Potty Training Series: The 5 Phase Roadmap to Potty Training Your Toddler As A Modern Parent

When I started researching potty training methods a few months ago by perusing online articles, reading books and asking friends in my network, it became very clear that everyone had a different viewpoint, and that everyone was ultimately successful in their efforts. Point A and Point B were the same, only the journey in the middle looked completely different (there might be a life-lesson somewhere within that statement too!).

I read about the three-day method, where at the end of three days diaper-free your toddler is miraculously potty trained.  I considered the slow and steady method, where the idea of the potty is gradually introduced, and the child is the leader of the process.  I heard about the deadline method, where a countdown to a key date is established, and the potty message is then repeated like a mantra all day, every day until then. And, I definitely debated and discussed the pros and cons of the rewards method, where rewards are used to incentivize potty trips (aka bribery).

As I alluded to in my previous post about when to start potty training your toddler, the methodology that most resounded with me and my values was the 5 Phase approach as presented by Jamie Glowacki in Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right. Jamie Glowacki is a social worker turned parenting expert who has worked with thousands of families. Her book offers “real-world, from-the-trenches” potty training information and guidance. The reason why this approach appealed to me was because it seemed holistic.  Not an all-or-nothing approach, but not an easy-does-it approach either. Just like Goldilocks, it seemed juuuuuust right without having to involve countdowns or bribery.

Here are the 5 Phases of Potty Training, as presented by Jamie Glowacki in Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right:

  1. Peeing and pooping while naked: In this phase, you as a parent are committed to staying at home all day with your child while he or she is naked. You don’t do anything during the day except watch your child with the goal of catching your child just before, or mid-pee, and that’s when you get him or her to the potty. This will take more than one day, so commitment and vacation days are required!
  2. Peeing and pooping with clothes on, commando: By this phase, you and your child have a sense of when a potty trip is required. The pants (which are easy to put on/remove) go back on, but your child is commando underneath.
  3. Peeing and pooping in different situations:  In this phase, you can start taking your child with you on short errands and outings. Make sure to pee before you leave the house and keep a towel on the car seat because accidents will happen and that’s totally OK! It might be helpful to keep an extra potty in the car for on-the-go, go’s.
  4. Peeing and pooping in underpants: Kind of like training wheels, underpants are a transitional tool between diapers and underwear. Disposable or cloth are totally fine, and it can be helpful to have your child roam around in just his or her underpants at home.
  5. Peeing and pooping, self-initiated: In this phase, a child who has been following the leader, takes charge as the leader.  You, as a parent, break down the potty-going steps into steps and start empowering your child to take the initiative.

I will be beginning Phase 1 with Elle after Thanksgiving, and I’m excited to see how this process turns out. I will stock up on paper towels, and keep you as my readers posted on how it goes!

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