Conquering the Dread Pirate Potty (aka My Favorite Potty Training Resources)

This is a derivative of “Potty Training” by Manish Bansal, used CC BY

Ah, potty training.

It’s one of those pains facets of motherhood that can be very…

ahem, trying.

As much as I really love the toddler stage with all it’s mispronunciations and cute antics, I generally do not at all look forward to teaching my children the all important task of using the toilet.  I dread it, if I’m perfectly honest.  I avoid it on occasion.  I’ve even been known to go into complete denial about it.

However, all the hemming and hawing in the world does not prolong the inevitable and I have yet again entered into what I  very affectionately call, the Vortex of the Potty.

Lydia turned two last month and has been gradually showing interest in all things bathroom related, so several weeks ago, I climbed the ladder to the attic and lugged down the potty seat.  I placed it in the bathroom and when she seemed curious, I introduced it to her and told her all about how big girls wear panties and pee pee and poopy on the potty(say that ten times fast!).

Inwardly, I made excuses about how I could derail her interest on to something, anything else for the time being.  Outwardly, I smiled and made grand enthusiastic gestures to hype up the great big girl potty!

This week, I decided to take the plunge.  On Monday, I took off her diaper and put on her very first pair of big girl underwear.  We toted the potty from room to room as the day went on and I’ve spent the last 48 hours taking her every 15-30 minutes to sit on it.

So far the score is potty-0, floor-at least 12.  *sigh*  Perseverance, my friends,

Oh, and don’t forget the patience.  And maybe even the occasional bribe.

Anyhow, while I will admit that I am so far from an expert in this area, I thought I would share some of my favorite potty training resources.

1. Books
I love books and typically will search out books on nearly any subject.  Toilet training is no different.  I like that picture books can show in simple terms what using the potty is all about.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • What to Expect When You Use the Potty by Heidi Murkoff (this book is from the co-author of “What to Expect When You Are Expecting.”  Angus, a friendly dog answers general questions about what potty training is all about in a way that kids can understand.  Everything from “What is a potty?” and “Where does pee and poop come from?” is included in this book.)
  • On Your Potty by Virginia Miller(this is a short story about a little bear who does not want to use his potty despite numerous reminders from his parents.  It is cute and to the point and great for short attention spans.)
  • Once Upon a Potty–Girl by Alona Frankel (this books is a potty training classic and is also available in a boy version.  Meet Prudence and her mother as they learn the ins and outs of the body and what to do on the potty.  This book is repetitive in nature, which is great for small children as they will absorb the information well.)
  •  My Big Girl Potty by Joanna Cole (follow little Ashley as you makes the transition from wearing diapers to wearing big-girl pants!  This book is also available in a boy version)
  •  Big Girls Go Potty by Marianne Richmond(Emma and her friend Bear are learning to use the potty!  Find out what happens when they have accidents and how she keeps practicing until she gets it!)
  • Your New Potty by Joanna Cole (You can tell that this is an older book from the hairstyles and clothing of the people inside, but I really like that the pictures are actual photographs of REAL children and their parents as they go through their potty training journey from baby to wearing big girl/boy underwear!  It makes the story seem more “real.”) 
  • How to Potty Train Your Monster by Kelly DiPucchio (This is a very fun book that gives you instructions on how to recognize when and and how to teach your monster to use the potty.  It is a giggle inducer, for sure!)
  • The Princess and the Potty by Wendy Cheyette Lewison (What will the King and Queen do when their stubborn Princess refuses to use her potty because it does not please her?  A fairy tale themed book about a child who just doesn’t WANT to go.)
  • Time to Pee! by Mo Willems (This books is by Mo Willems. Enough said.  We love it!)  

2. A Good Potty Chair and/or Accessories
First of all, I do try to train my children on the actual toilet, but sometimes it is much more convenient, albeit sometimes messy and gross, to have a tot sized potty that can travel to various locales in the house.  I have found that I can coax my children to sit just a little longer on the potty if they can watch their favorite video or sit near me or their siblings while they do it.

I have used this seat with all three of my children.  I like it because it has a cushioned seat that has a little guard that can flip over or under depending non whether or not the child is a girl or a boy, it has a detachable seat that can slip onto the regular toilet seat, and it also can serve as a step stool to use when the child needs to wash their hands. It is easy to clean and has handles that make it simple to pick up and transport.  It doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles.  I like that and don’t want to deal with music or fake flushes or lights when a toddler can be on and off a potty about a million times a day when training.

If you don’t get an all inclusive seat, I recommend getting a potty trainer seat similar to these, which are available in an assortment of designs and characters, for you child to use on the big toilet.  It helps because they don’t have to concentrate so hard on balancing on the seat and not falling in the hole.  Ask me how I know that falling in the toilet hole is a traumatizing experience for a small child. Trust me on this one.

Also, I highly recommend having a foldable travel seat like this one.   These come in handy when you are out and about and have to use a public restroom.  They fit in your purse or diaper bag and are very easily wiped cleaned and sanitized.

3.  Videos
These aren’t necessary, but I like to give my children a visual that is fun and shows them what using the potty is all about!  We have a couple tried and true favorites around here:

Shop Potty Time 

4. Bribes, ahem, Incentives!
I’ve done everything from sticker charts to various forms of candy until I could do the happy potty dance with each of my children.  They all respond to things differently, so find what works for your little one!  Some kids only need lots of clapping and praising!  Others need something more.

Most of this, if not all of it, is probably not new to any of you seasoned mommies, but I know that when I started training my first, I looked everywhere for help.  I will say again that I am NOT an expert, even after three children.  I do not hold fast to any one “method” and believe that each child is an individual that might have different learning grooves in this area.  I’m not an advocate for punishing or harshness during this time but I AM and advocate for being patient and  trying to take it all in stride (I really wrote that out to remind myself!). Eventually they WILL use the potty, so as Dory would say, “Just keep swimming.”

What are your best potty training tips?

Linking up with:
Growing Home, Deep Roots at Home, and Women Living Well.


  1. I am doing this with my 2 yo. I caught him with both feet on one side of the potty and his hands on the other, like a crab walk, watching himself go.
    As long as it is on the potty I am happy!

  2. I am a college student, but its still so cool to read about how you are just walking out life as a mommy. The pictures are super cute and I loved the first tip. I think its also cool that one day your daughter can read about herself when she gets a little older, this blog could be a well-kept yet wonderful surprise to her.

  3. What a cute post on such a needful subject! Takes me back to those days!

  4. Great post – so many useful tips. Perseverance and patience are definitely top of the list.

    Thanks so much for sharing at the Friday Baby Shower – Alice x

Speak Your Mind