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6 Things I Tried for a Potty Training Breakthrough!

My last kid is potty trained!!!! YES!!!! I am one happy Mama. No more diapers!!!! Just an independent little boy who’s so proud to be in underwear while on his new pirate adventures day or night.


My methods weren’t working, so I tried Jamie Glowacki’s “Oh Crap! Potty Training”, which worked great for my Determined child! He likes to test limits, figure things out with hands-on learning, and does NOT like being told what to do or how to do it, hahaha! Rewards and future promises only worked for a day or two.

Does this sound like your child, too? Haha, if you have a Determined child like mine, this book helped me to break potty training up into teachable blocks with him. I got to practice with him in a way that helped him “unlearn” his lifetime of diapers. I got to support his independence, spend quality time with him, and stay consistent—which ultimately worked! Jamie comes off strict, but her structure really worked well this time. I did NOT use it for my other son, who I knew responded better to traditional methods like praise and rewards.

I followed Jamie Glowacki’s “Oh Crap! Potty Training”. Here’s how it worked.

6 Surprising Things That Helped My Determined Child Potty Train

#1. No Rewards???!!!

Treats and rewards or charts were not effective for him in previous attempts: I tried the sit-on-the-toilet-every-15-mins method. He got sick of me interrupting his play or reminding him, and rebelled. No amount of treats could motivate him. What he did like was doing it “all by myself”, and because it was his idea.

#2. Act Casual, It’s Just Another Day.

No big giant praises and happy dances, no big Potty Party. Had to keep my cool. Like seriously, I was so proud of him, but hid my excitement so I didn’t spook him! “You went in the potty,” was all I said, and tried to smile as nonchalantly as I could.

With the potty party, he didn’t understand why he needed to keep doing what we learned because the party was over already, hahaha. He just needed it incorporated in everyday life, and EXPERIENCE how going potty independently meant he could go back to what he wanted to do.

#3. Clear the Schedule for a Week!

Previously, the main event was over in a day and I could just “reinforce” afterward. Not so this time.

I set aside a whole week just for Potty Training– free of work, play dates, and appointments. Less pressure and distraction for me, and more practice and likelihood of success for him.

Of course there was not a perfect time to do this (we ended up doing it the first week of school which was full of activity, but at least I had alone time at home with him while the other kids were at school). I did easy meals, and went easy on myself with the housework and everything else because this was my #1 Priority.

#4. Set up for the Stages.

My kiddo had to progress through these Stages:
Clueless —> I Peed —> I’m Peeing —> I Have to Go Pee

I set up the living room where I could help teach him through the stages. It had hard flooring that was easy to clean! I rolled up the rug, covered the couch with a waterproof mattress cover, set up the TV, grabbed a comfy blanket so he could stay warm even with a naked bum, brought down his favorite toys and some books he chose from the library, and put his portable potty seat on the floor right there with everything.

We watched his favorite movies, and I reassured him that I could always pause it while I waited for him to go potty. It helped that the potty was so easy to get to, and he didn’t have to bother with clothes. As he practiced, he got quicker and better with listening to his body.

#5. Train in Blocks.

These are the blocks of learning that Jamie recommends, and we didn’t move on to the next block until the previous ones were mastered.

Block 1: Naked. Can sit to pee/poo on potty.

Block 2: Add clothes, but go Commando for at least a month (give or take a week). Short outings (walk around the block, go to store for 1 thing).

Block 3: Medium Outings, Public Restrooms, all kinds of toilets.

We did have to go back to Block 1 after he kept having accidents in his shorts. I took him in the van covered with a towel in his car seat, and his potty chair at the ready—he used it!! He tried in public restrooms at the soccer fields during games, church, friend’s houses, the park, etc. all Commando the first month.

#6. Commando for a month.

It totally makes sense that underwear and Pull-ups can confuse kids because they hug your child in the same way a diaper does. Going commando (no underwear) even with easy pull-on bottoms helps that feeling of when they need to go more clear, and reinforces the uncomfortable feeling of stuff running down their legs so they experience why it’s important to go potty in the toilet.

It takes time and repetition to “unlearn” going potty in a diaper they’ve done acceptably all their life. A month is a long time, but letting W go commando for that month (even at night) helped me to see where I went wrong last time—putting him in underwear and Pull-ups too soon!

My Favorite Moments

I wasn’t even there when it happened for the first time! I was outside taking Fletcher’s First Day of Kindergarten pics! My potty training kiddo didn’t want to join us outside because he was pantsless and cold, so he was on the couch under a blanket, and when I returned he showed me his toilet!

Hanging with my little guy. He told me it was the best day, and looked forward to watching movies together. We watched Treasure Planet (what he calls “Space Pirates”), Pirates of the Caribbean, Nightmare Before Christmas, and the Backyardigans. He loved to share his favorite moments with me and point out his favorite vehicles.

Night Training and Beyond

By the end of our training he would say, “I feel I need to go potty,” and then head for a bathroom! Our night training consisted of me sleeping with him on his bottom bunk bed (which he loved) where he was either pantsless or Commando. I put the portable toilet near the bed so that in the middle of the night I could easily sit him on it if needed. We actually never needed to use it since we limited liquids after dinner, and even when I had him try he was just empty. After a week of that, I felt pretty confident with letting him sleep in his bed without me! We have had the occasional accident on the off-chance he’s fallen asleep without going potty before bed, but he’s been really good with that otherwise!

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