Potty training…sigh. We’ve been down this road before and no dice. This week Caroline started her journey at a new school (a pull-up only school) so in preparation for this we hosted Potty Training Bootcamp to get Miss C ready. Thankfully I have a few friends who subscribed to the Bootcamp method and were a wealth of information, but in case you’re on your own in the land of potty training…here’s the low down.

1. Sanity. Lots and lots of sanity.
2. Diapers you are willing to throw away
3. A reward system–we had to have multiple rewards in queue because chocolate only motivated C for so long.
4. A timer
5. Big girl/boy underwear
6. A potty chair (if you’re going that direction) or a potty seat that rests on the big potty.
7. A kiddo who wakes up with a dry diaper. **people may disagree on this point, but most if the reading I did said that until your kiddo can hold its bladder through the night, they may not be ready for potty training**
8. An entire day (or two) that you can be home.

Here’s what you do:
1. The day (or a couple of days) before head to Target or HEB to get the supplies with your kiddo. I found this piece to be very important. We talked about going potty the whole way to Target, Caroline picked out her princess potty seat, she picked out her rewards and big girl panties. At the end of it all, I’m glad we did this together because I could go back to her and say “do you want to wear the big girl underwear you picked out?”
2. Talk about potty every chance you can for the next 24 hours.
3. The night before the big day, set out all of the supplies reminding your little one that the rewards are for successful potty visits, etc. We threw away some diapers as a gesture that they are for babies and she’s a big girl. Not sure how effective this was, but it worked with her binky so I figured I’d give it a go.
4. The next morning when everyone is bright-eyed and awake, celebrate that it’s potty training day and head to the potty. Our first visit was successful, but yours may not be. If it’s not a success, say something to the effect of “That’s okay! Let’s set the timer and try again soon.” If it is successful, create a potty celebration. Our potty seat has buttons on the side that make a magical sound (it’s a Princess chair) and so she only got to press them if it was a success. And then, of course deliver the goodies promised.
5. Now set the timer, we used 45 minutes after every successful visit and 15 after every unsuccessful visit. If she didn’t go at the 15 mark, we would reset it for 10 and decrease the playtime in 5 minute intervals.
6. When your child has their first accident, which they will, you can’t be upset (even if they just got off the potty and you’re exhausted from listening to a timer all day long). This is the toughest part and where the sanity comes in. Remind them that accidents happen and that next time we have to make it to the potty.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 all day. ALL DAY…and the next day.
8. When nighttime rolls around, you can put a diaper on your little one, but be very clear that they are nighttime diapers only. Celebrate their Bootcamp successes and tell them more potty tomorrow (yay!)

We had a moderately successful weekend, she didn’t have any problems going to the potty when the timer went off, our biggest problem was the chocolate lost its motivating factor so she was less inclined and we had to up the ante.

Since then, we have continued a potty routine and I’m thrilled to say that after two days at her new school, she’s only had two accidents in her pull-up and both were after nap time. So through the frustration the past few training days caused, it was worth it.

How did you get your little ones diaper-free? Bootcamp method?

Vanessa is the co-founder of Austin Moms Blog. She is also the Director of Communications for IDEA Public Schools, a nationally recognized network of K-12 public charter schools serving more than 15,000 students. She has a blast learning, loving and laughing with her four-year-old little lady, Caroline Grace.


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