Key Take aways:
- Getting your kid MOSTLY potty trained in 3 days is possible, but it requires an intense level of commitment from at least 1 parent.
- Each day will feel like you are starting over, which is very normal and will eventually lead to mastery with time.
- One of the pros of this method is it can take a short amount of time.
- One of the drawbacks is that it can be stressful for you and your child, and may lead to frustration.
article summary: The 3-day method of potty training is one of the most popular methods parents choose upfront when they are training their child. Why? Well, this method promises to deliver a potty-trained child to your home in 3 days. And indeed, it has worked for many parents and their children. Like any method, there are pros and cons. Certainly, one of the biggest pros is that it takes a short amount of time and it also gives your child your complete undivided attention for a few days as they master this new skill. It can also be a great bonding experience between you and your child.
But what about the cons? Many parents and experts find that it is unrealistic and it can make your child and you frustrated, irritable, and upset. When it is not approached carefully, it can even lead to fear and resistance from your child.
Before deciding how you want to go about potty training, read up on various methods and strategies other parents and experts use, and create a plan that will work best for your family.
The 3-day method usually happens over a long weekend or when at least one parent is able to commit their full, undivided attention to their potty training child. In this method, the parent removes the child's diaper and they don't use it again. Indeed, they likely spend the first few days naked and then end up only in underwear when the weekend is over. The parent and child also do not leave the home, so there are no distractions with going out or needing to use a public restroom.
For children to get into the habit of peeing and pooping, parents provide plenty of snacks and drinks during the 3 days to keep their bladder filling up so they can keep practicing.
Rewards are often given to encourage the child to keep repeating the good behavior of peeing or pooping in the potty.
Experts who like this method often say it takes about 48 hours for the child to get the hang of it, and then the third day is really mastering their new skillset using underwear.
Outline of a typical 3-day Method
Day 0: Schedule
- Hang up chart, explain it, let kid pick where chart goes
- Your house is potty ready
- Introduce your child to the potty
- Your rewards are out and explained
- Simple clothing is set out (t-shirts, sweats, etc)
- Review scripts
Day 1: Schedule
- Get up as usual, change into clean diapers as usual, and eat breakfast as you would any other day.
- Explain it all to your child (hopefully again)
- Diaper Hunt!—Make a game of rounding up ALL diapers in the house. Explain that you will be giving these to another child who is not ready for undies yet.
- Undies go on (or naked?)
- Do they understand wet/dry? If not, show them. You can use "dry checks" throughout the day as an alternative to once again saying, "Tell me when you need to go potty." And, you can congratulate them on keeping their new undies dry.
- Offer a special drink—making a note of the time.
- You're looking to catch them mid-pee! Follow them, and prepare to run!
- First accident: "Oh no! Pee goes in the potty, not on the floor" and transport to potty.
- Praise—no matter what happens, praise your child for sitting on the potty
- Talk to kid about accidents (here's what to say)
- New clean undies!
- Check the time, how long since drinks—this is useful to know around when to expect the next pee.
- Administer treat if any pee makes it into the potty
- 5 minutes after first accident, sit on the potty again. Have a calm potty experience.
- Treat again if more pee goes in potty.
- Time for more special drinks.
- Before dinner time, you can quit encouraging more drinking. Now, just have what's necessary through the rest of the evening to reduce the amount of peeing at night. (Which may be less of an issue if you're not night-time potty training at the same time).
Day 2: Schedule
- One thing we noticed while watching YouTube potty training videos of mom's experiences with the 3-day method is that Day 2 will not carry the momentum from Day 1 you hoped for. Be ready to start all over on Day 2 as if Day 1 was a distant distant memory ;) It's ok though. Depending on your child, they may be more or less receptive on Day 2. But don't be disappointed regardless of how Day 2 goes. This is a wildcard day and you're doing great.
Day 5: Schedule
- Day 5? Isn't this a 3-day Method? I think it's more of a 3-day training and 2-week support program. Like you have to sober up from the night before you can start sobering up your life type of thing. Anyway, your child will most likely be forgetting to go to the potty here and there, but don't worry about these incidences. Just continue to be positive and encouraging whenever you see the successes.
Pros of the 3-day method
- You will usually see results in 3 days (although they may not be fully trained by this point)
- You will start to save money on disposable diapers sooner
- You will put less waste in the landfills
- You can say goodbye to power struggles with diapers
- Your child will have your undivided attention for these first 3 days of their potty using career
- You will get to bond and play with your child
Cons of the 3-day method
- Saying it takes 3-days is misleading. Many of the foundational skills can be learned, but they will need to be solidified for several weeks and maybe even months, depending on your child’s readiness to learn the potty.
- It can lead to resistance, fear, frustration, and disappointment for both you and your child.
- Some experts who oppose this method find it instills an unhealthy relationship between the child and their elimination patterns, including holding it, constipation, and fear of going in public.
- It can be unnecessarily intense and harsh when this should be a fun and exciting milestone.
- Some people are opposed to forcing fluids and snacks into their children to make them go to the bathroom.
Considerations of the 3-day method
- Does your child get frustrated easily? If so, this method may be too intense for them.
- Does your child get disappointed in themselves when they struggle to learn something new? Likewise, this may not be the best method for your child.
- Are you able to commit to a full 3 days, giving your child your undivided attention?
- Do you have a deadline you are trying to meet?
- Have there been any major stressors in your child’s life or yours?
- Are you willing to go back to diapers if your child clearly exhibits they are not ready for this milestone yet?
- Are you able to follow through in the coming weeks with continuing to support your child with potty training?
This Method Is Great For You If:
- Your child is clearly ready to potty train
- You are positive and upbeat
- You are ready to fully commit to potty training
- You are prepared for accidents as your child goes from 100% diapers to 100% undies.
- You are comfortable with your child going nude in your home
- You can stay home for a full weekend and focus only on your child’s potty needs
- You can recognize if it isn't working for your child and modify as needed until they are more ready.