Potty Training 101

The early bird, the gold star, and other methods that *might* work

Hi, FM fam! Ask any parent what the hardest “phase” is and you’ll get a different answer—Newborn! Toddler! Teen! Daughter who’s 27 and still spends weeks at a time at home eating everything in her parents’ pantry!

But the second you bring up potty training? Those memories of sleepless newborn nights and teething toddler days take on a rose-colored hue. Our goal with today’s newsletter is to change that…and to make potty training a little easier on the whole family.


Potty Training, Hold the Potty Mouth

Someday in the not-so-distant future, your kids might huff and puff when you ask them to explain some virtual reality TikTok trend. And you can say, “I taught you how to use the toilet. Can you please teach me this?”

Let’s make sure you’ve got as many bargaining chips as possible—time for Potty Training 101. Class is in session.

Lesson 1: Timing

Like most early milestones, there’s no “right” age to start potty training. Physical, developmental, and behavioral cues tell you when your child is ready—not an age (most kids show signs of readiness around 18–24 months, but 40% of kids aren’t trained by age 3). Can they pull down their pants and put them on again? Can they follow basic directions? Do they seem interested in “big kid” toilet stuff?

Shawn and Andrew are in the thick of potty training with Drew right now, and they said having a deadline (in Drew’s case, the first day of school) helped tremendously.

Lesson 2: Options

The best method is the one that works for your family, but here are some popular approaches. And yes these names are made up.

  • 👖 The In ‘n’ Out. This is not for the faint of heart. “You will seriously be spending all waking hours with your child for three days,” said Lora Jensen, who literally wrote the book on the so-called three-day potty training method. Essentially, you don’t put pants on your child for three days, let them see the accidents that inevitably happen, and at some point trust they’ll put two and two (and one) together.

  • 🐤 The Early Bird. Infant potty training or “elimination communication” focuses on parents reading bathroom cues from the newborn stage, getting their infant to a restroom, and using some verbal signal that their baby will associate with bathroom time.

  • ⭐️ The Gold-Star. Give your child a small reward for each successful bathroom trip. This is the East family’s method of choice for Drew and boy do the “nims” (mini M&M’s) work. Consistent encouragement has also been key for Shawn and Andrew.

Lesson 3: Reality

Accidents. Will. Happen. Boys will likely take longer to potty train than girls. And the biggest reality?

You will get frustrated. “The hardest part has been consistency,” Shawn said. “It’s been a test of our patience because it’s so easy to get frustrated when accidents happen.”

Because honestly? Diapers are easier in some regards. But you have to have courage, Andrew explained, to step outside of your comfort zone. “You have to rip the Band-Aid and do it,” Shawn added. “You’re ready for this. Let’s do it. Let’s tackle it.”

Fun doesn’t have to be complicated. This week, grab a sprinkler, some popsicles, and a fun towel or two and set up your own backyard water park. For the crafty among us (read: those who know how to use a hammer), Lowe’s has some fun ideas.

Breaking news out of Indianapolis—TikTok creator KaylaReports is really, really funny. Kayla covers life with her young son with the grit only a local news anchor could, jewel-toned shift dresses and all (who knew a toddler’s refusal to put on shoes could feel so Emmy-worthy?).

And finally, this isn’t a tip or trick…but it is a reminder that you’re doing great. These “it’s not really summer but it’s not really fall either” days can drag on so much and really exacerbate those burned out feelings, whether it’s parent burnout, job burnout, or anything else weighing on you. The fact that you’re opening emails and reading ‘em all the way through is proof enough that you’re doing your best. Keep it up :)

Thank you for reading, everyone! See you back here on Friday for some extra special Q&A. Can’t wait!