My guide to conscious daytime potty training and toilet training

One little person fully toilet trained and another close… But there was so much information out there on how to do it, I felt pretty confused and wondered what to do. However we managed to find a conscious way of potty training which actually worked ridiculously well, it was pretty easy, minimum mess (yes there was some, but on the whole it went really well) and our little person felt empowered, taking control for themselves. 

So I thought I would add to the masses of info out there with my own version, which is a mixture of a couple of styles. Here are the steps:


Plan it where possible for a long weekend or half term at home, but don’t delay if you feel they are ready. Having some days where you can stay house bound can be really helpful. 5-7 days is ideal, but we managed our initial training over a long weekend. Make sure you have enough pairs of underwear and bottoms to allow for accidents, they will happen and it’s good to be prepared. We also had a wet bag to send to nursery for any wet or soiled clothes. 

How it works

The idea is for the first 2-3 days, you have them completely bare bottomed (also tops that don’t hang over their bum if possible), it allows for quick access and you to see what’s going on, plus it gives them more control. After this you start with underwear for 1-2 days, then trousers or shorts and you can venture out. We had a slightly more compact version of bare bottomed for 2 days, underwear for 1, trousers for 1 and then back to nursery on the 5th day.

Get them excited

This is pretty important, get them involved getting some potty training / toilet training kit, pants, easy to use trousers or shorts, maybe even a toilet seat or potty. Whatever you feel happy to do, let them have some choice and get excited about it. This only needs to be a week or so before, don’t go too early or it will loose its appeal.

Introduce with simple info

It’s important to explain what is going to happen and what you are asking for and what they want. Make it sound fun, a new exciting step, again give choice, we had a toilet seat and potty. He used both but really went for the toilet and hasn’t looked back. On the day or two before, countdown on a calendar how long until the exciting start date.

No treats or bribes

I know this one goes against the grain, so many charts with stickers or treats for making it to the loo or potty, but it’s actually not that helpful. It gives the idea that this requires external motivation. Instead you can talk about how it might feel to make it to the toilet. When they do make it on time, or even part way, commentate on it “I see you made it to get all of the wee in the toilet”, “most of the poo went in the toilet that time”. Try to remove your judgement, quite often they will respond with how they feel about it, which is what you are looking for.

No shaming

I know as a parent or guardian, the idea of shaming a child is horrible, but being cross about accidents, or making it a big negative, will shame your little person. So again stick with the facts. “You didn’t get to the toilet this time, let’s try again next time”. You can (if appropriate) even get them to help tidy up.

No going back

Unless something is really going wrong, stick with it. It can be tempting to pop on a nappy for trips out or for childcare, but it just isn’t helpful. It gives the message they can swap and change or even that you maybe don’t fully trust them.

Let them have control

Be led by your little person and give control wherever you can. This is generally what they crave as most things are organised and done for them. So let them go into the toilet on their own, let them pull down underwear and bottoms, let them tel you when they need to go and only prompt once or twice an hour… Otherwise they are dependant on you doing it for them.

Things won’t always go well, but it is a learning process, so there are a fe things to look out for.

Accidents after a dry spell

Our oldest had been dry for a while, then started having accidents at childcare, then at home. We took it back to basics, no shaming, giving control, but it wasn’t working. We were asked by a childcare provider if they could put our little one in a nappy for naps as they were having accidents and they (the childcare provider) were finding it difficult. This went fully agains our principles and we came to loggerheads. So… I know this sounds drastic, but we left. Within days the accidents had stop. We realised it was because their bathroom was upstairs and they were trying to take him up at set timings to go to the loo. We had said they could pop a potty downstairs, but they chose not to. At home he started going to the loo on his own and asking us to stay outside the door. It was such a turnaround.

Accidents at childcare

This one is fairly simple, your childcare need to be on board with how you do things, check where their toilets are and if your little persona can have easy access to them. Also make sure they are not using methods which go against your way of potty training

Refusal to go

Often down to some type of issue, have they recently had a tummy illness or bladder infection, has someone made them feel bad? It’s important to give lots of emotional support and remember they will get back to normal if you stick to commentating and not pressurising. If it was a previous tummy complaint you can talk about this and if they are able to, they can tell you how it felt. Listen and support.

Messing around

A little bit of a different point but an important one. Little people will thrive off reactions and also haven’t developed all of the skills we would like them to have. Fo us it was emptying a whole toilet roll on the floor, every time they were sat having a poo, if we didn’t sit with them. We didn’t realise early enough that it was just fun and he didn’t have the control to not do it, so we made it easy. We put some reusable wet wiped on the bench so when he got off the toilet he could wipe his bottom with them. You could just leave a limited about of toilet roll in reach of the toilet and the roll accessible to adults. Basically If there is some element of messing around, and it isn’t stopping, then you probably need to change your expectations and make it easier for them.

The way we potty trained worked well for us and we would always encourage people to use a method similar to this It was pretty stress free and our little person has really taken control with it all. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all perfect, but it was what was right for us. We used parts of the method from Sarah Ockwell-Smith  – The Gentle Potty Training book, the book How to Talk so little kids will listen, by Joanne Faber and Julie King and The Montessori toddler by Simone Davies. You might choose to do thins slightly differently, but you will find something which works for you. So long as you stick to the key points above and if you get stuck, just refresh and start again.

Similar Posts