KIDcontract    KIDspecs    KIDrates

    Priority Emergency Room

Potty Training Obsessive Style

Dear Readers,

    I’ve had many questions about potty training techniques and here are my favorite “obsessive” techniques.  Remembering these 3 basic rules:

  1. Potty Training is a POSITIVE EXPERIENCE ONLY.  If it becomes something they get in trouble for, spanked for, or put in time-out for, then you’ll see passive aggressive behaviors you’ll wish you hadn’t awakened in your child, not to mention a damaged personal relationship between you two.
  2. You are sincerely HAPPY when they go potty.  It is a PARTY when they do.  There is an animal training technique where if the animal is not behaving properly, it is ignored.  If it is behaving properly, it gets a treat.  Sea World can get a killer whale to do a back flip.  You CAN get your child to use the potty.
  3. They only ever hear you PRAISE their efforts.  Children take in everything around them.  If you are telling others, “This child won’t potty train.  This child is being difficult.  This child just isn’t getting it”, then you’ll end up with a difficult, diaper wearing, not-getting it child.  If you tell your friends & neighbors, “She’s almost there!  I’m so proud of her!”, then she will put an extra effort into pleasing you.  


Obsessively AWESOME techniques:

  1. NO TV in the house.  Only a portable DVD in the bathroom and as long as the child is sitting on the potty, they get to watch their cartoons.  Let it happen naturally while they are distracted and have a PARTY every time they do.
  2. ZERO treats of ANY kind, except after using the potty.  I’m talking nothing but broccoli and grilled chicken.  After using the potty your child can pick from an acceptable treat.  I’m not a big fan of candy but one or two of these in moderation aren’t bad: fruit snacks, chocolate chips, tiny marshmallows, gummy bears, sour patch kids, red hots, hot tamales, goobers, gum drops… you get the idea…  kept in a sealed Tupperware container close to the bathroom..
  3. Once you’ve been successful, take them somewhere AWESOME and constantly say, “We could only come here now that you are using the big potty.  I am SO PROUD of you!”  This will keep the child from regressing.  DO NOT dangle the trip as a reward because if the child isn’t physically ready yet you’ll break their little Disneyland-dreaming hearts.  SURPRISE them with it once they have mastered the potty.
  4. Double layer your child’s bed: plastic sheet, fitted sheet, flat sheet, plastic sheet, fitted sheet, plastic sheet.  If they have an accident in the night, simply peel a layer and put them right back to bed.  No judgment, no anger, just “Try again.  Everything’s going to be okay.”
  5. Set an alarm.  Try midnight to start.  Wake the child and take them to the potty.  If they don’t need to go yet, try 1:00am.  Yes, this concept seems miserable, but it’s not forever.  Their little bodies will get used to the idea of waking up to go.  I am NOT a fan of denying liquids.  Consult your doctor before using that technique.  

Good luck parents!  If you already have a potty trained child, send us what worked for you?  Send your obsessive potty-training techniques to and remember you have the best job of all: being someone’s parent.  If you have a new question for us, send it along too, and look for your answer in upcoming columns!

Best of luck!

If you have a question you’d like answered, write to us at and look for your answer in upcoming columns.