Potty training can be one of the most frustrating periods of your child’s early years. Everyone you know will have an opinion, and books written by childless people advise you on “the best” or “most effective” methods as if they have personally applied any of them. There is a virtual torrent of information out there, but it can be difficult to know what advice to follow. Ruth Ziegenmeyer of Oroville, California spent 11 years as a nanny. Here is her most effective technique. “You need three days where you just stay home and train.”
Day 1: Take them potty every 15 minutes, even if they don’t go. Give them a treat each time.
Day 2: Take them every 20 minutes, give them a treat.
Day 3: Take them every 20 minutes, but only treat if they go. All the while give them lots of drinks and salty snacks so that they need to go more often.
Day 4: Small outings that allow you to stick to the schedule are ok. Start taking them every 30 minutes, again, treats only when they go. Ruth says, “I find it helpful to vary the treat.” Stick with this for days 5 – 7.
The following week take them at key intervals such as in the morning, pre and post nap, before you go somewhere, meal time, ECT. It should amount to every hour to hour and a half. After that they will probably only need to be asked whether or not they need to go at those key moments.
“Children don’t have long-term planning abilities, so they need you to do it for them. Also, after a week or so, start weaning them off of the treat thing.” Ruth suggests trying a weaning method such as treating whenever they try to only when they go, to when they tell you they need to go, to only when they go #2, to when they are dry after a nap, until one day they are dry in the morning. She went on to say, “Potty training doesn’t have to be complicated, but you do have to focus on it and pay attention to your child. If you don’t keep it challenging it becomes a boring chore to them and a nuisance to all.”
For many young children stopping to take a potty break is miserable. No one wants to stop having fun in order to do a chore. And while not everyone has the time to stay home for three solid days, should you be able to, it can make all the difference in terms of de-stressing the situation. If this is something you think might work for your household, try planning a long weekend of relaxing around the house and working on this one thing. Pick some fun activities for your kids so that it doesn’t feel like a punishment. It may even help you catch up with your kids and partner, slowing the pace of an otherwise busy life.