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Helpful Tips/Advice/Recipes, Twins/Toddler Tuesday

How I Potty Trained My Son In Just Three Days

potty trainingI know it sounds like an infomercial I really did train my son in just three days and for those of you who are coming up on the potty training milestone, I wanted to share my knowledge.

Potty training is not an easy thing to do, especially if you have never done it before, or like in my case also have other children to look after.  however, you don’t want to be one of those people trying to frantically train their children so they can go to kindergarten.   Read on to learn about the simple easy way I trained my son in just three days.

My son was around 20 months when I got pregnant with the twins.  We had been throwing around the idea of potty training, and he had gotten a new potty for Christmas.  The problem was, my son was not a talker.  Not at all.  So with no way to communicate he had to go, we decided to leave it for a while and revisit.

A few months went by, my belly grew, and he turned two and started talking.  So we decided it was time to start training because we were hoping to have him trained before the twins came.  He was a very big kid and it was getting hard for me to change his diapers.  He was already wearing pull ups/ training pants because he had outgrown size 6 diapers and they were the only thing I could find that would fit him.

We tried to explain to him, and sit him on the potty.  He cried, and cried and wouldn’t use it.  You could tell when he was pooping because he would hide behind the sofa and swear he wasn’t even though his face was bright red.  We got the pull ups that were supposed to change temperature when wet to let them know when they were peeing.  No difference.  To be honest, neither of us knew what we were doing, and neither of us liked it.  People told me boys were harder than girls, and when they are ready you will know.  So, we decided to put it off again and revisit.

Once the girls came, I was home on maternity leave and I decided this would be it.  When the girls were about two months old I read about this “three-day method”.  It sounded too good to be true, but it made sense.  I have housebroken several dogs, and counselled canine adopters and foster parents about how to do it.  While potty training a toddler is not exactly the same, both methods were based on a similar rationale (make it simple and consistent)  so I decided the idea must have some merit.  I also knew someone who said she had done it successfully with her son, so I figured what have I got to lose?

underwearIf you are using the three-day method you are basically supposed to keep your little one naked from the waist down.  I knew my son would freak if I did that since he wouldn’t even come out in front of Nana and Papa without his pants on.  So, I decided to try it with just underwear on the bottom.  You use lots of praise and patience, and you let them figure it out for themselves.  If they go and it’s not on the potty they will know it, and it won’t be pleasant.

Here’s how it went.

BEFORE TRAINING: For two weeks before hand I explained to my son that he was  big boy and big boys wear underwear and use the potty.  We got out his potty and bought him some new underwear with his favourite characters on them.  I also had a potty seat for the toilet, but I liked the potty because he could get on and off it without my help.  Every day when changing his diaper I would remind him that starting at the beginning of the month he would be using underwear.

DAY ONE MORNING:  I got him dressed in his underwear.  I told him when he had to pee he would have to sit on the potty.  It was only about a half hour before he peed all over the floor.  I cleaned it up and changed him and we tried again.  A half an hour later he started to pee again, but this time we got at least some in the potty.  I praised him thoroughly and cleaned up.  This continued until the afternoon.

This is the potty my son has.

This is the potty my son has.

DAY ONE AFTERNOON: About four pairs of underwear later we switched to cotton elastic waist shorts (since we had no clean underwear left) and that was what we ended up using for the rest of the training since he had lots of those, and they were easy for him to get on and off.  Now that he had peed a couple of times (partially) in the potty I upped the ante.  It was around Easter so I had some of those chocolate eggs around and his potty has a little place for rewards so I said he could have one every time he used the potty (I was just so excited he was actually using it, and I completely underestimated the amount of times he would go).  I almost never use “bribes” I prefer just hugs and kisses, but I really wanted this to work, and don’t forget I was also caring for 10 week old twins so I was all in.

DAY ONE NIGHT:  By the end of the day he had successfully used the potty several times.  Most of the time he did pee a wee little bit in his pants before he realized he had to go, so there was a lot of dirty shorts, but as soon as he felt it he would call me and I would get him to the potty.  He also really liked getting the eggs (we did stop the eggs after the first week).  I wanted to be consistent so I put him to bed without a diaper and crossed my fingers.  He had been waking up with a dry diaper for some time so I was pretty confident he would hold it overnight (and he did).

DAY TWO:  The second day we just continued along.  Every time he had to go he would tell me and we went.  Lucky for me, he didn’t have a problem between peeing or pooping either.  I have heard that some kids will do one and not the other for some reason.  I just kept praising, and he was in his glory with all the attention and those little eggs.  He only had ONE accident the whole day, and part of it was my fault because I was busy nursing the girls and didn`t get to him fast enough.

DAY THREE: By day three I would consider him trained.  He was asking to go to the toilet and using it.  Already I could see that he was learning to control his bladder so he wasn’t peeing every 20 minutes like he was the first day.  During training I did not take him out of the house because I didn’t want to risk an accident, or send mixed signals by putting him back in training pants, but I knew in a few more days he would be ready.  The best part was on day three I was busy with the girls when he got up and went in the bathroom himself and came running out excited “mommy, I went to the potty!”.  I was so excited and filled with joy.  I gave him a big hug and kiss.  I should mention that he was naked from the waist down because he didn’t yet know how to put his shorts on by himself.

This looks like the foldable seat we have (he had Cars and Disney Princesses).

This looks like the foldable seat we have (he had Cars and Disney Princesses).

OVERALL: I would definitely recommend this method to everyone.  If you use diapers or pull ups to train I think you are sending mixed messages.  I think it’s better to just do it, and go all in.  Sure I had a couple of extra loads of laundry and a few puddles to clean up, but that was such a small price to pay for not having to change three sets of diapers, not to mention those pull ups aren’t cheap.

It wasn’t long before my son insisted on using the large toilet with a potty seat on it so I purchased a small plastic step stool from the dollar store so he could get up and down by himself.  He wouldn’t flush, but it was still easier to do that than constantly clean out his potty.

I am not sure exactly how we will train the twins, so you twin mamas I am all ears.  I think we will use this method, I am just not sure if we will do one at a time or both.  The bathroom in our new place is super small with no room for one potty, let alone two, so I am not exactly sure how we will work it out, but we have time to figure that out.

These are the family washrooms at Bayview Village Mall, so cool.

These are the family washrooms at Bayview Village Mall, so cool.

As for travelling once they are trained you have several options.  Some malls actually have kids sized toilets.  In our case I purchased two portable folding potty seats for when we were out.  Recently,, I also purchased a portable potty that can be used as a seat, or a potty itself (with the use of a plastic bag).  It was only $12 on clearance at Wal-Mart and with two of them I figured it was a good investment, so I will let you know how that goes.

I wanted to add that I did not mention discipline or punishment for having an accident because I do not believe in that.  It is an “accident”.  Punishing a child for going in his or her pants could make them think they did something wrong by peeing in general (not the fact that they didn’t use the potty), and thus they become afraid to pee or poop all together.  Always use positive reinforcement.

Feel free to share all your thoughts and stories on all things potty training below.


About Shannon

I am a university educated full-time working mother of four children. Proudly Canadian, I freeze my butt off along with my loving partner, two dogs and a cat. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I love writing them, but if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.


36 thoughts on “How I Potty Trained My Son In Just Three Days

  1. I’m bookmarking this now!

    Posted by nebrtwin | February 18, 2014, 8:59 am
  2. I’m a long time away but I like the sound of this method. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by mumziemadness | February 18, 2014, 9:15 am
  3. Great advice! We have been working on it slowly with our girls, and we have some successes and some puddles or messes in their little undies (not pleasant!). I think we’ll give the three-day-method a go when it warms up and we can run around outside lots on the first day! My twins have been a little tricky because one has been much better at going in the potty and the other talks a good talk but hasn’t figured it out, but she loves to try and always asks to go when her sister does. I have to make sure I catch her after she sits on the potty because she will run and squeal while she’s undressed and most likely leave me a puddle if I’m not fast enough. But I feel like I can’t say, “No, you can’t go on the potty like your sister.” It’s an adventure!

    Posted by livinginthedeepend | February 18, 2014, 9:17 am
    • Yeah, I can imagine twins are/will be tricky. Good luck. The thing I liked about this was that while my friends who didn’t do it kept having setbacks, once we were done we were done. I have heard girls are easier than boys so I am keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing.

      Posted by Shannon | February 18, 2014, 11:14 am
  4. This is pretty much how I trained most of my kids. I tell people all the time do NOT go into pullups or switch back n forth. Using underwear or nothing is the best way to go. Yes there are messes, but its not the worst thing in the world. Clean it up and move on. Usually you can see they are ready and starting to understand using the potty. Take them into the bathroom with you and have them practice sitting on the potty. Talk about it with them. Make it fun! Call a “Potty Party!!” I never really had a problem with potty training. Once the first one was trained that is.. hehe.. The first one trained his sister. They helped me train the 3rd. They were awesome!!! Maybe I should blog about that!!

    Posted by vrein11 | February 18, 2014, 9:31 am
  5. Thanks for writing this! I know we’re still far off, but I still need to get mentally ready. The little guy’s not a talker either, so I’ll wait until he can communicate better. I think that forsaking the pull-ups is a very good idea!

    Posted by mommytrainingwheels | February 18, 2014, 9:57 am
    • We had to wait for that reason too, but I think that also leads to success. If you try too early they just might not be ready. With all my kids I have noticed that the later they pick up things the quicker they learn (especially with the twins because I have a direct comparison). Good luck 🙂

      Posted by Shannon | February 18, 2014, 11:16 am
  6. Thanks for the post! I have a half-written post about potty training… but I think I will just link or re-blog yours! I had been using the “training pants” and told my daughter as soon as they are gone. I was planning on stopping the mixed messages and doing this method.. Now I just need to clear my calendar for couple days to get this job done!

    Posted by Mother's Realm | February 18, 2014, 9:30 pm
    • I am so glad you found it useful. I think parenting is all about sharing best practices. Obviously you have to do what works for you, but sometimes it helps if you know where to start. Thanks for reading.

      Posted by Shannon | February 19, 2014, 8:46 am
  7. In my work in early intervention, we used -Toilet Training in Less Than a Day-by Nathin Azrin. It worked with my kids as well. Some people don’t like the use of primary reinforcers (food), but honestly my kids stopped asking for them as soon as they were trained. Also, I modified the technique as far as consequences for accidents. The technique basically requires LIVING IN THE BATHROOM for a day, so I had to do it on a weekend. Sounds like your method is great, too!

    Posted by Cate Pane: The Clear Parent | February 18, 2014, 9:45 pm
    • Thanks! I think they are similar. I would NEVER punish or discipline a child for having an accident, I think that is horrible. And while I probably won’t use food with my daughters I was so desperate with my son, I went all in. And you are right, once he was doing it, he completely forgot about the “rewards” anyways. I am not sure how you could do it in just one day, since although he was essentially trained in one day, it took a few days for him just to learn how to hold it (in a diaper they just pee in spurts so they are peeing all the time), but I’m sure its close. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Posted by Shannon | February 19, 2014, 8:49 am
  8. So neat! I hope i have such great luck in potty training.

    Posted by journeyformybaby | February 19, 2014, 9:29 pm
  9. We’re still figuring out the overnight thing, and how to manage when we go out..but my daughter is otherwise potty-trained You’re lucky that your son didn’t pee himself while he was sleeping!

    Posted by Jen @The Haute Mommy Handbook | February 20, 2014, 3:16 am
  10. You were so smart to do it at night at the same time-my boys 6 and 4 still wet the bed-dr said it was ok but i use pull ups bc I am kinda over washing 4 sheets every day….we take them at night but they usually wake up wet.
    As for my daughter, please come to my house and train her for me. She refuses. She pees on the floor and then points to it and laughs and says- Mama pee pee. Its not fun with carpets…lol

    Posted by Abby | February 20, 2014, 4:29 am
  11. They always say girls are harder than boys. My son was day and night trained before he was 2.75, a few accidents but pretty reliable and it wasn’t that hard.

    My daughter. My daughter. She asked to sit on the toilet like her big brother at 14 months and I thought it was going to be easy. Two years later and I’m seriously beginning to wonder if she’ll be wearing nappies in college. The other day a friend said, “Why don’t you just…” and I nearly socked her because honestly, two children and two years in and she doesn’t think I’ve tried to use basic potty training methods yet??


    Posted by Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist | February 26, 2014, 7:46 pm
  12. I agree that pull ups are a waste of time. But it is also about them being ready. I tried to get my son out of nappies when he was two and a half but failed miserably. I left him alone, but still left the potties visible. Then one day, just before he was three, he asked to do a wee in the potty and that was it. He decided it was time and so he was trained without any training, so to speak.

    Posted by Nicola Young | March 15, 2014, 1:22 pm
    • You are lucky! My MOL works in JK and there are a lot of moms that don’t actively work on it and then she has to send them home because they are not properly trained and so they can’t be in school. I do agree though that it is harder if they are not ready which is why we waited with Sawyer even though it meant three in diapers. Have a great weekend. 🙂

      Posted by Shannon | March 15, 2014, 2:04 pm
  13. This post has inspired me to give it a go. We’ve been messing about with potty training off and on for months now but with a new baby here I think it’s time we just went for it.

    Posted by missadaniel | March 16, 2014, 10:25 am


  1. Pingback: A Little Trinkle | mommytrainingwheels - April 13, 2014

  2. Pingback: Game of …Training Pants? | A Game of Diapers - February 5, 2015

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