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The 5 Biggest Potty Training Mistakes

I've been doing this long enough to know what parents can do to derail potty training. I collected each and every thing parents stated they could have done differently and I've compiled it all into a video, which you'll find below. There are roughly 5 potty training mistakes, in total, that you'll want to avoid or correct.

Just click play on the video below to watch.

If you like what you've seen, you can grab my potty training book here. Enjoy! xx Andrea

Resource Recommendation

Tiny Potty Training Book: Completely stop changing diapers at 18-30+ months in 7 days*…gently but firmly, without rewards, gimmicks, or M&Ms.


Andrea Olson:
Hi, my name is Andrea Olson with and my book The Tiny Potty Training Book. Today I want to tell you what the five top mistakes are that parents make regarding potty training.

The first mistake is returning to diapers. So a lot of parents will complete the potty training experience, what I call it, and they will go forth into the world and something will happen. They'll have a bunch of accidents one day and they won't look into actually how to troubleshoot, instead, they'll put the child back into diapers and say, well hey, they just were ready yet. But waiting for readiness is a whole nother thing that I covered before, and it really isn't a factor for potty training. But what is a factor is a parent's steadfastness. So one of the things I highly advise is to be steadfast. To start as you mean to go on. To never go back to diapers, because that is the way our grandparents trained. They never went back to diapers and it was a done deal. When our kids know that we're serious and we don't go back to diapers, they're done. So that is one of the things that parents usually make a mistake about in potty training.

Number two is putting it off. So delaying the start of potty training just delays the end of potty training and usually causes it to be a lot more difficult in the end. Mostly, parents don't find out about how to potty train or think about that they should until their child's about two years old and at that time they want to do research or they lack the confidence or the instruction. They don't know exactly what to do or what to expect even. They expect that the child should just train themselves because it's time and they're a big kid and they should do what you want them to do. But unfortunately two and three-year-olds don't work that way, so putting off starting potty training is the number two mistake that parents make regarding potty training.

Number three, the third biggest mistake that parents make with potty training is they think that they have to potty train completely naked, just letting the child run around naked, putting the potty out and telling them verbally to on it when they can. And then who knows what we do when there is an accident on the floor or something happens, but usually they think, oh, my child's not ready because they're actually not just going to the potty while they're naked and putting their pee in it and we expect them to do that without any instruction. So having the child just naked for potty training is the third mistake that parents make.

The fourth mistake that parents make when potty training is bribery. So going to the bathroom itself is a natural experience and it's a very private one. It is one that should not be rewarded. Yes, we can praise our children and be excited with them and say, oh boy, great you did it, you went in the potty. And that is great praise and that way is wonderful. But rewards like sticker charts and M&Ms and candy are big giant toys. I would say for about 1% of children, that is going to be something that you might need to try if everything else in the world doesn't work and bribery happens to really be the ticket with your child. But generally, 99% of children, what we've found is that bribery actually makes them externally motivated with potty training. But potty training and going to the bathroom is such a private process that it really is best and most effectively administered or executed by an internal motivating factor. So bribery has no place if you're trying to teach your child to be internally motivated about something.

And number five, the fifth top mistake that parents regarding potty training is winging it. So we have a vast amount of resources across the internet now at our disposal. And we tend to use them and when we are interested in something, we hit every single resource that we can find about that one thing and we overload our brains with it and that actually undermines our confidence. So with potty training, winging it off of free information found on this website, or that website or what said or baby center or what you found on Facebook or from all of your friends when you posted, hey I'm going to potty train. Anybody got ideas? All of this stuff equals winging it. Without a method and a plan and knowing exactly what you're doing, it is very very likely that potty training will be a disaster and won't work. It's just the way that it is.

So these have been the top five mistakes that parents make while potty training. I hope that you've learned something today and that you can avoid these mistakes if possible. If you've already made some of these mistakes, don't worry. There are lots of resources that I can provide to you that will help you get past this, especially The Tiny Potting Training Book that I wrote for babies and toddlers 18 months and over. So thanks so much. I'm Andrea with Go Diaper Free.


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Resource Recommendation

Getting EC Back on Track: a minicourse that walks you through observation, logging, and getting back on the EC wagon

Potty Time Mastery: a minicourse that helps you get extremely good at detecting the 4 ways to know the baby has to pee

Go Diaper Free: my popular EC book that simplifies EC, beginning to end

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)


  1. Avatar Elena on April 7, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Hi Andrea, I have a question.
    I’m using your 18+ mo book to potty train my son, who is currently 16 mo. I decided to start with him earlier since EC wasn’t working I thought – I could not “see”/anticipate when he was about to pee even though we started EC at 10 mo.
    So we went all in, ditched the diapers and he is wearing underwear now. We did naked days for a week (wasn’t clicking), and now for over two months we try to get him to use the potty.

    It’s been a challenge and not even close to being completed I suspect. He has a lot of accidents and only signals after he started peeing, generally it’s too late and nothing gets into potty. On occasion we have good days and catch most of the pees, but that’s not norm.
    We go thru a lot of resistance, so then we back off and again he pees in the pants. I know you say he wants more control, but he can’t pull his parts/undies off himself yet, so not much I can do there.
    I’m feeling frustrated and feel like we have to get something done to correct it. I’ve been hoping it’s going to work out but after 10 weeks of trying I’m doubting it.
    Did we start too early and he is just not ready?

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on April 7, 2020 at 9:20 pm

      Hi Elena! He’s definitely the right age for potty training, so don’t worry there. I would work on teaching him to push down his pants. Loose fitting, elastic waist, and have him commando. Two layers is too hard to start with. If you feel like his awareness just isn’t there, I would go back through the potty training process. It will fill in any gaps in learning. xx Andrea

  2. Avatar Vicky on December 20, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Andrea, I made a mistake I bribed my 28 months with chocolate and it worked for 1 day straight. The next day was full of accidents and daddy gave up and diapered him again. Now he expects getting choc and all we get are wet diapers!

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on December 29, 2020 at 3:22 am

      Hi Vicky,

      You have a few options:

      1. Start slowly spreading out the times that he get chocolate, like one chocolate every two pees, then the next day every three pees, etc.

      2. Tell him that starting tomorrow he will no longer get chocolate for using the potty, then stick to your words and follow my potty training guide.

      3. Just continue with the chocolate. At some point the excitement will wear off and the chocolate won’t mean anything to your little one.

      No matter what, stay the course, and set loving, but firm boundaries. 💕

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