Extreme Potty Training: A Diary
My early and all-at-once approach isn't favored by many potty-training experts, who prefer to wait for cues from your child that he wants to begin and then to take it slow. Training gradually is less exhausting, says Karen Deerwester, author of The Potty Training Answer Book. "It protects parents and children from the frustration that can undermine success." She believes it's easier to train children when they are between 2 1/2 and 3 because they have better language and cognitive skills. But other potty-training experts believe that most children, if introduced to the potty on a regular schedule at an early age, can stay reliably accident-free between 18 and 24 months. In fact, before the 1960s, when disposable diapers came on the market, most kids were out of diapers by 2. "Parents have been convinced that there is something inherently dangerous about training their child before he is 'ready,' and there is simply no evidence to support that," says pediatrician Jill Lekovic, M.D., author of Diaper Free Before 3.
Some might call what I did with my 2-year-old twins nuts, but it worked for us. Here's the action plan I devised, along with my thumbs-up or thumbsdown assessment, in hindsight, of each step along the way.
Ditch the diapers -- and that includes training pants. Except for during naps and at night, it was underwear or bust.
Get them naked and outside on the grass. The idea was to minimize cleanup and the need to pull their pants down after whisking them to the potty. But since they felt no discomfort, they didn't realize they were peeing.
Scatter potties around the house. We bought four potty chairs so the boys would never be more than 15 feet from one.
Assign one adult to each child for five full days. In addition to getting help from our nanny, I scheduled friends to come for two-hour time slots so that we could use the toilet or eat without missing any opportunities for a "hit."
Don't leave the premises for three days. Worrying about accidents is too stressful on the adult and puts a kink in the potty schedule.
Pump them with water. We bought the boys fun new water bottles and encouraged them to guzzle, on the theory that repetition is everything. The incessant peeing was exhausting for us but, I think, helped get the point across.
Set a timer. We put the boys on the potty every ten minutes for the first two days, then gradually increased the time between bathroom visits to an hour. Having a schedule was very helpful, but every ten minutes was far too often.
Reward them. We gave stickers each time they peed on the potty, but the stickers quickly lost power.
Be matter-of-fact about accidents. We didn't condemn or coddle; we simply repeated "Pee-pee goes in the potty" and cleaned up the mess. The mantra works.