Oh, Crap. Potty Training – A Review

Potty training. One of the best pieces of advice Jamie Glowacki puts in her e-book, Oh Crap. Potty Training, is to never announce on Facebook that you are potty training. You will get unsolicited advice by the pounds. And if you fail (especially if you are potty training ‘early’, i.e. before or right around 2 years old), the “I told you so”s will be epic.

It’s with that in mind that I start writing this post in the draft folder of the blog, hoping none of my contributing authors will really notice the subject. I didn’t plan on posting this until we actually succeeded in potty training, whether that was in the next three days or if it was in another year.  However, with Day 4 of training under way, I think we’re in a good enough place to submit an initial review.

Potty training is one of those things I’ve never exhaustively researched. I don’t have at hand one of the many scholarly articles that talks about the average age, or about night training, or about bed wetting; honestly, I think I’m in denial. I don’t want to potty train. If it were up to me, I’d be waiting until she’s three.

Unfortunately, I’m an avid enough blog reader that I came across Oh Crap. Potty Training about 6 months ago. And what Jamie Glowacki has to say hits home. The best age for potty training is between 20-30 months. The idea of waiting until everyone is ready is crap because by then, it’ll be too late. Don’t delay.

Well, crap. I don’t know if she’s right, but what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll try between 20 and 30 months. If not, we’ll do it at three years old like I prefer.

Jamie makes her money through selling her e-books and access to her forums, so I will try not to ‘give anything away’ here. But, the very gist of her message is that there’s nothing to give away. There’s no method. There’s no gimmick. Just common sense. (Reminds me of the No Cry Sleep Solution, which is just a collection of common sense, no matter how helpful it is.)

I finally bit the bullet and bought the e-book when L turned 23 months old. She hits all the criteria for readiness in Jamie’s book. She can sing her ABCs. She can communicate her needs. She can throw a tantrum over a piece of candy. It’s go time.

The first ‘block’ is all about letting your child run around naked and watch for pee cues. No begging every 15 minutes to go potty, no forced potty-sitting routines. Just catch them when they’re about to pee and stick them on the pot.

The first half day was an utter failure. I outsourced all home routines (and baby J care) to my husband. Yet, the two times I looked away for half a second, seriously, we had accidents. Jamie mentions – this is not the time to make the phone call you need to make. Your entire focus is on the kid.


L is my entire focus. But she runs away to the living room to get away from baby J, who is grabbing at her toy. I run after her. In that interim time, she pees. She is distraught, I calm her down, we clean up the mess together (she does this automatically, being trained from infancy to clean up spills).  This is all after, of course, I stick her first immediately on to the potty to catch any last drips.

This is the story for the entire rest of the day. Missed opportunities, a child that holds it like a camel. She knows what she’s supposed to do – she just doesn’t know how to do it.

At the end of Day 1, I have her sit for a while. I walk away to the kitchen (according to the book, a ‘stealth pee-er’ (my nickname) is a good sign. It means the child can hold it, and wants privacy).

Success, and a very proud child. I put a cloth diaper on her for bedtime and the day is done.

Day 2 – utter failure again. Utter, utter failure. With the success of the end of day 1, I decide to prompt her to potty. Over and over again. I stick her on there at intervals. She can sit there for an hour. Nothing. She stands up, runs away, and sometime later, another accident. Gah.

Day 3 continues the string of accidents and hour long potty sessions with no production. I start despairing. I alternate throughout the day in letting her run around completely naked and putting some clothes on her (it’s cold here!).

Let’s go on a tangent here. If you read the book, you HAVE to absorb one of Jamie’s first lessons. This is NOT a method. You know your child the best. This is collected wisdom from an experienced potty trainer. There is no timetable. And, do not prompt your kid to potty over and over again. Stop bugging them.

Like many parents, I forgot that lesson. I thought Block One should equal Day One. It was Day Three. Shouldn’t we be on Block Three by now? I asked. Shouldn’t she be trained?

So, off that tangent. I realize I was bugging her and watching her because I really didn’t want her to have an accident. So, at the end of Day Three, I decided to give up. Into a diaper she’d go,and we’d commence ‘casual’ potty training (the kind Jamie despises). I’d let her use the potty once in a while – heck, I’d let her run around naked if she wanted – but I was sick of being tied to the house. We had already missed my church Bible study on Monday because she was potty training. I had a baby sitter coming the next day (today). We had a children’s music program on Wednesday. We couldn’t keep doing this.  My mom, a pediatrician, tells me she’s too young. Wait until at least 2.5 years old, she says. I agree. The experiment was done.

Oh, fate. Oh, relaxation. Well, my daughter is stubborn. She HATES diapers, she wants to be a big girl, and she knows what she’s supposed to do. I tried to put a cloth diaper on her. She resisted. She said she had to potty. Okay, I let her. She sat on there for 15-20 minutes. Nothing. I finally wrestled the diaper on her. About a minute later she’s screeching again that she needs to potty. I sit her on there again and walk away.

Success! She did need to – she just needed some time. Throughout the rest of the evening, she told me every time she needed to potty. Four successes, no prompting from me. The only accident we had was when I tried to put her on the big toilet (she hates it), and she immediately wanted to get down. (Note to self: buy potty chair for upstairs).

So we’re in Day 4. She’s with a babysitter. I told the sitter that she was welcome to force a cloth diaper on her so she wouldn’t be too much of a pain, but that at the moment she was commando. Our babysitter is an experienced mom of two (and if not a grandmother, is at least grandmotherly). She nodded sagely and confidently – she knows what to do.

L is definitely not trained. I don’t know what I’ll find when I get home. But I have a.) a smart girl who knows what I expect of her b.) a child that hates diapers c.) a child who wants to be a big girl d.) a child who is now in cloth diapers, which is a new experience for her (she’s used to disposables; I used to cloth diaper her when she was a baby but she doesn’t remember).

We have all the elements of success. It may take another year, or it may just take two more days – either way, I credit Jamie Glowacki’s book for setting the stage.

Buy “Oh Crap. Potty Training!” here. Buying the book also gives you access to the forums (fair warning – the forums were the place that gave me the ideas of bugging her to sit on the chair, etc – things that Jamie probably wouldn’t approve of). Jamie also has a call-in online radio show, private consultations, and group events.