TODAY Moms' potty training advice: No pressure, lots of patience, and plenty of Cheerios to aim at

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By Kavita Varma-White

After posting our story about the lack of scientific evidence behind the perfect way to potty train kids, we turned to the TODAY Moms Facebook page to ask the experts (you!) about some of your best techniques.

There were so many great, varied responses that TODAY Mom Barsha Ghimire commented: “Wow. I am in need of all these tips.”

So for Barsha, and all of those parents currently on the path to potty perfection, here’s advice from some TODAY Moms readers who have been there, done that.

On using positive reinforcement…

Miciah Blu Morgan says each kid is different, so you have to find a reinforcement that works for them. In her case “one loved stickers and toys, the other was more the elimination communication style and it worked for her..”

Advice from Ann Conroy Kossman included not using pull-ups, except for bed time, and “invest in a treasure box full of stickers, tatoos, treats, etc."

Sara Burke Cerulle was proud to announce her child became potty trained just last week. Their recipe for success? “Lots of naked time, lots of stickers, and lots of praise worked the best. But most of all, waiting until he was really showing ME that HE was ready was most important. No pressure.”

On entertainment/bribery/rewards...

For some kids, it’s all about being distracted. You can try games, like Lori Tubello, who writes: “Froot Loops in the potty; aim, shoot, fire! My boy loved this game.” Nathan Jamie Sherman did the same, but used Cheerios. He says: "For boys- throw 3 or 4 Cheerios in potty and tell him... 'See if u can hit them.' It's fun and works!!"

You can try good, old fashioned bribery. TODAY Mom Valerie Kittel told her daughter that if she went, they would call Mickey. She did, and a friend showed up and did a Mickey Mouse impersonation. Deidra Walkin told her child that Santa Clause would be very happy if she went in the toilet. “She was potty trained that week,” says Deidra.

Mom of five Tracy O'Mara Whitney posts:

We waited till we were TOTALLY sure they were TOTALLY ready. Then we made sure we were MOSTLY home for a good two weeks during the day. Then... Naked potty training here we come! With a big colorful jar of M&M's for rewards. Start the rewards big and make a huge big deal out of every attempt, successful or not. Then gradually pull back on the rewards. Great success for all five of my kids.

On being patient…

Karen Endsley posts: "Patience! Every child is different. Don't compare them to anyone else. Just because a certain method worked for another child doesn't mean it will for yours. :)"

LaVon Shearer Ihrig pointed out that while all of her kids and daycare students responded to different types of training, she found a recurring theme of what it takes to do the training:

1) a dump load of PATIENCE. 2) Diligence & follow through. 3) More Patience. 4) Willingness to find creative ways & rewards 5) Did I mention PATIENCE? 6) Thick skin to put up with those friends who never fail to mention how their kid was potty trained in 1 day (yes it can happen, had a daycare kid..1 time on the potty & bam...potty trainin done!) 6. Umm did I mention PATIENCE!!!! OK....good cause your gonna need a mine full of it and when you hit China...turn around and dig for more.

On being prepared and ready for anything…

Erin Slankard Schulmire doesn’t buy the rewards or bribery angle, but suggests making sure both child and parent are ready for the process.

Wait until they (and you) are physically and emotionally ready; then all you need is patience and consistency. Play up the successes and downplay the accidents! Oh, and the worst accidents happen in the car so we keep a little travel size potty in the trunk. I have no problem pulling over on the side of the road.

Kavita Varma-White is a Seattle-based mom of two very busy tweens. In between cheering at numerous soccer and baseball games, she's a contributing editor for TODAY Moms and