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How the Oh Crap! Potty Training Method Works in Real Life

I'll just admit it: I chose Jamie Glowacki's book "Oh Crap: Potty Training" because of its name. A book about pooping that contains a semi-curse in the title seemed about right for me. So about a month and a half ago I bought my PDF and read through it. For a book about something kind of gross and tedious, it's a fun read, and Glowacki has some interesting points and perspectives in it that I'd never considered before. I dutifully took notes and informed my husband that this would be the way we'd be doing things in a few weeks. He dutifully listened, and then about 36 hours into training I started throwing away what I'd learned. Not all of it, though! Here were a few of the tenets I'd absorbed from Glowacki's book and how they worked out for us.

RELATED: Expert Moms Share Their Potty Training Tips

Get the kid excited by telling him you're going to get rid of the diapers.
YES: Our son loves saying "No diapers!" with a big sweep of his arm every day (even though we still put them on for naps and bedtime). It's an easy, fun way to get him into the process.

Start off with a few pantless days.
YES: On the one hand, these were hard days. You really do have to pay constant attention to your kid, with no distractions (that means no phone, no magazines, no computer) unless you want to discover pee on the floor later. Also, it clearly made my son feel weird: it was cold and he felt exposed (by the second half of the first day he started turning down beverages and holding his pee). However, I think it was an important phase for the following reasons:

  • He learned not to just pee in tiny bursts whenever he felt like it, which a diaper allows.

  • We learned his pee rhythms/poop dance.

  • It was a fun bonding experience. Even though it was exhausting I really enjoyed the time we spent together, especially on the swingset, when my son and I ate popsicles and talked about his new baby brother (he actually told me that he is having a baby.)

The first few days felt like an eternity, but now we have a little bit of a rhythm and confidence...

No bribes.
NOT SO MUCH: My husband gave me a lot of crap for this because I was the one who was like "We are going to do it this way! NO bribes!" and then the second our son showed some progress I handed him an M&M. Glowacki warns against bribing kids because you're rewarding them for doing something basic and you can possibly get sucked into a bribery wormhole (one dad I know admitted that they ended up bribing their kid with candy just for trying the potty and had to reward him with a new Hot Wheels for every success.) However, so far it doesn't seem to be that evil: half the time our son forgets about his "Lem-a-Lem" after he goes to the bathroom anyway, plus at daycare his potty situation is different, where he's given stickers for going, so he knows there is no one true way for him to go potty. Sometimes a good high-five is all he needs to feel what is an obvious sense of pride in his accomplishment, which is a big reward for us.

After the pantsless period, go commando:
YES: We haven't even tried undies yet but I think Glowacki's idea that undies feel a lot like diapers is sound, or at the very least, I don't see the problem with going commando for a few weeks. Plus, it makes the pants-pushing-down process faster.

Be prepared for daycare to give you lots of resistance:
NOT SO MUCH: While our daycare lady wasn't totally sure about our "commando-for-now" plan she hasn't undermined us or given us any difficulty, and our son seems to take as much pride in training there as he does at home. Glowacki prepares the reader to have to do battle with her daycare, and it makes sense that some probably won't have time to cater to every single kids' individual potty training proclivities (I recently learned that our son gets diapered for excursions to the park, which isn't how I would do things, but I also get it.) Fortunately our daycare has largely been on our side and it's worked out well.

Tell your kid—don't ask—that it's time to use the potty:
YES: This one was unexpectedly hard to break. I didn't think I was one of those moms who starts every question with "Do you want to…?" or "How about we…?" but apparently I am. It wasn't difficult from a parenting perspective to tell my son to use the potty, just from force of habit. This advice totally makes sense though: of course a kid is going to say "no" if you ask him if he wants to use the toilet, because the toilet is probably not as much fun as whatever he's doing at that moment. So that's why we tell him and not ask him if it's time to go.

Think about nighttime potty training at the same time as daytime:
NOT SO MUCH: I'm 8 months pregnant and work a full-time job and my son doesn't start preschool til August. I'll just be lazy on this for now. I'm not worried about it.

RELATED: 10 Reasons to Stop Stressing About Potty Training

Let go of any idea of how long potty training should take:
ABSOLUTELY. As I write this we're only a few weeks into the training. The first few days felt like an eternity, but now we have a little bit of a rhythm and confidence, but we still have a long way to go before we're completely sans diapers, before it all fades into the fabric of our lives, as Glowacki says. Part of the reason potty training is difficult is that it had been awhile since we'd experienced that "When is this going to get normal?" feeling we used to experience with sleep and introducing solid food. However, the upside of this feeling is that it's just a general life reminder that, no, you really never have true control, so stop thinking you do. Just assume that with a little bit of time and effort, it will all work out.

Good luck!

Image via Claire Zulkey

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