Ever since we decided to have children, I have been dreading the time when I would have to potty train my eldest child. It was bad enough that I would have to figure out cues and readiness, but he’s a boy . . . and that is something I just cannot relate with. That’s probably why I dragged my feet until I absolutely had to just do it.
I got butterflies in my stomach when I wrote the $75 registration check for my son’s pre-K class. The school we’d chosen required that all the kids in pre-K be completely potty trained on day one. And while I would love to say that I was steadfast in my plan to have him potty trained by the time he was a year old — or, at the latest, 18 months — I didn’t. So there we were, getting ready for school with no underwear in sight.
But the deposit check made the whole thing more urgent and important. It had to be done. One problem though: Will had never so much as peed in the toilet, and the baby potty was an expensive place for him to keep me company in the bathroom.
Then a friend suggested that I try her cold turkey method. It sounded like a great idea … but first I needed to get him peeing in the potty and be sure that he was ready.
Here’s how it worked.
Step one: Peeing in the potty
When the baby potty and the mini potty seat didn’t work, we were desparate. But a childcare professional suggested turning Will around so that he faced the back of the toilet while he peed. That alone didn’t get him to go.
But, we kept trying day after day until we had a breakthrough: while thanking a friend for gifts over the phone, Will peed. Finally, he knew the sensation.
Step two: Gauging readiness
After Will peed in the toilet, facing backwards, we went out and got big boy underwear. But after he wet the underwear in the first 30 minutes of wearing them, we compromised on Pull Ups.
Six months later, we were still changing diapers and hemmoraging Pull Ups. No matter what kind they were — the feel wet kind, the cooling kind, etc — he kept peeing in them. Unless, of course, we bribed him to use the potty.
The final straw — and our realization that he was indeed ready — came when Will began telling his father and I when he was going to pee in the diaper. Obviously, we’d hit the laziness factor. And with our deadline looming, it was time to get serious.
Step three: Trained in two days
Now that we knew that Will was indeed ready for the potty, I set out to trade the Pull Ups for underwear in a matter of days. I warned him a few weeks in advance that as of his third birthday, it would be bye-bye diapers. He knew it was coming, and wasn’t surprised when I told him the week of his birthday that Friday was his diaper deadline. We picked up some more underwear and were all ready to go Saturday morning.
On Saturday, Will got up and put on his underwear. I asked him about every 20 minutes if he had to pee or poop. He did use the toilet a few times, but then had a pee accident (followed quickly by a poop on the potty). Later that day, the same thing happened. Over the next week or so, we averaged about one accident a day, mostly right before needing to poop. But within one day, we were able to go to stores without incident. By two weeks, we were (knock on wood) nearly accident free. Will was potty trained.
How to use this technique
The one-weekend technique will work if your child is ready to be a potty trained kid. You need to be prepared for accidents of both varieties. The key with the accidents is to let the child know that pee and poop go in the potty.
Choose some fun underwear to get your child excited about using the potty and let them choose their underwear. Now comes the hard part: be unyielding. Switch the diapers for underwear and don’t look back. If you want to continue diapering at nap and nighttimes, let the child know that diapers are only for sleepytime. They will get it.
Remember to ask if they have to use the toilet frequently. This will remind them that they are wearing underwear and need to go. It’s easy to get lazy on this point, but it’s important that you don’t. Push through the hard times. There will be some challenging days — just don’t give up!
Read more about potty training
- How to tell when your child is ready for potty training
- Been there! Done that! Potty training tips
- No interest in potty training