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We've started getting more serious about potty training our 2y10m old recently. He's definitely progressing and seems to be able to hold his pee now. When we encourage bathroom breaks and take him to the bathroom regularly he can often go a full day without an accident.

What I'm wondering is: are there any methods we can use to encourage him to just get up and go to the bathroom by himself? Or is it something that we're just going to need to wait until it clicks, and he starts doing it?

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  • Have you thought of making it rewarding for him to do so? As in, what's more desirable, continuing to do the interesting thing he's doing at the moment or taking a bathroom break? Hint: at his age, almost anything is more interesting than going to the bathroom. One of my kids found a "toy" toilet/potty that could play many interesting sounds when "flushed". My grandchild could only flush if she actually urinated. My grandchild was hooked immediately. Maybe you can find a way to make going to the bathroom interesting. Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 19:45
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    That's a good point. We actually managed to get him started by rewarding with chocolate chips (pee) and a larger chocolate egg (poo), but eventually he seemed happy enough to pee without the rewards (and pooping is still an ongoing challenge). Perhaps we could step up the reward with something better than a chocolate chip, in the event he does it himself.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 19:54
  • Though some would disagree, I'm a firm believer in bribes, um, I mean rewards, yeah, rewards. Chocolate is a wonderful reward. One of my kids toilet trained themself to completion in one week when I found the right reward! Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 20:05
  • We didn't want to use them at first but we have a pretty bright kid who does what he wants. We knew he was ready, but he knew it was easier to be lazy. The incentive helped a lot (and he likes impressing his preschool teachers).
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 22:56
  • I think at this age, you should expect to have to prompt him to go. Best thing you could do is to develop habits of going at certain times, like just after waking, just before bed, just before leaving the house. The ASL sign for potty is useful at this age as a discreet prompt.
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 22:36

1 Answer 1

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For a child to go to the toilet/potty by themselves, 2 things need to have happened for them

  1. They need to be able to feel when they need to pee or poo. And feel it far enough in advance to safely reach the toilet.
  2. They need to understand that going to the toilet is more important than whatever fun thing they are doing.

The first your child has achieved. The second will come with time as your child develops. It can help if they learn that going to the toilet too late has a consequence like a longer interruption of the nice activity because a mess needs to be cleaned up first. Whereas going to the toilet on time means doing your business and going back to play with minimal interruption.

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  • Thanks for this, and I'll just emphasize your comment - 'the second will come with time as your child develops'. I didn't really appreciate this when I first read it, but realistically we just needed to wait for him to figure it out. In retrospect, most of the intentional strategies we took beyond just getting him comfortable with the potty were worthless, and at worst counter productive.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Apr 12 at 14:21

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