What are the Different Types of Potty Training Methods?

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  • Written By: Dave Slovak
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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Toilet training can be a particularly challenging series of events for parents. Although there have been a few cases of children having a natural desire to use the toilet, most parents have to combine patience and commitment when teaching their child this important habit. There are many potty training methods, and although some people claim that there are different methods for potty training boys compared to potty training girls, most potty training methods can be applied to children of either sex. A few of the most common potty training techniques include going naked, the frequency method, positive reinforcement, modeling and using training pants.

The naked method is exactly what it sounds like. Parents allow their child to go without diapers, underwear or any clothes. Parents encourage their child to inform them when he or she has to go to the bathroom. Inevitably, this method is very messy, and parents have to pay close attention to when the child starts to go to the bathroom so that they can rush the child to the potty to teach him or her to use it. This method requires lots of patience and cleaning supplies.


The theory behind the frequency method is that parents establish a schedule to routinely take the child to the use the toilet so that he or she learns to associate going to the bathroom with the toilet. This method is difficult to use when the child attends daycare or has frequent changes in his or her daytime schedule. This method also requires great patience and commitment, because some advocates of this method suggest taking the child to the bathroom every 30 minutes.

The positive reinforcement method suggests that the easiest way to achieve potty training success is simply to encourage the child to use the toilet and reward him or her for a successful use. For some children, merely seeing a parent be happy or hearing compliments will be sufficient. For others, a tangible reward, such as a sticker or candy, will provide enough positive reinforcement to encourage continued success.

The modeling method uses a special doll that wets itself. Parents dress the doll using the same underwear — not diapers — that the child wears. The child helps the doll go to the bathroom and models the behavior of undressing, sitting on the toilet, going to the bathroom and even rewarding the doll and celebrating when it successfully uses the potty. Then parents ask the child if he or she would like to use the potty, and they go through the same motions that were modeled with the doll. The theory behind this method is that a combination of modeling and positive reinforcement works the best.

The training pants method is also fairly straightforward and probably is the most common of the potty training methods. Parents use training pants that are a hybrid between a diaper and regular underwear. The purpose is to help the child transition to wearing underwear and using the toilet, but without the embarrassment that a child experiences when he or she has an accident. Some types of training pants become very cold when they get wet, essentially giving the child an additional signal that he or she went to the bathroom and needs to remember to use the toilet in order to avoid feeling cold and wet.

There are as many potty training methods as there are parenting styles. Not every method will work the same way for every child — even for siblings. Parents should choose the method that works best for them and more importantly for their child.


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