Potty Train Your Toddler in a Weekend -- It Is Possible!

We Tried It 38

potty trainingI see that headline: Potty train your toddler in a weekend! And the skeptic in me says, OH REALLY? I don't remember how long exactly it took me to potty train my son. It's been a few years now. I just remember it was more of a process than a couple of days. So when I saw that headline again this morning, "Potty Train Your Toddler in a Weekend," I thought it sounded too good to be true.

But when I took a closer look, it actually looked ... realistic! Look, every kid is different and every family's experience is unique. But there are a few basic principles that make the whole potty experience work. Here's what I think works about this approach -- from the vantage point of hindsight.

More from The Stir: 7 Potty Training Ploys for Parents Desperate to Make Their Kids 'Go' (PHOTOS)

1. It's not really "just" a weekend. There's prep work before, and there's followup after, and then it's actually more like a three-day weekend, and results may very. The point is, telling yourself that you can make this happen in a weekend is just a handy way to psych yourself out so the task doesn't feel so monumental.

2. They take the no-diaper approach. I always say, those trainer pull-ups just drag things out. The quickest way for your kid to learn how to use a toilet is to make that connection between the "need to pee" feeling and that "stuff coming out of me" reaction crystal clear. It's messy, but it works.

3. Follow through. Yup -- you're not done after that three-day potty-a-thon. Keeping up good habits and reinforcing that this potty business is the new normal is key. A lot of kids (like mine) will adapt quickly and go along with potty training because it's a fun novelty. Then after a few days or weeks, it gets old and they're like, "really, this is what I have to do EVERY time?" YES. Don't take for granted that once your kid gets it for a weekend that he's got it for life.

What I didn't like:

1. I think this business of saying "boo" if your kid doesn't pee or poo is counter-productive. I think Dr. Sears and other child development specialists would say that's a form of shaming and can over-emotionalize an already potentially tense situation. It's not about being good/bad, it's about helping your child change their behavior and feeling comfortable about it so there will be no reason for resistance. I say skip the booing and just be neutral and don't comment on those missed potty opportunities at all.

2. You should aim to stop using diapers by the end of the third month? Hahaha! Try two years for my kid. You can make your child pee before going to bed, but the nighttime dryness can take much, much longer. They're ready when their little bodies are ready. Don't stress over making this one happen quickly.

Do you agree that most toddlers can be potty trained in "a weekend"?


Image via gjbell/Flickr

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PAmom... PAmommy32

I definitely think it is a process.  We are in the home stretch of being fully potty trained, last night was our first night without diapers.  We talked about it, read books, bought the potty, etc months before we actually took the plunge to underwear.  We also did the no-diaper approach during the day.  I would say the majority of pee accidents happened in the first few days but poop was a totally different story.  It took my son a few weeks to get comfortable with pooping in the potty.  We also didn't do any booing or rewarding and just treated it as a skill to be learned, which takes time.  About 5 or 6 weeks in and I would say he is fully trained.  I think allowing yourself to think your child will be fully trained in a weekend is setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.  I am not saying it won't happen for the right child if he/she is ready but I certainly wouldn't rely on just a weekend.

nonmember avatar Carly

Lol. Doctor Sears.

nonmember avatar April

I think every child is different. My two year old, almost three, has been peeing on the potty for almost a year now but will NOT poop. I cannot get her to take a poop on the toilet to save my life. She expresses her want for currently a birthday cake lol, so lately I've been telling her if she poops on the potty she gets a birthday cake. She will tell me she has to poop and it's time for her cake but she just won't go. She will hold it until bed time or nap time when she still gets a diaper, and then poops and falls asleep before I have a chance to check on her. I even have a video monitor and she is very discreet. No grunts or anything like she will if she is going with a diaper on in the family room. Its very challenging that I can't understand why she won't go on the toilet, she does not seem the least bit afraid, and maybe I'm too nonchalant about it but I'm very very proud she goes pee every time on it, and it was never pushed. I just put her princess potty down and eventually she started going and never stopped.

nonmember avatar MammaMel

"result may VARY" not "very"

nonmember avatar mommyof2

It took us a week to fully potty train our two year old daughter. We went from diapers straight to underwear. What worked for us was positive reinforcement and asking every hour to see if she had to go potty. We had some accidents here and there and now we're good to go. But every child is different.

winte... winterbaby10

When my dd was 18 months old she potty trained in 4 days. It was hard but totally worth the crazy hard work...plus diapers are expensive, underwear is a lot cheaper.

nonmember avatar bumbler

We just last month potty trained our non-verbal 18 month old daughter. I'd say she 'got it down' in about 4 days, 100% by 1 week. Every kid is different but most can go from total diaper dependance to all-potty in about a week. We used the "oh crap potty training" method. I've potty trained plenty of other kids in a similar method, but I was hesitant to go into it with her, because she won't speak. Before I relied on the kid verbally telling me "I have to pee", but the Oh Crap book offers non verbal cuing, which was the final piece to our already successful pt'ing regime.

Sabri... SabrinaMBowen

Nope, doesn't work. I've used this technique with ALL THREE of my children. I assumed that when it didn't work with my oldest, it was me. Then when it didn't work with my second child I thought "maybe I'm just not able to keep up because I am dealing with his brother so much - (who is 14mo older) - I'm too busy... But when it didn't work with my THIRD child who I'm home alone with full time, I realized it's not me, it's the technique! It's useless!

nonmember avatar Kristy Paynter

I naked potty trained all 3 of my boys, at 2.5 years old, in a weekend. Plan to do it again with boy #4 too! They wear a shirt and nothing else. I take them to the potty every 15-30 minutes. I praise them for sitting on the potty no matter what! If they pee pee they get 2 m&ms if they poo poo they get 4 m&ms. They all wore a night diaper. One son till he was 6, one till he was 5 and my 4yo stopped at 3 then decided to wear one again and now he wears one certain nights that we have late nights and he drinks a lot with dinner. We also have them wear the dry ones more than one night so it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. :)

nonmember avatar Krista

i used three day potty training with my son when he was 22 mos. it was fantastic and I've recommended it to several friends who have also had success. it's not easy, you MUST be consistent, and yes there are accidents once in a while but that's normal. my son was dry overnight by age 2.

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