Potty Training Charts: Everything Parents Need to Know

A toddler’s transition to the toilet is one of the most stressful moments of parenting. Here's how a potty training charts can help move things along.

Most children aren't ready for potty training until they're at least 2 or 3 years old, and they often need a little motivation to transition from diapers to the toilet. A potty training chart, which is a reward system that monitors your little one's success, can help the process go smoothly. Here's what you need to know about this time-honored technique.

Two Girls Sitting Potty Training
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What's a Potty Training Chart?

As its name suggests, a potty chart is a calendar that tracks your child's trends, progress, and success throughout potty training. Potty charts often help motivate children, giving them a sense of self-awareness when ditching diapers. They're also incredibly helpful for the caregiver and can serve as a guide when updating your child's pediatrician.

The science is still out on how effective reward charts are in the long run. Still, plenty of anecdotal evidence points to success in using reward-based charts for transitional behavior like moving away from diapers and learning to use a toilet properly. If you feel overwhelmed or frazzled by the difficult challenge of potty training a toddler, then a potty training chart can be a great help.

How to Use Potty Training Charts

Every family uses potty training charts differently; some give their children stickers after each successful trip to the bathroom, while others dole them out for accident-free days. If your child earns a certain number of stickers, you might give them a small prize. This can be anything you deem sensible, but parenting experts warn against anything too "special," to soften the blow on the days when your child does have an accident. Collectible items—like toy cars and small dolls—usually work well.

Each week you start over again, and, once your child has mastered staying dry, you can move towards a new goal (for example, moving to big kid underwear). You can also give your child stickers for individual tasks—for example, going to the bathroom, wiping, flushing, and washing their hands.

Tips on how to introduce a potty chart

For a potty training chart to be successful, follow these tips and guidelines.

  • Explain the potty chart to your child in easy-to-understand language. It should make them excited about potty training!
  • Hang the chart where your child can see, which will remind them to use the toilet whenever they need to go. You should also bring it up often ("Remember to use the potty when you need to pee or poop"!)
  • If you choose to DIY your potty training chart, you can personalize it to your child's interests, whether it's balloons, flowers, puppies, or your child's favorite superhero. Either draw these characters and symbols yourself or purchase stickers to use as decorations.

Types of Prizes

Each family handles the reward for a completed task or chart differently. For some, the prize is the pure joy of putting a sticker on the chart. For others, filling a chart with stickers leads to a reward like a small toy or a special treat. Here are some fun ideas for rewards that don't cost a lot of time or money to put together.

Treasure box

Fill a small plastic container with small baubles that your child would love like stickers, dollar store toys, and even candy like mini chocolates. When your child earns their reward, they can pull a prize out of their treasure box.

Special activity

Sure, most kids love little prizes they can hold in their hands, but other kids may be better motivated by a favorite activity like a parent reading an extra book at bedtime or earning more outdoor playtime.

Favorite candy

Some kids will do anything for a piece of favorite candy. Not all parents are thrilled with the idea of using candy as reward, but if that is what motivates your child then you can put limits on what they earn. For example, if your child is struggling with remembering to flush or wash their hands, they can earn one M&M every time they remember.

Free Printable Potty Training Charts

You don't need to spend money on potty chart printables. These free options will help your little one transition to the toilet easily.

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Potty Training Alligator Chart

Alligator Potty Training Chart

This chart contains circles that connect a baby alligator to its mother. When your child uses the potty, color it in a circle or fill it with a sticker.

This is an especially great option for kids who love stories. You use the chart to help tell the story of the baby alligator swimming to its mother. When your child completes their task, they help you add to the story and fill in another circle.

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Potty Training Grid Chart

Potty Training Grid Chart

This chart tracks five different milestones throughout the week.

  1. I said that I needed to use the potty.
  2. I pulled down my pants by myself.
  3. I sat on the potty.
  4. I used the potty.
  5. I stayed dry all day.

The beauty of this chart is that it helps to repeat the steps involved in using the bathroom, which helps your child understand the tasks they need to complete. For some kids, remembering to stop playing when they feel the urge to go can be a challenge, which can also lead to accidents. This chart puts a focus on the parts of potty training where your child may need a little extra help.

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Potty Training Rewards Chart

Potty Training Rewards Chart

This potty chart has 72 boxes, split into nine rows and eight columns. Fill one box with a sticker or check mark whenever your child uses the bathroom. When they fill all 72 boxes (or when they complete an entire row of stickers), they get a prize!

Updated by
Nicole Harris
Nicole Harris, SEO Editor
Nicole Harris is the Editor at Parents. She joined the team in 2018 as a Staff Writer and was promoted to SEO Editor in 2021. She now covers everything from children's health to parenting trends. Nicole's writing has appeared in Martha Stewart Weddings, Good Housekeeping, The Knot, BobVila.com, and other publications. A graduate of Syracuse University, Nicole currently lives in New Jersey with her husband.
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