I’ve done this twice now, so I guess that makes me somewhat of an expert. Both my boys refused to get on the potty, but showed signs of being ready to be potty trained, so we opted for the rip-the-band-aid-off method of a weekend potty training session. Here are the supplies you need for this project:
– lots of food….so you don’t have to leave the house to go grocery shopping
– treats…M&Ms work well, whatever your child loves
– lots of yummy beverages. Juice, lemonade, water, whatever. This is potty training fuel.
– a portable potty with a drawer (you want to make it easy to be really close to your child, as there isn’t much time between “I need to potty” and pee coming out when you’re just learning). The drawer makes it easy as you don’t have to drag the entire potty someplace to empty it.
– some great character underpants…something your child loves
– cleaning wipes (i.e. Lysol), to make cleaning the potty (and the floor) really easy
– a floor pillow (something to sit on while your kid is on the potty)
– lots of books
– crocs, or other easily washable shoes (yes, they will probably get peed on!)
– a toy bribe, if you think that will help (i.e. “if you don’t have any accidents today you can have this “)
– no plans that involve leaving the house with your child until Monday
Day Zero: aka Friday
Tell your child that tomorrow s/he will be learning to use the potty! It’s going to be great! Our second son was annoyed at having to wear a swim diaper, so we said: “Won’t it be great to go to the pool without wearing a diaper!” It also helps to try on the underpants (“wow…these are great, don’t you love them?!”). Also talk it up with other caregivers, neighbors, friends, and even people you are chatting with at the grocery store the days leading up to Saturday. Most adults will play right along: “Wow, that’s great!” and it will be encouraging.
Roll up any area rugs and pull out any waterproof pads you own. If you have a house full of carpeting, plan on a carpet cleaning when this is done.
Day One: aka Saturday
When your child wakes up, take off their diaper and put on underpants. Set an alarm for 15 minutes. Talk up how great it will be to use the potty. When the alarm goes off have your child sit on the potty and read a couple of books. If they pee make a huge deal out of it (“Yeah! You peed in the potty!!!”) and give him/her a treat (i.e. M&Ms). If they give you a hard time about sitting on the potty use the treat as an incentive (“If you sit on the potty we’ll give you M&Ms). This is not the time to worry about nutrition or encouraging your child with “bad” food.
If your child does not pee just put the underpants back on and re-set the timer. Most likely they will have an accident, but life goes on. Your child needs to learn what it feels like to need to pee, as well as learning how to stop the pee from coming out. The only way to do this is to just let them feel it. In other words, some pee will need to be spilt in order for learning to occur. Keep your kid off the couch and any upholstered chairs they sit on should be covered. Carpeted rooms are not allowed right now.
Keep up the 15 minute intervals unless that seems too short. You’ll have to decide what makes sense. Going outside might be helpful or it could be more difficult. Our first child would not stop playing outside to potty, so we kept him in…our second child was fine. It’s easier to clean up pee outside!
When your child does have an accident (notice I didn’t say if), clean it up and put on fresh underpants. Talk about how s/he needs to pee on the potty, not the floor, and that you’ll help them. “Next time you need to tell me that you need to pee, okay?” Some parents have had luck with focusing on the character on the underpants: “We don’t want to pee on Dora.”
Put your child in a diaper for naptime and bedtime.
This day will be full of your child peeing with no notice, which will change to your child peeing with very little (or no) notice – this is progress. They are learning to recognize what it feels like to need to pee. Next they need to learn how to stop the pee long enough to get to the potty!
Day Two: aka Sunday
“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.”- Thomas Fuller
Day two is frustrating. Sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back, and the backwards step always feels really big. Don’t give up. This is working. Keep sending your child to the potty. Keep having them stay there by reading books. Keep making a huge deal out of peeing in the potty.
Day Three+: aka Monday, and beyond
You should be able to leave the house today. I say should because in part this has to do with your comfort level. We took our second son to the pool on this day and he peed in the pool (I know this because he didn’t have to pee when we got home). But he didn’t pee in my car!
On Tuesday I got brave and took him to 4 public places. I tried to get him to pee at the first two and he didn’t have to go. I didn’t try in the third spot and the fourth (Overton Park) only had port-a-potties so I didn’t bother…and he peed in his pants. Obviously my fault. I’m writing this up on the Saturday following our potty training weekend, and he hasn’t had an accident since Tuesday. He hasn’t worn a diaper during naps since Thursday, and he’s still proud to tell us that he peed in the potty. And, of course, I still give him a big hug and tell him how great he’s doing.
Continue to put your child in a diaper (or pullup) during naps and bedtime, until they are waking up dry. Naptime is obviously easier and the first step.
This certainly isn’t the only method to use in potty training your child, but it’s the method that worked best for my sons and my family. Son #2 was about one month shy of his third birthday when we did this. Son #1 was 2 1/2. I hope this info helps you!