biggest potty training mistakes

6 BIGGEST Potty Training Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Potty training can be a challenging experience for both the child and the parents. Accidents will most likely happen along the way combined with some tears or other setbacks. In this article I’ll share the biggest potty training mistakes I’ve learned along the way as a mom of two.

It’s crucial to make sure your child feels supported and that you communicate a positive mindset during this time regardless of how your potty training experience is going.

While positivity is key, there are some definite mistakes you need to know about to avoid falling into. 


When Should You Be Concerned About Potty Training?

Most toddlers are ready to start potty training between the age of 2 and shortly after their third birthday. (Boys tend to be a bit later)

Here are some signs that your child is ready for potty training:

  • Your child will tell you when their diaper is dirty or right before or while they are going.
  • Their diaper stays dry for about two hours at a time during the day and they have bowel movements at regular times.
  • Stay dry through the night.
  • Show interest in the toilet and in underpants.
  • Take off wet diapers themselves because they’re uncomfortable.
  • Making a face or a noise before peeing or pooping.
  • Enjoy some alone time and want to do things for themselves or do things their own way.

You might be wondering when to stop potty train and wait? Your child is NOT ready to potty train if they poop or urinate right after you’ve had them sit on the potty, or wet their diaper in less than two hour intervals. Neither if they are afraid of the toilet.

Common Potty Training Mistakes

What should you not do when potty training? Below are some of the most common potty training mistakes to avoid while potty training your child.

1. Starting too Early

There’s no special prize for having the youngest potty trained child. You might wonder why potty training too early is bad. The biggest lesson we learned when potty training our first child, is that timing is really important.

Usually kids develop bladder control a few months before they can have full control of their bowels.

Starting too early is one of the biggest potty training mistakes.

One of the negative aspects with starting potty training too early is that a child can become constipated. Constipation can occur when a kid has a few negative experiences with the potty and then develops a fear of using it. If they don’t have the option to use their diaper, they might choose to avoid to poo for days. Then when they do finally go, it hurts and they will develop a fear.

Don’t feel pressured just because all your friends’ kids have started potty training. Trust me, everything will go so much smoother if you wait until your child starts showing signs of being ready.

The majority of kids are two to four years of age before they can be reliably toilet trained.

2. Not Being Prepared

Not being prepared is one of the most common potty training mistakes. Lets face it, having the right tools is half the battle, like everything else in parenting.

Make sure to check out some really good potty training gear. 

A really good potty chair is this one from BabyBjorn.

Another great help when you are on the go are these wet/dry bags for keeping an extra change of clothes and storing wet clothes.

Potty training is all about timing. Will they make it on time? Did they forget to go? Instead of reminding your kid all the time to see if they have to go, put these genius potty time watches on. When it’s time to potty train, the watch lights up and plays music, to make sure that they won’t miss the next bathroom trip.

Keep a bowl filled with treats (stickers, stamps, mini toys, etc) that the child can choose from after each successful potty attempt. Making it fun for toddlers keeps them engaged and enthusiastic. 

3. Not Using Positive Potty Talk

Don’t get started on the wrong foot. The second your child think that this is something they HAVE to do, the more they won’t want to do it.

Make it a fun activity. Have rewards and do potty dances!

Kids respond really well to positive reinforcement and loving encouragement.

Using negative words for your child’s poo and pee, like “dirty” or “stinky,” is not recommended. This method can hurt their self-esteem. Being negative or angry about it, creates a fear response.

 Some parents wonder, should you punish when potty training?

Punishment is the worst potty training mistake you can make. If kids are ever punished for having an accident, it can lead to a feeling of shame, have a negative impact on the parent – child relationship and lead to even more accidents. Kids should NEVER be punished for something they don’t have complete control over. 

Now you might wonder, how to correct potty training mistakes?

One of the most important parts of positive and effective potty training models is to remember your child that it is a normal part of life. Make your child understand that going to the bathroom and some occasional accidents are natural and nothing to feel ashamed about. We learn from them as part of the expected process. Avoid showing your frustration when potty training goes wrong.  A facial expression, like ‘oh no, not again’ can be counterproductive.

4. Sky High Expectations and Deadlines

Be prepared that potty training is a messy process and things may not happen on your time schedule. There will be ups and downs.

The parents that are convinced it will happen in one day are the ones that have the hardest time with potty training. Don’t be defeated if it takes some time. 

Most often, young children don’t work well under deadlines. They don’t have the same understanding of time as adults do. 

Be realistic about your potty training expectations and remember that many children take a year to a few years more until they’re ready. While a few kids get free from the diapers quickly, for many, it is a much longer process. So, don’t give up too early.

When potty training goes wrong many parents give up and quit the training. But actually potty training can be an even more challenging process the second time. Instead, try to be patient and make sure any method you use is flexible and suits the needs of everyone involved. The method you choose should help your child feel good about the process, whether it takes a few days or many months.

5. Starting Potty Training During a Time of Stress

If anything big and new is happening in your lives, reconsider potty training right now. Even good stress is bad stress when it comes to potty training. New babies, marriages, holidays, visitors, and vacations can be stressful for your child—similar to the challenges of a move to a new home, a divorce or a death.

I highly recommend waiting until life calms down and you are back to a normal flow of activities. This will help to make your toddler feel safe and potty training alongside other normal routines will go so much easier. Plus, you will be more alert and spread more positive energy to help your child with potty training.

6. Using Clothes That Are Difficult to Manage

Make potty training as easy as possible for your child. Simple elastic waist pants, shorts, or skirts are optimal for most.

Avoid overalls, belts, one-piece shirts, and anything with lots of zippers, snaps, buttons that might be a challenge for your toddler to manage quickly and independently.

When at home, if possible allow your child to run around in just underwear or in the nude. After all, this can be considered as the ultimate potty training outfit. Many parents use this strategy, as it lets the child know immediately if they need to go (or just missed getting) to the bathroom.

Since winter in colder climates is a time of layers with warmer clothes, most experts and parents think that it might not be the perfect time to start potty training. 


Keep in mind that you are guiding your child through a really important lesson in life. Your child is learning to be confident and independent, just like when they were learning to walk. Enjoy your part in your child’s success and watch them grow as a person.

Happy training!

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