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Potty Training Series — Trip Training

potty training

There are many methods for potty training from the 3-day potty training method to toilet training in a day to child-led. If you're looking for toileting tips, you've probably run across many. There really is no one-size-fits-all. You know your child or student best. Do the reading and research, and then follow your gut! And remember, it's often a marathon and not a sprint! It's ok to take two steps forward and one step back. You're still making progress!

Here is the potty training process I've used the most often. 

Potty Training Trip Train Protocol

Plan to spend a large amount of time in or near the bathroom. Review all your preparation notes and planning and be prepared for different situations!

Dry checks.” Periodically between planned intervals and right before going to the bathroom, do a “dry check.” Have student feel their own pants and determine if dry/wet/clean/dirty. If dry, give positive praise. If wet/dirty, follow ACCIDENT PROTOCOL.

  1. Select your starting interval (for bathroom trips) according to your previously collected data.
  2. At each interval, do a dry check. If student is dry, give praise and say, “Great! Let’s go potty now!” Encourage student to do as much of the routine as possible independently.
  3. Once sitting, provide something to relax/distract such as reading material that is not too stimulating (e.g., book in lieu of a tablet). Sit with the student and talk about pee/poop and how exciting it is to be doing this and what the reward is and so on. You can periodically remind them “time to pee.”


  • Allow enough time to see that they have eliminated all they’re going to, and THEN offer big praise and appropriate reward.
  • Prompt as little as possible through the toileting routine.
  • Increase interval time by 20 minutes.

No elimination

  • Don’t have student sit more than 10 minutes. If nothing by 10 minutes, “Ok, let’s get dressed and try again soon.”
  • Do not allow student to flush (that’s to get rid of the goodies!)
  • Return to try again in 20 minutes and continue at 20-min intervals until success.

4. Continue to increase interval time until student is consistently “dry” between trips for 2 hours at a time.

At this point, increase independence expectations (e.g., dressing, wiping) and start teaching initiation (communicating when they have to go). Also begin exposure to public restrooms.

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Potty Training Accident Protocol

Accidents happen! Be prepared for them. Keep plenty of extra underwear, clothing, and cleaning supplies ready. Keep your voice and tone neutral and matter-of-fact but not unpleasant. Whether the accident happens at regular “dry checks” or spontaneously, follow the same procedure:

  1. If student is wet/dirty, say, “You are wet/dirty” and prompt them to feel their own pants. “Pee/poop goes in the toilet.”
  • If you can catch the student “in the act,” immediately whisk them off to the bathroom to try to finish in the toilet. If they do, offer praise and a tiny reward (reward optional), do simple clean up, and get on with the day! No change to interval.
  1. Prompt student as little as possible to do the clean up, including flushing any BM from the underwear into the toilet, if possible. Use child-appropriate cleaning supplies and encourage their participation. Don’t make it a “game,” but remain neutral.
  2. Have student sit and “try again.” If success, verbally praise and a tiny reward (reward optional).
  3. After cleaned up and tried again, dress, go back to playing. Tell them when they will try again.
  4. Reset interval to 20 minutes and start again!

Find a great toileting log to help you on your journey! Keeping good notes and data will help you make decisions going forward.

Go back to see the other potty training tips and tricks!

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