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Potty training a toddler can be a dreadful task. Your child has all the signs of potty training checked, so why isn’t it easy? After 6 months you may still be seeing no progress and left wondering where you’re going wrong.
Whether you’re just starting the process or have been at it for months, it’s just not a fun time to experience with your toddler.
We started potty training our 2 year old a few months ago. We got her to willingly sit on the potty and even had a collection of books and songs to make the process a little easier. Still, we saw no progress happening and we were at a standstill.
After looking through way too many potty training methods, we were faced with the realization we either had to step it up or stop for a little bit. Then we chose to do something I said I would never do – a 3 day potty training boot camp.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR 3 DAY POTTY TRAINING BOOT CAMP
I am not going to candy coat this method. It is hard. You will cry. There will be A LOT of accidents, which means poop. And you will want to quit. I am here to tell you don’t quit. Follow this potty training method step-by-step to find success.
Remember 3 days of intensiveness is much easier than a long drawn out 6 months.
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HOW TO PREPARE FOR THIS POTTY TRAINING METHOD
Yes, there is preparation on the parent’s part for this boot camp and each is very important. You are in this together. A teacher can’t teach a student without commitment from both sides and potty training is the same.
CLEAR YOUR SCHEDULES
Clear out your schedule for 3 days straight. You should be taking no trips no matter how short they are. Also, do not have any guests over to cause distractions. It should just be immediate family.
I highly recommend choosing a weekend where you can have 2 adults in the home if possible. Trust me; you’re going to want that extra support at times.
HAVE A POTTY ON EACH FLOOR OF THE HOUSE
If you have a two-story house, it is very important to have a potty within reach wherever you are. If you’re upstairs, you’re not going to be able to make it all the way downstairs into the bathroom.
A potty on each floor will just make things much easier and make more sense to your toddler if you have multiple bathrooms you personally use too.
CREATE A FUN WAY TO USE THE POTTY
Going potty can be boring! You sit there. You wait. Make going potty fun by choosing 2-3 books to read. We personally used these books to help us through our boot camp.
CREATE A REWARD SYSTEM
This is SO important. Your toddler needs a reason to want to go potty. Just having a dry diaper or underwear isn’t going to be enough. I wish I could say there is ONE way to convince all 2 year olds that going to the potty is awesome, but it doesn’t work that way. You know your toddler best. Find their motivation and choose what works best for them.
Here are some ideas:
- A sticker chart
- A sticker they can wear each time
- A small piece of candy
- A piece of fruit
- Educational television time for the day
- Allow tablet or phone time (you can even do this while he/she is on the potty!)
We personally tried the sticker chart method at the beginning. We saw no progress and even setbacks pretty quickly with my 2 year old not caring about stickers.
She just wasn’t motivated by it. After changing to candy, we started to see more success.
HOW TO CLEAN UP ALL THAT POOP AND PEE
This is what held me back from certain potty training methods. I hate thinking about poop! I knew what to expect and it scared me. We mainly have carpet throughout our house and with a cat when we were younger, I didn’t want our house smelling like cat pee.
Stock up on paper towels, carpet cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, stain remover, and have bleach handy when cleaning the actual potty. Keep plastic bags near so you can throw any used paper towels in them easily.
I also recommend having a garbage bag near (we kept ours outside our first floor laundry) for any clothes with accidents. We pre-treated all the clothes but washed everything once a night.
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No matter how small the pee on the potty is, overly praise them! Toddlers love making their parents happy, so seeing you do a happy dance will make them excited to use the potty again.
If he or she gets excited about just even sitting on the potty, get excited with them! Actions speak louder than words. If you’re pushing potty training with this boot camp, you need the excitement to back it up, even if you’re miserable on day 3.
FEEDING THEM FLUIDS
Keep some sort of fluid near them always. You may feel like this is counteractive and causes more accidents, but it will give your toddler more practice.
The more they must pee, the more of a chance they may go on the potty. If they only go 3-4 times a day, odds are they will have accidents the entire time.
We switched it up between happy dances, high fives, and cheering “no more diapers!”
GOING COMMANDO VS. WEARING UNDERWEAR
When we first started the 3 day potty training boot camp, my 2 year old had underpants and pants on. We honestly didn’t know what to expect, so we figured why not?
Turns out most toddlers won’t even know they pee a little bit when they have pants on. She was wetting herself without knowing it!
This stopped quickly when we went the commando method. She felt every little drop and started holding her bladder.
If your child takes a nap, continue this training throughout it. Keep their diaper or pull up off for their entire nap. Odds are they will have an accident the first few days, but as they continue to wake up wet, they will learn to hold their bladder better.
It is also very important to make sure you get your child out of their crib or bed AS SOON as they wake up. This will allow less time for accidents and teach them they can stay dry for nap time.
Bed time is an entirely different situation. It can take kids up until age 7 or 8 at times to be potty trained overnight. Having your child sleep in wet pee overnight is discouraging and helps no one.
I recommend putting a diaper on your child every night, but make sure they go potty right before bed and as soon as they wake up.
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LET’S START THE 3 DAY POTTY BOOT CAMP!
You can choose to tell your toddler about the potty training boot camp the night before or first thing when he or she wakes up. We personally chose the morning, basically because we forgot about it until we had already put her down for bed (oops!).
Wake your toddler up and explain to them it’s time to use the potty and that you are giving all her diapers to her baby friends. Then take the diapers out of her room never to be seen again (until bedtime, but we will get to that later).
Feel free to come up with a different story depending on what your child will like. My 2 year old is obsessed with all things babies, so we chose her baby friends.
You do not have to put your toddler on the potty every 30-45 minutes. We tried this potty training method previously and saw no success what so ever.
If your child is okay with that method, go for it, but it is not necessary for success.
Let your toddler choose when to use the potty, but keep using phrases such as, “Let me know if you need to use the potty” every 30 minutes or so.
WHAT TO EXPECT DAY 1
A LOT OF ACCIDENTS
Your toddler isn’t used to using the potty. When they need to go pee, they just go. They don’t even think about it. That means when they need to use the potty, they may not tell you until afterward.
Your toddler might have 5-8 accidents this day with 1-2 times on the actual potty.
This is frustration from not only your toddler, but yourself.
Cleaning up pee and standing up and sitting down with them ALL DAY LONG is tiring (I did it 6 months pregnant with round ligament and back pain, so I definitely know).
When your toddler has an accident, it’s important to place them on the potty to explain THIS is where you go potty to avoid accidents.
As the day goes on, you might feel like you’re going backward and they start refusing to use the potty. Keep at it. I promise it’s worth it.
Day 2 of the 3 day potty boot camp looks very similar to day 1. You honestly may see no progress on this day. Don’t think it’s a lost cause and keep with it as that is normal at this point.
When you wake up your toddler, remind them their diapers are with their baby friends and they’re using the potty. Try to get them on the potty right away.
Use the same potty training techniques as day 1 to get you through the day.
WHAT TO EXPECT DAY 2
STILL A LOT OF ACCIDENTS
Estimate about 4-6 accidents and 2-3 times using the potty
Again, this is not just temper tantrums from your toddler, you will start hitting breaking points. This is where that extra help can come in to keep you from going insane. Splitting the responsibilities and going into this boot camp as a team will really pay off when possible.
As the weekend goes on, the resistance may continue and even get worse. Stick with it even if you feel you won’t succeed. They will get there.
Treat day 3 like your previous 2 days. Get your toddler on the potty first thing in the morning and keep using phrases like “let me know when you need to use the potty.”
Those are crucial in giving them independence rather than seeming like you’re forcing it.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON DAY 3
Estimate 3-5 accidents and 3-4 times using the potty
If you see no progress from day 2 to day 3 or even day 1 to day 3, do NOT give up. This is normal.
AFTER DAY 3
It’s important to keep this potty training method going after day 3. Feel free to put on a pull-up when they need to go somewhere but get into the habit of showing them the potty as soon as you get to your new destination. This means in stores, other houses, etc.
Do NOT push a public potty as much as your own potty. It can be very overwhelming to a 2 year old to have to sit on this HUGE potty when they’re just getting used to their smaller ones.
It took until about Day 6 before I noticed success with this strategy. It may be called 3 day potty training, but really you’re just in boot camp mode for the 3 days.
After that, resume life as normal, but switch to commando or underwear at home and a pull up when you are out.
Your child will not be fully potty trained in this amount of time at any age. Anyone that says their child was, is a rarity and not to be looked at as the norm.
You will continue to see some accidents and forgetfulness as toddlers don’t like to stop having fun to stop and use the potty. It’s something that is learned over time.
Monday 8th of April 2019
Thank you for being honest. After spending the past week in our own potty boot camp it’s good to know accidents still happen and we are not alone.
Monday 8th of April 2019
Thank you Andrea. I think it's so unfair to say a child will be potty trained after 3 days and that is that. It makes us normal parents feel like we failed at it when it reality they just aren't showing the whole picture.
Monday 1st of April 2019
This post is awesome. I highly recommend what was suggested here. We will try it with our second child- the first one was potty training for two years almost before finally we got him a Jelly Belly dispenser. LITERALLY CHANGED OUR LIVES. He was potty trained in 2 weeks- and could not wait to turn his penny into the dispenser.
Wednesday 3rd of April 2019
Thank you Samantha! It's crazy how long you can be potty training when you take it slowly. I love the idea of a Jelly Belly dispenser!