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Potty Training in 243* Easy Steps

Potty with scary face

halfdark/ Getty Images

  1. Check for signs of readiness. Does your child keep a diaper dry for more than two hours? He may be ready. Does he like to wear the potty on his head like a hat? He may not be.
  2. Help your child feel comfortable. Let him run around naked with the potty nearby. Allow him to take a toy or his lovey with him on the potty.
  3. Resist the urge to follow him around wearing rain boots and carrying a mop.
  4. Set up a routine. Try to get your child to go potty every hour.
  5. Make it fun. Dance and cheer. Perhaps sing a song to signal it's time to go, like the theme to Dinosaur Train! (Pteranodon impressions optional.)
  6. Try the M&M's Method: two M&M's for trying to go potty, three M&M's for going, and five M&M's to Mommy for her fantastic cheering.
  7. When none of this seems to work, wonder if a potty is like a plant. Will talking to it help it reach its potential?
  8. Find reading material potty might enjoy to pass the time.
  9. Try method acting, thinking the way Daniel Day-Lewis would when approaching a role. What's the potty's motivation? How does the potty feel?
  10. Do your best to stay in potty character at all times.
  11. Realize that for your child to go potty, you must sing the Dinosaur Train! theme three times, pick out all the yellow M&M's, cheer, and jump, all while preventing TP unrollage and keeping the lovey from being drowned in the grown-ups' toilet.
  12. Reconsider your routine.
  13. Find out if your gym membership is tax deductible. After all, the M&M's Method is taking its toll and potty training is now your profession.
  14. Try the Socratic Method, asking the potty a series of questions to determine its beliefs. What happens if my child still wears diapers in college? How was Mrs. Pteranodon able to potty train three baby pteranodons?
  15. Decide instead that the potty is the Oracle of Delphi and your entire future will be determined by its wisdom.
  16. Get frustrated when the potty not only refuses to tell you the future but also leaks all over the floor.
  17. Start seeing diaper shapes everywhere you go. In architecture, grilled-cheese sandwiches, constellations in the night sky.
  18. Have dream that you and the potty are playing chess. "You will never defeat me!" the potty cackles as it captures your queen.
  19. Decide to stop trying so hard. Give up the M&M's.
  20. Whenever someone asks you how the potty training is going, quickly change the subject.
  21. Notice that your child is completely potty trained! It was just a matter of his really wanting to do it.
  22. Do a small boogie.

*Well, it certainly felt like 243.

Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Parents magazine.