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Potty Training In a Weekend With NO Frustration, NO Tears, and NO Accidents

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I will admit that potty training was not even on my radar anywhere. But, apparently we were dipping our toe into the waters of potty training a bit with our then newly three-year-old.

Why would it not have been on my radar? Why would I say we were dipping our toe in the water rather than jumping right in with both feet?

I will tell you. 

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Mind you, I am not a doctor, I am not a scientist, I am not a psychologist. I am just a mom who has potty trained six kids thus far, and I have learned a few things along the way. There are books written by numerous experts that you can read. I prefer the short, sweet, Cliff’s Notes version of what works.

As a mom of 8, I don’t have time to read an entire book or for complicated methods.

I just need something that works.

And no accidents, please!

So, this is what I came up with, and it is the most awesome thing ever.

It is possible to potty train in a weekend with no frustration, no tears, and no accidents!

potty training weekend

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Here it is:

With my first, it was all about potty training when I thought it was time. You can imagine how that went. She cried, I cried, it took forever. Period.

With my second, I thought the key was to be firmer, more insistent. Wrong again. He cried, I cried, my oldest cried along with us. Nightmare. Period.

By my third (I had three kids in as many years, mind you) I was not walking down the same potty training road. Not even a little bit. I was over that road entirely.

My pediatrician had told me that there is a connection that physiologically needs to be made within the brain for potty training to occur. If that connection has not been made, your efforts will be futile. He told me this with my first and with my second children, but I was convinced that he was wrong. However, by my third child, I had decided that maybe he was on to something.

So, this is the methodology that I have found to work best for me. The best part is that it’s short, sweet, and painless (no tears), at least this has been my experience thus far.

First, get some fun underwear

You know, the kind that they want long before they are ready and show them to your child. Keep this underwear somewhere handy where you can remind your child they are there every now and again.

Next, get a potty and then handle it in the same way as the underwear

Get it early, show the potty to them every now and again, and that’s it. Done

Then, wait and watch for these signs: 

  • Your child doesn’t like poop or pee in their diaper and wants to be changed right away
  • Your child hides someplace when they are doing their business

When you see these things more than a few times, ask your child if they want to go on the potty

If they say yes, great, put them there. If they so no, great, leave it alone for a few days or even a week.

This is where my three year old was at first…doing his business, and when I asked him if he wanted to do it on the potty instead, he said yes. So, on the potty he went.

Once on the potty, my kids have to use it, otherwise they will be back in diapers

This is what happened at first with most of my kids. After sitting on the potty for awhile with no results, the diaper went back on.

Most times, they peed and even pooped in the diaper during bedtime and naptime, which is fine, but after getting them cleaned up I asked if they wanted to go on the potty.

If they said, “yes,” on the potty they went. If they said, “no,” the diapers went back on then and there.

If they sat on the potty and did nothing, the diaper went back on, too.

It is common that when potty trainers are testing the waters, they have a success/fail experience. But again, I don’t tolerate any more than two accidents in a day, and there also can’t be an excessive amount within a week.

If there are, they just may not be ready.

If you are moving into the second day of underwear, ask your child what they want, potty and underwear or diapers

If they choose potty and underwear, put the underwear on then. See what happens.

Ask if they have to go potty every so often, but in my experience, any more asking than that and it is only you who is being trained rather than your child. If they are ready to potty train, they will do it all on their own.

What next?

In the case of my three-year-old son, he pooped and peed in his underwear at this point.

In this case, the next step is to get them cleaned up and ask potty and underwear or diaper

Underwear? Great. Be sure to remind them that if they have one more accident, they will be back in diapers.

If that accident occurs, which means the second accident, they go back in diapers for a week, maybe two. Then, start the process over again from the beginning, asking what they want to do again…potty and underwear or diapers.

If they try the underwear and it ends badly with two accidents again, don’t get angry, it needs to be fine with you. No negative reaction at all. Just revisit it in a few weeks.

In fact, don’t ever have a negative reaction throughout the whole process. Not even once!

If it ends badly more than twice at any point, just be done with it entirely until they come to you and say they are ready.

Yes, let them tell you they are ready!

What is the advantage of doing it this way?

Using this method, I have potty trained four of my kids within a couple of days with less than two accidents and no tears, no harsh words, no damage to the relationship, and no messes to clean up all over the house.

I can look at my experiences with my first two kids and see what I feel are common mistakes:

  • thinking that once the underwear goes on, the diapers are over. With my first two, I was worried that putting my kids back in diapers would slow the process, when in actuality, my kids were treating their underwear as a diaper simply because they weren’t ready. In this way, when compared to my later children, staying in the underwear created so much frustration for both of us that it actually made the process take longer. 
  • in the case of repeatedly asking my child if they had to use the potty or just putting them on the potty, they weren’t learning anything. I was their crutch. They never had to examine what it meant to have to go potty, and I was the only one being trained. In the case of forcing them to use the potty, they were not focusing on what it feels like to have to go potty.

Again, no expert here, just a mom who has done it a few times. I much prefer the no yelling, no tears, no potty training myself route, and no mess route. Four times over, this is how I have accomplished that. You can do it, too.

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  1. I SOOO needed to hear this today!!

    Potty training my 2nd boy has been a huge challenge from my first son and I think that’s where the mistake was…comparing the two children at all! My first son was in daycare until he started Kindergarten so no wonder potty training was easy with him!! I didn’t do all of the hard work!! He did it at school! 🙂

    Great tips and advice…I’ll keep you posted on progress!

    1. I’m so glad it was here for you then! Comparing is always tempting, but rarely good no matter what you’re comparing. It’s hard, but each kid even among my 7 are so dynamically different it is hard to believe they have the same parents at times! I say, if there are tears, yours or his, just be done. It’s not worth it! He won’t be walking down the aisle to meet his bride wearing diapers, I promise 😉

  2. This is a great article! I am currently going through this process with my 2.5 year old. I’ve kinda just let it come naturally and let her tell me when she’s ready. I like your suggestion of buying the underwear. I’ve just been using pull ups but maybe I’ll skip that and go to underwear! Thanks for the helpful tips!

  3. Hi there! We are potty training our third – she has just turned 2, and seemed so ready 2 months ago. We were calm, cool and collected about it, and had fairly decent success off and on. But in the last few days, the ugly 2 year-old willpower kicked it, and we were all in tears today over her refusal to have anything to do with the potty. After reading your post, I was just wondering… what age ranges have you been able to make this work with? Am I starting way too young? We have had similar experiences with the last 2 kiddos, and the boy especially, whose potty training period spanned literally about 2 years by the time we were DONE! Anyway, I agree with you – I feel like it’s not worth all this hassle, and am ready to throw in the towel and wait… especially since we are expecting baby #4 in about 3 weeks! What would you suggest?

    1. Well, in averaging out the 6 kids I’ve potty trained, my kids were around 3. To me, if there are tears, be done. You’ve got way too many other things going on right now, sounds like! Unless she begs you to potty train right now, I’d be done. Right now. I also wrote this one http://www.theintentionalmom.com/potty-training-secrets/ Out of the kids I’ve trained this way, they were all potty trained within three days. It’s so much better than the way I did it for my first couple. Good luck with the new baby! Big families are awesome!

      1. Hi! Carly again… just a quick question about how you did it. We are now asking her every few days “diaper or undies?” She has chosen undies a few times, and wet 2 pairs of them by lunch. So it’s back to diapers. She usually chooses diapers. My question is, when she’s wearing a diaper, and indicates the need to go potty, she often says she wants to do it on the potty. Did you proceed to take off the diaper and let her put it in the potty, or tell her to go in her diaper? Lol, it seems so wrong to tell a child to go in their diaper, but I’m sooooooo tired of ripping off diapers and putting them back on. Some days she wears a diaper and doesn’t say anything (goes in them all day) and other days she wears a diaper and wants to put it in the potty every time!

        1. It depends. Seems like she might be making a game of it…I don’t stand for that. And, if it is bothering you to do it, I wouldn’t do it. For me, it’s a package deal. It seems wrong because she wants to…but my hunch is that she likes the controlling part of diaper/no diaper…use diaper/use toilet. In my experience, if she wants the undies bad enough, she will choose the whole package. For me, it’s a package, and it takes three days or less that way.

          In a long winded answer, if it were me, I would say no. It’s all or nothing 😉

  4. I feel like I did something like this for the last 10 months. She’d express an interest. We would go commando or use underwear. She’d go potty a few times then after the second or third accident in a day we’d go back to diapers. Give it some time and she’d ask to go potty again. The cycle repeats. She’s now 3 and we still cant make it through a day without at least 3 accidents. When do they finally get it?

    1. Hi! I don’t tolerate accidents so I can’t answer your question out of experience. But if you follow everything as I have laid it out, I think you might have different results. This method has worked for me with 5 kids thus far, but if they have accidents they are not ready, period. I think this is why you’re getting stuck. In your situation, I would honestly wait until she begged me and promised me that she was ready, but I would take a LONG break of having nothing to do with it for several weeks.

  5. Hi, my lo is almost 3. I started potty training a few months ago. We are at the point where he will ask for the potty to poop every time, but can have several wet accidents during a day. I’m pulling my hairs out because I can’t tolerate accidents either, and he fights me about going to the potty if he doesn’t need to poop! should i keep him in pullups, but take him when he asks to go to the potty?

    1. I wouldn’t do this. It seems to me he’s just not ready. I would seriously wait until he is serious. When he asks, just tell him you’re going to wait to use pull ups and going on the potty until he’s ready to not have any more accidents.

  6. I really like this approach. 3 months ago, I tried potty training my 3 year old by force. It didn’t work, there were lots of tears, and I gave up. I decided I would just wait until he tells me he is ready. Loads of stress off my shoulders! But now, he is 3.5 years old and in preschool. He still has zero interest in potty training. No interest in underwear and although he will go pee in the toilet if I take him, he is sooo resistant to pooping on the toilet. I feel like he will be 4 years old and not potty trained!

    1. I promise he won’t be headed off to college in diapers, but I understand it sure can feel that way at times. I have found this method to work well with so many of my little ones. To me, it’s just not worth tears and fighting. Hang in there!

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