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Potty Training in a DAY?!


Technically, the book was Toilet Training in LESS than a Day.

But I’m not that good.

Because the book assumed that you had no other distractions and simply POTTY TRAINED for hours on end.  It actually said to “let the child regain PLAYING” after training was completed.  And I have to say, Benjamin still played throughout the process.  But there was a lot of training.  Mixed in with lots of nursing.

I did have a four-week-old, for crying out loud.

And it worked.  In a day, he was potty trained.

And let me explain here what the definition of “potty training” is, according to this method.

It is NOT, “He never ever wets his pants.”

It’s not even, “He goes poopy in the potty.”

It’s, “He knows how to and can relieve himself at the right time, in the right place.”  (My words, not from the book.)

(Except for the poopy.  Still working on that.  That one has been harder for both my children.)

So I call Benjamin “potty trained.”  And I’m ecstatic.  I can probably count the accidents he’s had in the two weeks since Training Day on one hand.  Well, it may take two hands if you count the poopies… but I think we rounded that corner tonight!

It took a year and a half to potty train Olivia.  Lots of “giving up”.  On both ends.  Lots of fighting.  On both ends.  Lots of laundry.  On my end.  Turns out I was doing it all wrong.

Here are the tips I learned that I contribute to the success I’ve had with Benjamin:

Once you start training, don’t stop. Pick a good day when you don’t have to go out and won’t be interrupted (too much).  Because it will confuse the child if you put diapers back on him at any point during the day.   Make sure both you and the child are ready for this, because there’s no turning back.

Actually teach the child how to potty.  This is what was lacking when I trained Olivia.  (Well this and the fact that we KEPT PUTTING DIAPERS BACK ON HER.)  We kept asking her if she had to go potty; if she wanted to go potty.  Then we’d pull down her pants for her, put her on the potty ourselves, then sit and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Try to explain exactly how pee-pee comes out in case that helps.  It doesn’t.

With this method, it starts with a doll that wets.  You show the child how the doll goes in the potty, step-by-step.  Starting with pulling down underwear, then wiping, then pulling up underwear, and ending with dumping “pee” into the potty.  Then the child teaches the doll.

Then the doll wets her pants and the child reprimands the doll and changes the doll, and has the doll practice not only going potty, but going quickly from the place where the doll had the accident to the toilet so the doll can learn how to go potty the right way.  After the child has learned the proper steps involved in going potty, you can put the doll away.

Then the child practices going potty.  The parent guides the child’s hands in the tasks of pulling down underwear and explains how (in simple terms) the child is to perform these tasks, but does not do them herself.  And I never once explained to Olivia how to pull down and up underwear!  Never once thought that it may be helpful if her hands were on the sides of the underwear for pulling down, but one hand in front and one in back for pulling back up!

There were a lot of other helpful tips in the book for minute details like that, but those were the most helpful and eye-opening for me and helped me to get the right perspective about how I should be teaching every.little.thing to Benjamin instead of watching him struggle by himself.  Or, worse, doing it completely by myself and not allowing him to actually learn at all.

Set the timer.  Every fifteen minutes I took Benjamin potty (with him doing all the actions himself, of course).  And we sat there for 10 minutes.  This is necessary so that he’ll accidentally go potty IN the chair and you’ll be there to witness it and praise him like crazy.  And that’s how he learns what it feels like to go in the potty, and that this is GOOD.

Every 3-5 minutes (when he’s not on the potty), ask him if he’s dry.  Guide his hands so he actually feels his dry pants and recognizes that feeling as GOOD.  In fact, this is part of the doll-training, too.  Have the child feel the doll’s pants before it wets in the potty.  When it’s dry, praise the doll like crazy and give it a treat.

Lots of treats. This starts at the beginning.  The doll gets a treat for being dry, and again for going on the potty.  Then ask the child if he’s dry.  When he says “yes,” ask him if he’d like to eat the dolly’s treat, since the poor dolly can’t.  Then give the child a treat the first time he goes in the potty.  (Carry these treats in your pocket so you have them at all times!)  We used mini marshmallows, Cheetos, M&M’s, crackers, and fun juices (didn’t carry these in my pockets…)

Benjamin would get the hugest grin when I’d ask him if he was dry.  “Yes, MARSHMALLOW!!”  And after he went potty, “Now BIG MARSHMALLOW!!”

All these treats mean the child isn’t getting sick of you constantly asking him if he’s dry. He’s excited when you ask and excited to be dry!

Drink a ton. To create as many learning experiences as possible, give the child A TON to drink.  We bought special juice boxes and Capri Sun pouches and different flavored juices and even some lemonade (which, turns out, he didn’t like.)  He drank so much that day that he had to go to the bathroom SEVERAL times!

Talk it up. At first, I was astounded at the amount of time we were going to be spending on the potty and didn’t know what we would possibly do to pass the time.  But the book had several ideas for this as well.  We talked about cleanliness, which was our main reason for potty training.  We talked about how pee-pee was dirty and peeing in our pants made them dirty and made ourselves dirty.

We talked about how the people we loved were happy when we stayed clean (and dry).  We went through the list one at a time, talking about Gammy and Pop Pop and Grandma and Grandpa and Sassa and Shannie and Noah and Ashton and Sister and Daddy and, yes, even Mommy!

And then we talked about how sad those people are when we are dirty.

We talked about how he will be such a big boy when he learns to put his dirty pee-pee in the potty instead of his pants.  We talked about Sister’s underwear and Daddy’s underwear and Mommy’s underwear and BENJAMIN’S NEW DINOSAUR UNDERWEAR.

We had lots to talk about.

We didn’t read books or let ourselves be distracted from the potty training in any way!  This is un-diluted training, people!

(Unlike how I “trained” Olivia.  Sigh.)

Don’t punish accidents, PRACTICE. It’s bound to happen, with all that juice drinking, that one of these dry inspections will come up wet.  You ask the child if he is still dry.  Have him feel the wetness (this is gross, yet necessary!), and explain your disappointment in the dirty, wet pants.  The book was careful to specify that a loud, “NO!” was necessary if you caught your child in the act of peeing (it would interrupt them!), but beyond that, there should be no shouting, yelling, etc.  Just calm explaining of how this is dirty and wrong, it makes Momma, Grandma, etc. sad.

And explain that “We have to practice now, so we can pee-pee in the potty.”  I would take Benjamin to the place where the accident happened, explaining on the way that we needed to practice so we could go faster and make it to the potty on time.  Then, when we got there, I would say, “Oh!  Pee-pee’s coming!  Run to potty!  Go quick!”  The whole way I would guide him from behind to make sure he was going quickly and verbally remind him that we are supposed to be moving quickly!

When we got to the potty, he had to pull down his pants, sit down, then stand up, and pull up his pants.  He was not supposed to actually go potty during these runs… but sometimes he did.  He received no treats during these times, though, because I would remind him that he had just peed on the floor and we needed to continue practicing.

We did two practice runs like this from the place the accident happened, and then eight more from various places in the house so that he could practice learning the route to the bathroom from all possible places.  We even practiced from Momma’s closet and the high chair!  This part made it more fun for him.

Towards the end of the training, I would have him start playing with a toy only to tell him a second later, “Pee-pee’s coming!  Drop the toy!  Go to the potty!”  Because I noticed he would be confused when playing if the urge to pee came; he would not know whether to take the toy with him or not!  He would just stand there, staring at the toy with a frantic look on his face, while he peed on the floor!

So, yes, ten practice runs after every accident.  I believe this contributes to the speediness of the training more than any other aspect.  But don’t take away toys or give other punishments for being wet.  (If your child is like Benjamin, he will see the practice runs as punishment enough!  He was quite pitiful as he begged that he be “Done” after only 2 runs!)

Learn responsibility.  This method also did a lot to teach the child responsibility, which I greatly appreciated.  He pulled up and down his own pants (after many practice runs, he finally got it!).  He emptied the potty into the toilet and flushed it.  And after an accident, he would take off his wet pants, put them in the hamper, and get out a clean pair for himself.

(After I wiped him, of course.  Cleanliness!)

I even had him clean the mess up with a dry washcloth, then gave him a spray bottle of vinegar and water and had him clean the dirty area with a new cloth.  He actually really liked all this responsiblity!  But not so much that he went peeing on the floor on purpose…

Using this method, I truly was training him, it wasn’t the other way around (which is what it felt like when we were potty training Olivia!).

The actual training takes a day or less. The child is considered “trained” when they fell the urge to go, and then actually go, in the potty, all by themselves.  No parent seeing them grab themselves and urging them to go.  No reminders, “Do you have to go?”  The child senses the urge and completes the task independently.  This is when your child is trained.  Being trained does NOT mean they’ll never have another accident again, unfortunately.

Never wear diapers again. And after he is trained, it is inevitable that he’ll have to go somewhere.  In a carseat.  In a store.  To the doctor’s office.  This is a leap of faith.  On the day I trained Benjamin, we ended up going out that evening.  But the mess!  Maybe just a pull-up…?

No.  Nothing that would make him feel safe.  He needs to know the consequences of wetting his pants.  It is messy.  Pull-ups don’t make him feel messy.  They don’t make him feel wet.  There is no consequence to the action and the training is undone.

But do bring a LOT of treats with you.  And ask him CONSTANTLY if he is dry.  If you keep his mind on this, he will recognize the urge to pee sooner and you’ll be able to get him to a potty sooner as well.

Also, bring a potty!  We have a second potty chair in the back of our van. And, in the past two weeks, since we trained Benjamin, we’ve used it no less than three times!  Put a plastic grocery bag in the bowl and throw in a stack of napkins, a sanitary pad, a nursing pad, anything absorbant.  It’s a mess-free potty-on-the-go!

Don’t let fits deter you. Of course, choose a day when your child has had plenty of sleep, isn’t sick, isn’t going through grandparent-withdrawl.  We want as few fits as possible.  But with all the practicing and general work that this method involves, you’re bound to meet a little resistance.

Don’t quit the training.  Not even to punish the child.  In fact, don’t punish the child!  We don’t want negative connotations connected with going potty.  Keep your cool and just guide the child’s hands.  If he refuses to pull down his pants, put your hands on his hands and pull down the pants for him.  This would happen all.the.time with the potty practice runs we would have to do after an accident.  I would calmly explain that we had to do this so we could practice going faster, because we want to stay clean.  It was exhausting, but it works.

Just don’t interrupt the training and the potty practices runs with time-outs and such.  Keep to it, do it right, and your child will learn that this is just the way it is going to be!

How it ends:

The potty trips every fifteen minutes get spread out to every  half an hour or more when the child gets better at pulling up and down his own underwear and looses the reluctance to walk to the potty.

The ten minute potty-sitting-time is reduced to five minutes once he has peed in the potty.

After the child is trained, you no longer have to ask them if they are dry every 3-5 minutes.  However, it should still be asked several times a day:  before each meal, every snack, before and after naptimes – about seven times per day.  The book says not to reward dryness after training, but I did, carefully weaning him off the treats by quickly distracting him after I’d ask him.

After a child is trained, you should rarely tell them to go potty.  I emphasize “rarely” because the book says “never” and to that, I say, “poppycock!”.  I still think that a child should be directed to go potty before naptimes, bedtimes, and getting in the car.  Besides that, he does need to learn on his own, through trial and error (unfortunately), to act on the urge before it is too late.  After all, we are training them.  They’re not training us!

After a week, “dry inspections” can be discontinued.  But I still like to praise him randomly for being so “clean”!

After a week of no accidents, the practice potty runs can end.  This means you may be doing them after every accident for a good two weeks.  But there won’t be many accidents!  It’s really that amazing!

What about poopies, naptimes, and nighttimes? Honestly, these are the three aspects where the book was found lacking.  It said to treat poopies just like pee-pees.  But I didn’t have my child change his own poopy pants all by himself.  He still had ten practice potty runs after a poopy accident.  But it took much longer to learn to go poopy in the potty, where the book said it shouldn’t take any additional time or training.  It makes sense that it would take more time, as a child only poops once a day, instead of the many, many times he pees.  (You give him juice to make him pee more, what, are you supposed to give him laxatives to make him poop more?  Perhaps we should have tried prunes!)

The book said not to nap the day of training, so it would not be interrupted. But Benjamin needs his nap!  So, because it also said never to put diapers back on the child, we didn’t.  We didn’t have Benjamin go down for naps that day, but put him in underwear for naps on the days after training.  He’s woken up dry more often than wet, but there are still accidents.

The book said not to attempt night-time training until the child is 2 1/2 years old.  Benjamin is a few months shy of that, but the morning after training, he woke up with a dry diaper!  So he hasn’t worn a diaper to bed since.  And he’s wet the bed A LOT since.  Probably as often as he’s woke up dry, if not more.  So now he’s in Happy Heiny pull-up training pants.  They’re stuffable, so they can absorb a night-time amount of pee, but they are too difficult for him to pull them up and down.  We alternate with Imse Vimse cloth pull-up training pants.  These feel just like underwear – very easy to pull up and down, but only absorb a small accident.  There is no perfect nighttime cloth pull-up that we’ve found.  I’m game for all opinions/advice!  I want him to feel the wetness, so I don’t want disposable pull-ups.

Helpful tips for training:

Don’t put them in a shirt (if the weather is warm enough).  If it’s too cold, then pin up the shirt so it doesn’t interfere with them pulling down their underwear.

Don’t put them in pants – just underwear.  Add the pants later, after they are trained.

Use loose underwear that is easy for them to pull up and down.  If his underwear is too tight, use big sister’s!  Or stretch or cut the elastic in the legs and waistband so that it is loose enough.

Put the potty in a central place with linoleum, tile, or hardwood floors.  A kitchen is preferable if there is enough room.  Our little potty started out in the living room since we have hardwood floors.

Don’t get too excited when sitting in the bathroom waiting for him to potty.  Use a calm, relaxed voice, and don’t let big sister come in and distract  him by acting all crazy.  Going to the bathroom requires relaxation.  Josh and I joked about lighting some candles and turning on some flute music for him.  But we didn’t.

On that note, don’t buy a potty that sings obnoxious songs and makes obnoxious noises.

Also, don’t buy a potty with a removable cup for boys.  It will fall off into the potty entirely too often.  And that is messy.


If you need a more in-depth look at this method, sign up for swagbucks, earn a $5 amazon.com gift card, and use it to [mostly] buy this book.  Or just spend the $7.99.

They do an excellent job of breaking down every little thing, even having an expanded section on how to appropriately show your approval so that the child learns the most from it!

Do skip right to chapter three, though.  I wasted far too much time wading through testimonials and arguments on why this method is best.

I’m sure I forgot some important detail that would make your life easier, so, seriously, buy this book.

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