Potty Training Boot Camp

Potty training boot camp is a fast-track potty training technique based on positive reinforcement and over-correction or "shame and bribery" as some parents like to refer to it.

The most intense part of the training takes place in one day but it is preceded by preparation and followed by a reinforcement and maintenance phase.

After the intensive period of potty boot camp is over, your little darling will still be practicing his or her newly acquired skills.

Using potty training boot camp technique is an effective way to potty train your child.
Find out if it fits YOUR parenting style

Two psychologists, Nathan H. Azrin and Richard M. Foxx, originally conceived the idea of a using potty training boot camp. This potty method had gone through several metamorphoses, as originally it was more harsh and aggressive -- although the two researchers were careful to note that any potty training attempts must be adapted to the child.

First, we at Little Darling would like to point out the obvious: a boot camp refers colloquially to military recruit training. Boot camps are military-type, semi-corrective institutions that use discipline, rigorous exercises and physical training.

Recruits are typically instructed in "drill": to stand, march, and respond to orders as drilling trains response to commands, assisting in training the recruit to act unhesitatingly in the face of real combat situations (or having to go potty in case of potty training).

There is no therapy, no psychological intervention to address underlying emotional or behavioral problems.

Potty Training Boot Camp Core Concepts

• No more diapers especially any Pull-Ups. This is very important. There is no place for these things in potty training boot camp.

• It requires an uninterrupted chunk of time devoted to potty boot camp, where little darlings endure rigorous training.

• Be ready for meltdowns, tears and lots of cleaning-up.

It’s unlikely you are going to have a successful potty training story if the rules of potty boot camp feel too strict and rigid, and you are neither prepared nor comfortable with this method. Several say that their little darlings became distraught during potty boot camp. If your child has a very strong negative reaction, is distressed or stubborn its best to stop as insisting can cause behavior problems.

It worked very well for some parents who potty trained boys by making potty boot camp into a day in the army game.

Is Potty Training Boot Camp For You?

  • Can you handle meltdowns and tears?
  • Are you fed up with diapers? Do you want to get your child out of diapers quickly without prolonging the process?
  • Are you OK with the rigidness and strictness of the approach? Will it work for your child?
  • Can you express disapproval after accidents?

A Sample Potty Boot Camp Day

Potty training boot camp begins with Prep Work: preparatory work encourages familiarity of the toileting process including using potty dolls. Potty Training Boot Camp book by Suzanne Terroux Riffel recommends at least 2 weeks reading potty training books, talking about the potty, shopping for aids.

On Day 1 of potty boot camp your child will spend 5 minutes on the potty and 10 minutes off. The first day of potty boot camp is going to be extremely grueling for both you and your little darling. If you want to make it through successfully to day two – DON’T make any other plans, devote all your time, energy and patience to one day potty training.

When your child has an accident on the floor, she must practice what she should have done instead of peeing on the floor. Take you little one to the scene of the crime. Ask, “Where do you pee?” Answer yourself, “in the potty” Make your little one say. “In the potty.”

Then you recite the following monologue:

  • When you have to go pee, you run to the potty.
  • Run to the potty! Quickly! Run! Run! Use as much physical pressure as necessary to get your LO to start running.
  • Turn around!
  • Pull down your pants!
  • Sit down! (for just a second)
  • Stand up!
  • Pull up your pants!


When To Start Potty Training: 18 months or older children can start using potty training boot camp technique. A two year old typically takes 1-4 weeks to 'completely' train.

Little Darling Verdict On Using Potty Training Boot Camp.

While this method might work like a charm for a lot of families, the drills, cleanup procedures, large amount of bribes, rewards and reprimands might fall outside your parental comfort zone. For some the method worked so well they stopped after day one for others punitive drills made the so kids mad that they peed all over the house.

Potty Training Boot Camp is effective but tough -- make sure it fits your parenting style and your child's personality. It approaches potty training as a very negative process that one has to brace oneself to survive. But with strength, perseverance (and possibly tears) there will be success.

We recommend this tough love approach to parents who like the military parenting style or those who have tried all the other methods and failed. Although stressful this is the best potty training method out there for some. Day 1 of potty boot camp is super brutal on most families it will make you miserable, but if you survive through it, you will very likely have a potty "trained" child - and we use "trained" very literally.

Book Review: Potty Training Boot Camp

The Potty Training Boot Camp book by Suzanne Terroux Riffel is a no fluff - no psychobabble potty training book. The author researched many potty training methods and put pieces together to come up with her own “no-nonsense” and time-efficient boot camp style guide to potty training.

Potty Boot Camp Jargon:

Potty boot camp, potty jail, potty drills, self-initiate, prep time, marching away, buckle down, prep work ...

The book is short and to the point, you can read it in about 30 minutes to an hour. It’s is a step-by-step / day by day step guide on how to potty train your child -- there no reasoning, just plain instructions with to do lists and charts to hang on your fridge for quick reference.

The basis of using potty boot camp is structure, routine and schedule. The book combines techniques from "Naked and $75" method and Timer Method - select the elements you want or apply the system in its entirety. It covers every possible situation that you may be in and there is a very comprehensive outline of what to do when you're successful and what to do "If day 1 doesn't go as planned."

Claim: "Complete 90% of potty training in just a couple of days. The entire process will take three to four weeks; however, 90% of the training will occur in just one potty training boot camp day! Your child will go from diapers to underwear overnight, and the following days and weeks are just follow-up intended to reinforce what they have learned".

We, at Little Darling, are not convinced that 90 percent of the children self initiate on day one. Many, however, do initiate on day 2, 3, 4 or 7 -- regardless of when it happens all parents where equally proud when it did "click".

Dr. Suzanne Riffel Terroux is an optometrist -- she is NOT a childcare specialist, pediatrician or someone who works with kids. She developed her method through trail and error while she was training her child. She does admit in the introduction that you will be getting your advice from an eye doctor and a mom -- not a professional potty trainer.

Potty Training Age: The author potty trained her daughter, Megan, at twenty months.

That aside we did like her mom-to-mom writing style and her enthusiasm to help other parents with their questions. This is a mom who did her research and wants to share the findings with you. There are also tips for reinforcement & maintenance following the initial potty training period.

Our Favorite Features Of The Potty Training Boot Camp

  • To do list and daily time line.
  • Lots of different ideas compiled in one simple spot.
  • The author also includes her personal email address and encourages comments and questions.

Some argue that her growing up in a professional dog training environment might explain just a little bit her strict and no psycho babble approach to potty training but others focus on how efficient her method is.

Suzanne Riffel’s Thoughts On Potty Training:

"Potty training is a frustrating yet ultimately rewarding phase of your child’s development."

Quote by the author of Potty Training Boot Camp.

Indeed this appears to be congruent with how parents experienced potty training their kids with this method. Parents who successfully trained their little ones with Potty Training Boot Camp advise that this method should be started with full commitment.

How To Potty Train: 10+ potty training techniques. Is this not the right potty training style for you? Use our "What's your Parenting Style" guide to select the best way to potty train for you.

Leave a comment or share your story about kids potty training.

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