In a different world, potty training would be easier: we’d simply rub our child’s nose in their dirty diaper, repeatedly telling them “no” until they learned to use a toilet. In a civilized world, we choose other avenues. We bribe. We beg. We ban the bran. We do everything possible to get our child to trade Pampers for porcelain. And, often times, we grow flushed with frustration. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In fact, potty training doesn’t need to be a drawn-out process that lasts as long as monsoon season (and feels as wet): it can be done in three days’ time. As you take the following steps, you just need patience, perseverance, and probably some carpet cleaner.
But, before you begin, make sure your child is ready. If they’re too young, or too stubborn, potty training only leaves you drained. Your child is likely ready if they show interest in the toilet, if they go extended periods without wetting themselves, and if they understand the beautiful art of blackmail.
If you want your child potty trained in three days, you’ll need to be consistent above all else. Thus, set aside a time when you focus on the flusher: a three-day weekend or a holiday. Don’t deviate from the schedule and focus completely: give a crap only about pee and poop.
To start, put your kid in underwear. You might think that putting your child in underwear before they’re potty trained is a giant waste of money and, yes, you’d be right: they’ll ruin pair after pair. But underwear is uncomfortable when it’s wet, ultimately deterring your child from peeing in it. If you put your child in underwear with cartoon characters, it’ll be more effective: Heaven forbid they soil Sponge Bob.
Next, tell them what you’re looking to accomplish. Explain the point of the potty and why it’s better than diapers. On the first day, lay this on thick so your child learns to correlate a full bladder with running to the loo.
Then give them liquids. In order to teach your child how to use the bathroom, they’ll actually need to use the bathroom. Plying them with water and juice is a good way to assure this happens. Once they’re primed, place them on the potty at consistent intervals – either every fifteen or thirty minutes – and keep them there even if they say they don’t need to go. This doesn’t mean your child has to remain seated until they’ve read Cosmo from front to back, but encourage them to last several minutes. Repeat this process throughout the day.
The second day involves repeating much of the first. However, it also comes with its own difficulty because not all kids acclimate as quickly as you’d hoped. If that’s the case, know that accidents happen: even if your child takes to the toilet like fish to the sea, they’ll slip-up occasionally. Some kids get distracted and forget. Others opt to poop in the storage closet. But if your child uses the toilet much more often than they do the living room rug, you’ll know they’re making progress.
Reward them for staying dry too. Children respond to rewards (they’re only human, after all). Still, rewarding them every time they go in the toilet sets yourself up: suddenly, your child’s requesting prunes at every meal. Rather, reward them for staying dry – this assures they get a prize when they deserve it, and not when they’re pretending.
Spend Day 2 reinforcing the lessons learned from Day 1 and be on the lookout for manipulation. Some kids continue to soil themselves in hopes that you’ll put them back in a diaper (which is, frankly, more convenient for them). But don’t give in no matter what. In this battle of wits, you must outsmart the wee.
On the final day, continue the established patterns but take your child out of the house. You don’t need to go far – the local park or a cafe. The point here is to teach them that they need to use the bathroom before leaving the home. It also teaches them that toilets aren’t always nearby – sometimes you have to control your bladder a little longer before you reach one.
Day 3 involves more discussion with your child in regards to the importance of toilet training, but it involves reflection on how far they’ve come too. Celebrate their successes, no matter how trivial. Children love praise and respond to it like ego-maniacs.
In the end, potty training is a pain in the butt. Even afterwards, hassles continue to exist: there will be inconvenient times they have to go. In the middle of the night: likely. At a crowded restaurant: probable. Ten minutes after you’ve left your house for a two-hour road trip: well, that’s a sure thing. But it gets easier the older a child becomes. Going to the toilet is natural and, one day soon, your kid won’t even think twice about doing it.