How I Potty Trained My 3-Year-Old in 2 Days

Mom Moment 43

potty trainingPotty training. It's a blessing and a curse for sure. On the one hand, it's all sorts of awesome once it's over with -- because diapers are basically hell on earth.

But the actual process of toilet training your kid, however, can sometimes be enough stress to make you want to keep him in diapers for the rest of his life.

I know that's how I felt during my first attempt with my son, when he was around 2-and-a-half years old. I swear I tried every method under the sun -- and he just wasn't getting it. And so I did what most frustrated parents of a toddler who won't pee on the potty do. I threw in the towel, assuming that it probably wasn't the right time and that he'd "learn eventually."

But about a year later, when he was 3 -- I realized potty training HAD to be bumped to the top of my priority list for a couple of reasons. First of all, he had to be fully trained before attending preschool, so I had that little incentive motivating me.

Second ... how shall I put this? Changing a 3-year-old's dirty diaper and changing a 3-month-old's dirty diaper are two totally different things. Three-year-olds poop like kids -- not babies. And you finally reach a point where you're really, really over dealing with regular-sized turds. (Sorry, but I had to say it.)

Ok, back to when I decided to try the potty training thing again. This time it worked, probably because he was ready. But I still think the way I taught him had something to do with his successful transition. I'm not lying -- I potty trained my kid in two days.

Here's how.

First, I committed to staying home. That's the hardest part. I vowed not to leave the house until the kid was trained -- or at least fairly close to it.

Then I took off his pants and let him run all over the house half-naked. Every 45 minutes to an hour or so, I'd have him sit on the little training potty, which I put right in the middle of the kitchen where he'd have easier access. (A little gross, but he got there much more quickly than trying to make it to the bathroom.) I even gave him a book to read while he sat there waiting -- just like a little adult.

Every time he successfully did his business on the potty -- I did a little song and dance that I made up to celebrate and praise him. He LOVED it, and I really think it helped reinforce the behavior in a positive way -- so he wanted to use the potty again and again.

Somewhere around the middle of day one, he had an accident and peed on the floor. (Thank God we have hardwood.) I said, "That's ok" -- and then went over and grabbed a roll of paper towels. I calmly explained to him that we had to clean up the mess, and that pee belongs in the potty. I gave him a paper towel and had him help me clean it up -- and that was it. After that, there were no more accidents for whatever reason. He GOT it. And he went on the potty from that day forward and never looked back.

I really think the reason it was so easy for him was because of a combination of him being the right age, and also going about the process without letting myself get stressed out or frustrated. And while I can't guarantee that this method will work as flawlessly for you -- it's definitely worth a shot!

Have you tried potty training yet?


Image via Vast Photography/Corbis

potty training


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wamom223 wamom223

The method I used was close to this but a little modified.  You can buy the book and get 24 hour support while you are training them and if you follow through and it doesn't work you get your money back.  They recommend doing it at 22 months and  I've helped multiple people and the best results were when it was done at that age.  I recommend this book because as you are potty training your child you are giving them support the whole time, even when they are having trouble.  Having access to 24 hour support means you get a cheer leader too and it helps.  And to anyone else interested in trying a method like this my biggest advise it, plan for dinner in your crock pot and life will be so much easier!!!!  While I have no issues with how the blogger trained her child we were advised to keep the potty in the bathroom since part of the training is to teach them from the beginning where they need to go.

nonmember avatar adie

Yeah, it's real easy to train them when they are practically ready for school. It's about being persistent when they are younger. I started mine at 1.5 introducing them to the potty and having them sit and read books, etc. just to get used to it. It takes a lot. We brought the potty in the backyard if we were playing out there. Kids had their pants off so if they started to go we could just pop them on it. We kept chocolate covered raisins as reward treats as well. Of course it's not easy but the payoff was three kids totally potty trained by 2.5. So have fun waiting until your kids are in freaking preschool before you get serious about it. (And me and my guy both work full time, so no excuses.)

MamaD... MamaDV1012

This is pretty much HOW we trained my daughter and how we'll train our son soon, I hope.  But we started at 15 minute increments and then increased the amount of time between potty sitting.  We'd sit for 5-10 minutes reading books.  Set the timer and start over again.  But it totally works! 

nonmember avatar Melissa

@Adie...AMEN! That's basically how I did it! He went to the bathroom with me EVERYTIME FROM BIRTH...he got a potty chair for this first birthday so it was something 18 months he was put on the potty every 2 he was using the potty pretty well, with an accident here and there...and by 2 and a half he was fully potty trained during the day...then I started working on night at 3 and a half he is night trained...I work full time, go to school part time AND am a single mother...I don't have any sympathy for people who say it's Sooooooo hard to potty-train a kid

nonmember avatar tulip

that's exactly how I potty trained my daughters... at 20 months. of course it's easy when the kid is that old because you're finally doing something that should have been done already.

nonmember avatar Anonymous

We did a similar thing. We spent a week over Christmas and committed potty training our 2 1/2 yr old son. We had 3 potties around: living room, upstairs & outside (i live in australia so it's summer at xmas). He wasn't getting the peeing so on day 2 I got him on the potty, got a warm glass of water andthat worked like a charm. We gave rewards too.

japan... japanmommy

We waited until he was ready, which was after we were done moving every few months lol. At 3.5 we had a party where he gave his little sister all his diapers (cloth) and said that's it! He also night trained at that time.

Not sure, we probably l&d would have pushed it more if he wasn't popping in the potty since 19 months old. Each kid is different, no idea how it'll go with my second child.

@melissa. Rude, all kids and situations are different. Im happy your child was easy but don't assume everybody else should be the same. It's not a race.

sylph... sylph_ironlight

My almost 3 year old took to peeing on the potty very quickly-he loves standing and peeing like a big boy. Going number 2 is another story. He won't go unless he has a diaper on, and screams bloody murder when he does go because he holds it in until it's hard.

nonmember avatar Molly

Some people are so mean about what other moms SHOULD be doing, but if you have a child, you know that they are all unique and do things at all different times. I think we are all in this together as mothers and should spend less time judging and more time supporting each other because we all need it! This is a great article-congrats on finding something that worked!

fave82 fave82

I guess some of these moms above should just start their own potty training business... Since it Sooo easy for them and all. Its nice to see that God really does give everyone a talent.

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