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How to Measure Progress in Potty Training (Think on This Toy)

Updated: Mar 19

Inside: When will potty training click for your child? Here's what potty training progress looks like.

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Will this turn out? I’m doing all this work and will it just flop?

I marvel at people who seem to be naturals with baking, because that’s what runs through my mind when I bring out the measuring cups and spoons. In baking, you must be precise and you can’t measure if you did it right till you pull that cake out of the oven.

But with a process like potty training, you can be wondering if you’re getting somewhere (anywhere) through all the steps.

How can you measure if you’re making progress in the blocks of Oh Crap Potty Training.

Are you going to wind up with a total flop after all your work...much like the cake that turns out to not be cooked in the middle and sinks in front of your eyes (that’s happened to me a couple of times.)

Here’s how to measure progress in potty training (which I find easier than baking.)

How to measure progress in potty training (think on this toy)

There is no one-size-fits-all solution and every child will react differently to going diaper-free.

That's why the shape sorter toy analogy is one of my favorite tips that Jamie shared in how to understand potty training...

What do we know about other childhood milestones?

Reading, learning to walk, even being able to recite the alphabet..

None of these milestones happen overnight.

And milestones also don't happen in a linear sequence .

Do you remember your child playing with a shape sorter toy? Did your child learn how to match the square, and then next time match the circle, and then the triangle?


Toddlers play with that shape sorter toy for a long time trying to jam the shapes into the holes.

And then poof. One day it magically clicks that the square shape only fits in the square hole, and your child suddenly can get all the shapes in.

Potty training can look like a shape sorting puzzle.

How Potty Training Looks like a Shape Sorter Toy

For most children, you see steps forward and steps back in potty training. Maybe the steps look all mixed up (getting the sequence wrong of sitting before peeing).

There really are a lot of steps to put together, if you think about it:

  • the sensation to pee

  • going to the potty

  • pushing pants down

  • getting on the potty

  • release pee/poop in potty

  • then wiping, flushing, and washing hands.

There's a lot of learning that goes into potty training!

potty training cheatsheets

When does potty training click?

As Jamie points out in her spot-on shape sorter analogy, it takes time and consistency for the steps to click after you've "laid out all the shapes" for potty training.

Give it some time for all the steps in how to use the potty to come together for your child.

Keep in mind many kiddos do not magically potty train in 3 days time. You do want to plan for a long weekend to be close to home. And for some kids, you do time it just right and the process moves super fast.

But typically speaking, it often takes a week for a 2-year-old to click.

Pattern-wise, it typically takes a week for potty training to click for a two-year-old.

And potty training can start off great, then potty resistance can mess everything up around day 5 or 6.

What you're looking for are pee and poop catches. Don't worry about self-initiation (that comes in time with kiddos.)

The best way to measure success is thinking about the number of catches, stacking up that success, and reducing the accidents. Every child's pee pattern is different, so remember that no accident also means no issue.

When you're seeing a string of days with no accidents, when you're feeling that resistance calm down, that's when your child will click, and you can trust that your child has got this.

Then, like with the shape sorter toy, it's easy-peezy lemon squeezy.

And no more banging wood shapes against the holes.

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