Potty Train in Less than a Week
When you’re a guardian of small children, you are never truly alone. The moment you move, the sound of tiny pattering feet follows. Later at dinner, you might hear a repeat of the conversation you had on the phone with your parent or friend coming from the mouth of a child who has no comprehension of what they’re saying. So, it’s no surprise that at some point, that same child will have found an interest in the mechanics of the bathroom.
This initial interest in why you use the toilet instead of a diaper, or why they don’t, is the start of your journey to potty training. At least, it should be. If we nurture this curiosity, it can transform into effortless potty training for both guardian and child.
When raising a child, there are a lot of things that we as guardians have to get right, but potty training has to be one of the trickiest battles to fight. Or, so I thought! I was able to help my 18-month-old child become day-time potty trained in less than a week.
What You’ll Need:
- Independent potty chair or a training toilet seat
- Package of underwear
- Books or other forms of entertainment
- Sticker chart or some form of reward system
It is so important that toddlers are ready to learn before you train them. They need to be showing you signs that they are able to and interested in potty training.
Signs your child is ready:
- Hiding when they go poop or pee
- Grabbing at their dirty diaper
- Showing interest in others using the bathroom
- Mimicking others’ behaviors, like wanting to sit on the toilet
- Having a dry diaper for longer periods of time
- Waking up dry from a nap or sleeping period
- Walking independently
These signs can help you determine if your toddler is ready for potty training. If they are not showing any signs, then it is best to put off training until they do. It is nearly certain that any attempts will fail if the child is not ready to begin. This whole experience is about listening to your child and learning alongside them.
Understanding the process |
First, a child must learn their cues, like when they need to use the bathroom. The only way for them to build a connection between the need, the reason for this need, and the subsequent results is to show them what happens when that innate need occurs. This means allowing them to see the consequences of the body releasing itself.
How you can achieve this is to completely remove their diaper or training pants and let them go about their day. Now, I know what you’re thinking but this can be done with minimal mess by taking the child outside.
I live in the northern United States where winter is characterized by six-foot-deep snow and sub-zero temperatures. So, it was necessary that this was implemented in the summer months. Luckily, my daughter was showing interest in potty training during this time of the year. However, this could be done in a small room within your home where there is hard flooring.
If you do this in the summer, make sure to provide plenty of shade, water, and sunscreen because you will be outside for most of the day. Of course, you can take as long or as little time as you and your child require.
The first day is a complete learning experience. Again, they are learning the connections between the need to go and the consequences of that. Since they were born, they’ve been in diapers, unaware that their body is actually producing anything. Without a diaper, they come to understand that they control their body in that moment. It may also be helpful for you to explain to the child what is going on.
Heading to the potty |
After the first day, or as soon as they understand the connection between feeling the need to go and actually going, then you can add some new items to your itinerary for the day: underwear and an independent potty chair.
Previous to this adventure, you should purchase some undergarments. These can be tossed out as they’re used or just wash them up. Either way, this is a fun opportunity for the child to pick out a package of underwear that they like. They will be more inclined to keep them dry and clean.
Next, you will want to have an independent potty chair nearby. This is so the child learns that they can manage their bathroom needs with a mini version of the porcelain bowl inside the home.
They may or may not use the potty on this day. This is about building their confidence and connections. But with your guidance and reassurance, the connection will form.
Going Inside |
Now we are onto the last stretch of training. This includes the final day outside and moving into the bathroom.
Depending on your child’s progression, you can choose to bring them inside or remain outside for the rest of the training. During this time, you are going to focus on teaching the child that the bathroom inside is an appropriate place to use the potty. They’ve seen everyone else use the toilet inside and now it is their turn to also use that room as it is intended.
If you remain outside for this day as you have previously, you can bring the potty chair inside when your child signals that they need to use the potty. If you choose to go inside on this day, continue to mind their cues.
Personally, my daughter did not care about an independent potty once we moved inside and instead chose a training seat cover that attaches to the toilet. But it is perfectly normal for your child to want the independent potty once they go inside. Some children view the porcelain toilet to be intimidating. We want them comfortable. Your support is what they require most. Along with the aid of a couple of forms of entertainment, your child will soon feel at ease with the potty.
Entertaining and praise |
At this stage, your child may feel the urge to go but as soon as you two get to the bathroom, they are suddenly unable to. This is probably because they know they need to hold their bodily functions until they get to the appropriate place. This is an awesome step toward the independence that we have been working toward but it is surely stressful and disappointing to them. It is important to keep them on the potty after getting there and allowing their body to release when it is ready.
This is where the entertainment aspect comes in.
Making sure your child is comfortable is the most important part of this experience. Without that, they will associate negative emotions with potty usage. This is almost always the reason why children and guardians have such a difficult time with potty training. In an effort to make this experience more enjoyable, you can entertain your child and give them a reward system.
Entertaining your child is something you’ve done since they began to stay awake longer, when their needs surpassed just diaper changes and feedings. For some, entertainment is storytelling or reading. For others, it’s a tablet with their child’s favorite shows or games. Any form of entertainment is great and you might need to change it up so keep a few toys or books by the toilet.
Rewarding your child for using the potty is another key point in successful training. Throughout this experience, you have been praising your child for showing cues and using the independent potty, as well as for telling you they need to go. Verbal praise is always appreciated but it might be helpful to implement a reward system.
For my child, we had a sticker chart. Every time she would try to use the potty, regardless of whether she could go, she got one sticker. Every successfully completed trip, she got multiple. At the end of a sheet, she would get to pick out a toy.
For others, rewards might be a little treat such as candy or a trip to the zoo. The rewards should fit your child and family. The idea is to praise and reward but never to punish.
Nighttime training |
Part of realizing your toddler is ready for potty training is their ability to keep a dry diaper throughout their naps and nighttime sleeping. This will crossover to help them maintain their progress and usually isn’t an issue. But if you do find that your child has accidents in the night, feel free to use diapers or training pants while encouraging them to get up to use the potty. This may require the independent toilet to be left in their room overnight, or perhaps you might use a monitor to listen for their call.
So far, I’ve made this experience seem like a piece of cake, and overall, it is. However, there are some truths that need to be understood.
Your child is not going to be as great at using the toilet as you or any other person much older than they are. They will still have accidents. There is always the possibility that they will regress, either partially or completely.
Regression is when a child goes back to age-appropriate behaviors like soiling their clothes or throwing tantrums. This is normal and expected. Children, especially toddlers, are expected to grow up at a much quicker rate than many generations and that isn’t going to slow down. As we find ourselves working more hours to meet our financial needs, our children must also adapt. Potty training is a huge step toward children gaining independence and sometimes, we may push them to these new feats without realizing that they are still babies. They are allowed to regress, they are allowed to make mistakes.
In my own experience, my daughter regressed a year later and had many accidents. It was important to look at the probable causes of stress in our lives as a family unit to understand just what triggered this sudden change. Once we got some clarity and began to help our child through the difficulties she faced, her training got back on track.
Stress and major life changes can upset the delicate balance your child is maintaining while navigating the route between infancy and childhood. It is important to nurture their growth with love and attention regardless of where they are in their training.
In the end, they will leave diapers behind and grow in many other facets as they age. This is why shame will only hold them back further. Praising their efforts and showing them that their mistakes are normal, will ensure that they feel comfortable enough to continue progressing.
Extra research |
Now, I did not come up with this idea on my own. The wonderful idea of the quick potty training method comes from many places but the first place I read about it was in Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day: Proven Secrets of the Potty Pro by Teri Crane. However, there are a dozen books out now regarding this method and they are all good reads. I suggest reading a few and choosing the method and practices that suit you and your child best.
Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers by Brandi Brucks (2016) is more up-to-date but was not around in 2014 when I was training my child.
Both of these are available on Amazon for physical and digital copies.
Toddlers are excellent learners who have a constant thirst for exploration and experimentation. They are eager to learn and progress, which is why they’re so capable of undertaking something like this. As long as they are ready and you are able to help them along the way, your child can be potty trained in less than a week.