First, let me start by saying I am not a potty training expert. I am simply a teacher-mom who
refused to be is that mom. And when I first heard about the 3-day potty training method, I laughed. (Potty training in three days, yeah right!) But when my first son woke up three days in a row, completely dry after days of hiding behind the bookshelf to go #2, I thought I would give it a whirl. And when it worked and I had a second child, I thought perhaps it was just luck the first go round. But then it worked again. Like clockwork. So, I started sharing our method, and parents who have followed the 3-day potty training method have had great success.
So here is what we call The-Three-Day-No-Pants-Pee-Pee-Potty-Party which could very well be The-Three-Day-Only-Works-For-Rice-Boys-Potty-Party. We’ll test that out in about 21 months!
Wait for The Window
This might be the hardest step. Ignore social stigmas. Momma, you might be ready for the 3-day potty training party, but you must WAIT for the window when your child is ready, too. The window will happen and when it does, jump on it. If you miss a window because of an illness or a big trip, WAIT until the next window. Trying to potty train a child who isn’t ready now is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Aaaand it will result in everyone hating the potty. You can get ready for the window by knowing the potty training readiness signs. Also, know the sequence in which children gain control of their output: night bowel, day bowel, day urine, night urine. For both of my boys, when they woke up with dry diapers, I knew it was time.
Preparing for the 3-Day Potty Training Party
- So you are in the window, now what? Clear your schedule. You will need a solid three days with no plans. Don’t worry if work is crazy for the next few days; most windows last about ten days. You are an accountant and it’s tax season? Wait for other windows. My second was in his first window exactly ten days before we were flying across the country for my brother’s wedding. Needless to say, we let that window pass.
- If you are like me and have a husband/dog/other children, kick them out. This weekend is about you, the child, and the potty. That’s it.
- Stock up on supplies. You will need:
- Potty books
- Potty video (We love this one!)
- Underwear (LOTS! like 15-20 pairs.)
- Potty Chart and Stickers (Don’t worry about a weekly one; a good goal tracker has a visual and a grid, so don’t worry about making it fancy.)
- Salty & Sweet Snacks (Throw nutrition out the window. Seriously, this is about keeping your child thirsty. Plus the party is supposed to be special.)
- Juice/Lemonade/Tea… basically all the stuff you limit with your kid. Just stay clear of caffeine.
- Optional: Reward Treat (such as M&M’s or smarties)
- Coffee/Snacks (for Mom)
- Close Family/Friends on speed dial (They need to be ready to answer your call and be the most excited they have every been in their life.)
- And don’t forget the potty. (We used this one!)
- Get ready to be exhausted. I have had countless nights of sick kids, but nothing prepares you for the level of exhaustion that comes with being excited about your child’s urine (and hopefully bowels) for every waking moment for 72 hours. It is intense.
- Get your child pumped. Wrap up all of his/her new stuff (the books, potty, underwear, whatever) in a gift box with their favorite wrapping paper. If your child likes dress up and you are a Pinterest mom, make him/her a special cape and crown. Heck, decorate your house if you want. Do whatever you can to get your child pumped for their potty party. Don’t stress–keeping it simple works too. We made a paper chain and counted down the days to our potty party. That’s it.
The Potty Party
Day 1: Build the Skill – The purpose of today is to create muscle memory. They need to learn what the feeling is like just before they release.
- Wake up early, preferably before your child. Make a special breakfast. Treat today like it is the most exciting day ever.
- Explain to your child the plan: to race to the potty every time the timer goes off. When they go pee pee they get a sticker on their chart; poop gets two. (We also did m&m’s, but this is a little controversial since we don’t want to create unhealthy relationships with food/treats. Use treats at your own discretion).
- Set the alarm for 15 minutes.
- Open their potty party gifts. Set up your potty chart and potty seat in the bathroom (or in the middle of the living room if you want, but some place away from the carpet because there will be accidents!)
- Try on the new undies and ditch the pants for the day.
- Pack up the diapers. Let your child help. They are a big kid now, and they need closure. (I know it sounds silly, but kids are way more astute than we realize!)
- If you are pregnant or have a new baby, you can wrap up the leftover diapers for the baby. Maybe you have a niece or nephew or friend you can give them to. Or, if not, there are places you can donate them. The kids need to understand they are giving the diapers to a new baby. This really helps them to let go.
- Let the party begin! Aside from playing music and occasionally your potty video, avoid TV. We tend to zone out while watching TV, and that will slow the progress.
- Play and have fun. This is a wonderful bonding experience, albeit exhausting, but how often do you get three days with your child all to yourself with no interruptions?
- Celebrate the heck out of successes. Call Daddy. Granddad. Nanny. Your best friend Joe. Anyone and everyone! Every single time. The more the merrier because, Momma, your child might not like you when you wake up in the morning.
- Pay attention to their cues! Both of my boys got a chill right before they released. This reeeally helped us because when I saw the chill, I would scoop my child up and run him to the bathroom.
Day 2: Refine the Skill – The purpose of today is to help them get over themselves.
- Brace yourself. Day 2 of the 3-day potty training method is HARD. Your child is on to you. Typically, there is regression/refusal/flat-out defiance.
- They learned HOW to yesterday, and now they realize you are in control. The goal of today is to motivate your child to WANT to go on the potty. Outside time or a walk around the block can motivate them. We are not going too far away from home on day two, but we do want the child to understand that they have to be successful on the potty to play outside.
- Remind your child they don’t have to go, but they have to sit on the potty every time the alarm goes off. (If you have to resort to sneaking an M&M/sticker just for sitting, that is okay!) Whatever you do, keep it positive and motivating.
- Be patient, be patient, be patient. With your child. With yourself. And don’t slack on the 15-minute timer, snacks and juice. (The more they eat, the thirstier they will be, and the more they drink, the more they pee. I feel like that should be a song!)
Day 3: Seal the Deal – This is the day they learn control and association.
- Make a deal. Depending on the success of yesterday, give them small goals. If we get “x” success, we play outside. If we get “xx” successes, we meet Daddy for ice cream.
- Leave the house frequently. Think sidewalk chalk, backyard time, taking a walk, etc. Every time before you can leave, he/she should give the potty a good try, not a sit down/stand up try, but a really good try. This will help to build the association and muscle memory.
- In the second half of the day (post nap), and provided the morning goals were met, take a trip. Limit it to 30 minutes or less, and remind the child that, in order to leave, they must have an additional success.
- Give your child a certificate or special card to celebrate their success and this big kid transition.
- If your child attends preschool or daycare, supply them with the same chart you used at home. Continue to celebrate the successes, and stress to his/her caregiver the importance of the celebration. It is even better if you can bring them on board before your potty party. You will only be half as successful if you child’s teacher isn’t on board.
- If the school allows it, tell your child they can earn a phone call to you, such as three successes = a call to mom.
- Remember that accidents happen. Whatever you do, Don’t. Go. Back. To. Diapers. I can’t stress this enough. The second you give in is the exact moment your child learns they own you. The 3-day potty training method is definitely not for everyone, but if you are going to commit, you have to commit. (Unless of course there is a medical reason or some other non-typical situation.)
- Pull-ups work for some kids. I was lucky; both of my boys had night urine control early, so we didn’t even keep the diapers at night. However, some kids don’t night train until 6 or 7, so a diaper/pull-up at nap and nighttime may be appropriate.
- Give yourself a huge pat on the back. Raising kids is hard. Potty training in three days is harder.
Congrats, Momma, you did it. You survived the 3-day potty training party. But, remember, this isn’t fool-proof. You will go through regressions, growth spurts that cause regressions, and new skills that make your child forget their potty skills. Be patient and be positive. You got this!