Tips for starting potty training

OK, so your boy is showing the signs of readiness outlined above in our guide to preparation for potty training.  You’ve got some equipment.  You think the scene is all set and you have some time on your hands.  What to do?

When you decide its time to make the move, these are our tips:

  • Make sure you don’t have a hectic social time planned for the first few days – you will need to concentrate on the job in hand, no pun intended.
  • Dress your boy in comfortable easy access clothing. You need to be able to get his kit off quickly!
  • Your boy wears as little as possible for the first few days, weather permitting. There will be accidents and this reduces the cleaning effort and seems to help kids as well.
  • Start your boy in some pants – some will take to it straight away, others may need gradual increase in time in pants rather than nothing or nappies. We recommend that when you make the move to daytime pants rather than nappies, you don’t then swop back and forth with standard nappies. Consistency here helps avoid confusion and anxiety for your boy.
  • Practice putting pants and trousers on and off with your boy. He is ultimately going to need to know how to pull down and pull up his own clothes, and it helps to start with this early on.
  • Get ready for accidents – don’t be surprised or caught out, get some cleaning up equipment, some wipes and kitchen towel at the ready. Better still keep your boy outdoors as much as possible for the first few days (not in winter!!!)

You will have your own ideas, but here are some suggestions of how you might handle the first few days:

  • Make sure you stick close to your boy, and preferably start when both parents are around to help and give undivided attention. If your boy has siblings, make sure they are happy in a routine to enable you to concentrate.
  • Start by letting your boy know what you have got in mind. Assuming you have primed him correctly he’ll understand.
  • Show your boy the potty chair / toilet training seat and suggest that he could start using it instead of nappies
  • Demonstrate how the equipment works; teach your boy how it works and explain why big boys might want to use it. If you have them older siblings or friends can help a lot here.
  • Read through some children stories about the subject together. Get out some ‘big boy pants’. The more exciting the pants, the better – think Thomas, think Fireman Sam, think Cars 2 – whatever floats his boat.
  • Talk about going to the toilet as if its great fun – make it a challenge, a laugh. Talk about funny faces that you can do when doing a poo on the potty/toilet. Whatever you think will work for your boy.
  • Make sure you then ask your boy regularly if he needs a wee or poo. Explain to him that when he does he can do it in the potty and how you will help him do that.
  • Look out for signs that he might need a wee or poo, such as touching his pants/willy; hoping from foot to foot, farting or funny faces.
  • When you the parent next feel the need to go to the toilet, let him know what you are doing and say that you need to go. Hopefully he will copy you when he gets the urge to go.
  • Introduce whatever training tools and/or reward system you have decided to use. You may decide this isn’t required.
  • Most of all it is important to have the right attitude and communicate well with your boy


- Be positive and encouraging

- Praise and complement your boy on every advance or achievement.

- Do not scold or embarrass him if there is an accident.

- Never let your boy think you are angry or disgusted

- Do not make a big deal of accidents, move on quickly.

- Use praise and potentially a reward system as motivation.

- Be patient and supportive – children all learn at different speeds

NEXT – Creating a routine