time to potty train.  Bergen comes with us to the bathroom all of the time (as opposed to waiting with the other parent while one goes), so running into any public restroom doesn’t throw him off in the least.  He was used to the sound of toilets, the unpredictability of autoflushers, and just the general process of going.  He is still stand-offish when it comes to hand dryers, but sometimes so am I!

Even before official potty training starts, bring your child along with you to the bathroom, and talk them through your steps.  Make them a part of the process.

4. Always Know Where the Nearest Bathroom is Located.

Now whenever we arrive at our destination, I find out where the nearest restroom is located.  This way, even if Bergen doesn’t need to go right away, at least I’m prepared (and not floundering) when the time comes.

5. Consistent Rewards.

Jelly beans have worked well for us (1 or 2 accordingly).  It was important to keep that reward consistent.  Bergen was used his reward at home, so we of course had to put together a stash in the backpack for when we left the house.

I’ve found that once the child is well into the process, the rewards can fade.  Now I only pass out the goods when he asks, or when he has a huge success, like telling us he has to go #2 and following through!  He also loves when we get in on the reward too.  A little jelly bean party (“everybody gets 1!”) is great fun for him.

6. Enthusiasm and Praise.

Just go for it. Compliment, compliment, compliment.  In the beginning, even the tiniest little trickle should be celebrated!

Now that Bergen is consistently dry, we really celebrate when he tells us that he has to go. That’s a big deal, and huge step toward independence.

7. Accidents Will Happen. Don’t Give Up…BUT, Do Make Sure Child is Ready.

When several accidents happened in just one day, I became extremely discouraged.  I questioned whether or not we were doing the right thing, and second guessed our active lifestyle.  Maybe we were pushing him a little too much? I had to step back and realize that this was just one day.  I wasn’t looking at the big picture and the fact that he was successful for so many days previous to that one “bad day”.

With Bergen, I also had to balance my emotions.  It’s okay to share some disappointment, but getting angry does not help.

To reiterate, when accidents happen, there’s a lesson to be learned.  Instead of seeing that slip-up as a setback, see it as a time to reflect, and think about what to do differently. Honestly, most of Bergen’s accidents could have been prevented by some foresight from us.

8. Prepare. Talk about “Pottying On-the-Go” before. Make a Plan.

Before you leave the house, in the car, as you walk to the bathroom itself…talk about the process.  Talk about your routine, and yes, talk about the rewards! This has been true for more than just potty training lately.  For Bergen it seems that he is so much more comfortable (and himself) when we prepare him for a situation by discussing it beforehand.

9. Always Go Before Play.

I learned this the hard way…several times! I knew it was important, but for whatever reason (lazy, forgetful?), I didn’t always take Bergen to the bathroom right before he got into a big exciting play situation.  Of course he isn’t going to come over to us, and ask to go to the bathroom when he’s immersed in some fun activity.  I learned to be more proactive.

10. Take Requests Seriously.

Maybe there are kids who “cry wolf” when it comes to requesting to go, but we haven’t had any trouble with it.  When Bergen says he needs to go, we go, and he really does need to go! Even if that means pulling over on the side of the road, or inconveniently stopping off at the closest exit on the freeway, we take his requests seriously, and give him tons of praise.  This is when the travel potty really comes in handy.

11. Share Success with Friends and Family (in front of the trainer).

Every step of the way, we’ve made it a point to talk about Bergen’s successes with our family, friends, and between one another…in front of him.  For example, when he first started wearing underwear, I told our friends and family when they came over or met up with us for an outing. It wasn’t embarrassing for Bergen, it was a source of pride, and he didn’t mind showing off one bit. I also think it made him more invested in the process, and maybe even a little more accountable.

We continue to talk about how well he’s doing.  He loves giving dad reports (or hearing me report) on his pottying victories when he gets home from work, and a phone call to Grandma is always fun too!

How did potty training go for your toddler? Share your potty training tips. Not there yet? Share your questions, fears and worries, and maybe we can help!

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9 thoughts on “Potty Training for Active Families: 11 Quick Tips

  1. Pingback: Potty Training for Active Families: Our Basic Steps | Wild Tales of...

  2. Great tips. Did you mention in an earlier post the fun of picking out character underpants and patterns? Thomas is a current favorite.

    • Thank you, Martie! That’s such a great tip! Yes, it really helped with Bergen buying into the whole potty training bit to take a couple of special trips to the store to pick out and buy underwear. Then of course showing off the new underwear is a whole lot of fun too!

  3. I love all of these tips and used most of them myself when I potty trained my daughter awhile back. The only one I didn’t was the portable potty, and that was only because they are expensive and not very readily available in Thailand. Good tips!

      • I think the hardest part for me was starting… I was scared that it would be difficult. Because I waited so long (she was 2 1/2) she really led the charge. 🙂

      • I’m with you! That’s exactly how I felt–so much anxiety, and then it really wasn’t so bad! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  4. Pingback: Potty Training for Active Families: What to Pack for Travel | Wild Tales of...

  5. Pingback: Potty Training for Active Families: Resources to Prepare, Survive and Reinforce | Wild Tales of...

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