Toddlers and Older Children



I am no expert on this; I'm basically winging it just like everyone else. I have, however, picked up a few tricks and book recommendations along the way.

Common Issues

  • Not obeying - I have had great success with "the countdown". I ask my daughter to do something. If she doesn't do it or says no, I say "if you don't do it by the time I get to 3, I'm taking away _____ for 1 hour", and the blank is typically her favorite stuffed animal or whatever toy/activity she's using at the moment. YOU MUST FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THE THREAT EVERY TIME, otherwise this technique will be useless.
  • Hitting/Kicking/Biting/Pushing - time out didn't work for me on this, or for anything for that matter. I honestly find it most effective to "swat" whatever body part did the offense. If she hit, I swat her hand.
  • Not sharing - if my daughter won't share or take turns of her own accord, I instruct her to do so, and then if she still refuses, I
  • willingly after being instructed to do so, I warn her that if she doesn't share the toy or give the toy back


Potty training


  • Potties
    • Oxo 2-in-1 Travel Potty - if you only buy one, get this one! Very portable, easy to use, works on any adult toilet but functions as a standalone potty with disposable bags.
    • Regular Potty Chairs - get one that angles their little hips for easier passage of bowel movements, especially ones that are sturdy and less likely to tip over, and are easy to clean with a good splash guard
  • Toilet Seat Inserts
  • Stools/Ladders


  • Oh Crap! Potty Training - the only one I've used, and the only one I recommend. Simple and effective. The book could use some further clarification on certain things but overall a great plan. This is a summary of her methods:
    • Block 1 - bottomless. Typically 1-3 days of staying at home, doing whatever it takes to catch your toddler's pee and poop in a potty.
    • Block 2 - adding bottoms, without underwear. Can last weeks to months before you feel your child can wear underwear without treating it like a diaper.
    • Block 3 - being able to potty outside of the house. Takes place concurrently with block 2 to a degree.
    • Block 4 - adding underwear.
    • Block 5 - consistent self-initiation (meaning your toddler will potty without being prompted). Can happen anytime between blocks 1 and 4.
    • Block 6 - staying dry while sleeping. Can also happen anytime between blocks 1 and 4. You can choose to night-train from the start or wait until you've mastered daytime.

Adjunct Tools


Try potty training without incentives first, using the above method. (Incentives are NOT recommended based on the author of Oh Crap! Potty Training). If you can get by without them, great. My daughter, however, was a little more stubborn and incentives worked quite well for us after the first attempt. Pick an incentive that is most sustainable as you will probably need to give them for at least a few weeks.

Incentive Options

  • Stickers - they make various sticker charts you can buy, but I bet your kid will be just fine with a piece of paper taped to the wall with whatever stickers you have on hand.
    • Search Amazon for themed charts and/or stickers if your kid has a particular favorite animal or activity. My daughter probably would have loved this Unicorn Themed Potty Chart.
  • Treats - try to use these as a last resort. If you can get by without it, great. If not, go for it.
      • We did M&M's: 1 for pee, 5 for poop.
      • We ended up switching to fruit snacks for poop because it worked better.

Weaning from Incentives:

    • I found it helpful to transfer the incentive to the next milestone. For instance, once they're going in the potty without issue, give an incentive for a whole day of no accidents. Once that's mastered, give it for staying dry overnight.
    • Have a container full of whatever the item is and remind them every so often that once it's empty, they've graduated to "big kid" status and no longer need them.
    • Alternatively, once they're going consistently, stop giving it to them unless they ask for it. They may very well forget about it over a few weeks (mine did).

Toddler Activities

Action songs

    • mother goose club

Tactile activities

  • kinetic sand
  • water beads


  • writing utensils - pen/marker/crayon/chalk
  • painting - finger, brush



Toy Rotation

Before even getting into WHICH toys to buy, I cannot recommend enough implementing a TOY ROTATION. This is a system that keeps only a portion of all the toys you own available to your children at any given time. I specifically divided all of our toys into "categories" (dolls, stuffed animals, carss/trains, electronic toys, instruments, pushing/riding toys, blocks, motor skill toys, large toys like dollhouses and play kitchens etc) and store them in separate respective bins in a closet. Once a month, I take ONE from each category and put them either in our playroom or family room and put away the previous month's toys. This day, every month, is like Christmas to them - the toys become new again, you get more time to yourself while they play with their "new" toys, you can own less toys to keep them just as or even more entertained, and - here's the best one - less toys available to them at any given time means LESS MESS. This concept can also be applied to books.

Age-Appropriate Toys