Potty training fills every parent with a mix of hope and dread. Getting rid of diapers and allowing your child more independence is every parent’s dream, but the process of potty training can be frustrating for the whole family. These three approaches may make the road to potty training a bit more smooth.

The Bootcamp Approachpotty training

Pick a long weekend, or take a short stay-cation. Hunker down either in your home, close to home, or in familiar environments where you know you can use the toilet if needed. Then, let your child know that every fifteen minutes or so, you’ll take her to the potty to see if she needs to use it. Allow her to play, eat, drink, and nap normally, but while she is awake, take her to the bathroom every fifteen minutes. Sometimes, she may not need to go, and you can assure her that that is fine. Other times, she might need to go, and when she goes in the potty, make sure to praise her! At the end of a few days, she should be either fully trained during the day, or almost all the way there. This method can be tedious, but yields fast results!

The Casual Approach

Many families opt for a more casual take on potty training. Instead of setting a defined amount of time in order to accomplish training, parents wait until their child turns 2, and watches for signals that their child is ready, such as asking about the potty, looking inside the potty, or telling parents that he has pooped or is about to poop. Then, parents simple put a small potty seat out in the bathroom, and tell him that he can use it when he feels the need to pee or poop. Encourage him to tell you when he needs to use it, so that you can help him. When he uses the potty seat, praise him. When he uses his diaper instead, don’t make a big deal of it. This method may take several months until your child is consistently using the potty during the day, but will put less pressure on the whole family to focus on potty training in a jiffy.

The Rewarding Approachpotty training seat

This approach is actually best when combined with one of the two aforementioned approaches. Every time your child successfully uses the potty, reward him with a gold star on a piece of posterboard. You may decide that gold stars are reward enough, or you may want to build toward a larger prize (ie., five gold stars equals a trip to the toy store, or a special snack). When your child is getting closer to being fully trained, you might want to plan a special day out for him once he’s all the way there. Be sure to let him know that even when he doesn’t succeed, he is still making you proud of him for trying.

Have you successfully potty trained your little one? How did you know he or she was ready? What was your approach? Tell us what worked for you in the comments section!