This rapid-fire potty-training method is basically the opposite of Dr. Brazelton’s child-led approach and first became popular in the ’70s with Nathan Azrin and Richard Foxx’s book, Toilet Training in Less Than a Day. It has since been modified by many other authors and experts to better fit the current parenting ethos. In our opinion, the best book on the three-day potty-training method is Oh Crap! Potty Training, written by Jamie Glowacki, a potty-training guru and self-proclaimed “Pied Piper of Poop.” The gist of this method is that you ceremoniously ditch the diapers, block out your schedule for a long weekend and devote all your attention to watching the every move of your bare-bottomed toddler to learn his cues (and help him learn his own).
When do you start? “Unequivocally, potty training is easiest when done between the ages of 20 and 30 months,” Glowacki writes, but you don’t need to worry too much about readiness as long as your child is older than 18 months, because this process basically starts with your child discovering her own readiness. Glowacki describes the timeline as such: “We are taking your child’s awareness from Clueless to I Peed to I’m Peeing to I Have to Go Pee” in a matter of days.
Steps Of 3-day Potty-training Method
- Ditch the diapers and let your child know you are doing so. Make it fun and positive, but start the process “with as little fanfare as possible” so your child feels like potty training is normal and not a big deal. Glowacki says you can keep diapers for nighttime and for practical reasons (like long car rides), but she warns that this will make the process longer since your child will still think they are an option.
- For the first three days, you will not leave the house, you will not put pants or underwear on your child and you will not take your eyes off her. As soon as you notice some of your child’s individual cues, dash her to the potty (or slide the potty under her) to literally catch her pee or poo. If you are making a dash, be fast but not frantic. Yes, bodily fluids will get on the floor. But the idea is that this will happen less and less as she starts to identify the sensations that lead up to your rushing her to the potty. Ultimately, once she feels it coming, she will prefer to get herself to the potty.
- In between dashes to the potty, prompt your child periodically and remind her to listen to her body. Don’t prompt excessively, because that is nagging, and nagging is annoying. Praise your child for whatever ends up in the potty, but don’t overdo it, because going in the potty is normal. If pee goes on the floor instead, don’t get upset or scold, just say something like, “Oops, next time we will put that in the potty instead.”
- After a few days of getting used to the potty, you can put your child in a single layer on the bottom—pants or underwear. Glowacki says it is better not to do both, because children can confuse the sensation of the two layers with the sensation of wearing a diaper. In other words, once you think you’re ready to leave the house, make sure your child is going commando.
- The rest is history. The skills will continue to strengthen, and eventually you won’t even need to bring an “outside potty” along on your errands.
Glowacki describes the process in blocks, not days, but for most kids the whole thing happens pretty fast—anywhere from three days to two weeks to becoming fully potty trained. Only the first block requires complete vigilance, because at this stage your child is still unaware. Block two still requires a watchful eye, but at this point your child will be more actively involved in the process. Block three is just about “solidfying the skills,” she says.
The reason this method works fast is because you aren’t supposed to back down at the first sign of resistance. Glowacki explains that each one of the blocks has its own unique drama to look forward to, and your reaction to the drama will determine your child’s progress and attitude toward the process. Your child will resist change and might even feel afraid. “Do not invalidate her feelings,” Glowacki says, but do stay consistent or you will end up feeding into her fears. If you’re faced with full-blown tantrums over using the potty, Glowacki tells her clients to be firm but gentle: “Remind and then walk away...never does a child have a tantrum in an empty room.”
How Do I Choose The Right Method?
No matter what method you choose, project confidence. Experts in both camps agree that parental pressure is the enemy when it comes to successful potty training. Indeed, this fact is old news to the medical community. Doctors at the AAP note that “most toilet-training problems presenting to the health care practitioner reflect inappropriate training efforts and parental pressure.” Glowacki agrees: With more than a decade of experience working with families on potty training, she has seen firsthand how the two most common forms of parental pressure—hovering and over prompting—result in power struggles that derail the process. “You cannot and will not ever win a potty-training power struggle with a toddler.”
So basically, play it cool or you’re gonna be cleaning soiled underwear for a long time (and ruing the day you introduced your kid to the crapper).
What Are The Best Potty-training Toilets?
It all starts with the potty chair, so make sure you get a good and comfortable one. Check out these recommendations for parent-approved and toddler-accepted potties.