Potty training tips that guarantee success within a week

1. Be a slacker parent.*

2. Do not even bother thinking about potty training until you realize that every other kid in the class is out of diapers.

3. Beat yourself up just a little. Then remind yourself that the year and month of actual potty training will not go down on her permanent record. Or yours.

4. Go to the store. Let your kid pick out some underwear. If it has Dora on it, fine. If it has a rainbow monkey on it playing drums, fine. If it says Home of the whopper, not fine.

5. When she has to pee, you take her to the bathroom.

6. Done.

*Step 1 is of the utmost importance. If you do not follow step 1, this plan will not work and you will email me wondering what the heck you did wrong that your 18 month old is not regularly using the toilet by himself. I will write back to you and point you towards step 1. Or actually, I probably won’t write you back at all. See also: Step 1.


61 thoughts on “Potty training tips that guarantee success within a week”

  1. Wow – all this thought I’m giving to starting the process is for naught. I think I’ll just let it ride, let it ride (puff puff)

  2. I congratulate you for being on the smart parents: the one who realizes that potty training is just not worth it before a child turns three. I waited too, and it was so, stupidly, ridiculously short and easy. Yay, Liz!

  3. I am well on my way…meaning, I’ve got step #1 DOWN. We’ll have to see how the rest plays out. My two-and-a-half year old will go at school, but won’t even think about it at home. Ah, well. Back to step #1.

  4. Kate, my daughter is 3 1/2. As in close to four.So maybe you don’t have step #1 down enough? I’m happy to tutor. Just don’t count on me to show up on time.

  5. Dang it…I clicked over from Elaine after seeing the topic. I was hoping for a *real* method…not a recap of my current method!!!

  6. Isn’t it just like that? Sam was kind of the same way. A few days of trial and error and then PRESTO! Potty trained. Congrats!

  7. Or you can do what I did for my daughter. Wait until a natural disaster occurs. Evacuate to your cousin’s house. Stay there for 2 weeks. Let your niece, who is a year older, show your daughter how to go to the bathroom by herself. My way is a little more work and you need God on your side, but it works really well. And the best part you won’t even know it is happening and it will be the bright spot in your month long hurrication. TADA!!

  8. Our problem? Most of the preschools and daycares around here require that kids are potty trained upon entry. I hated potty training the first. I hope the second goes a LOT faster.

  9. OMG! I soooo needed this post! My 3 year-old son told me the other day, “Mommy, I don’t want to go pee pee on the potty. I like it when you change my diapers.” I’m not joking either. He said this WORD FOR WORD! I think he’ll be in diapers when he gets to high school at the rate we’re going.

  10. Hmmm…a parent who lets her kid potty train when she’s ready and doesn’t force her to adhere to some kind of silly adult-created time line? A parent who’s kid feels secure in the world because her mom lets her be who she is and do what she needs to do when she’s ready to do it? Sorry Liz, you’re not a slacker. You are my hero. Kim

  11. Hey, that’s my planned method, too! My son is just over 2.5 years old. They keep showing him/taking to the potty at daycare. I haven’t done anything at home, besides buy a potty seat.

  12. Being a slacker parent turns out to work incredibly well if you have an enterprising daycare provider, who potty trains your son at 26 months.

  13. my daughter is 2 and a half. Her teacher informed me she should be potty trained by now. she has good days and bad days. Why is it I always feel like i missed the boat on these parenting things. Also why is it all the other moms look so put together and organized…I call it a good day if her socks match!!

  14. I’ve been using this technique since the second one kept refusing to use the potty, til he was around 3 years 9 months, then he got up one day, said “I’m going to use the potty now” and did and never had an accident. #3 potty trained herself. #4 will, too, if I have anything to say about it.Congrats!

  15. I guess I should feel a bit better about myself and my daughter. I did this technique but it didn’t take me a week and she was 22 months old when she potty trained. I learned that consistency was the main tool for me. But I was always worried about whether i was doing it right and I always worry that I’m a horrible mother! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who stresses on my mothering skills…LoL.

  16. High five for slacker parenting style. Well actually, I’d high five but that would require too much effort…(and ftr, I used this technique and it’s all good baby, all good)

  17. Yep, I’m there. We have all the “stuff”, a disinterested 3 year old trainee, and an inconsistent trainer.Oh, well… I guess I won’t stress until we’re down to the wire for MDO.

  18. We did use this, but not at first. So we struggled through a few weeks of training at age 2 and again at age 3 before giving up. My son was 4 1/2 or 5 if I remember right and just one night he announced, “no more pull up.” And he was done. That was it. He’s never even had an accident. So with my daughter, I definitely took this approach!

  19. Sounds good to me! The only fly in the ointment is that my daycare won’t let my son move to the “3s” until he is potty-trained. He’s currently 22 months, so we’ve got some time. He loves to watch us pee and always flushes the toilet for us. He sits on his potty, but fully clothed. No rush. I may be a slacker, but we laugh a lot!

  20. That was our approach. Took less than a week. It was awesome. I always wondered why people tried earlier and worked so hard at it. But then, I’m inherently lazy.

  21. I wish I had stellar comments to add. I don’t. I never learned how to potty train my boys. I sent them all to grandma’s house. She potty trained them all, before I lost it.

  22. You always have the best timing…we just moved rooms to the “potty focus” class as I will call it. Other moms, freaking out about whether their kids are keeping up, me? I figure, what the heck am I paying an outrageous daycare tuition for anyway? Let the teachers train him (and me!) If he slacks off, just more play time for him before real world school starts (we are only 2 1/2 for goodness sakes, what’s the rush?!)

  23. So, expecting my first daughter, who is 13 months to start going potty now is pretty silly, huh? Well, she does sign potty now, AFTER she has already gone. Oh, well, I won’t expect too much.

  24. YAY! Thanks for telling it like it is. I’ve heard you can potty train your 2yo, but you need to be ready to find pee everywhere for a long time. I’d rather have an almost-4yo in diapers (as I did with D) than find pee in a corner. Random Chick—seriously, my son (the 3rd! as in, I’ve done this twice before) had just turned FOUR when he decided to stop using diapers. The cool thing is he’s tall enough to pee standing up all the time (is it weird that I find that cool?). Just hang in there. It happens.

  25. A woman at my kids preschool told me she was potty training her 6 month old. I’m pretty sure I offended her, as I rolled on the ground laughing. Then you have my cousin who is like, eh whatever, she’ll do it one day. How many college kids are walking around with diapers on and pacifiers in their mouth?Somehow there is a middle ground.

  26. Ah the memories. When J turned 3 my mother came to visit and she said, “Isn’t he going to preschool in a month and doesn’t he have to be potty trained first?”“Yes,” I told her, “Can you do that while you’re here?”And she did! I wasn’t a total slacker — I tried several times to do it earlier, but high strung people like me are better off just resorting to being slackers — otherwise, too much yelling occurs!

  27. Still traumatised from potty training my first – without doubt the worst 2 weeks of my life. Pooey pants, toddler hands in poo going everywhere, crawling baby attached to my ankle, dog VERY interested in all this activity. Nursery is now pushing for me to potty train the second. In Winter! Have they not seen my washing pile? They can’t miss it, it is as large as the house without the extra 18 pairs of trousers. I don’t care if the second uses the potty perfectly at nursery and is obviously ready. I’m NOT! Really enjoy the blog. You know exactly where I’m coming from. A big thank you, especially as I’m based in Bosnia and surrounded by Bosnians who potty train their children by 18 months. How they do it – I have NO idea.

  28. Sticker charts, M&Ms, fire truck underwear – nothing worked. Much better when we just forgot about it and waited for Q-ster to become bored with diapers.Step 1 was the right one all along.

  29. The key is to start early and only live in a house with wood floors! I swear, I never, ever pressured my kids. The oldest, in fact, didn’t train until almost three. She had accidents for a year after that, maybe longer.The second (a girl) was allowed to run around the house house completely naked from about 18 months on. Yes, she pooped and peed on my wood floors on occasion. I stocked up on Clorox Clean Ups. In reality, she only pooped on the floors once or twice – after that, she headed for the potty or asked for a diaper. Anyways, she trained herself, with no accidents and no power struggles, by 23 months.So, the last one was a boy. I figured the middle kid was a freak and I was in for the long haul because he was a *boy* and everyone had told me how *hard* they are to train. But just in case, I did the same thing. Naked as much as possible around the house from 18 months on. Allowed to see what happens when he pees and poops (and again – this one hardly happened at all – same scenario as his sister.) He was diaperless by 26 months.The thing is, when you get it done early, there are no power struggles. And yeah, it can be fast when they are older. But not necessarily. Just ask my friend…Lastly, I always feel defensive about my early-trainers because other parents assume I’m an anal, “over-achiever” mother. This is just not the case. Heck, it takes a special kind of mom to let her kids just use the floor…

  30. Heartful, I don’t know if you’re an overachiever, but you’re definitely achiever. Kudos to you to be willing to chase after your kids with Clorox wipes for 8 months.Could you help me with my dog?

  31. I am SO with you. My husband was so anxious for our son to be out of diapers but I cared less. So, my husband ended up doing most of the potty training and I think he’ll agree with me on the next one to wait a bit longer!

  32. Yesterday Myles peed on the potty. He asked to sit on it and peed. I haven’t pushed at all, just basically put the potty out and do a constant play by play any time he’s in the bathroom while I’m using it. I KNEW it was just a fluke but I got a teeny bit excited anyway, like maybe he’s some kind of potty prodigy. This morning, he sat on the potty right after he got up then he got off the potty and peed on his carpet. We’ll be putting the potty away for awhile.

  33. So, am I the only one who wants a pair of monkey rainbow panties for myself? Maybe I’m just jaded from all the super heros around here. The one thing I have finally figured out about parenting (and it took me four tries, you know…) is that, dammit, I’m doing the best I can. And that’s gonna have to be good enough.

  34. Aside from the fact that diapers are obscenely expensive, I don’t know why people are in such a hurry to potty train. Then you just spend all of your time looking for bathrooms!

  35. awesome advice. we did something similar, basically we waited until my daughter said “Mommy, I want to wear underwear” and then we threw away the diapers. She only had a few accidents and voila! For us, she was 2 1/2 but I would have waited until she was much older if need be.Who are these people that think potty training is so difficult?

  36. I do agree with you that the older your child the faster you can finish potty training. Scientific research backs you up on that. For me, though, potty success can be had at a much younger age by addressing all of the pre-learning well before age 2. From first mention of potty at 18 months to fully potty trained was 10 months for my daughter. We didn’t stress about it, just provided wetting feedback with pull-up cloth diapers and lots of opportunities to use the potty. When she was ready, she asked to put on her Elmo panties and we rolled with it. So, that was 10 months of potty learning, and potty trained in one day.

  37. Here's what works for me.Don't potty train for a long time.The, buy a huge bag of M&Ms. Potty train one day and feed the child many M&Ms anytime he pees near the potty.Get bored and don't potty train for the rest of the week.Every day of that week, the child will beg and scream to pee on the potty.Intermittent reinforcement. It's the toughest to extinguish. 😉I agree…step 1 is the most important.

  38. Dang, you’d think I’d be doing better this second time around, but I totally forgot step 2. I gotta print this and post on my fridge for when the third one is at that age.

  39. Oh man, my son just turned 2 last week, and i’m feeling the pressure to get him potty trained by next January-just so i can put him in pre-preschool next January and get 4 hours a week to grocery shop with only one kid (who will be 13 months by then). God, i need help with this. Unfortunately, both of my son’s grandmothers used THEIR mothers to potty train their children. Damn.

  40. I just stumbled upon your blog because I’m pregnant and was thinking about what I am getting myself into!My youngest brother was trained using this method when he was four years old…*after* he already knew how to read and use a computer! I think my mom was just tired of potty training kids.

  41. I thought you were using the 3-Day potty training method. Turns out that those steps are funny. But I can read their serious notes, don’t worry. It’s hard to get the child into toilet training especially if the task is new to him on the first day.

  42. I needed that, thank you for the hearty laugh. At first, I do not understand what the number 1 meant but now I am having ideas on potty training my dd. Gladly, she’s transitioning well from nappies to none but she has her nappies on during sleep.


  43. Ok, I just clicked over from the “parenting anarchists” post and am grinning ear to ear. We have been so slacker over the potty training… Today the little man chose some race car underpants while we were at Macy’s and basically carried the package around the entire day. On the subway, in a restaurant…

    Thanks for putting some humor in the day and backing us slacker parents up on this one. I’m so damn tired of the other moms telling me their 18 month old is potty training.

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