The Bare Bottom Weekend – An Adventure in Potty Training

At the recommendation of our pediatrician we decided to try “The Bare Bottom Weekend” with our three year old daughter. The Bare Bottom Weekend is a potty training technique that requires the child to wear nothing from the waist down which forces them to choose using the potty or having an accident on the floor. What I really appreciated about this technique is that it doesn’t require harsh disciplining tactics. It is more about teaching your child how to recognize the urge to use the bathroom and what to do when they get that urge.

Let me start with our potty training history and how we came to participate in the Bare Bottom Weekend.

Our daughter is three and recently said to me, “Mommy, I will never, ever use the potty, I’m going to use my pull-up.” That is when I knew it was time to get serious about this whole potty training thing. Up until now we’ve been using a child-centered approach, letting her make the decision on her own. We started introducing her to the potty around her second birthday. She did really well at first and we thought, “this is going to be easy”. Ummm, no, it wasn’t going to be easy.

When she relapsed back to using her pull-up most of the time we introduced a reward system. Our daughter absolutely loves gum and is actually very mature in how she handles it, so we used it as the reward for using the potty. When she used the potty we gave her a small piece of gum to enjoy. This worked for about a week. Then we upped the ante, the reward became ice cream. Nothing. The only difference now was when she had an accident in her pull-up she would say, “I pooped in my pull-up, I don’t get ice cream or gum.” It didn’t seem to phase her.

We tried offering lots of praise. Neither of us wanted to use punishment in conjunction with potty training, we didn’t want her to associate her bathroom habits with something negative. We would express disappointment when she had an accident but never used time outs or other forms of punishment. We would also express how happy we were when she used the potty. We would make it a small celebration, clapping our hands and telling her what a big girl she was. She even seemed proud of herself, but not proud enough to tell us that she had to use the potty. Ugh.

We’ve read books about using the potty. We have a little potty chair just for her. We have a potty seat so she can use the big potty. We’ve talked about the other kids she knows that use the potty. She has seen other kids use the potty. We’ve offered rewards and praise. We’ve done everything but actually potty train our daughter.

So here we are, a year later, still fighting this battle. I’m not entirely sold on this Bare Bottom Weekend but it is worth a try. The basic premise is that you spend a weekend at home with your child, no interruptions. Your child does not wear diapers, pull-ups, or underwear during the training period. You and your child spend the weekend in one area of the home with their potty chair in that area. The idea is that your child will dislike having an accident run down their leg and will quickly recognize the urge to use the potty.

Day one went well, mostly. We spent our day in the main part of our house. She used the potty multiple times without accident. She did bring me her pull-up a couple times and even cried because she wanted to wear it. Then we made our mistake, despite the recommendation to stay at home we left the house that evening to visit family. Things were going well, she was even using the potty there. And then it happened, I caught her in a corner behind an end table. It was too late, she had pooped in her underwear. Everyone in my family enjoyed a good chuckle as I drug her to the bathroom, her telling me how bad it was the entire way!

Day two started out with a few tears but all went well. In the morning our daughter actually said, “I need to poop, where are my underwear?!” We held strong and didn’t give in to her underwear request. Later that day she sat on the potty all by herself and used it like the big girl she is! Ice cream was served immediately after! We went the entire day without one accident!

Only time will tell if this method worked or even helped. I supposed we can always revisit it with Bare Bottom Evenings if we need a refresher. One change I know we are going to make is to eliminate the daily use of pull-ups. We both believe they hinder the potty training experience by making kids feel dry when they really are not. We will keep a small supply on hand for naps and bedtime but will no longer use them exclusively during the day.

I am very curious to here other parents experiences with potty training your little ones. Please share your stories in the comments!!

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8 Responses to The Bare Bottom Weekend – An Adventure in Potty Training

  1. Kasey says:

    I’ve never heard of the bare bottom technique, however it’s very similar to what a lot of parents do to potty train their child. Once my kids started sleeping through the night (and naps) without having used the pull-up, I knew they were ready. With my oldest, I took him to the bathroom constantly. He caught on quickly and was potty trained in 2 weeks! My youngest on the other hand… well that was a whole different story. He would remove his pull-up and go potty anywhere i.e. the sofa, the wall, in his pants. Basically he went anywhere but the potty. He even dropped his pants and pooped in the back yard! After months of failed attempts I had to talk to his doctor. She said that I needed to give him a choice. If he decided to wear a pull-up, accept the decision. If he decided to wear big boy underwear, he had to use the potty. The doctor also said that most kids naturally don’t like the wet feeling in their underwear/pull-up and they want changed to feel clean and dry… and so using the same concept, each time he relieved himself some place other than the potty (like the wall), he should be made to clean up the mess… he won’t like cleaning up the mess, thus he will start using the potty. It worked like a charm! I had him potty trained in no time (after the first 6 months of hell that is).

    • Britni says:

      I like the idea of making them clean up the mess. I’m going to have to try that! She had one accident at the sitter’s house today so we’ll have to keep trying. I have seven weeks until little brother is born, that is my deadline!!

  2. Erin says:

    Oh, Brit! I am sorry, but your story made me laugh! I know you won’t be laughing anytime soon, but one day you will look back and you will! We had trouble with Savannah too. She flat out refused. It was difficult at the time because I didn’t have a regular schedule, with consistent days off. So it was hard to get her into any type of rhythm. But she wouldn’t use the potty chair and I think she was intimidated by the toilet. We tried everything. Finally we gave up. She wore diapers. She was almost three too. I felt like a failure and like everyone else would think I couldn’t do it. So we just made her wear the diapers, which she didn’t like, do eventually she decided to go on her own. I know this may seem like giving in but our doctor told us we shouldn’t push and she would do it herself. I know that you want to have her using the potty before the baby comes, which I totally understand! But just wanted to share our story. I’m sure it doesn’t work like that with every child but it did with ours.

    • Britni says:

      I’m sure she will figure it out on her own time. We’re just trying to go with it and not get too frustrated with her. I’m sure by the time highschool rolls around she’ll have this potty thing figured out :)

  3. kim says:

    Thank you so much for making me feel normal! My son turned 3 last month and he is so set in his ways. I’ve done the rewards. I’ve done the do it at their pace. I finally had decided I would just leave him in diapers until he actually wanted to until this morning. This morning, I walked in the room to find him, diaper off, poop on the floor and him watching his movie. He had stripped himself down and pooped on the carpet because he didn’t want it in his diaper but he flat out said he was too busy watching a movie so we’re doing the bare bottom routine. I will definitely start making him clean up his own messes though. I love that tip. Mommy is done with “his pace”. Thanks for helping refresh me!

    • Britni says:

      Potty training was something we never figured out. Fortunately our 3 year old daughter finally did. One Saturday she just woke up and started using her potty, she’s been potty trained ever since! She was a few months shy of 3 1/2 at the time. Good luck and hang in there!

  4. Tiffany says:

    That is a awesome idea because i was feeling like i was running out of patience and ideas. My thing is that my son goes to a daycare and i want him ready by 3 to say he a succeeded with potty training. His thing is pooing in his underwear still and he might poop on the floor but im at my last nerve with it and he has to learn CHOICE.

    • Britni says:

      It took until almost 3 1/2 for our daughter to finally train herself. I say “train herself” because one Saturday afternoon she was suddenly potty trained. I don’t think we could’ve done anything different to help her along, she had to do it herself. Good luck!

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