Take your Owl into the bathroom with you, and allow her to explore while you’re using it. Explain to your Owl what each piece of equipment is, and how it works, before you use it. Talk about how you know when it’s time for you to go. Don’t hold back in explaining how it feels, what you do to get ready to go, and what you do afterward with the all-important flush and hand washing. If you’re a dad, uncle, grandfather or other male caregiver working with a little boy, it is best to do the play-by-play while sitting down. Standing to pee is an advanced skill better left for later in the potty training.

As you begin potty training, make sure to dress your child in comfortable clothes that are easy to get on and off. This will help your child get to the potty in time when they’re ready, especially if they happen to be running to the potty last minute. Save the overalls, tights, ball gowns or neoprene wetsuits for another era.

Potty Script:

  • “I put my pee and poop in the toilet. After I go, I wipe myself with toilet paper to keep myself clean.
  • “This is how to flush the toilet. I push this handle down. When I flush the toilet, the bowl fills with water and takes everything I put into the toilet away to a special place. See how it swirls around and then goes down? Next time you can help me flush. And every time you come to the potty you get to flush your own. That’s how everyone goes potty.

Look for books that explain the potty process with lots of pictures, and keep them handy for your Owl to analyze. He likes to review the all the details. The more he understands the potty routine, the more confident he’ll be following it. Verbally label each component of the bathroom and tell your child what it’s for. This develops your child’s vocabulary, and gives him the words to communicate effectively with you about the potty process. Use “Build a Bathroom” puzzle cards as part of the Pull-Ups Potty Training Program.

Learn how to play the "Build a Bathroom" puzzle >

After you’ve identified the parts of the bathroom, have a conversation with your Owl that helps him process all the new information, and share with you what he’s learned. Ask him what he’d like to learn more about. Next, have him teach someone else, like another parent, a friend or another adult, all about the features of the bathroom. Make him the expert, and your Owl will act like one.

Use Potty Time Sequencing Picture Cards “What do we do first? Next?”  Put the cards together to create a step-by-step pottying process.

If you have a small potty chair, invite your child to sit alongside you and do what you’re doing. This will help your Owl to feel like she’s part of the process and “doing it right!” Help her talk through the steps, but be gentle and remember not to pressure her too much.

Create an interactive experience for your Owl. Point at something in the bathroom and ask, “What’s this? What do we do with it?” Your child’s responsiveness will depend on how verbal she is at this point in her development. Answer the questions together, modeling the language you want to see her use, and take this opportunity to connect with your child. Potty training is a great way to build the relationship with your Owl; it shows her that she can depend on you in helping make sense of the world, with all its crazy parts and pieces.

“Part of using the potty is knowing how your body feels when you have to go. I know I have to go to the bathroom when my tummy feels tight and heavy. I have to squeeze my tummy from the inside to keep the pee or poop from coming out until I get to the toilet. Do you ever feel your pee or poop coming? It helps to put a hand on your tummy to check. How does it feel in there? Once I sit down on the potty, I can stop holding my tummy tight and let it all go. Ahhhh. This helps my pee or poop come right out into the toilet! When you think you have to go, tell me so I can help you try, too. You're doing great so far. It’s so cool that you’re learning all this Big Kid stuff.”

The Bottom Line (Pardon the Pun)

Owls want to be in control of their bodies, and we as parents want that for them, too. The best way to encourage this is by following their lead and providing guidance and a steady, patient approach along the way. Owls sometimes expect too much of themselves, so help them to be flexible and to appreciate their successes. Enjoy the journey as you help your child develop into a much more complex little person who now has some control over his body, mind, and emotions.