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5 effective ways to prompt a child to go potty during potty training

5 effective ways to prompt a toddler to go potty

language pottytraining prompting Feb 21, 2022

There is an art to prompting a toddler to go potty. This may make you LOL reading this... but its true. 

When you are trying to encourage your child to try something very new, something you have no control over, during a time where they are beginning to learn about their independence... choosing the right language and tone is IMPORTANT.

Maybe you are sensing that its been a while since they last peed... your child is standing on your freshly vacuumed Persian rug and sweat beads are beginning to form on your forehead as you envision scrubbing the rug for the next 30 minutes.

Maybe you are heading out the house and you are desperately trying to avoid the good ole' 'pee in the car seat' as soon as you get into the car... because as history has shown, your child will say "NO!" when you ask them if they need to go potty, and two minutes after you get in the car the car seat is soaking wet!

So you may be asking yourself... what is going on here?! How can I effectively prompt my child to go to the potty? 



My rule of prompting is simple. 


If you ask your child the question of "Do you need to go potty?" you are giving your child the PERFECT opportunity to say “NO!” even if they actually need to go!

You are potty training your child at a time in their little lives where they are just beginning to learn about body sovereignty and independence... and so giving your child the freedom to respond "yes" or "no" to a question will most likely be "NO!" even if they need to go. 



First things first. Ideally you want to be prompting your child when you notice their behavioral cues of needing to go. 

Each child has their own cues of needing to either pee or poop. For some kids these are more obvious than others, but its definitely worthwhile spending some time watching your child to determine what these are. 

Some common signs a child needs to pee include:

  • Grunting
  • Holding the genital area
  • Hopping from foot to foot
  • Squatting
  • Squirming
  • Pacing
  • Squeezing
  • Crossing Legs
  • Starting into space 

Some common signs a child needs to poop include:

  • Passing wind
  • Hiding for privacy
  • Squatting
  • Holding stomach

When you notice these signs, it is the perfect opportunity to prompt your child to go potty.

This helps them to understand the feeling and urge of needing to go and by prompting you are helping them to make the connection between that urge and going to the potty.  



The language you choose and the tone in which you prompt your child is so important to getting them to sit on that potty.

Make sure your tone is:

  • Encouraging
  • Playful
  • Calm
  • Not shaming

If your tone is pressurized and shameful, this can lead to even more resistance than you started with.  



Here are some effective ways to prompt your child to go to the potty, that will help teach your child about their internal feelings of needing to go and help them make the connection between these urges and doing this on the potty. 

"We pee or poop in the potty!"

"When you get that feeling, we go pee on the potty!"

"In five minutes we will go pee in the potty and you can come back to your activity!"

"Before we leave the house we go to the potty. I'll race you there!" 

“I want to hear you pee on the potty!” “What does that feel like?” “What do you think is happening? 



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