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Potty Training: The "Oh Crap" Method

Updated: May 24, 2020

It was a big week in our house. We ditched the diapers and Mckenna is in potty training mode. I can’t believe we are already at this stage in her development. We started potty training last Friday so we are just over a week in, and so far it’s going so well. We are so proud of her!


Let me start out with saying that I didn’t really have any plans to start potty training so soon. I don’t even know what my “plan” was. Chauncey had mentioned just before her 2nd birthday that he thought we should start soon and I was very hesitant. I thought it was too soon and that we should wait until she was “ready”. In reality we had bought her two potty’s months ago and she had already gone on them several times so it wasn’t a totally new concept to her. I had been discussing this with two of my good friends and they encouraged me to read the book Oh Crap! Potty Training. Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right by Jamie Clowacki. They also told me that it definitely wasn’t too early especially since she was already showing signs of interest in the potty. So I will put this in writing even though it pains me to do so…Chauncey you were right!


I highly recommend this potty training book. I actually listened to the audio version, but I’d still like to get a copy of the actual book so I can reference back. I am going to give you the “Coles Notes” version below. My friend Krissy’s oldest daughter is turning 5 this year and she read this book a couple years ago and took some key notes. I want to thank her for that! I am using some of her key points below.

Oh Crap! Potty Training – key points

· The child’s awareness moves from totally clueless to “I peed”, “I’m peeing”, “I have to go pee”

· There are 6 key blocks of potty training

Block 1 – peeing and pooping while naked, with prompting no more than every 30 minutes

Block 2 – peeing and pooping with clothes on, no underwear, with or without prompting

Block 3 – peeing and pooping in different situations/environments

Block 4 – peeing and pooping, now wearing underwear

Block 5 – consistent self-initiation

Block 6 – night and nap trained as well

· Block 1 – takes 1-3 days on average

· Block 2 – starts anywhere from day 2-6 of training

· Block 3 – starts anywhere from day 4-10 of training

· Block 4 – start to wear underwear about a month into training

· Block 5 – can take a month or longer (every child is different)

· Block 6 – try to tackle this by age 3 (or once child is waking dry each nap and every morning)

· The key point is to not over prompt the child, know that there will be pee on the floor and just pick them up (mid-stream) and get them to the potty. Then you gently let them know and continue to repeat, “Pee and poop go in the potty”.

There is obviously much more to the book than the simple steps outlined above and if you have detailed questions I will be happy to answer them as best I can! The author recommended the ideal age to start training is anywhere from 20 months to 30 months. She does warn that the closer to age 3 you get the more difficult training will be. Obviously every child is different but according to the hundreds of families she has helped with potty training, this age seems to be the best age to start. She made a couple key observations that really hit home with me and pushed me to start training. One was that what really is “ready”? When is a child “ready”? When they are walking, crawling, talking, making their own supper? I was so hesitant as I didn’t want to push her. The second point that the author made was if your child is talking and communicating with you, shouldn’t they have the dignity to be using the toilet and not as she puts it “crapping in their pants”? That really made me think. Mckenna is such an independent little lady and I would be the one holding her back from learning this new skill, simply because I was nervous of her failure. Have faith in your children that they will learn this new skill and you will be there to help them learn it.


I would say for us the main thing was to not over prompt her. If she said she didn’t have to go we respected that and 99% of the time she went on her own without an accident. I think with over prompting (which I felt that I was prone to, because I really wanted to see her succeed!) is that they start to push back on the whole idea of using the potty. The other key point for us is that we leave Mckenna downstairs in her play area and we just remind her the potty is there if she needs to use it. This gives her privacy to go (especially for her poops). Again, I know every child is different but for Mckenna she has been experiencing independent playtime since the day she was born. It is a concept my sister Kirsty had told me about in a book she recommended called Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. In our home, independent playtime and trusting that she will use the potty when she needs to has worked well for us.

I hope you found this helpful! And again, I know every child is different and everyone's home/family life is different, so what works for us may not work for you. However, I really did love the concepts in this book and I do recommend you give it a read then decide for yourself.


PS - a link to the potty's we are using and loving here.



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