Inside: Get the 3-day Potting Training Boot Camp Formula.
Last week I potty trained J who just turned 2.5 years old. It took two days, and we haven’t looked back.
He had accidents the first and second days but has been clean and dry since. He’s even waking up dry at naptime and a few times in the morning.
We have already transitioned from his baby potty to the toilet and he’s spent two full days out of the house with no accidents!
Sounds too good to be true? I think so too!
In all honesty, I’m afraid of saying anything too positive about our potty training success in fear that he will immediately regress back to daily accidents and diapers. I expect that any moment he’ll have an accident or start refusing to use the potty.
I keep thinking “it can’t be over…that was too easy”. But, it’s been a week now without accidents so something must be working.
Let me start off by saying that I worked for 4 years in the “potty training room” at a childcare.
In the end I have helped potty train lots and lots of kids. I’ve seen several potty training methods, plenty that worked, and many that didn’t.
So, I took what I learned from this time, plus my understanding of child development and put J through a 3 Day Potty Training Boot Camp.
Let’s begin…shall we?
Look for signs of Readiness
This is what I call the “Golden Rule of Potty Training”.
Do not try to potty train your child before they are ready! I know that there can be a lot of pressure out there to potty train our children early.
However, children need to be both physically and emotionally ready in order to potty train.
A child will train when he/she is ready to. If you try too early than it will be a really frustrating experience for both you and your child If you wait until your child is ready than potty training will be easier for both you and your child.
Most children are ready between 2-3 years old. Boys tend to be later in their readiness.
Here are the signs of readiness that J showed:
- He has been waking up dry from naptime for months and he can stay dry for 2-3 hours at a time. This shows that he has the bladder control to hold it until he can get to the potty.
- He would go off by himself to poop. This tells me that he is aware of his bowel movements and he knows when he needs to go.
- He showed interest in the potty. He would sit when sent and started asking to sit on it more often.
There are lots of signs that a child is ready and each child will show some or all of the signs. Read here for all them.
The 3 Day Potting Training Bootcamp Method
- We bought J a potty about a year ago when he was only 1.5 years old. I wanted it around so that he could get used to it and not have fear surrounding the potty. He has used it off and on since we bought it.
- I have always allowed J to flush toilets if he wanted to so that he learned that it is a safe thing and something he’s allowed to use.
- About a week before potty training began, I checked out some children’s books about potty training. We read them together throughout the week.
- The week before we started talked about J using the potty like Mom and Dad do and that he will get his own underwear.
- Pick 3 days on the calendar where we will stay at home.
- Let him pick out his own underwear at the store. This gives him more incentive to keep them dry.
- Dress him only in his underwear from the waist down for all 3 days. This will help him feel wet and will make it easier for me to tell when he’s having an accident. Plus, less laundry!
- Get rid of diapers. (we gave all his cloth diapers to Baby Brother and kept a few disposables for nighttime). Having him help get rid of diapers let’s him know that they are no longer and option.
- Put his potty in a central location. We chose his playroom. His playroom is on a tile floor, plus it’s right outside our kitchen and family rooms. I wanted the potty to be in a central place so for easy access. Having it out in the open reminds him to use it.
- Give plenty of fluids so that he will need to go. The fuller the bladder the more practice he gets.
- Send him every 2 hours to go sit on the potty.
- Scoop him up and put him on the potty when I notice that he’s having an accident or send immediately after an accident. This reinforces the fact that pee goes in the potty
- If he had an accident, remind him to keep his underwear dry, and have him help clean up the mess every time. Try not to get upset about the accident. He’s learning and accidents are going to happen.
- If he uses the potty…even a tiny amount…give lots and lots of praise. We ended up having a potty dance that we danced every time he went. I did not use incentives like stickers or candy because I want him to go because he needs to go, not because he wants an award. The praising was more then enough incentive. Kids want to please the ones they love, so I used that in my advantage!
- Absolutely no diapers/pull-ups during the daytime! If a child is wearing a diaper or a pull-up he will use it. It’s important to stay consistent and I didn’t want to confuse J by sometimes allowing him to not use the potty.
- Keep track. This may seem a bit over the top, but by writing down his accidents and successes I am able to see if he’s improving or if he’s showing any patterns. Plus, it helps me keep track of the last time he went so I can remind him to go.
With that plan in place we were ready!
I planned on starting our potty training adventure on a Thursday morning. I took him to Target on Wednesday to pick out his own new underwear. He picked Thomas the Train and Cars, which are his favorite characters. As soon as we walked into the house he took off his pants and asked to put on his underwear. He got his potty and asked to sit on it right away. Wouldn’t you know it…he went pee pee in the potty! Lots of laughter and cheers followed. So, we went ahead and started a day early.
Here’s how the rest of the day went.
- I kept J in a t-shirt and his underwear all day long. I reminded him not to get Thomas the Train or Lightning McQueen wet. If he had an accident, I let him choose another pair of undies to put on.
- I followed the plan through the entire day.
- He had 5 accidents and once J ran to the potty without prompting and peed.
By the end of the day, I was a bit worried that this was a joke and that it would never work.
J woke up wet and did not pee on the potty in the morning.
- Again, I kept him in just his underwear and a t-shirt, sent him every 2 hours to the potty.
- By 10:00 he had had 3 accidents (including one poop).
The 10:00 accident is when Mommy had a temper tantrum.
I had just sat J on the potty 10 minutes before and he did not go. I asked him about a minute before the accident if he had to go…he said no. Then he peed on the floor. I got mad. I said how angry I was and that I was disappointed because pee pee’s go in the potty, not on the floor. My “Mommy voice” was in full swing and I’m pretty sure I raised my voice louder than he’s used to. I do remember feeling like I needed to get away before I shamed him and made him cry.
So, I sent myself to time out to calm down.
I was angry for about 30 more minutes until J got up from playing and peed on the potty by himself. All the anger went away and I have never been so proud of him. I thought “FINALLY!!!”.
That is the last accident that J had. I’m not sure if it just clicked, or if it was me losing my cool was the trigger, but he finally got it!
We went to the park that afternoon and had an accident-free blast!
- Today he had 3 accidents and 7 successful trips to the potty!
Today he got up and peed on the potty right away. This was his first accident-free day. My husband did catch him mid-poop and sent him to finish in the potty. Most of the day, we’d catch him holding himself and sent him to the potty. If we asked he’d tell us if he had to go, but only on a few occasions, he went on his own.
My goal for the day was to introduce him to the big potty. I really hate the baby potty (so messy!) and I want him to be able to go on a big potty when we are out and about too.
So, I talked up how cool the big potty is and asked J if he wanted to use the same potty that Mommy and Daddy use. He said yes and I helped him sit on it. He was so happy to use the big potty! After a few successful trips, I took the baby potty back upstairs to be used as a step stool. He’s only used the big potty since.
Later that afternoon all three of us went to the mall to play and then out to eat. J was able to use a public bathroom without any problems…which makes me very happy!
- Today he had 0 accidents and 11 successful trips to the potty!
- J has woken up several mornings dry.
- Most of the time he goes to the potty without prompting from us.
- He naps in his underwear and has been staying dry during naps.
- He only uses the big toilet.
- He’s been accident free with both pees and poops since Day 2.
I am fully aware that my experience is probably not the norm. I’ve heard too many stories about potty training failures and struggles to think that potty training is always as easy as it was for us. However, I do want to share with you what I did and why I think it worked. Hey, if it worked for me, it might work for you too!
Here are a few resources about potty training that may help you out!
How I Potty Trained My Daughter in 3 Days – Growing a Jeweled Rose This is the only post I read about potty training before I started. She has some great info that really helped me out.
3 Day Potty Training – I did not read this book, but from what I hear it’s great and very similar to what I did with J.
Taming the Goblin – This blog has a great series of posts about the successes and failures of potty training.
How My Twins Potty Trained Themselves: Caution! Twins at Play – A different system than I used, but I think it’s pretty smart!