How I Royally Screwed Up Potty Training (And What to Do Instead)

How I Royally Screwed Up Potty Training (And What to Do Instead) | CorporetteMomsLadies, let’s talk potty training! What’s your best potty training advice — particularly if you’ve already been through it with a child?

For my own $.02, I will admit it: I royally screwed up potty training with my eldest son, J. Things we did wrong, in no particular order:

  • We “waited until he was ready.” But we kept checking. So we put the little potty out. We sat him on the big potty (with the little seat.)
  • We didn’t give it enough time. One morning when he was around 3, we put him in undies instead of diapers and said “LET’S DO THIS!” He peed through a pair of undies; we gave him second. Then a third. Then a fourth. By 11 AM the entire 6-pack of undies we’d bought was soiled, so we put him back in diapers and decided to try again some other weekend. Then we went out to brunch.
  • We put him in undies right away. He never really had a naked weekend — and we put him in undies and pants immediately once he started getting it right. He treated his undies like diapers far, far, far too often (yuck).
  • We tried pull-ups when undies didn’t work. We even got some that turned cold when he peed in them, which bothered him exactly one time and after that he was cool with it.
  • We said it was OK when he peed his pants or pooped in his undies. “Oh, that’s OK!” we’d say, ruffling his hair affectionately. “It happens sometimes!” Even now that he is 5.5 and in kindergarten, if he doesn’t make it to the bathroom in time he’ll tell me, “It’s ok! It happens sometimes!”

SO: With my second son, H., we decided we were going to have a PLAN OF ATTACK. With a book. And everything. And it’s early days still (we’re coming up on one week as I write this), but it’s going muuuuuuuuch better than it did with J. I got the book Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right, by Jamie Glowacki and, as recommended by Lucie’s List, read through the first five chapters before starting anything. Some major steps that we took this time based on the thus-far excellent advice:

  • We started way, way earlier. Glowacki notes in the book that the ideal time for potty training is 22-30 months. She says that some kids are ready even earlier (18 months!) but that after month 30, it’s much harder to potty train. She talks about a number of signs of readiness, but one of the big ones is retreating to a private place to poop — which H. has been doing for months. (As I was reading this book he was 29 months old.) She has a whole bit in the book about how the kid is never going to “be ready,” so there’s no point in waiting for it — they have a system that works and it’s up to you to change that system. (She also makes a big deal about how you shouldn’t leave the potty out for a child to “get used to it,” because that will result in it being the receptacle for lots of toys and other things, when you should really stress that the only thing that goes in the potty is pee and poop.)
  • We cleared the calendar for an entire weekend, and kept major outings (more than one hour) off the calendar until day 7.
  • We skipped underwear entirely. Glowacki describes in the book that ideally you want to keep your kiddo naked for the first few days so that you and he can see when the pee or poop is coming, but that after those first few days (lest you have a kid “who’s only potty-trained if he’s naked”) — and for the next few weeks! — you keep your kiddo commando. (As in, you put pants on, but without a diaper or underwear.) She has a long description here about how undies are too close to diapers for kids — yes they get wet, but peeing (and especially pooping) in underwear feels far too similar to peeing or pooping in a diaper, whereas if you pee or poop in your pants it trickles down your leg and feels way different.
  • We aren’t telling him “It’s OK” when he pees or poops somewhere other than the potty. We’re not, like, berating him or taking away toys — but in the book Glowacki talks a lot about the importance of messaging, and you can be supportive and educational without giving kids permission to make the same mistake: “I see you’ve peed on the floor! We put our pee in the potty.”

We’re still putting H. in diapers for naptime and bedtime at the moment, and plan to for the next few weeks at least, with the hope that the diapers will start staying dry. I suspect our big problem will be that he’s holding his poo until we put a diaper on him for naptime (Glowacki has written elsewhere about how you should never, ever, ever give your kiddo a diaper explicitly to poop in)… but at the moment I’m thrilled with/for H. and the progress he’s made at potty training. (Update several months later: We still put H in diapers for naptime/bedtime, but that’s more our own laziness than his — and I’m proud to report he uses the potty for both #1 and #2 when he’s up.)

Some of our favorite products, pictured above: (some bought for J., some for H.):

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Update: As readers have noted in the comments, every child is different, and some do absolutely fine with the potty training steps I took with my first child, including potty training when older. I just wish I had realized earlier that 22-30 months old is a good time to start, and that spending a few hours of reading in advance (i.e., “having a plan,”) was a good idea.potty training tips and tricks from a mom of two

Further reading:

  • 20 Best-Ever Potty Training Tips [Parents]
  • Potty Training, an Introduction [Lucie’s List]
  • The Dangers of Potty Training Too Early [Babble]
  • Potty in the USA: Why we’re slow to the toilet [Salon]
  • Potty Training Wars: Dealing With the Halfway-There Kid [Alpha Mom]

How I Royally Screwed Up Potty Training -- And What to Do Instead | CorporetteMoms


  1. Kelly C. says:

    We also used Jamie’s book and I feel that the training was a great success. By day 3 our toddler was “trained.” The first few weeks required a lot of effort on our part to make sure that she had access to the potty, received appropriate prompts, etc. But for us, the method worked great. We’ve had less than 6 accidents in the day (and just a few more at night) in about 6 months, so I call that a success.

    I did not like how judgmental the book was towards parents that might feel that her method was not for them, or that had waited past 3o months to potty train. I think that is the biggest problem with Jamie’s book.

    I will also add that we were glad that we tackled day and night together. I didn’t know what to expect, but I think it is worth trying for a week. It is so, so nice to be just done with diapers and to not have to worry about the child holding their poop to go in the diaper at nap or at night. The key to nap and night training has been to keep a little potty in our child’s room, to make sure that she goes right before she gets in bed, and then to get her up between 9pm and 10pm to help her pee before I go to bed. We’ve had a few more accidents at night than during the day, but not enough to make me give up. Accidents tend to happen less than once a week on average, although the accidents do tend to cluster so that we might get two in one night.

    • Anonymous says:

      My first had the daycare teachers on board and then night- and nap-trained herself. Kid is a deep sleeper (and basically, a camel in this department). Like 3 accidents, ever.

      #2, 20 months younger, same gender, same daycare teachers: wildly different experience. FOR YEARS. It is the biggest source of drama in my life (wondering if I’d have to get a summer nanny in case kid #2 got kicked out of summer camp for accidents).

      We have been trying the Glowaki system for about 6 months with some success (and then full/partial retreats) for about 6 months now and I wish I had had this book 4 years ago. Overall, much better and I finally feel like I have a path forward.

  2. PinkKeyboard says:

    I agree. I babysat and they waited until he was 3.5 to start and he was having NO PARTS of the potty thing. Then the “no big deal” led to a lot of pants peeing and pooping. Basically I started refusing to bring a backup bag of clothes because he was a big boy (and mentioned the lack of backup clothes when I could see he needed to go). Once he had to wear his partially poop covered pants or wet pants for an hour at karate (or wherever) he was miraculously cured. I also recommend making sure they have pottied BEFORE watching television. They get so sucked into the shows that it’s very easy to have accidents there.

  3. PhilanthropyGirl says:

    I’ve been mulling over potty training for a while now – kiddo is 26 months. He’s peed in the potty a few times (at his request), but isn’t retreating to poop. He is loud and proud about squatting wherever he happens to be.

    My question is on timing. We are moving in January into temporary housing. We will be moving in May from temporary housing to more-permanent housing. I understand potty training is something that can be completely thrown off by major changes to routine.

    Should I try training in February when I know we’ll be settled for a few months, or wait until the summer when I know we’ll be settled for at least a year?

    • Spirograph says:

      Honestly, I call BS on potty training being set back by major changes. Based on my experience, it’s just an old wives tale. I think kids are like horses and they can tell when you’re scared… If you expect them to do something rather than just hoping, they’ll do it more often than not. So I say do it in Feb, or before if you want to!, and *expect* that it will stick through the transition.

      • PhilanthropyGirl says:

        Interesting – I’ll have to try that approach with more than just potty training.

      • For my kid, this is 100% true. Not sure about others though. Every time we simply expect things, she delivers, when we waffle, she senses our weakness!

    • pockets says:

      I’d start now. You have 8 weeks to establish a routine. It can be completely thrown off, but it can also not be completely thrown off and can proceed according to plan.

      • PhilanthropyGirl says:

        We’re in complete disarray as we work to get our house on the market, and with holidays will have travel in the upcoming weeks – so I do think waiting until after a move in January will be better at least for my sanity. It does seem like February might be a better start and not having to wait until the spring.

    • Kelly C. says:

      This is so personal, but I would do it in January right after you move. That gives plenty of time before May and the potty training can just be lumped in with all the other new stuff. In his kid mind, it may make perfect sense (“Oh, I have to use the potty at the new house.”) Think back on all the stuff that your family just did that you thought was mandatory, but now just realize your parents made that choice. Things like always having spaghetti on Tuesday nights or whatever. If you present it as the way things are, he may accept potty training as part of the move. And if Jamie is right about the 30 month window, you could still hit it and have him trained in the timeframe where it is supposedly easier on him.

    • Meg Murry says:

      I think it depends on how suitable the temporary housing is for potty training, and how stressed out you are otherwise. All one floor with easily cleaned tile? Go for it. Tons of not easily cleaned carpet, only bathroom up a flight of stairs, no family help nearby and most of the spare clothes in storage? Wait until after you move.

      I think some kids will regress on *some* developmental things when there is a lot of upheaval, but it’s impossible to say what that will be. I suspect you will have to be more vigilant initially (like in the early days of training where you can’t trust them to tell you when they have to go but rather need to do a lot of forced potty breaks) but that it won’t be a 100% regression.

      • PhilanthropyGirl says:

        I think my biggest worry is pee on the floor in temporary housing – it’s a college residence, 2 BR apartment, so no stairs, but carpet everywhere but bathroom/kitchen. And definitely no family nearby. It’s my only real reservation – but most likely we’ll be in a rental (possibly 2 floor) after the spring, and again – more carpet to clean. So it’s probably 6 of one, half dozen of another.

        • Meg Murry says:

          In that case, if you decide to go for it (or even if you don’t, this is a general recommendation to anyone with carpet and kids or pets) I’d highly recommend the Bissel Little Green portable carpet cleaner or a similar device. It’s much easier to clean up any stains when they are fresh. I never put cleaning solution in the tank, but rather used the following system:

          -Suck up as much of the pee/spilled thing as possible with the carpet cleaner
          -Dump a cup of clean water on the stain and then suck that up
          -Squirt carpet cleaner like Resolve/etc on the spot and let it sit while filling up the carpet cleaning machine with hot water
          -Keep squirting hot water on the spot and sucking it up until the stain is gone or the carpet cleaner isn’t foaming anymore
          -Repeat every d*mn time the kid or dog pee or spill on the carpet

        • Lurker says:

          College carpeting has seen plenty of pee, poop and puke!

    • I think training either before you move to temporary housing, or just afterwards (before you move to permanent housing) would be fine. We were in a similar situation earlier this year. Using the Oh Crap method, we trained our 32 month old in May, moved into my parents’ house temporarily in June, and moved into a new permanent housing situation in late July — neither of the moves caused a regression in potty training.

      • PhilanthropyGirl says:

        Thanks for this! With the utter chaos that has descended as we try to get ready to sell he’s already acting up, so I’m thinking waiting until after we move but training before we relocate again in the spring.

    • In House Lobbyist says:

      My 2 year old daughter decided she wanted to potty train on our beach vacation this year which was not part of my vacation plan. But she decided and we just went with it. There was lots of peeing outside in the yard but it all worked out. Luckily we had a beach house and it was pretty secluded since she would just drop her pants – or swimsuit- wherever she was.

  4. POSITA says:

    Any suggestions on night training? My 3 yo has been day trained for almost a year, but still wakes up with a wet pull up every morning. Should we just lose the pull ups and see how it goes?

    So far I’ve tried bribing her to keep her pull up dry with a toy, but it’s still wet every morning. Pull ups are so easy since she just takes it off and puts it in the trash when she gets up to pee in the morning. Really no work for me at all. I dread the middle of the night laundry that comes with night training.

    • Anonymous says:

      Night training is not a thing. The only influence you have over the system is cutting off liquids 2 hours prior to bedtime. You have to wait for your daughter’s body to create a brain-bladder connection. You cannot force it. Stop trying to bribe your daughter. She cannot control it.

      • Another R says:

        +1. Totally different skill.

      • Truth. I wet the bed occasionally (semi-frequently?) well into elementary school. Like 7 or 8 I think? My mom made me wear this horrible thing that sensed wetness and made a buzzer go off next to my eat. I don’t know whether it helped or I would have outgrown it around then anyway, but clearly I’m still indignant a quarter century later.

      • POSITA says:

        I know she’s used her pull up before bed on occasion when she’s too lazy to go to the potty. The bribe was in part to see if she was wetting when she was really asleep, or if she’s just using it because she can while she’s awake. I’m still not completely sure when she’s using it. I think we’d have to go without a pull up for a few nights to see.

        Right now she’s still too little to know that bed wetting is considered to be embarassing. She certain feels no shame in wearing a pull up and I haven’t shamed her. No worries there.

    • My understanding is that night training has a lot to do with hormones that dictate how deeply the child sleeps. These hormone levels drop as the child ages, but that timing varies tremendously from child to child. Personally, I wouldn’t sweat it at all about a 3yo, and would just keep diapering until they are older. If you really want to push the issue, it’s going to be more about changing your behavior than hers: e.g., waking her up to use the potty right before you go to bed at night, so that she doesn’t need to remain dry as long.

    • I’ve read that night training is a developmental milestone, and I believe that. I know some experts disagree, but we didn’t try night training until my son was regularly waking up dry.

    • mascot says:

      Agreed that overnight training is a matter of development, not will. I’d do some checks for a few nights to see when she is going. For my kid, he’d stay dry most of the night and then pee right when he woke up. So we had to work on the morning routine the most. We also encouraged him to get up and use the bathroom on his own in the middle of the night.
      Our routine looked like this. Potty before she goes to bed (we’d try for before and after bath to make sure he was empty), take her for a “dream pee” before you go to bed. In the morning, she needs to hit the bathroom first thing. You may have to wake her up just before her normal time and take her to the bathroom to get her used to this routine. You can then work on her waking up and either coming to you to go potty or being able to do it on her own.

    • Sarabeth says:

      My daughter wasn’t dry at night until she was 5.5. I asked the pediatrician many, many times if we should do something or if there was a problem. The pediatrician always said, “Look, this is a developmental milestone based on their hormones. You cannot force it. You cannot do anything about it. Just wait.” So we did, and voila, one day, she started waking up dry and that was that. I strongly encourage you to just wait. Embrace the pull ups. A parent can’t make anything better by trying to force the issue, but a parent can make it worse by making the child feel terrible about something he or she truly cannot control.

      • Anonymous says:

        My 5 year old will wake up dry for a week at a time, and then will wake up wet for days. We still have him in diapers at night on the assumption that if he is waking up wet he can’t wake up to go to the bathroom. Do you think we can train him or do we just have to wait it out?

    • We never did pull ups but my daughter was potty trained (day) at 2. We kept her in a diaper for nap and night until 2.5 because she kept waking up wet. Well…we took off the diaper and 3 nights later she just started waking up totally dry. In the beginning I’d wake her at 10 to sit her on the toilet if she’s not been able to go before bed. That got old and she stopped needing it.

  5. Maddie Ross says:

    Just a quick comment Kat – thank you for admitting this and putting it out there. I think I made of your mistakes with our oldest, too (and they were only exacerbated by day care also making them for me). And we have the exact same continuing issue (occasionally not wanting to take the time with p**p and soiling her undies). I get really frustrated (and honestly sometimes a little offended) by all the comments of people who say how easy it is, how natural it was for their child, etc. And they often make it sound as though it is an intelligence test or a sign of maturity. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    • Definitely! I hope my son won’t be embarrassed if/when he reads this in a few years. :)

      • Also appreciate the honesty but I will confess I did cringe for your eldest in a few parts. Hopefully he (or his friends) will never find this in the archives.

  6. When our daughter was 21 months old, she started displaying all of the “interest in potty/what parents are doing” signs that some link to potty training readiness. She had a three day weekend from daycare coming up, so I figured we’d try the bootcamp approach. Complete failure. There were a few hours of plying her with juice, setting the timer for 10 minute intervals, only to have her pee at minute 8 (too much plying with juice!), sitting on the potty for as long as we both could stand with no results, etc. I called it after a few hours. Maybe if we had kept at it, she would have eventually made the connection, but I think we were wise to shelve it then. (Also noteworthy: she really didn’t yet understand the concept of bribes. “If you pee in the potty, you get a raisin” just made her MAD, because she wanted the raisin NOW.)

    When she was 26 months, she decided she was not putting on a diaper. I explained that if she wasn’t wearing a diaper, then she needed to use the potty. And she called my bluff and did. This was immediately before a 4 day weekend from daycare, so potty training round 2 commenced! (Note: it was her father who was scheduled to take off work the first day of the weekend, so he did the heavy lifting of potty training, and that pattern has continued. The man turned out to have an undiscovered talent there.)

    Right off, she was good about peeing in the potty, as long as we took her with some frequency. (I don’t think we ever did more frequently than once an hour, this second time around.) It took a few weeks for her to start pooping in the potty with any regularity, but we kept wearing underwear this whole time, and eventually she got there. About a month(ish?) in, my husband decided we needed some external motivation, so she got an M&M every time she pooped in the potty. (And this time, she was old enough to understand bribes/rewards! We now pull out the M&Ms in negotiation up to a few times a week–getting a flu shot, hair washing, etc. I never thought I’d be that parent… At least the kid is a pushover, and we’ve never had to raise the bidding to more than two M&Ms.)

    Our real hurdle was getting daycare on board. They were pretty poor at communicating their “policies” with us (we swear they changed them halfway through, without ever acknowledging that to us), and we had to use a lot of self-restraint to bite our tongues and not respond to the patronizing, passive aggressive comments. Their policy was to have two weeks in diapers without a single accident before allowing the child to wear underwear. I get the concerns for hygiene when working with a group of kids, but my goodness, does any expert think that’s a realistic standard? The policy was particularly problematic for us, because the whole reason our daughter had trained was so she could wear underwear. And at 2 years old, two weeks is way too long a time horizon to build up to a reward. Anyway, after 2.5 months of back and forth with them (oh, and they switched her class assignment when she had a 10 day streak going–so not helpful), we were nearing that two week mark, when she just stopped caring, and decided, if I have a diaper, why not use it? Thankfully, we were finally able to get the daycare on our side, and let her go in underwear. We were pretty nervous–if this experiment failed, our reputation as parents would be shot, and we had no idea when she would get a second chance–but thankfully, she’s only had one accident in 6 weeks of underwear at school. (Her record at home has not been as even, but we really don’t care.)

  7. I will be a voice of dissent here. I really don’t think my son was ready before 30 months, or at least not as ready as I needed him to be to train in a way that was manageable. Not only did he not retreat to a private place to poo, he pooed in the tub ALL THE TIME and seemed genuinely surprised each time. And when we tried training around 36 months, he had constant poo accidents. Pee accidents are one thing, but poo accidents every morning when you are trying to get out the door and ready for work? No thank you. When we tried again around 3.5, it was quick and easy. He’s now 4.25 and night trained – he just started waking up dry around age 4, no middle of the night trips to the potty or anything – knock me over with a feather! I feel like this is one of those things like sleep training where the notion that there is One True Path is just wrong, and it puts a lot of pressure on parents and kids to assume that you have to do it a certain way or you will be royally screwed.

    • PhilanthropyGirl says:

      I’ve had a number of mom friends claim that training was a nightmare before 36 months. I also found the Babble article Kat linked above to recommend to training until 3 years, and I found that an interesting read.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I made most of your “mistakes,” and it worked out pretty well. My husband is a SAHD and took the lead, and did not use any particular method. We only had a big potty seat, no little potty. We put it out at two, and waited until my older son was ready. He seemed like he might be ready just before my second was born, at around 2.5, but completely backtracked after the baby was born. We got serious at just after three. We did not do commando at all, although we often did no pants. We did focus on poop first, mostly using positive reinforcement, and some negative reinforcement (only for refusing to make a good faith effort to poop in the potty). We went back and forth between undies and diapers. We used diapers in the car for a few weeks. It took longer than some methods (maybe 6 weeks from starting to no accidents), but he has not had any accidents, or any poops in the diaper, since training. He can initiate it on his own almost all of the time. I will ask him if he needs to go if we are going out or he is grabbing his crotch, but accept his answer. He can go almost all on his own. He needs help with wiping, and with snaps or buttons on pants.

    • Closet Redux says:

      Yeah, I was confused as to why these were “mistakes;” we did most of them too and had a very positive experience. We waited til she was ready (26 or 27 months), went straight to underpants, did pull-ups in the car, and said “it’s ok” for accidents. After about a week she was mostly trained (though she did hold her poop until naptime), at 2-3 months she had a brief regression but corrected and no longer held her poop, and now that it’s been about 8 months I can’t remember when she had her last accident. So, one parent’s mistakes are another’s successes! We plan to do the same with our second.

  9. I found the opposite to be true regarding potty training age. We started with my daughter at 24 months and it was a real struggle that dragged on for months. For my son we waited until his third birthday and it just took a long weekend for day and night training. I think each kid is different and is ready in their own time. I wish we would have waited longer for my daughter because I think it would have been less of a battle if we hadn’t pushed it.

    • Anonymous says:

      This. We wait until our daughter was 34 months. In one week she was day and night trained and very few accidents thereafter.

      Never understood the rush to train. Diapers are easier than a kid that constantly has accidents or needs reminders to go to the bathroom.

    • Vanessa says:

      Yup. We tried at 24 months and it was a joke. He wasn’t trained until 3 years, 3 months. After that, I can count the number of accidents he had on one hand.

      I plan to do the wait and see approach with my second son. I think this is actually easier for most working moms (assuming preschool/ daycare doesn’t have issue with it).

  10. Our approach was similar to the second set of advice. We shared when our daughter was 22.5 months, both because she was capable of communicating/understanding and also because it was a long weekend followed by a period where DH and I could take some time off. We bought the “potty”‘book and read it daily (x3) for about a week. Then she got! Her! Own! Potty! Seat!!! Just like the book! Wow, what a big kid! Then rugs were rolled up, diaper came off and for Labor Day weekend we pumped her full of liquids and took her to the bathroom every 10-15 min, all day long. When she peed in the toilet we cheered! So much fun!

    By the end of the weekend she totally got it and was peeing in the toilet no problem. Popping took a bit longer and we had to watch for the signals that she was pooping and run her to the toilet. I think I cleaned about 6 poop underwear messes in 3 weeks and that was over a year ago. No poop accidents since! She had a few minor “relapses” around 2.5 where she would piddle a bit before making it to the bathroom. This was also a period (? 6 weeks?) where we had to forcibly remind her (and plop her on) the toilet. She was so against it i had her tested for a UTI. It was weird, and it passed. No problems now.

    We did night training at 2.5 but it took 2 nights and she was done. Previously she’s been napping and sleeping in a diaper but once we took it off she had no issues.

    Advice: get them early, talk it up, dedicate focused time, and don’t do pull ups!!

  11. I feel pretty passionately about this subject, and I reject any assertion that there is a “right” way to do it. We all want the silver bullet, but so much depends on the kids. I have 3 kids. My approach to all three was similar–wait until they showed signs of interest (generally between 2.5-3), introduce the potty and underwear, lots of praise.

    I have one child that potty trained herself. We introduced the potty and within a day she had potty trained herself and has had barely any accidents in the last 6 months.

    I have one child that was moderately difficult to potty train. We had to work a little harder–reward charts and such.

    I have one child who is almost 9 and just almost finally maybe not pooping in his pants any more. Following years of discussions with the pediatrician, GI specialists, and behavioral psychologists. I get almost ragey at the suggestion that there was some “right” way to do it that I missed. My child did not have accidents until 8 because I did something wrong, and neither did yours. Kids are different. Kids potty train differently. Some kids have huge issues–my son had a temporary medical issue and resulting long lasting psychological issues surrounding potty training. And OMG, do not shame your children when they have accidents. After 5+ years of potty training, I cannot say that there were times I didn’t do the “You are 5 (or 6 or 7 or 8) years old. This is not acceptable.” bit. It did not help. It likely hurt my child. Because a 4 or 5 year old (or 6 or 7 or 8 year old) KNOWS that it isn’t something his friends do. He understands that, and his friends notice that, and he doesn’t need his mom and dad piling on.

    In retrospect, post-traumatic potty training and with lots of actual medical advice, I think we could have helped our situation by truly waiting until he was ready, really backing off when it didn’t work, consistently telling him that it was okay and we would keep working on it together. (All your “wrongs”.)

    I’m glad that the books work for some people, and I understand that helps to feel like you have a plan of attack. But just ugh to the “right” and “wrong” way to potty train.

    • +100000

      Another mom of 3 here. Haven’t had as traumatic an experience as you, but my kids have all been different on timing. It’s not the hill I will die on, plus we (parents) at work all day, so a lot of it is just waiting until the kid is ready rather than forcing it, imo (but also ped-approved).

      With my first two, we encouraged, etc., but it wasn’t until a teacher told the kid she thought they were ready that there was any change. And then it was just poof!: day and night trained, no accidents. No.3 is resisting and I just don’t have the energy to lock horns with my toddler on this. It’s a pain to deal with horrible stink bombs in diapers but way better than filthy undies. Plus I’ve read enough about kids developing GI issues because they train too early and start withholding as part of some mental power struggle with parents that I’ve decided I’d rather have a few more months in diapers and avoid years of miralax and intestinal blockage.

      All these intensive methods sound great if you have hours of time, a yard for naked time, etc. I work FTW, DH works FT+, we live in an apartment, and when we’re not working we’re running from one thing to another. We don’t have time for some of these crazy-intensive methods and it just feels like another way to guilt/shame parents.

  12. Shortie says:

    My four year old still has accidents on a weekly basis. She hasn’t had a poop accident since before her 3rd birthday, but pees in her pants at least once or twice a week. And she totally resists being asked to try going potty. It makes weekends and evenings a constant battle to get her to try going potty every 90-120 minutes. Her response to an accident is “it’s ok, I’m still learning.” My husband and I range in reaction from matter of fact to annoyance. I know we shouldn’t get annoyed, but we are human and it does get old having pee accidents constantly. We do make a big deal when she hasn’t had accidents for a few days and she is really pleased with herself then.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here is my unsolicited advice: stop talking about it. Completely. When she has an accident, make her deal with it. She has to change her clothes (no help from you), and she cannot continue playing until she has dry clothes back on. If she makes the floor wet, she has to wipe it with a papertowel (obviously, you have to use the chemicals later). SHE should get tired of having accidents. She’s 4 years old. She can do it. Don’t make a big deal about being accident-free, don’t shame her for having accidents. Just, “oh, your pants are wet, you need to go change them and clean up the mess before you can keep playing with us.”

  13. anon dc mom says:

    I have been thinking about starting the Oh Crap! method soon but have a question about timing. We have holiday travel coming up for Thanksgiving and xmas and will be traveling by plane for about a week each time. I am concerned that airport time, airplane time, and time at grandma’s will be too many different places to deal with. Should I try to get kiddo trained now (she’s 26 months) or wait till after the holidays? I am inclined to do it now, as she uses the potty pretty regularly. I am just concerned about being diaperless at the airport and airplane and possible setbacks due to being away from home for so long.

    • 1) “Travel diapers” – “Here’s a special travel diaper that we only wear when we are going on an airplane/riding for a long time in the car. But we can also use the potty whenever we need to.” Then potty on the normal schedule as much as possible but take comfort in the backup.

      2) Buy a little potty (or whatever you are using) and have it shipped to wherever you are staying for the holidays.

      We trained our daughter at 22 months. At 23 months we drove 7 hours for a weeklong visit with family. She was still consolidating the whole potty training thing a bit at the time but we kept the potty routine as consistent with home as possible and did the two things above and she continued to make progress during the trip.

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