Potty Training In Three Days? Not!

Recently I was asked by a colleague to lead a parenting workshop on how to potty train your child in three days.  After I picked myself up off the floor laughing, I told her that I probably wasn’t the best instructor for that course.  You see, of my four kids not a one of them was potty trained in three days.  Not even close.

That got me thinking.  What kind of child psychologist am I if I can’t even potty train my own children in under three days?  Or better yet just one day?  Dr. Phil advocates a one day approach using a doll that actually goes in the potty.  Let me tell you, no doll I showed my children going to the bathroom (not even a real live person) would have gotten them potty trained any faster.

Here’s the thing.  Every child is different in countless ways, including when they are ready to potty train (and how long it takes them to get good at it).  My advice?  Stick with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Look for signs that indicate your child is ready to potty train, usually between 18 and 30 months.  Once you feel that the time is right for your child, get started.  Introduce the potty chair.  Clean up lots of accidents.  Offer an abundance of praise.  Prepare yourself for setbacks.  And most importantly, be patient.  Eventually your child will be potty trained.  It’s okay if it takes them days, weeks, or months, even for this child psychologist (and finally mom of four potty trained kids, well almost).


  1. Linnea says

    Hi Polly! Elliott did the Fox & Azrin toilet training in a 1 day with Kiernan, worked like a charm. He tried it on our daughter and after the first trial she looked up at him and said, “If I promise to pee in the potty will you just give me the candy?” Very funny!

    • Polly says

      That is so funny! I remember in graduate school Wesley and I trained our cat to use the toilet. We were about as successful at that as we have been with training our four kids over the years. Thanks for sharing!

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