Quick Training Methods - Do They Work and Are They Detrimental?

Filed under: Potty Training, Expert Advice: Toddlers & Preschoolers


As the popular book has taught us, "Everyone Poops." They also pee. Unfortunately, they don't do it in the toilet, at least not at first. That means potty training.

For some parents, quicker is better. But how quickly can you train your little one to ditch the diapers and start using the bowl? Some say it can be done in just a few hours. (Note: many pediatricians, including Dr. Mark L. Wolraich of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, do not believe that quick training is necessary.)

Self-proclaimed "Potty Pro" Teri Crane says in her book, "Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day," that "parents need a training tool that will teach them how to potty train their child in one day. The cost savings alone are enough incentive for most parents." Her solution is to "Have a One-Day Potty-Training Party!" Why will this work? Because "kids love parties."

Dr. Phil recently featured a quick-training method on his daytime talk show as well. This method starts by having your child "train" a doll. Then you really force the issue by having your child drink "lots of fluids" because "the sooner he has to go potty, the sooner you can begin potty training."

Sounds great, but what if it doesn't work for your kid? Dr. Alan Greene says on his website that there is no "best age" to potty train. Citing a study from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Greene writes that "Our job [as parents is] to teach them and support them, not to force them." In other words, if the one-day method doesn't do the trick, you may want to give it a few days and try something else.

One other thing to keep in mind, and something that is not mentioned in many of the quick training methods found online is the difference between night and day -- literally. TheLaborOfLove.com points out that "Most children learn to day potty train really fast...the problem will arise with nighttime training, as this is more difficult -- not to mention children are generally older when they are fully nighttime potty trained." In other words, even if your child pees in the potty during the day, you may find that they still need a diaper at night. And that's OK.

In general, I'm suspicious of "quick training" methods. One reason is that the various books and experts tend to gloss over a potentially difficult task. Just as investors should be skeptical of a financier who claims that they can give you inexplicably huge returns on your money (paging Bernie Madoff), parents should question the notion of potty training in two days or less. This isn't to say that it can't happen. Some children do learn to use the toilet with relative ease. But others don't. If you have a child who doesn't respond well to fast training, that can lead to frustration for the child and the parents.

Therein lies the biggest potential issue with quick potty training. If it doesn't work, the message being sent to your little one is that they failed. As Dr. Mark L. Wolraich of the University of Oklahoma told us in an interview: "'Quick training' treats toilet training as a problem or disorder that you are trying to correct." Is that really the message you want to put in your child's mind? That pooping and peeing is a problem to be fixed, rather than a natural bodily function? This doesn't mean that you will scar your child for life if you try a quick training method -- but at the same time, why create an extra issue for your kid, either now or down the road?

Obviously parents can take the idea of waiting until their child is ready for potty training too far. A 5-year-old who still wears diapers is no picnic. But it seems like one of the main reasons for quick training methods is parental convenience. "Wouldn't it be great if Johnny could go in the potty NOW?" a parent might say. "I am SO sick of diapers." That's fine, but you have to know your kid and what they need. If it looks like training in a couple of days will work, great. If not, don't force the issue. Give it some time. If your worst problem is having to change the occasional diaper for an extra few months, consider yourself lucky.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.