Many moms have asked me about my 3 day potty training method, so I wanted to write it down so it’s easier to share. I know many of you still have babies and toddlers that haven’t reached the potty-train stage yet, so go ahead and save this article to Pinterest or Facebook or somewhere that you can find it when you are ready to begin potty training your child!
There are different methods out there, but this is the one method that worked for my kids. My first child, I started training the conventional way around 18 month old. It was a year-long disastrous endeavor. I decided that I would never put myself or my child through that again! So I needed something new.
I found a little book at a thrift store, called “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” by Nathan Azrin and Richard M. Foxx. It helped tremendously! I modified the method to fit my lifestyle and preferences, but it gave me a great start.
I have explained my complete method here in this blog post, so you can access the information for free. Potty training is the most disliked part of motherhood, and I want it to be as simple and painless as possible! I actually typed up this guide for my sister, when she was potty training, and she says it worked! It was satisfying to get her text during the first day, saying that he was already peeing in the potty!
Want to skip the long post and ads? Download the printable potty-training cheat sheet!!
So without further ado, let’s dive in…
Skills necessary to begin 3 day potty training method:
- Able to communicate that they need to go or that they have already went potty. This does NOT mean that the child must be able to say “potty”, but rather that they can say something to let you know what is going on. In other words, if your child is able to communicate that they want a drink, they can learn a word for potty.
- Staying dry all night is best, but you can train before this happens. Once bladder control is learned, it will translate to nights.
- What age? I find that 2 1/2 years old is the best age for my kids. Younger than that, it takes longer to click in their brain. Older, and they start to get stubborn. 😉 But you can try at whatever age you want!
Preparing to toilet train
Here are the things I do to make sure we are prepared to start potty training. Failing to prepare is failing. Take the time to prepare properly, and you will succeed!
Set aside 3 days to focus completely on toilet training.
Some kids will take less, some will take longer, but aim for 3 days of dedicated training time. This means: no shopping trips, no visiting other people, no church, no going anywhere. Stay home. 🙂
Have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand. Have plenty of small treats as prizes.
This is not the time to worry about a balanced diet or healthy foods. This is 3 days of fun food! In the scheme of their lifetime – 3 days is a mere blip. Right now your focus is toilet training! 🙂 I recommend having lots of salty snacks, or if they like veggies and fruits, that is good too. Then have plenty of fun drinks. Water is fine, but so is gatorade, fruit juice, pop, tea, etc. ANYTHING to help them drink! You want them drinking a ton, so they pee a lot, to give lots of chances to practice going potty.
Get some small treats for prizes. This can be anything from cookies, small candies, small lollipops, gum, fruit snacks, chocolate covered raisins, anything that they love to eat. It is best if it is something that is fairly small. You don’t want to give a large cookie or big candy bar after every pee! You want small treats. And no toys for prizes. New toys will take their attention so completely that they will forget the whole potty thing.
Make sure everyone who lives in the home is able to help you
If not able/willing to help, then they need to stay out of the way. No snickering, laughing, joking, etc. It is helpful if there are few people as possible in the house while you are toilet training.
Have plenty of underpants on hand.
You will be going through a lot of underpants these first few days. I recommend having 8-12 on hand. Twice that many is great! You can buy some cheap ones at first, because when they poop in their pants, you will want to toss it all! Below I have linked some of my favorite training pants. They have a thicker, absorbent center, and are inexpensive.
Have some old towels and cleaning supplies for accidents.
Here is a natural, urine-removal spray from Amazon:
Have a potty chair.
A small seat that fits on your existing toilet will work, but this method works best of you have a dedicated small potty chair that they can use by themselves. Here’s one from Amazon:
Get in the right mindset
Once I commit to toilet training, I don’t wear pull-ups or diapers on them, ever again. The child understands that Mom is serious, things are different, and diapers are a things of the past. If you put on a pull-up for a store run, or church, or nights, then they will revert back to old habits. You CAN plan around these events and prepare for them, it just takes a bit more work. But having then 100% trained is SO worth it!
Click the image below for a printable cheat sheet.
Day one of the 3 day potty training method:
1 Get child up, and when you remove the diaper, put a pair of underpants on them. Don’t put any other pants over the underpants. Just shirt and underpants.
Tell them “Diapers are for babies! You are a big boy/girl now! No more diapers! We go pee in the potty!”
Then take them and show them the potty.
If you have a small potty chair, make sure it is accessible to them all the time. In the bathroom is great, if you can keep that bathroom unlocked for the next several months while they get accustomed to going potty. Another place is right outside the bathroom door – so they are used to heading towards the bathroom. That prevents later mistakes. You can also put it in the kitchen or hallway, but I do prefer to keep it in or near the bathroom.
2. After you show them the potty, go ahead and show them how it works: help them pull their pants down and set on the potty. The goal is to have them go potty alone.
They probably won’t go this first time, that’s ok.
3. Feed them breakfast, and while they are eating, make a big deal about how “today we are going to learn to go potty! No more diapers!” (or pampers, whatever term you use)
“Tell Momma when you need to pee, and we will go pee in the potty!!”
There is a good chance they will pee in their pants the first time near breakfast-time. You can try to catch this by giving them their first drink of the day while they are sitting on the potty. They may resist drinking while on the potty. That’s ok. No pressure here!
4. You will play with the child all morning – put an old blanket over carpet, or play on hard floor, because the child WILL have accidents! Read books, color, anything. Offer snacks and drinks constantly. Not forcing, just offer over and over.
5. Every 15 minutes, take them to the potty.
Don’t carry them – take their hand and make them walk. If they don’t pee – let them go back to playing. Don’t make them sit there a long time. A minute or a couple minutes is plenty. If you are pretty sure they need to pee – run water in the sink to see if the sound of running water will help them go. This is practice, and hoping that you will catch them peeing in the potty.
6. Keep playing and eating snacks and drink, drink, drink. Eat simple meals, don’t get distracted with cleaning up the house – do that while they nap or after they are in bed. Spend most of the day with the child.
7. If they pee in the potty: big praise!! “Yay! Momma is so proud of you! Woohoo! You are SUCH A BIG BOY!!! You are a rock star!!”
Or whatever you do when you are excited! Make a big deal about it. Jump, laugh, clap your hands, go overboard. And give them a piece of candy. Make sure they know that you reward going in the potty.
8. If they pee on the floor/in their pants: Take their hand and help them touch the wet pants, let them feel how gross it is. Then, in a very dismayed voice, say “Oh no! We don’t pee in our pants! We pee in the potty! RUN TO THE POTTY!!!!
Then you take their hand and run with them to the potty. Don’t take off their wet pants, just run with them to the potty.
9. When you get to the potty, you point at the potty and repeat that “we pee in the potty!”, then go back to where they pee’d, and repeat for 3-5 times.
The first time they might think it’s fun. By the 3rd time they might crying – your voice can be serious but NEVER mad. Just matter-of-factly, urgently repeat every run: “we don’t pee on the floor! We pee in the potty!! We have To RUN!! RUN TO THE POTTY!!!!”
10. The last run, you say: “We pee in the potty! HURRY! Pull your pants down and sit on the potty!!” (Help them pull their pants down and set them on the potty)
Then make a big deal of how stinky/gross the wet pants are, and get them a fresh pair.
Let them sit on the potty just a minute while you remove the wet pants and get fresh ones. Then back to playing, drinks, and snacks till next 15 minutes practice time.
This is the hardest part of the plan, but also the most crucial.
Don’t worry – you won’t do this forever! Just the first 2-3 days until it ‘clicks’. You will feel like a fool while running madly with a child who is doing the duck walk! Drop the embarrassment – no one is watching! This is temporary but effective. If the child goes limp and refuses to run or walk at all, you can carry them while you run. But if at all possible, have them run.
Be prepared: the first day you may not have any successes. That is ok and very normal. But often sometime towards the end of the second day, you should have a success. Most of my kids had it figured out by the second day.
What to do at night, during the 3 day potty training:
You limit drinks the last hour before bed. Make sure you take them potty just before bed, and remind them not to pee in their pants. They may pee at night, so have a shower curtain under their sheet.
In the morning, take them potty first thing.
Second day is exactly like the first. Spend lots of time reading to them, playing with them, and just being very watchful. Have simple meals, so you aren’t distracted very long.
When they start understanding to go to the potty, you can start to relax on the practice sessions – maybe every 30 minutes between.
At no time should you go anywhere or change the environment until they show some understanding of running towards the potty when they need to go.
Even when the child is going potty (or telling you he needs to go) regularly, you need to have him sit on the potty every hour, whether he says he needs to go or not. Continue this for one week.
Having a bowel movement
This is the hardest to teach. Making sure you include plenty of fiber and fluids, which will help them not be able to hold it. (raisins, fruit juice, etc) Kiddos tend to try to hold it in, so try to keep them a bit on the loose side. Never punish them for going in their pants, never scold. Just try to watch them closely and if you catch them in the act of pooping, pick them up and rush them to
the toilet to finish there. This is only rarely successful, but it does reinforce the idea that pooping also takes place on the toilet.
Extra Important tips for the 3 day potty training method:
- The running and urgent exclaiming about “run to the potty!!!” Is the single biggest factor in success. Lay aside dignity and go for it!
- Staying home 3 days is possible! Just do it.
- When the 3 days are up and you do venture out, be sure to have 2-3 sets of clothes for the child and an extra set for yourself. As well as plenty of wet wipes, plastic bags, and towels. While away from home, don’t forget to take them to a toilet every hour. With diligent watching, you should be able to prevent most accidents. DO NOT USE PULL-UPS.
- Don’t ask a child that is 3 years old if they need to go potty. Just take them. Make it non-negotiable. Be pleasant but firm.
- Do not revert to pull-ups or diapers. The child will take that as permission to return to former habits, and happily go back to diaper use.
- I had one child who regularly had a soaked diaper every morning… from birth to 2.5 years old. When I potty-trained her, she never wet her pants again – not even once. The mind is powerful and kids understand more than you think! If you say “no more diapers” and stick to it, they will get the memo.
- When you are washing dishes or preparing a meal or doing some other little task, that is when the child is most likely to have an accident. Especially for a bowel movement, they like to be alone. So try to keep an eye on them as much as possible.
Final thoughts: Learning bladder and bowel control is a skill. It is not something to be punished. This is a learning experience and your child will ‘get it’ eventually – even if it takes longer than 3 days. Please have patience and give your child lots of grace for accidents!
And its is NEVER something to compare to other moms. Each momma is doing her best, and we need to support each other. If someone scolds you for how you train, politely tell her it’s none of her business how you parent. A child being trained at age 1 or age 4… neither one matters. Neither one makes a ‘better’ child. And this method is not ‘better’. It is simply one method of potty training. Good luck, mommas!
If you have done this this 3 day potty training method, drop me a comment and let me know how it went!
Kacie Adcock says
I’m wondering if you have ever received any feedback on using this method on a toddler with autism? We recently started trying to potty train our 3-year-old autistic daughter, and it’s not clicking at all with her. She will sit on the potty, but not go, even though I know she has a full bladder, and then she’ll get up and go on the floor. Just wondering if anyone has used this method but perhaps modified it in any way for an autistic child? There are some assumptions in these steps that don’t apply to children who aren’t neurotypical.
Thanks, I truly appreciate any help! 🙂
Kay Schrock says
I don’t know the answer to that question. I am sorry she is having trouble with this skill, and yes, this method is aimed at kids who learn in a more typical manner. I hope you find a method that helps you both!