Potty Training Tips: 10 ways I trained my 22 month old son in less than a week

The Internet has no shortage of potty training tips...many of them from well-intended doctors and other self-proclaimed and actual experts.  If you ask me, when it comes to potty training the best person to ask for advice is a mom who's been through it.  (Hello, nice to meet you!)   That's exactly what I did and with the support of my girlfriend I successfully potty trained my 22 month old son in under a week using the 3 day Potty Training Boot Camp Method.

Now, I'm on the other side and am here to offer you my 10 tips for potty training quickly and successfully:
  1. Take advantage of interest: My son started showing signs of potty training readiness around 18 months old.  I made a half-hearted effort to potty train him then, but it didn't work so I quit because come on the kid was soooo young.  However, when at 21 months and 3 weeks old he started pulling off his diaper when he had to pee, I knew I had to take advantage of it -- 6 days later he's telling me when he has to pee and staying dry in his underwear. 
  2. Start pre-2 years old:  If possible start potty training your child before their second birthday.  By doing so, you avoid that stubborn and controlling behavior they begin to display... you know, during the "Terrible 2s."
  3. Keep 'em naked: My son ran around with only a shirt and socks for six full days.  By keeping diapers, pullups, underwear and pants off your child you do a few things.  First, when your trainee pees he is aware that it's running down his leg.  Children can also visualize what they're doing which puts two and two together --- OHHHH, that's pee and that's the feeling I get before I pee and that's what happens when I pee -- I get all wet!  Secondly, for boys (and I trained my daughter at this age, too and there was no physical way to know except her pee pee dance) there are visual signs you will miss if you keep your child covered up on bottom.  A little boy's penis appears to "fill up" and get slighty, just slightly, longer before he needs to urinate.  If you can watch it and put him on the potty when this happens, you'll have a better chance of catching him pee in the potty instead of on the floor.  All you need are a few successful times on the potty before a child starts to grasp the concept that pee goes in the potty.
  4. Skip the Pull Ups I used Pull Ups when I was potty training my now 4.5 year old daughter.  At the time, I didn't feel totally comfortable letting her run around the house naked, plus our old house had all carpet so the mess was much more difficult to clean up.  This time around, I went straight from diapers to underwear successfully.  Pull Ups have a very similar feel to diapers so it can be confusing for children and hard for them to distinguish why they can pee and poop in a diaper, but not in a Pull Up.  Continue to use diapers or pull ups during naps and at night time until your child continually wakes up dry.  This took more than a year for my daughter after she was fully potty trained.
  5. Stay homeAs a SAHM, there's not much I wouldn't do to avoid sitting around the house -- but for three or four or five days it's well worth it if the result is quickly potty training my not yet two year old.  By staying home, you can focus on potty training, stay close to a potty at all times (keep them in several rooms on every level of the house...keeping it your toddler's sight is a constant reminder), go the naked route, and avoid using pull ups and even underwear in the first few days -- which is crucial. 
  6. Push fluids:  Practice makes perfect.  The only way to practice potty training is to have to pee a lot...give your child a lot to drink so they have to pee a lot.  You can back off once they get the hang of it in days 3 or 4. 
  7. Offer Potty Training rewards:  I'm not a briber -- with one exception: potty training. I will pretty much do anything to get my kids to learn to use the potty.  My daughter ate so many M&Ms while we were potty training her, she was an M&M for Halloween that year.  My son has a sweet tooth too.  Every time he pees -- be it a little or a lot, be it in the potty or him sitting on the potty but having poor aim and hitting the floor-- he gets a treat.  Of course, no treats for peeing in pants, peeing on the floor when not seated on the potty, or sitting on the potty but without peeing.  Pee while sitting on potty=treat! I backed off the treats and started doing about every other successful potty run on about day 6.  By this time, he got it!!
  8. Sing their Praises: EVERY time your child successfully uses the potty make a huge deal.  Act like they just got a full ride to an Ivy League college -- sing, dance, twirl, cheer....basically just make a fool of yourself to let them know just how proud you are of their accomplishment -- whether it's a drip or a flood!
  9. Don't scold:  If your child has an accident, no matter how big, don't scold them. This will only scare them and can derail potty training, especially in the first few days.  My son literally pooped all over the floor -- he'd been holding the poop for 2 days (he's usually a two a day pooper) so when that first "plug poop" came out I should have known more was coming.  He tagged my daughter's Build a Bear dog, the one area rug I have in the house, and left a trail of poo behind him.  It took everything I could not to scream -- but I held back and since then we've had two successful #2s in the potty.
  10. Don't force the issue:  If your child starts to show signs of potty training regression, don't force the issue.  By forcing them to sit on the potty against their wishes, you make it a control issue and that is not what you want.  Your child needs to be able to feel comfortable, calm, and relaxed in order to pee and even more so, poop, in the potty.  My son showed major resistance to potty training on day 3.  I just kinda dropped the issue for the day with the intention of giving him three more days afterwards to see if he got any better.  When I picked up on Day 4 I gave him lots to drink so he had to pee a lot and I'm happy to report he had only one accident between that day and the two following days.
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Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all of the helpful tips! My 2 1/2 year old son is currently potty training, and other than a few accidents here and there, he is doing great. I have looked at a lot of articles on potty training and yours was the most helpful and practical. We are doing the "commando" approach during the day and a pull-up at night, and it seems to be going well. Fingers crossed!

Melissa Viscount said...

I'm so glad it's working for you. I have come to find that the more I stress about it the more accidents my son has. If I act like I don't care, he goes days without an accident. Also, just as a side note, we no longer use the little potty except if we're on the go and in the car. He now prefers to actually stand on the toilet seat, facing toward the back of the toilet. I am not lying when I say he pees and poops this way. I philosophy is there are no rules in potty training - whatever gets it in the pot!

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