How To Potty Train Your Kid (Boot Camp Style)
By Issa of Issas Crazy World
This Boot Camp Style Potty Training course is a four-day process. Be prepared and be scared (not really!).
1. Your child has to be ready.
Yes, I mean your child, not you. I don’t care if your goal is to have your child potty trained by a certain date for whatever reason, school or a new baby…it never works unless he is ready. My rule of thumb is if he tells you when he just pooped and asks you to change him or does all his business in a corner and then comes to hang out right near you, because he knows you’ll change him, then! he is ready. Also, he must be able to communicate with you to a certain degree. Some kids stand in a corner when they poop, but will not come and tell you. When you ask, and he says, “nopes, not poopy.” But then, he starts to giggle, you know he is starting to understand.
2. Make Potty Training an Event.
Potty Training should be done over a week or on a long weekend when you can be at home with your child to monitor the process. Buy little underwear with your kid’s favorite cartoon character on it and buy jellybeans too! If your kid likes something besides jellybeans, go for that instead. (I don’t buy chocolate, just because it seems unfair to only give out one measly M&M. But that’s just me.) If you’re against candy, go with stickers. If you have a an especially willful child, invest in both. Whatever works for you.
3. Go cold turkey. No more diapers. Do not buy Pull-Ups.
This is very important. There is no place for these things in Boot Camp Potty Training. They are a waste of time and they ruin the process. Pull-Ups are still diapers, just ones that leak after a while. Yes, I know this is harsh, but it works wonders. Then there is no confusion. But please for the love of all things sane, warn her for a few days beforehand. Talk about being big and using the potty like mommy and daddy.
Instead, buy a little kid seat that fits over a regular toilet seat cover. It prevents you from cleaning out an itty bitty potty and in my non-professional opinion, it works better and faster. Kids like the idea of doing what we do. Why in the world should we buy a different version of what we already own? The little seat will teach your child to use a real toilet without falling in and not think of it as a toy. This is important since toilets are not toys.
4. Put your child in underwear right away.
The first morning, put her in underwear. Let her help you put a stool in front of the toilet and the little seat thing on it. Be specific and explain to her that she is now bigger and that she needs to use the potty and not pee or poop in her underwear. Tell her to let you know when she needs to pee and if she does she will earn a jellybean. Show her the bag of jellybeans, as she needs to see the prize to really understand that you mean it. Just remember you have to be willing to give her a jellybean every single time, including first thing in the morning. The first day, ask her every 20 minutes if she needs to go potty. Make her try at least once an hour. If she pees even the teeniest bit in the potty, give her two jellybeans. Two is important, because she is probably two years old at this point and understands that the number two is important. When/if she has an accident, stop everything to change her, no matter what. Don’t make a big deal of the mess, but tell her, oh when you don’t pee/poop in the potty, we have to stop everything we are doing. Trust me, your child won’t want that. Continue this for two days. If you have a willful child, you will have a hard time getting her in a diaper for sleeping. Either put the underwear over it or really go cold turkey and put a plastic sheet under her bedsheets.
Over the following two days, you will see improvement. Your child will want those jellybeans, I promise. You will be doing a lot of cleaning up that first day. Sorry, but it has to be done. Kids will quickly learn that they hate being wet and having to be changed so often. After you change your child, make her sit on the potty again, even though you know she won’t do anything. It makes a point.
5. Take your show on the road.
Make that the plan for the third day. Pack one and ONLY ONE pair of extra clothing and underwear. Remind him that if he pees in his clothes, he will have to be changed. Go to the park or the zoo. Do something fun. Kids like to check out new potties. As often as you can stand it, make him try to pee in a regular potty. I know it can be gross. Some people take a little portable seat potty with them. The first time he has an accident (if he does), change him. Afterwards, make him try to use the potty. Warn him a few times next time, you will have to go home, because we have no more clothing with us. Please continue to go about your day. If he doesn’t pee, great; but if he is still having a lot of accidents, you need to wait until he has one again. It makes a point. Kids hate having to leave places when they’re having fun, especially the park.
The fourth day is the most crucial. Take your potty-training son somewhere he LOVES, even if it is Parental Hell** and you hate it. Warn him that you brought no underwear and no extra clothing. Be specific and explain if he does not come to you and tell you when he needs to pee and has an accident, you will need to go home, even if they are not ready to leave. When you get to the location, make sure he uses the bathroom. Ask him frequently, because it will not be fun to make him leave. Remind him nicely about “the leaving policy.” If he has an accident, leave immediately. He will most likely scream and throw a fit. Ignore it. Take the long way home. Whether he is not screaming or not, tell him how sorry you are that you had to leave and remind him why it had to happen. Ask him whether it is uncomfortable to be wet or poopy and to have to sit in it.
At this point, you should have a mostly potty-trained kid. Go about your normal routine. Keep reminding him to use the potty, I mean they are toddlers. But by this point, most kids will come and tell you a lot of the time. Keep up the jellybeans or stickers for a week or two, but start to phase it out. Go down to one jellybean and then start telling her, next time.
Now have a drinking party for you, yourself and um…me. You deserve it. Congratulations. Now make them get a job. Just kidding.
**Parental Hell is what I call places like Chuck-E-Cheese.
Published January 16, 2009. Last updated June 29, 2018.