Potty Training in One Week: Part 2
There are so many effective ways to potty train, and no one right way, as as long as it is positive and effective for your family. I’d like to share my method, which is based on a a behavior modification method I learned from Dr. Draper, a Child Development Professor at Brigham Young University. I’ve modified it while potty training 5 kids, and it has worked great. It really is possible to potty train your child in one week! By that, I mean that a child is using the bathroom about 90% of the time on his own. It may still take weeks to avoid inevitable accidents as they learn to come inside on time from playing, dare to use the bathroom at a friends house, or stay dry at night. Want to give it a try? Here’s what to do!
Solidify the parent/child relationship
With the intense situations potty training brings, make sure that you have developed good parenting practices such as establishing a home filled with warmth and encouragement, maintaining a predictable schedule, and disciplining effectively without anger. If you are already locked in power struggles or have fallen into the habit of trying to force and control your child, potty training is a train wreck waiting to happen. Get the basics down first, and those skills will transfer to the bathroom. (Check out the past year of Falling in Love with your Family posts, or pick up a good book at your library).
Look for readiness signs.
Life will be so much nicer if your child is showing some basic readiness signs before you start trying to potty train. Notice if he isolates himself to have a bowel movement, or wants to have his diaper changed quickly. A child who doesn’t care if they are sitting in poop is probably not ready to start training yet. Also watch for physical readiness signs like the ability to pull their own pants down and climb up on a stool to wash their hands. Some parents wait until a child can wipe themselves, but most plan on helping in that department for a while.
Set the Stage
Now it is time! It is helpful to have a little potty, or at least an insert into a big toilet seat. (Anyone who has ever fished a little wet bottom out of the toilet bowl can vouch for this.) Stock up on multiple packages of the coolest underwear you can find, lots of juicy treats, and sanitizing cleanser. Spend the week preceding Potty Training Day talking it up, and getting everyone excited for the big day. Practice sitting on the potty with clothes on, and when your child poops in his diaper, put it in the toilet and explain that’s where it goes. Flush and clap.
Potty Training Day
Today is the day, and your focus today will be potty training, and only potty training. You’ll still go about your business, but stay focused. I even turn off the phone
- Start by making a big deal out of the cool new big kid underwear. Let your child pick out which ones he wants to wear, and put them on. Forget the pants.
- Load up on liquids: water, popsicles, juice, etc. and keep them coming all day.
- After only a few minutes, check your child’s underwear. If they are dry, give a high five or hug and praise the dryness. Tell them what a big kid they are.
- Every 30 minutes or so, bring him to the bathroom and put him on the potty. Read a book or sing a song. If nothing happens, take him off, praise the dry underwear, and give him a drink.
- If he wets or poops in his pants, simply clean it up without any unnecessary words. Keep a neutral expression on your face. DON’T say anything like, “Why didn’t you tell me?” or “No, we have to go in the potty now.” Ignore the wetness, praise the dryness.
- Eventually, with all that liquid, your child will go in the potty. When he does, it is party time! Clap, hug, show sister, call grandma, and give your child a little treat, like one M&M. You can use other reinforcers, but with the short time frame of this potty training method, I was okay with using food.
- Keep it up all day.
Potty Training Week
For the rest of the week, continue as above. After the first week, start spacing out the rewards gradually. Eventually you want to stop the treat, and continue praising them for staying dry. You may want to use a pull-up if you are going to a company party or on an airplane, but otherwise don’t look back. Many parents keep using pull-ups until they have some dry mornings, but that’s up to you. If you stay consistent, you are going to have great success with this. We even went so far as to pack up the potty to take to Grandma’s house over Christmas when someone was barely potty-trained.
Just remember…ignore the wetness as much as possible, praise the dryness, and have a party when they use the bathroom. You really can potty train in one week!