When it came time to potty train my son, I waited for him to tell me when he was ready. And he wasn't ready to take his "pee-peeing" by storm until he turned 3. I trained him using the 3-Day Potty Training Method. If you're a working mom, like me, I suggest you take off Friday and bang potty training out in a long weekend. Why? Because you need to quarantine yourselves in your home—or in my case (cringe), small apartment—for three entire days, no exceptions.
"The parent(s) needs to know that it will take work and you have to dedicate a full three days to the child. This means giving up 'me' time. You won't be cooking, cleaning or visiting with friends—or Keeping up with the Kardashians. You will seriously be spending all waking hours with your child for three days," says Lora Jensen, author of 3-Day Potty Training.
And when you're figuring out how to potty train a boy or girl, she says, you must plan ahead: "Have your shopping done and meals prepared ahead of time. Do the laundry and clean the house prior to starting. Be ready to play games, color, watch cartoons and just enjoy some bonding time with your child."
It's not a bad idea to arrange playdates out of the home for older kids, too. Make this three day potty training mission about your soon-to-be potty pro.
What You'll Need for 3-Day Potty Training
Pick up a few T-shirts that will cover your kid's private area. Why? Your child will be going commando for three days—at least mine did (and he loved it). The theory is that if he knows the diaper isn't there to catch the pee or poop, it should click that he needs to get his bare butt to a potty. But if that makes you uncomfortable, Jensen says using undies with no pants is OK for potty training boys and girls, too.
"We do not put pants on the child during the training process because we want to be able to see when they have an accident," she says.
Speaking of Accidents...
"Accidents will happen; that is part of training. Children learn from having those accidents," says Jensen of potty training girls and boys. "The 3-Day Potty Training Method is against punishments during training. You will clean up the accident and simply encourage them to make it to the toilet next time. Praise goes a long way."
Stock Up on Drinks
I'm a rebel, and my kid drank juice when he was 2 and 3, so I bought a bunch of reduced sugar juice boxes. Encourage your kid to drink more than usual. This will obviously cause your kid to have to pee, and that's what you want when potty training—that feeling, that urge.
Gentle Reminders Work
If your kid doesn't go after sucking down a juice box, remind him to go. And when he says, "no"—and he will!—tell him to just try. Remember this is potty training, not game day. You're his coach.
Prizes Are Important
My son doesn't have a sweet tooth, so candy rewards didn't work for us. I did, however, hit up a local dollar store for potty training incentives—stickers, crayons, coloring books and action heroes. He didn't get a prize every time because it's for peeing in the toilet, not on the rug or all over himself.
A Surprising Potty Training Product
Bath mats have rubber bottoms and can serve as a barrier between an accident and your couch or rug when teaching your boy or girl how to potty train. You don't want to make a huge deal of an accident. Just clean your kid up and move on.
But What About Day vs. Night?
"You will be training for both day and night. Training for both at the same time keeps the child from getting confused...If you train for both day and night, you eliminate the crutch or feeling they can just go in their diaper or pull-up," Jensen says of potty training. Basically, go big or go home!
Got it? OK, Here's How to Potty Train Your Boy or Girl in Three Days:
- When your child wakes up in the morning, change his soggy diaper and bid farewell. Have your kid throw the diaper out and say "bye-bye."
- Change your kid into one of the oversize T-shirts you bought and explain there is no diaper to catch the pee-pee or poop, so he has to put it in the potty.
- Give your kid breakfast and an extra drink. Afterwards, lead your little one to the potty. It should be a successful trip after all those liquids.
- Go on with the day, but remember, no leaving the house during the three day potty training. Play, read, color and watch cartoons.
- Have a constant sippy cup of water at your kid's reach. Just like crate-training a puppy, walk your child to the potty every 15 minutes, all day long for three days.
- Cut off all liquids and snacks after dinner while potty training.
- Complete one final potty mission before bed.
- Wake your kid up halfway through the night to pee. (Yes, set an alarm.)
- Repeat for the next two days.
- Don't get upset about potty training accidents. They're not a big deal. Don't react.