7 Potty Training Tips Just In Time for Preschool

Nia Hendricks
Before you sign up for Pre-Kindergarten, make sure your child is fully potty trained and self sufficient in the bathroom. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Let’s have some real talk about potty training. Most pre-kindergarten programs require that children be potty trained (aka “toilet trained”) before they begin school. So if you have your heart set on enrolling your three-year-old in pre-k this year, don’t let the fear of potty training stop you!

It’s been said that parents never miss changing diapers as much as they do on the day they start potty training. We’ll give it to you straight — potty training is brutal. But take heart! You’ve survived the newborn wakings, the solid-food-throwing escapades, and the teething tantrums. Surely, you can survive potty training, especially with these tips.

  1. Watch for readiness signs.

    How do you know if your child is ready to be potty trained? There are a couple of flags signaling the end of your diaper-changing days may be close at hand! Signs your child is ready for potty-training:
    • Your child can stay dry for about two hours
    • Your child can take off their dirty diapers
    • Your child hides or goes to a private place to do their business
    • Your child tells you when they’ve gone poop or pee
    • Your child is curious about the toilet and asks you questions
    • Your child sometimes wakes up dry after naps
    • Your child can unbutton and button their pants

  2. Decide on the day.

    Don’t just jump into potty training. Look at your calendar, pick a week, clear your schedule, and get the whole family on board (that includes caretakers like grandma or the nanny). You also want to consider what other changes or transitions your child is going through. Did you just move in to a new home? Did he or she recently switch from a crib to a new bed? Children are resilient, but it helps to introduce one big change at a time.

  3. Choose a potty training method.

    There are a couple different methods that can be used to toilet train your little one. Some parents stretch the process out over the course of a couple weeks and others spend an extremely focused 3 to 7 days potty training. Ask other moms what methods have worked for them, check out a couple different books from the library, and think about what will be most practical for your family. Do your research a couple weeks before your start date so you can really dive in and be prepared, but don’t be afraid to call a couple audibles once you get going!

  4. Gather an arsenal.

    Listen, people all over the world have been toilet training their children for hundreds of years with next to nothing! So, more power to you if you decide to go minimal, but there are a few things that might help make things a little easier:
    • Potty Chair
      This is a little mini, often plastic, chair with a removable bowl.
    • Potty Seat or Potty Ring
      This goes on top of the toilet so that your little one doesn’t fall in.
    • Step stool (if you’ll be using a potty seat)
    • Flushable wipes
    • Carpet cleaner (for the accidents that are bound to happen!)

  5. Don’t give up!

    The key to teaching your child anything is consistency. If your child showed many of the readiness signs for potty training, stick to it for at least two weeks, even if there are a few disasters! As frustrating and stressful as the process can be, it WILL pass and be totally worth it! Just keep thinking about all the money you will save on diapers.

  6. Practice out of the house.

    Sometimes kids get scared of the loud flushing of a commercial toielt or aren't sure what to do without their potty chair. After they start to get the hang of going at home in their familiar environment, show them that it's perfectly safe to use other bathrooms so they're not frightened.
  7. Give grace.

    Your routine is most likely about to fly out the window for a little while and you may end up covered in pee or worse. Give yourself and your child grace for the accidents and chaos. He or she is learning something new, and if you are a first-time parent, so are you! God’s grace is sufficient, even in potty training!

Every child (and every parent) is different. You’ll find scores of comments and methods online, but remember to trust your instincts, be consistent, and believe in your child. You’d be surprised what a little faith can accomplish!
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