Potty Training at Two (Free Download)

Child on potty

Every child is different and potty training should be tailored to your child’s temperament. For our family, both my daughter and son were potty-trained by two years old. They each expressed interest in toileting around 18 months so we presented toileting books and the low potty at that time and encouraged them to sit on the potty, explore it and watch us use the toilet.

I believe their bodily awareness was enhanced by the fact that they spent most of their time in cloth diapers which would give them the sensation of wetness. And my son was especially eager to follow after his older sister.

For my daughter a few weeks before her 2nd birthday, we did a commando weekend where she went without diapers or underwear. We had her drink lots of water which required her to pee constantly so that we would have many opportunities to practice going to the potty. She did not have any problems going to the potty to poop because she had more bodily control over that but in terms of peeing she was less consistent. There were lots of puddles at the beginning but with a great deal of praise she was eager to use the potty and did so very consistently by the end of the weekend.

Child on toilet

For my son, it was more a gradual process in which his older sister was an active participant in helping him get to the potty, reading him books while he was sitting on the potty and role-modeling proper toileting behavior. She took great pride in giving him toileting lessons. Because my son was able to hold his pee for longer than his sister at the same age, we experienced fewer accidents during the course of his potty learning.

Here are my tips for a successful path towards toileting independence as well as a potty learning recognition chart template which can be a useful tool to motivate your child.


  • Make sure all caregivers are working from the same plan, using the same language because consistency is key
  • Try to spend as much time bare-bum or in underwear as possible, wear pants/skirts which are loose and easy to remove quickly by the child herself
  • Both girls and boys should begin toileting by sitting down for peeing and pooping
  • Put the child in loose underwear which she can pull up and down herself
  • Many children are ready to graduate from diapers straight to underwear rather than training pants
    • It must be thin enough that when she has a pee accident she is wet and uncomfortable
    • Put it where she can access it herself
  • Other children will need the intermediate step of a training pant, which is underwear with an extra lining
  • When going out of the house, you can cover the underwear/training pants with a cloth diaper cover for extra protection
    • A cloth diaper cover will most likely not catch everything from an accident but usually will prevent a puddle
  • Once you transition to underwear do not reverse course, this will send mixed messages and upset the consistency of her learning
  • You can still use cloth/paper diapers during naps and overnight, make sure to distinguish between “sleepy-time” diapers and “wakey-time” underwear
  • If the child has a pee accident and there is a puddle, make sure she helps to clean up the mess to take responsibility for the accident
    • This adds an extra incentive to avoid such accidents
  • Times to put the child on the potty:
    • Upon waking in the morning
    • After every meal
    • Before leaving the house
    • After returning to the house
    • Before bedtime/bath time
    • Whatever time of day you observe your child to consistently need to pee/poop
  • Keep a potty in your car so that you can put the child onto the potty while you are out and about
    • Keep two sets of underwear and pants in the car
  • Never force a child to stay on a potty unless she chooses to do so otherwise she will come to have negative associations with the potty
  • Do not dawdle on the potty, read one or two books, sing one or two songs but do not linger for more than ten to fifteen minutes
    • If the child does not poop or pee within that time, try again in thirty to forty-five minutes
  • Some children prefer a small floor potty, others prefer a toilet ring with stool, try both to see which your child prefers
  • After peeing or pooping in the potty, let the child dump the waste into the toilet, wipe herself and flush
    • The more she can do herself, the faster she will come to take responsibility for her body
  • Encourage her to “listen to her body”, “to plan ahead”
  • Offer praise and encouragement but do not go overboard and alternatively do not use shaming language when the child has an accident, acknowledge the accident and what she can do differently next time but do not dwell on the incident
    • Remember this is simply a part of everyday life which she will master
  • If she hides to poop or pee, to correct this behavior make sure to bring her with you to the bathroom whenever you pee and poop
    • When you sit down, have her sit down on her potty and after you have pooped/peed show her the poop/pee in the toilet
  • Regressions are a normal part of the process and may require extra diligence on your part for a time
  • Naptime and overnight training usually follows after awake-time toileting
    • The general rule of thumb is to attempt naptime without diapers after two weeks of dry diapers and to attempt overnight sleep without diapers after two weeks of dry diapers or the ability of the child to wake up and go to the potty by herself
  • Use “rewards” sparingly
    • Some families have had success with giving the child a jellybean for each successful pee/poop in the potty
    • Other children need something more visual and concrete like a chart, a template of which you can download below


Potty Training Recognition Chart Template

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