Potty training is stressful, confusing, and just plain mind-boggling. You've been "doing the deed" in a toilet ever since you can remember. It's hard putting yourself in your kids' shoes — or diapers — to understand their resistance to something that's as routine as, well, changing your underwear!

And the experts: pediatricians, child psychologists, grandmothers, books, and parenting websites like this one pack enough advice to make your head spin.

Parents listen to them all. From one parent to another, here's my Five Myths and Five Truths About Potty Training list. It's short, sweet, and summarizes what I learned through two kids and more rewards charts than I care to remember.


1. Kids Start Potty Training at Age Two

Potty training starts when your child says so. Focus on cues (less wet diaper changes, irritability with messy diapers, and curiosity about the can) and not his age.

2. Children Complete Potty Training By Age Three

Your child's brain doesn't grasp what "being three" means, so don't expect private parts to do any better. Is it coincidence that the desired age for potty training success correlates with the year kids usually start preschool?

3. Once Potty Trained, Always Potty Trained

My friend's daughter was potty trained — until she encountered her first self-flushing toilet. Talk about a scary setback! Another friend's son was potty trained until a bout with diarrhea. Don't put away the diapers just yet and don't be surprised if your child falls off the potty training wagon at least once.

4. Kids Need a Same-Sexed Parent to Role Model Bathroom Behaviors

If this were true, my nine-year-old son would still pee sitting down. Boys spend the day in child care centers run almost exclusively by women, girls stay with their stay-at-home dads, and children are raised by same-sex couples. All master the skill.

5. Stickers Are the Best Reward System

The myth is there is no "best" reward system. It's trial and error and based on your child's personality. Sometimes a hug or high five is all the incentive he needs.


1. Peer Pressure Potty Training Works

Kids mimic their friends' behaviors and potty training is no different. Kids at preschools and child care centers play together and pee together. Consider implementing "Operation Potty Training" at the next play date.

2. Little Kids Can't Tell Time (and Neither Can Their Bladders)

Little kids have little bladders and can't remember the last time they emptied them. Set the oven timer to help you remember. Visit the bathroom often and regularly.

3. All Caregivers Must Be on the Same Potty Training Page

Mom can't be the only one setting the oven timer. Dad can't be the only one using the reward system. Everyone caring for your "pooper-in-training" must agree on one strategy to achieve success.

4. Bowel Movements Are Trickier

Reasons vary from causing discomfort to making them afraid. Whatever the reason, most kids have more difficulty with bowel movements. Don't get worried, frustrated or angry. Be patient.

5. Your Child Will Be Potty Trained Before Kindergarten

It's the potting training fear that every exasperated parent has. But healthy kids potty train before getting on the school bus for the first time. It will happen.

And that's the bottom line. Potty training success will happen. What can parents really do? Exercise patience, praise beyond belief, don't compete with other parents, and let your child lead you in being the master of her private domain!

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This post was included in the Carnival of Homeschooling.