The Issue With ‘Boot Camp’ Potty Training

In today’s episode of the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim is joined by Alexis Granelli – a certified Gentle Sleep Coach and Gentle Potty Coach. Kim and Alexis want to break down why the rigid, boot camp approach to potty training doesn’t work for every child or family. They cover how potty training is not just a one-size-fits-all approach, and offer a great solution to gently potty train your own child. 

Kim’s Boot Camp Potty Training Fail 

As a mother of two, Kim has experienced her own potty training up and downs. While she potty trained over 20 years ago, a lot of the advice remains the same. Her oldest daughter was showing signs of readiness to potty train, but Kim was too sick in her pregnancy to really focus. Once Kim began to feel well, she decided to do boot camp potty training with her daughter – it was really the only option back then! 

The whole experience was miserable. After 3 days, lots of power struggles, and head butts, her daughter was not potty trained. Kim said forget it, she was not ready. She kept putting it aside until she had her second daughter. A family member was in town and was appalled that the older daughter was not potty trained. While Kim was busy with the new baby, this family member stuck the older child on the potty and forced them to sit until they went. Kim’s daughter was traumatized! She held her bowel movements, had a fear of the potty, and it took much longer to potty train her. 

Alexis’s Try at Boot Camp Potty Training

While Alexis and Kim potty trained over 20 years apart, their stories are very similar. Alexis, like many parents, decided to potty train during the early pandemic when everyone was home. Her thought was she just had to power through it and get it done. She also bought into the boot camp potty training style that guaranteed your child would be potty ready in 3 days. 

Well, this boot camp-style training didn’t accommodate Alexis or her child’s temperament. There was a lot of stress, arguments, and just an overall unfortunate experience. Learning how to use a potty is a big milestone in a child’s life, and Alexis felt horrible that she had tainted that experience for both her and her daughter. 

A Better Potty Training Option

Both Kim and Alexis knew there was just something better that could be done. Just like Kim experienced in her sleep training approach, parents want to have options. You may have boot camp potty trained one child and it worked great, but that’s not an option for every child.

There is no one size fits all approach to potty training. There are a few steps to be taken to find the method that works best for your family. 

  • Reflect. Take the time to reflect on how you want your potty training experience to be. Ask yourself what your parenting philosophy is, and how you want that to be reflected in your potty approach.
  • Evaluate Your Child. What is your child’s temperament? Do they have sensory issues? Do you often have power struggles? Thinking about how your child handles changes and new things will greatly affect your potty training success. 

The Issue With Boot Camp Style Potty Training 

For both Kim and Alexis, there are quite a few issues with boot camp-style potty training, but they break it down to just a few. 

First, a lot of approaches tell parents to stay home for 3 days straight to potty train. This just isn’t realistic for families with multiple children or working parents. Because of this “rule” so many parents try to put off potty training and miss the readiness window, which leads us to our next point…

There is a lot of confusion about readiness when it comes to potty training. There is shame and doom around missing the readiness window. But, as a parent, you know your child better than anyone and will be able to determine their own readiness. 

How a Parent Should Approach Potty Training

It’s essential for parents to approach potty training with a calm, confident and consistent attitude. When a parent is calm and has a plan, they’re more likely to follow through with consistency and succeed in potty training and empowering themselves and their children.

Kim and Alexis’s creation, the Gentle Potty Course, gives parents options outside of the one size fits all approach. You may potty train your child in 3 days, it may take a month, but there is no shame around either option in this new approach. Their course is science and research-based – you won’t be taught any method that’s not proven. The entire course was passed through pediatricians and occupational therapists. 

You CAN Potty Train Gently +Successfully!

7 myths parents need to debunk for a struggle-free potty training journey!

The Sleep Lady®

The Sleep Lady is a brand, founded by Kim West, focusing on gentle sleep and parenting solutions. For over 25 years, we have helped hundreds of thousands of families get the rest they need, without leaving their children alone to cry it out. While we focus on sleep-training, we provide resources and tips for parents to help schedule their child’s day, feedings and more.

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The Gentle Parenting Show, created by Kim West - The Sleep Lady

In the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim West will interview parenting experts on everything from mindfulness to developmental milestones and how it relates to gentle parenting. Kim West is a LCSW-C, bestselling author and founder of a world-renowned gentle sleep training method. She and her team of Gentle Sleep Coaches have helped over 1 million families find gentle sleep through her courses, best-selling book and 1:1 coaching. Kim is the only baby sleep expert out there with 25-years of experience, and she’s seen everything when it comes to parenting.