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!!