Potty Training a Bright Toddler

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Bright toddlers can be challenging to potty train. They are typically developmentally advanced in many areas, but are often uneven in their development. Advancing quickly in some areas, but not all areas creates the uneven development. Bright children may even need more time to potty train! Just because advanced children perform at a highly level in some areas doesn’t mean they will potty train quickly or easily or early.  Be sure your child is ready for potty training before starting.

Bright children have unique social and emotional characteristics that need to be recognized. Some of the unique characteristics include being:

  • highly sensitive
  • perfectionistic
  • extremely stubborn
  • imaginative and creative
  • a keen sense of humor
  • Independent 
  • a strong sense of justice and fairness

Recognizing these unique traits and integrating them into your potty plan will prove to be helpful.

Child on potty play with father. Photo in old image style.
Child on potty play with father

If your child is highly sensitive it will be important to minimize your reaction to accidents. If an accident occurs, simply clean them up and move on.

The bright child may have high expectations of themselves and even expect perfection. We all know that potty training is not a perfect process.  Help your child have reasonable expectations.

Children who are stubborn typically have stubborn parents. This creates an environment that power struggles can happen. Try to avoid power struggles as no one wins. Give your child time and be patient.

A bright child’s imaginative and creative spirit may need direction. I have read some crazy stories of bright children potty training and decide they are an animal in jungle, pooping in the wild. And you guessed it…what you have is a mess. Try tapping into imaginative play and creativity that leads to the outcome you want. Many gifted children have truly enjoyed imaginative play with the Potty Fairies. Writing letters, drawing pictures and communicating with their potty fairy buddy in a productive way can be helpful.

thiago-cerqueira-191866-unsplashA fun sense of humor is a life line as you potty train your child, both for you and your child. It lightens up everything and can help in so many ways.

A bright child’s desire to be independent can be tapped in to as they learn that as they learn to use the potty chair they will be free of diapers and diaper changing. Celebrating their success towards being a “big kid” and independent will be just want they want to hear.

Finally, bright children have a strong sense of justice and fairness. Telling your child that their unused diapers will be delivered to babies who need them is something that they will feel good about and will want to help others out. It is a motivator for them to know they are helping others.

Make sure the rewards or incentives that you provide your child is something they really want. Stickers or even rewards may not work with the bright child.

Prepare to celebrate your child’s success as they will eventually get there.


If you believe your child is not ready to potty train, it doesn’t hurt to prepare for when they are ready. You can start by doing the following pre-potty training activities:

  • Sing potty training songs.
  • Give your child a doll to potty train. Read potty training books.
  • You might even let your child wear underwear over their diapers for awhile.
  • Read all you can about potty training. Tips from parents and experts in the field.

Be kind to yourself, give yourself a break, remember to breathe and ask for help when you need a break.

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