Sooner or later, there comes a glorious time in a mom’s life when her kids are using the potty and there are no more stinky diapers to contend with.
Yes, bust out the bubbly, ladies, because it happens, and it’s wonderful. Not only do you save money on buying diapers (which means more money for wine haha!) but your child also learns more independence which is a wonderful thing for their development.
Because I have two potty-trained girls, I’d love to share with you all that I know about how to potty train a stubborn girl so that you can ditch the diapers too.
My firstborn was actually easy to potty train. I had her out of diapers just before she turned 3. It was my goal to get her there because I was allowed to take her along to the school I taught at while living abroad, plus we were planning on having another baby and I didn’t want the hassle of diapers with 2 kids.
My second one learned how to use the potty this past year, just before the school year started. She was harder to train, but I’ll share with you my secret stash of tricks that worked on her a little further on in this post.
Signs Your Daughter is Ready for Potty Training [Readiness Checklist]
First, I want to tell you about the signs the experts tell you to look out for. If your daughter meets one of these requirements, it might not yet be time. You’ll have to feel things out and if you have any concerns at all, address them with your child’s pediatrician.
Before you learn how to potty train a toddler girl, you should check to see if she’s showing the signs of readiness which are:
- She’s between 18 and 24 months of age
- She seems curious about the potty
- She gets pretty uppity about being in a dirty diaper
- She comes to you telling you she has to go pee or poo
- She talks about the potty
- She can dress herself
- Her bowel movements are regular and around the same time each day
- She stays dry for long periods
- She can follow simple instructions
And by the way, while showing one of these signs isn’t a good indicator she’s ready, she doesn’t need to show ALL of them either. And that age bracket is for STARTING.
She doesn’t need to be finished learning how to use the potty by the age of 2 years. You know her best, so if you think she might be ready, ask her if she’d like to start trying to use the potty like a big girl and see how she reacts.
Well, if you are the proud parent of an adorable boy, click here to learn how to potty train your son fast.
Preparing for the Potty
Ok, so let’s say your toddler girl is ready and willing to use the potty. You can’t just pop her on there and expect that to be it. Oh, how I wish potty training were that simple! You’ll want to do a few things to get ready yourself.
Before you even begin the potty training process with your little girl, get toddler-friendly potty books to read with her. These should be fun, colorful, and make her more excited to try. There are tons of them on Amazon.
Stock up your cleaning supplies
Accidents are going to happen. Be ready with all the cleaning products you need. If you have tile flooring, cleanup is easier. Got Carpets? Consider preventing her from being in carpeted areas during training, if it’s possible with the layout of your home.
Prepare for extra laundry
With potty accidents, you’ll be washing more clothes each week than usual. Plan for that extra time in your schedule so you don’t run out of clean clothes for her. Incidentally, dress her in clothes that are easy to pull up and down so when she feels like she needs to go, she can get her bottoms off without delay.
Pick a potty
There are two ways you can go about doing this. The first is to get one of those plastic potties and the second is to get a small toilet seat for kids that fit on top of the regular toilet seat.
I strongly suggest you let your child choose what they like. For our eldest, we picked out a giraffe-patterned toilet seat. But she was still afraid of the potty!
So we took her to pick out a small plastic potty. We let her choose and she wanted a pink one that had armrests with squeaky ducks on the end. She felt comfortable with it, and that’s what you want with your kid.
Also, if you have a big house, I recommend you get more than one potty or seat (even one of each) so you don’t have to make a mad dash up and down the stairs to get their potty for them.
And of course, you must go shopping! Tell her she’s a big girl and she gets to wear big girl undies now. Let her pick her favorite designs. Mine loved Disney princesses, My Little Pony, Shopkins, and Hatchimals. Get enough of them that you have at least 16 pairs. In the early days of potty training, you may very well need to wash all of them in one day.
One Last Thing Before Potty Training Your Toddler Girl
Even if she seems ready to learn how to use the potty, make sure life is in order around your house. For my eldest, I was on a winter break from my teaching job so I was around the house, giving us plenty of time at home together. For my youngest, I started her once her big sister was off from school so I didn’t have to have her in the car for the school drop off every morning.
If you’ve just moved or are about to move, let it wait until after. Also, if there have been any other big changes in your family lately, like you’ve just given birth to your second child, divorce, death in the family, or anything major like that, wait about 3 weeks before working with your little girl to get her potty trained.
How to Potty Train Your Little Girl?
And now that we’ve properly prepared, let’s get into the whole potty training thing!
Time for the introductions
“Honey, this is the toilet. Toilet, this is our honey.” Haha! I kid, but once you have everything else in place, you’ll want to start talking to your toddler girl about the toilet. Tell her what it is and what it’s used for. You can start talking to her about the potty, whether she’s ready yet or not, around her first birthday.
That doesn’t mean you need to plop her on the toilet and make her go as soon as she turns one, but the more familiar something is to children, the less frightening it is.
You should also trot out those potty books I mentioned before. You can read them to her and get in that special bonding time while getting her more familiar with the potty.
Leave the bathroom door open
Ok, look. Let me be real here: having kids is a lot like prison. You are doing time for the rest of your life, and you never ever get to go to the bathroom without an audience. When your kids are bigger, you can tell them to get out of your bathroom, but when they’re little, you want to encourage them to see how you use the toilet.
Additionally, you’ll want to announce when you have to go to the bathroom. “Mommy has to go pee. Mommy’s going to use the potty.” I know, I know. It sounds lame, but I swear it works.
Remember, one of the best nuggets to tuck in your arsenal of how to get your kid to behave is to model that behavior.
She wants to be just like you and she will learn to copy that behavior. You’re also creating awareness of this behavior so she’ll remember to think about going to the bathroom to pee or poo without doing it in her pants.
Ritual de lo habitual
Pardon Jane’s Addiction reference, but music is one thing that keeps me sane in parenting. As far as rituals go through, you’ll want to get your girl into the habit of using the potty. Creating a ritual is a must! Every morning, get her to sit down on the potty. It doesn’t matter if she goes or not. Then, do it before you leave the house for any reason, before naps, and before bedtime.
The key to the ritual is to build a routine of using the bathroom. These first few days, she’s likely not going to get it and will probably pee in her pants (or worse, poop) right after she sits on the potty and that’s ok!
Have your toddler girl sit on the potty, and sit in the bathroom with her. Stay there for at least 5 minutes. Read her a story or let her flip through one of her potty books (or any book she wants). Whether she successfully uses that toilet or not, have her flush (pretend flush for those little plastic potties), and then wash her hands. It’s all about habit-building here in this step.
Don’t be pushy
We all have a friend that claims she got her girl potty trained in only 3 days and she’s so smart and perfect and blah blah blah. Shut up, Polly Perfect!
Please do not listen to the Polly Perfects in your life. Unless your pediatrician says something is wrong, don’t listen to your mom, dad, grandma, friends, or anyone else who says something is wrong with your daughter if you can’t get her potty trained in 3 days. WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?????
BAD MOM! Look, you’re not a bad mom! Proper potty training takes time and what the Polly Perfects of the world don’t tell you is that from being pushy with their kids, they now have nighttime bedwetters. Every child is different and gets the potty thing at her own pace.
Some girls are totally ready at age 2, or even before, to use the potty. Others just aren’t. If you have more than one child, you will see that your own kids, like mine, were very different to potty train. IT IS NORMAL!
Don’t push your daughter into using the potty. You’ll only make it take longer, causing fear and tears. Oh yes, and you’ll have even more laundry to do.
Always be positive
No matter what! Seriously, it sucks when you have your daughter sit on the potty for 5 minutes and not 2 minutes later, she says, “Uh oh.” Whatever you do, acknowledge it with kindness. “Oh no, sweetie! That’s ok. Mommy will help you get cleaned up. Next time, let’s be sure to go to the potty when we have to pee.”
Clean her up and get her busy, then go clean up the mess. Do not let her see you annoyed or angry. You are totally entitled to those feelings, but don’t let her see them. Instead, go into your room, close the door, and scream into your pillows. You’ll feel better, I promise.
If you scream or punish her for having an accident, you’ll only scare her from using the potty. She’s trying to learn to control herself, and believe me, she WILL get it.
For many moms of girls, like me, we found that getting our girls to go pee in the potty was much easier than poop. Whenever there is a victory of pee or poop in the potty, cheer like she just brought home the Olympic gold medal for the USA. Make her feel proud of her accomplishment. “You did it! You peed in the potty! I knew you could do it! I am so proud of you!” The more you cheer her on, the harder she’s going to try to get it right each time.
Two steps forward, two steps back
And now that you have that Paula Abdul song in your head too, potty training a toddler girl is often like doing the tango. Or is it mambo? I love dancing but I always get the moves confused. Your daughter may pee in the toilet all day except have one accident. Or she may poop in the potty and then pee on the floor. This is all very normal stuff too.
Just keep up with the encouragement. Be ready for anything. Don’t get all smug and comfortable when she’s going in the potty regularly or you might find a surprise on your rug.
Make good rewards
In addition to praising her for a pee or poo well done in the potty, give lots of hugs and cuddles. And it really helps cement the whole thing if you create a rewards system. For my eldest, I gave her M&Ms every time. I offered her one M&M for the pee in the potty and 2 for poop. Eventually, I phased it out to give her stickers which she loved just as much.
For my youngest, I took her to the dollar store and let her pick out a notebook. Then, she chose little heart-shaped stickers. I told her that every time she went pee in the potty, she’d get one sticker. For every time she pooped in the potty, she got 2 stickers. If she didn’t make it to the potty, she just didn’t get a sticker.
I also let her pick out a very special candy treat. I told her that every time she accumulated 6 stickers, she’d get a piece of the special candy. No one else was allowed to have her special candy either. This was a huge motivator to her and she couldn’t wait to use the potty. Incidentally, let her choose as much as possible in this phase. It’s my other secret psych trick I use.
See, when you let her choose which undies she wants, which potty she wants, her stickers, her notebook, her candy, or any of these things, she feels in control. You WANT her to feel this because it motivates her to be successful in using the potty.
Even with our rewards though, my youngest had some accidents. But after 3 weeks of implementing this new ritual, she only had rare accidents. By the time she turned 4, she was a pro.
Work on nighttime training later
Nighttime training is much harder. I urge you to use pull-ups for the night because each girl is different in knowing how to get up to use the potty at night. Unless you want to get up and wash the sheets every night, hold onto your sanity and let her wear pull-ups.
According to the Mayo Clinic, children as old as ages 5 and 6 can still have occasional accidents, and again, it is normal unless your doctor says otherwise. I’ve had friends tell me they ditched diapers for day and night altogether and it worked for them, but what worked for me was keeping my eldest in pull-ups at night until she established her habit of getting up and going in the night.
I would wake her up while I was still up and encourage her to use the potty. You can do that too, but again, do not push. If she doesn’t want to get up or tells you she doesn’t have to go, just let it (and her) lie. She will get it eventually. She won’t turn 16 and still be wearing them so just relax.
My Final Thoughts on Potty Training Toddler Girls
If you follow my tips above, the potty training process for your little girl even if you’re trying to potty train a stubborn girl, will be pretty easy. There is no one hard and fast way to potty train and I think those 3-day programs are a bunch of bunk. Your pediatrician will tell you that slow and steady is the key to getting your girl potty trained.
And should something not seem right to you – like you’re doing the same rituals each day and you’re being positive and she’s not progressing, talk to her pediatrician to get to the root of the problem.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.