Potty Training…..

5 06 2009

I have been asked by many people to write about how we potty train in our home.  First let me say this is not for everyone.  You need to understand our parenting philosophy before I can write on this topic.  Our home is not a child centered home.  Our children do not pick their bedtimes, what they will eat, what their schedules will be etc.  We are currently moving towards a large family and feel that  a child centered home would not work for us etc.  We also have other reasons why, but that isn’t for this post. 

With that being said….our children don’t tell us when they are ready to potty train, we tell them.  Now, this is the complete opposite of the current worldview on potty training….they say….wait until your child can do these things etc., when your child is ready they will do it etc.  The more and more I see this happen the more and more I see very upset parents!  They don’t understand why potty training is taking weeks or even months, why they still can’t go out in public in underwear at sometimes 3 years of age etc….even older at times.  I feel that a young child that has too many choices will milk it for all it is worth….and this includes potty training.

Now, these are just my options, you may feel different on them and that is fine.  This has worked for us so we will continue with it.  Isaac ( now age 5) was potty trained at 22.5 months, Grace (now 4) was trained at 18.5 months, Owen (now 23 months) was trained 2 days ago.  Each child took between 2-7 days to train.  Isaac took a whole week, but I think it was because he didn’t have older siblings to watch.

We always start training before 24 months of age.  We do it when the child is capable of talking or signing and understands treats.  (which doesn’t take long now a days).  We have some simple rules….NO DIAPERS, NO PULL -UPS and NO GIVING UP for at least 4 days! 

The schedule is simple.  On day 1 you are teaching the child that pee and poo come out of them and that they control it.  On day 2 you are teaching them that it is to go in the potty (or whatever term you use).  On day 3 you are putting it all together to hopefully have a fully trained kid.

DAY 1.

Put your child in underwear (yes you read that right, no pull ups) and rubber pants if you would like.  I highly recommend these for the first few days and for outings after that until no longer needed etc.

Fill your child with as much fluid as you possibly can. (water, juice, milk etc.)

Take your child to the bathroom to pee every 8-10 mins.  Yup, that is right, you won’t being doing much else that day.  Set a timer and every time it goes off take your child.  Have them sit for a short story or song.  Your goal is to “catch” the pee coming out.  Once you catch the pee give them a treat.  A sticker, candy etc.  Make it small because you will be giving out lots over the next few days.  After about the 3rd catch of pee your child will start to realize what muscles it takes to get that pee out.

Now, we do this at a young age, so our children still nap.  At nap-time we lay them in their bed and put on a diaper. (This is the only time they are to wear one).  Once they awake from their nap you need to take that diaper off before leaving the bed and put on underwear right away).

Continue with every 8-10 mins. until dinner time.

DAY 2:

Now day 2 is almost the same as day 1 except you will take them about every 12-15 mins. all day long.  Remember to keep filling them with fluids!!!!  You want them peeing all day long…..this helps them learn the muscles that control their bladder and bowels.  Give a treat for each victory!  Have them call an adult they love etc. Make it lots of fun with lots of smiles!!!!

Day 3

Day 3 is the trial day.  Try to let the child tell you when they need to go, if they haven’t go in about 20-25 mins. then take them.  If they are telling you and having mostly victories then you can start to back off and taking them so much.  If they start to have accidents then take them!    Some children need an extra day or two to learn that muscle.

Day 4-7. 

Slowly start to back off on treats and back off on controlling when they go.  Let them try to tell you. 


You need to have definitions for this.  You can’t call a pen*s a pee pee and them tell them to pee pee in the potty.   You need one word per thing you are talking about….keep it simple.  Example: Isaac go pee pee in the potty.  Good job Isaac.  Etc.

Do not use pull ups even when out and about.  Use the old fashion rubber pants. (We bought Gerber ones).  This will save you the hassle from bring so many extra clothes, but allows your child to feel themselves get wet.

Only use diapers at bedtime.

Do not give up if your child doesn’t get it by day 1.  The first day is LONG and hard on everyone doing this.  But when you catch a few victories they will start to LOVE it!!!!

Involve older siblings if you have them.  In our home if an older child is helping (reading stories while they sit on the potty, reminding them to go, setting the timer, cheering when they go etc) they also get a treat!  This gives mom some extra hands in potty training!  Use those older siblings to your advantage.

Count the victories not the accidents.  Everyday the victory count will go up and the accident count will go down.  Don’t discourage yourself when at the end of day 1 you have 3 victories and 12 accidents.  Just count the victories!  It will make everyone happier.

Follow every step and start between 19-24 months.  We have found that 23 months is almost the perfect age for this!


I have had many parents follow this and many have had great success.  The ones that didn’t have success usually didn’t follow every step.  They picked and choose which step they wanted to do.  That won’t work with this way of potty training.



6 responses

6 06 2009

Becky, thanks for taking the time to share all of this! It is a big help for all of us who have tried to figure it out on our own. Even after having our boys trained now, I felt like I was floundering around in the process. I will remember the post to come back to it one of these days when, Lord willing, we have more little ones to train. 🙂 I love your philosophy and the way you do things with an aim for the best you can give your children and it shows in them so much as they are growing. Look forward to visiting sometime in the months ahead (hopefully!). 🙂 After little Champ is born, of course. 🙂

7 06 2009

This is a great post. One of my friends used a book called Potty Training in 3 Days (seems like some similar principles although I haven’t read the book) and got great results with her 16-month-old! I have been thinking about using a method like this to train Archie before his sister comes. It seems like it will be a demanding week so I think I may need to wait until we arrive in Thailand and are waiting for the baby because we’ll be much less busy then. I’m pretty sure I can’t devote that much time to the potty until then!

9 06 2009

Elisha has been doing great at potty training (we started last week). I have a couple questions, though – our plastic pants (gerber) leak. They are the smallest size available. Do you have any ideas for going out (other types of plastic pants? pull-ups?)? AND How do you handle going potty on public toilets? Just a question. Something we haven’t dealt with, yet. Thanks!


11 06 2009
Housekeeping 101 « The Bell Family

[…] things all the time, but I am never really pushing myself to the limit in any one area.  My friend Becky just did a couple of posts on potty training, and I was really convicted about how unintentional I […]

21 07 2009

becky~ this is pretty much exactly what we did with evan and it worked great! he was about 2 1/2, and we decided it was time! cold turkey on daytime diapers is the way to go. we also had a little “graduation” party for him when he was all done training. it took about 3-4 days for him to do that. william was a little different, he watched big brother, and started self-potty training around 20-21 months, and was fully trained before he was 2! yay for saving $ on diapers! anyway, great post, i believe in it.

ps- we kept track of evan’s progress on a chart. his smiley face stickers went on the chart. there were lots of them each day 🙂

7 08 2011

My daughter is 2 and 3 months and we’re going nuts with potty training her. You said to take my daughter to the potty every ten minutes. Well taking her is just that, it’s dragging her because every ten minutes her legs don’t see to work. And forcing her to sit on the potty, holding down her legs, kicking and screaming. Then she’ll get up and pee next to the potty. I’ve done the no diaper thing, I’ve done the rewards, I’ve cheerd for her, I am at a loss with this defiant child. I’ve done spankings and she laughed at me. I’ve done time outs and she pees in her room (Yes I put the potty in her room). Once every thee days she would pee in the potty. ANy advice for this?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: