Daycare & Preschool Potty Training Tips

Jan 18, 2023 | 3.5 Minutes Read

Potty training at home is challenging enough. But what if your toddler is about to start preschool? How can you balance what you know about making sure they’re ready while feeling like you have a potty training deadline? More and more, parents report that they are stressed because their child is supposed to start preschool, but potty training is a requirement -- and their child isn't quite there yet. We’ve compiled parents' daycare and preschool advice to help you and your toddler transition into this new season successfully.

Daycare & Preschool Potty Training Tips
Potty training is a skill that requires developmental readiness, plus a lot of practice. These cannot be manufactured to meet an arbitrary deadline. Preschools with a rigid “potty training required” rule tend to be either (1) too popular for their own good with unreasonable wait-lists, and requiring potty training is just another way to pick the “easier” children to attend their school, or (2) uninformed about the realities of early childhood development. Some preschools will even suspend a student for having too many accidents. The reality is that you cannot require a child to be potty trained – it’s just not possible developmentally. You might as well ask the child to drive themselves to preschool! Read on for helpful tips about how to make this transition fun and easy for you and your toddler.

Preschool Potty Training To-Do List

  1. Don’t set deadlines. There’s no right age to start potting training, and setting a deadline could result in unnecessary pressure for both of you. Kids usually start to show signs of potty training readiness around 18 to 24 months, but every child is different. So don’t get a particular age stuck in your mind — and don’t feel pressured by friends or family who think your child should start at a particular time. Give the process time, and don’t pressure your child in the final weeks before preschool. As you’re determining when to start potty training, take the Potty Training Readiness Quiz to figure out if your toddler is ready.
  2. Talk to your child’s teacher and learn how the potty situation is handled in the classroom. Tell the teacher your observations and any concerns and ask her advice. Good preschool teachers understand that children vary tremendously in their potty-learning readiness and will happily discuss the situation with you.
  3. Tour the preschool together. It will help them feel more comfortable with what’s ahead — and not just for potty-related topics. Preschool is a big adjustment for kids, and the stress of something new combined with the stress of trying to learn how to use the potty is a lot for little ones.
  4. Locate school potties and test them out. Knowing where the toilets are ahead of time can help your child visualize what they’ll do when they need to go at preschool. Preschools typically have smaller, child-size toilets, so show them what that will look like. Also, let them try using the potty, flushing, and washing their hands while you’re there.
  5. Show your toddler where the training pants will be stored. Point out where the teacher will keep them and the change of clothes in case they have an accident.
  6. Be sure your child knows what to expect. Let them know that everyone at school has to go sometimes and tell your child how to tell the teacher when they need to go. Tell them that all kids have accidents, and it will be OK if they have one at school – neither you nor their teacher will be upset. Let them know they’ll have a change of clothes at school just in case.
  7. Find new books about preschool. Lots of kids love to have their parents read stories while they’re going potty, and preschool-related books will make them feel more comfortable with the new adventure.
  8. Create your Preschool Potty Training Packing List. Review our On-the-Go Essentials so you remember to gather all the supplies before taking the potty training journey away from home. This list includes: a spare set of clothes, a travel pack of flushable wipes, a resealable plastic bag, extra Pull-Ups® training pants and any must-have potty props such as stickers or books.
As you’re preparing your little one for preschool potty training, check out these additional tips for potty training with a childcare provider too.

How Personalities Impact Preschool Potty Training

Take note of how your child reacts to the preschool preparation. Work as a team, and use our tips based on potty personalities to feel even more prepared for the transition. If you’re unsure, take the Potty Personality Quiz to receive potty training tips tailored to your child!

  • Shy children often worry and resist the idea of potty training at school. Make sure they become very familiar and comfortable with the bathroom at school. Pressure from teachers or peers will make things more difficult.
  • Cautious children may be class leaders in potty learning and are encouraged by putting them into a role model position.
  • Eager-to-please children tend to adapt fairly well to the preschool potty routine. Make sure your eager-to-please toddler knows where the potty is and how the process is handled. Give lots of encouragement.
  • Free-spirited children can be encouraged to try the potty with their friends at school, as part of the group. But don’t expect perfection. This will likely be a longer process for your free-spirited toddler.
  • High-energy children are squirrelly at school! They do best when they are escorted regularly to the potty. Don’t count on them handling the potty process alone just yet.

Don’t Buy in to the Potty Training Pressure

Preschools grounded in a solid understanding of child development will have support, suggestions, and options for the 3- and even 4-year-olds who are still working on potty skills. Often, preschools can’t help the fact that there are strict rules from their local Health Department regarding toileting and diaper changing at the facility. But there ARE options out there, so keep looking until you find the best one for your child’s personality. Also, try to get a sense of the school’s actual definition of “potty trained,” which can vary quite a lot. The working definition your preschool uses may make all the difference in your decision on whether to send your child there.

With all these tips in mind, you and your child can feel more prepared and confident about what’s ahead. But remember: Staring preschool is a big deal! While it’s been decades since you started preschool, you might remember your first day at high school, college, or a new job. It’s stressful no matter what age you are. So, give out some extra hugs. Make sure you take time to listen to how your toddler is feeling. And celebrate that big first day with something special like a trip for ice cream. You both deserve it!


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