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A couple I know recently threw a "potty party" for their three-year-old son. The general idea is outlined here, and is that you dedicate a day to intensive potty training.

Some of the main ideas are:

  • It is a full, intensive one-on-one day with no (or minimal) distractions
  • The child is encouraged to drink a lot and eat lots of salty snacks, to maximize how many potty attempts there will be.
  • A doll is used to model the desired behavior. Instruction is given to the doll, rather than the child, and the child is encouraged to help "train" the doll.
  • Presents and a general celebration are held to make the child excited about the concept.

Quite frankly, the whole thing sounds rather silly to me, and I worry that such a plan might put too much pressure on the child to "succeed" immediately (the goal is to complete potty training in a single day, and the author of the book referenced in that article claims that this is a reasonable expectation).

Is this an effective technique? Does anyone has experience with it? Does a child need to reach a certain level on their own before this technique becomes effective (beyond being developed enough to physically "hold it in" long enough to make it to the potty)?

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I fail to imagine how this can work out in just one day. Even if you stuff a kid with crackers and juice, you get maybe 3 potty visits in a day. For training to work, I'd have expected more visits to be necessary, and that would take more days (a week?). –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 28 '12 at 19:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I've never heard it called a potty party, however this is the way I potty trained which is very similar to this idea and did work.

I left out the doll idea. I did stay home for about 2-3 days (depending on the child) in order to avoid accidents outside the house and recognizing that the child was not quite ready to hold it and make it to a store bathroom. Yes, there were accidents, however no big deal was made of them. After a few day we went on short adventures, going potty before we left and stopping at every bathroom we passed in order to try. I always tried as well, in order to demonstrate. This method does seem to basically be what the potty party is based on, without the title. So I would say, yes, it should work.

Big caveat, we did not do this until the child was interested, or at least until it was clear to us the child had an idea of when they were going. If you push to soon it will back fire, but if you miss your opportunity the child will get used to going in a diaper and you will be stuck with diapers much longer.

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+1 for outlining the concepts that did work for you, thanks. It does seem from the article that the idea is that the party aspect of it pushes a child who isn't interested into being excited about it. Your caveat describes exactly what concerns me about this idea. –  Beofett Mar 28 '12 at 17:52

This is basically how we potty trained our 3-year old, but saying that your child will be completely potty trained in 1 day is a bit of a stretch. For what it's worth, our son wasn't exactly interested in being potty trained when we did this, and we had absolutely no problems with him.
If you think about it, there are a lot of steps involved in learning to use the potty. You have to learn to identify the sensation of needing to potty, learning to manipulate pants and underwear, learning to get to the potty in time to use it, etc. The goal of the 1-day potty training (at least in my mind), was to help my son master these basic skills and we could deal with the rest of it as his potty skills progressed, but I think if you're expecting your child to be 100% using the potty on his/her own after one day you'll be sorely disappointed. Like Morah, we omitted the doll, but if A had an accident, we didn't make a big deal out of it or chastise him. We just cleaned up and reminded him the next time that pee or poop went in the potty. When he was successful, he got stickers and we sang and danced. He loved it.

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