You’ve probably heard of potty training a child in a weekend — sometimes called a 3-day potty training boot camp — and wondered if these programs actually work. The answer? Not often! The three-day potting training method assumes that potty training is a simple process and that once your toddler learns the new routine, they’ll simply march their way to the bathroom. This may work with kids who have easygoing personalities and like to follow the rules, but it’s safe to say that toddlers like that aren’t the majority. If you’re looking for a more realistic approach, read on for some ideas!
Before You Start
Kids are ready to potty train at different ages, so it’s important not to get stuck on a number. Instead, watch for signs that your toddler is ready to start potty training, including these:
- Pulling at a wet or dirty diaper.
- Hiding to pee or poop.
- Showing interest or copying the behavior of people who are using the bathroom.
- Staying dry in their diaper for longer than usual.
- Waking up dry from a nap.
- Telling you that they’re about to go or have just gone.
Step 2: Potty Personality
Even if you’ve already potty trained a big brother or sister, you’ll surely notice that no two kids are alike — in potty training or any other area. Once you’ve determined their personality, you can access tips tailored to their personality. Take this quiz to determine their potty personality, and click below for a sneak peek of what you might learn:
- Shy Personality: Nervous, resistant to change
- Cautious Personality: Follows directions, careful and detailed
- Eager-to-Please Personality: Ready and willing
- Free-Spirited Personality: Independent, fun-loving
- High-Energy Personality: Driven, energetic, easily distracted
Before you kick off potty training, make sure you have everything you need. Some items to include in your at-home kit may be:
- A small potty or child potty seat
- A step stool
- Pull-Ups® training pants
- Foamy soap (kids love it!)
- A reward chart and other incentives
Most adults don’t talk about their bathroom habits — unless they have a reason to discuss them with their doctor. But if you’re going to potty train a child, you must get comfortable talking about what you do on the toilet and what you’re teaching them to do. If you don’t already have words you use regularly with your child to describe what they’ll be putting in the potty, take a moment to decide. Do you want to use words like urine, BM and toilet? Or more casual words like potty, pee and poop? It’s up to you which words you choose: Just be sure to keep them consistent, so you don’t confuse your little one.
Step 5: Demonstration
Kids love to mimic their parents — and big sisters, brothers or other family members. As you start to introduce the steps of potty training, try the “Can You Do What I Do?” game. It's a wonderful way to show your child how the toilet flushes, how to wash their hands well and other important actions they’ll be taking. Also, have your child practice pulling their pants and training pants up and down. It’s an important skill to master so a child can get on the potty in time when they must go.
It’s Time: Let Them Try
Once you’ve prepared for your 3-day potty training adventure, choose a few days in a row where you know you’ll be at home and not too busy. On the first day, make sure you start potty training as soon as your child wakes up in the morning. Bring them right to the bathroom and give them a chance to become familiar with sitting on the toilet. If they go, make sure to celebrate their successes by offering rewards or words of encouragement.
Throughout the day, make sure to keep their sippy cup full of water, milk, or even their favorite juice. Making sure your child is well hydrated will increase the number of trips to the bathroom to practice even more.
Lastly, make sure to take them to the bathroom on a consistent schedule, including before nap time and bedtime. Whether you decide to have them wear diapers or training pants to bed is entirely up to you. Whichever route you decide to take, make sure to keep a routine for your child to catch on to.
Day Two and Three
Repeat all the same steps from day one. While we recommend staying at home as much as possible during this potty training boot camp so your toddler recognizes and learns from the consistency, you might also consider venturing out into the world on the last day to get your child used to going to the bathroom in public.
Remember accidents will happen, and the most important thing is to not make a big deal of it. Adding pressure and a fear of failure may only elongate the potty training process. Simply remind your child that “pee and poop goes in the potty,” and keep positively reinforcing when they have bathroom victories.
Together, you and your potty training child have an exciting adventure ahead. Make it a fun one!