Potty training – the business of ‘letting go’

My son reaches the 30-month-old mark (finally!) and with his big build (15 kg and 93cm), all of a sudden many people (during kenduri back at home) asked me, why Adam still not potty train? (my well-intentioned cousins/aunties thought my son is already 4 years old and above, which is NOT by the way). Some even curious to know what size of pampers I used for my little darling of mine (the answer is XXL, thank you). All I can say is that: potty training is not something you just do on the fly. A lot of thoughts, preparation and planning (as a family) go into this (at least for mine it is). Not to scare you though. I approach potty training as a business of ‘letting go’, both from my side as a parent and Adam’s as the toddler in training.

We successfully potty-trained Adam at age 29-month-old in one-week time (with several accidents along the way). Here are some tips and well-proved guide that I’ve read, compiled and tested on my own. Some of it may be good for you while some are not. And if you’re lucky, you may be able to potty trained your child in 3 days! (it worked with my niece).

Just go with a heart of steel but with lots of tender loving care.

The best age to start potty training is between age 18-month-old to 3 years old with boys probably later than girls. If you missed this specific period of time, no worries. You can always start whenever your child is ready at a later age.

potty train

How do you know that your kid is ready then?

  1. He can talk or expressed himself well (either through sounds or facial expression or body language)
  2. He’s showing interest in going to the toilet (berminat ke tandas setakat nak mandi atau main air pun ok)
  3. Your child wants to change his diaper right away after urinate or passing bowel motion.

For us, it’s the one long week of hell in which Adam (and me) was down with rotavirus infection around 2 weeks before we start potty train. Imagine going through up to 20 pampers in the span of few hours for the past 4-5 days (including 3 hospital visits that week). That’s where we know for sure that Adam is ready and we can do this.


  1. Accept that accidents WILL HAPPEN and that’s part of the training.

I’m against punishment/scolding during potty training. How can you scold a child for something that’s way beyond his control and remember: this is his first time ever trying to stay apart from his ‘beloved’ pampers. Pampers for the kid are a safe haven for them. A comfortable place where they can just ‘let go’ anywhere anytime they want to.

For me, the best way to deal whenever accidents happen, just simply clean up and then encourage them to make it to toilet next time.


  1. Gentle reminders EVERY 15-30 MINUTES. Ask your child if they need to go?
  2. Positive reinforcements. Incentives are important to the kids. It can be sticker, crayon, action heroes, drawing time, etc. Be creative about it. Mine: showering him with kisses whenever he manages to do one in the toilet.
  3. Use potty training seat or urinal that best suit your child’s need and grab his/her attention.

If your house if two storeys, make sure you have one in each level for easier access. The key is to make the journey as easy as possible and accessible at ALL TIME.

For Adam, the second potty that we bought him finally entice him to sit on it longer and do the business. It was portable, comfortable and the design is in football theme – Adam’s favourite. The first one is animal theme and sadly, as colourful as it is, my son doesn’t like it so much.

  1. Do it in sessions.

You can try to do it daytime and later ease slowly into night time.

Or you can go big and go down hard as in trying for both day and night at the same time. Just don’t forget to lace your mattress with waterproof bed sheet and make sure your child urinates before he goes to sleep and try to cut off liquid after dinner.

  1. Cool undies help. A lot!
  2. Get supports from others a.k.a your babysitter, teacher in taska or your extended family (datuk/nenek sekiranya anda jenis yang balik rumah orang tua hampir setiap hujung minggu macam saya).
  3. Stay together with your child during the process and give rounds of encouragement in the toilet itself. And enforce hand hygiene and wash up right away after that. Stick to this routine.
  4. Figure out why your child doesn’t want to go in the toilet.

For some children, they fear that they may fall down into the hole. Just ensure that they are safe and you are there to keep them company and safeguard them from falling.

A few got scared of the sounds of the running water when we flush. The same explanation applies here.

(ini kes anak saya Adam, takut dengan bunyi air mengalir dari paip rumah atas!)

There are some who saw the feces as part of themselves and when they see it gone, they got scared/angry. Little white lies or simply explained to them. Either one is OK.

Just don’t rush to flush!

  1. For boys, start with sitting down.

When a child is learning, you want to keep the no of variables that he needs to think about to a minimum. Few seconds hesitation can be crucial. You don’t want him to go on your expensive carpet, don’t you?

  1. The most important of it all: TAKE BABY STEPS.

First start at home.

Daytime then proceed to night time training. (less stress for us parents!)

Travel in short distance (less than an hour distance) then tried without pampers for long distance travel.

potty train langkah mudah

Lastly, toilet training can only be mastered with your child’s VOLUNTARY COOPERATION. If he’s not ready, don’t push it.

All the best and may the force (of will and perseverance) forever be with you!