Intensive toilet training methods have become increasingly popular due to the demands of modern living and parent’s time. Often, parents have to “schedule” time to take care of teaching this essential skill to their toddler. The benefits of using an intensive method far outweigh the drawbacks in trying to “let it take care of itself” and responsible parenthood requires taking the time.
I used Carol Cline’s 3 day potty training method and found it simple to understand, implement and very useful. It was a successful method for us and I wrote the following article as a guide for parents who are considering using this method. It is simply a quick overview of what the book covers, chapter by chapter, so you can have an idea of what kind of content is in the book before you buy.
The book describes how to potty train in 3 days. It is 136 pages long and can easily be read in a few hours. I would imagine that the book is engagingly read by all parents about to embark on toilet training toddlers. However, Carol Cline intersperses the methodology with an historical overview of the process and general advice, gained from experience, of what to expect from your toddler during this time and also what you may experience yourself.
Chapter 1: The first chapter debunks the modern myth that children can toilet train themselves and that the later parents leave it to toilet train their children, the easier it will be. Children are potty trained later in the USA and Canada than in most of the world. She promotes a potty training method that is child centred and caring; but one that is also consistent and achieves results. Her belief is that potty training is a mutual achievement between the child and the parent and will deepen the relationship between them. This premise is carried throughout the book.
Chapter 2: This chapter sets out what is the best age to start potty training and includes guidelines for potty training toddlers aged between 18-24 months old with specific advice for parents who are trying to potty train older children.
Chapter 3: The key to successful potty training is knowing when your child is ready. This chapter goes into detail on the potty training readiness signs so you will know when the best time to start potty training your child is.
Chapter 4: Believe it or not, you need to prepare yourself first and then prepare your child. This chapter takes you through the necessity of relaxing through the process, how to handle your own expectations, what you should expect using the method, what to do and what not to do.
Chapter 5: This chapter takes you from your own expectations and the “adult mind” into the mind of your child so you can prepare them for their journey ahead. It explains the sequence of how children learn which helps you know what’s going on. It also details what you can do beforehand to make the learning process easier e.g. taking “no-pressure” potty breaks before you actually start training so your child starts to become familiar with the process.
Chapter 6 and 7: These chapters take you step-by-step through what you need to have done before you start your “potty training in 3 days method” from clearing your schedule to the best foods to buy at the supermarket.
Chapter 8: This is the heart of the book. The pre-potty training “work” in the preceding chapters is not onerous and if the advice in them is followed, you will have done a lot of preparation that will reap rewards on your potty training days. The method is not set in stone but can be adapted to suit your family situation and needs. However, it does emphasise the need to be persistent, consistent, patient, loving and staying positive. It is a method that works with your child and treats them kindly throughout the process. It is a child centered approach that refocuses the adult mind into thinking of the world of a child. One of the best things about this method is that Carol Cline describes a very simple tool to encourage your toddler to use the potty that avoids the perennial “no”.
The chapter also includes advice about night time potty training and observations and insights from other parents who have used the method. I found the chapter very, very useful – not least because of the methodology itself. It walks you through what you should expect, how you may feel, what to do if it goes badly and even what to do if it goes well!
Chapter 9: This chapter is a surprise inclusion. For those of us who are a little “rusty” on biology 101, this is the chapter to read! It is a basic biology lesson on our bodily functions. It then gives advice and guidance on how to ensure children adopt a healthy urination and bowel movement pattern.
Chapter 10: This is the chapter where Carol Cline leads you past thinking in terms of just potty training at home. It details how to approach potty training with your child’s entire development and social situation in mind. As such it extends to teaching your child how to wipe their bum (with a novel system that won’t block your plumbing with toilet paper) and how to wash their hands. At the end of the chapter, you won’t be thinking about your child as a potty training toddler but as a “big kid” able to handle himself at kindergarten and pre-school.
Chapter 11: If you are about to start potty training a boy, a girl or twins this chapter will prove invaluable. It dismisses some of the myths and re-inforces the belief that every child is an individual. It deals with some typical obstacles and how to get past them in a positive way. If potty training has not worked for you in the past, or if you have a particularly stubborn child, then Carol Cline provides some very good adaptations to the method to cope with this situation. From the child’s perspective, Carol Cline again puts you in their shoes and deals with some common fears your child may have and how to deal with them. I found the part on incentives and rewards particularly useful and it is something that I have put into practice in other areas of my parenting.
Chapter 12: Parents of children with Autism, Asperger’s and Down Syndrome face particular challenges in trying to potty train. The chapter deals with these issues and covers area such as language issues, sensory problems, the stress of learning a new skill and visual aids to potty training. It also includes some observations and advice from parents who have been through and are going through a similar situation.
Chapter 13: This covers in a little more detail the “bumps in the road” and how to respond to them in a positive way.
Chapter 14: It may be that you feel that your child may have a medical problem and this chapter points you in the right direction on how to recognise it and what to do about it.
Chapter 15: “Out in the world” is the title of this chapter and this is where you will spend most of your time with your potty training toddler! It covers everything from going to the mall and on long haul flights; what to bring and suggestions for how to explain to your toddler about “special situations”. Like any parent, I found planning trips and outings more stressful than I would like in the beginning and Carol Cline puts it into perspective so you can emerge from a trip to the mall having enjoyed yourself rather than making potty training the centre of your world.
In order to gain the most from the book, I would suggest purchasing it a month before you plan to potty train. You will have the time to read the book a few times and really absorb the methodology. This makes it easier to “get ahead” on the practical stuff like clearing your schedule and getting everything organised.