The 3-day potty training program for every child!

Potty training in 3 days? Seriously? Have your child move from the diapers he’s been wearing for two or three years to underwear in just three days? And then what? Will there be accidents? Well some programs GUARANTEE no accidents after this super speedy technique. Amazing!

I think only parents who have been through potty training will know how ridiculous this all is. I’m not saying that it hasn’t happened. It’s actually happened to people I know very well. Some kids will just decide they want to throw out their diapers and trade them in for big boy pants, and that’s that! Some parents will give potty training a shot, fail, then try again a few months later and succeed in “just” three days. Some will have accidents, and some, believe it or not, won’t. But just because it happens to some kids does not mean you can guarantee a specific potty training program to work on all of them! These promises that are thrown at us by supposed experts will just make an already difficult task, or rather, journey, all the more difficult. It will make you feel like a failure, and worse, it will make your child feel like a failure.

And I just love the rules of potty training. You should never start before the age of 2, and you should ONLY start when your child is ready, and you know you can’t get them in school at the age of 3 unless they’re perfectly potty trained, so they’d better be ready before then. And if they’re not, you either force it on them, which you’re not supposed to do, or have them wait at home for another year, and deprive them of the opportunity to go to a place where they can learn, socialize, and grow, just because they weren’t ready.

The other day I received the minutes of the last Parents’ Representatives Meeting of the school that my son goes to. Apparently during the meeting there were some complaints about the fact that there were too many “younger kids” who still needed diapers, and that this was creating a workload that was too big for just two teachers per class. Fine, that’s understandable. Running back and forth to the bathroom to change the diapers of 10 or so kids can be too much, although today I learned there are only two in diapers, but whatever. The good thing was that the people in charge said they would look into this problem and either hire someone to take care of the diaper changing problem or revise the way the class is made up to reduce the workload. What got to me though was that they had to throw that “school policy” at us in there. They couldn’t just leave it at that, no, they had to remind us that it is school policy that kids should be at least 3 years of age and potty trained. So why did you accept them into the program in the first place? If they are not old enough or mature enough, why did you open your doors for them and then make their parents feel bad about it? You just can’t do that! Before school starts, we get to fill out an endless application that goes into detail about who our child is, what he eats, what he does during the day, what he is capable and incapable of, whether or not he has siblings, allergies, illnesses, physical limitations, and the list goes on. It took me about 5 days to fill out my son’s application and I was a little scared that based on the information I gave the school, that they might not accept him for this year. But they did. And once that’s done, you can’t come and act surprised if my son refused to go down the slide at the playground for example, because I already told you that he hates the playground, and the slide even more so. That’s it. I told you about him, and you let him in. If the school policy says that children have to go down the slide when they’re in the playground, well that’s just not my problem anymore, and I don’t appreciate you trying to make me feel bad about it.

Potty training isn’t an issue for us anymore, but it was, and for a very long time. When it comes to the parenting challenges we have been faced with, this one was by far the worst for us. Luca was 2 years and 10 months old when, to our surprise, he was accepted into a school we had applied to literally just days before the first day. The story of why that is is a long one I won’t go into. He wasn’t potty trained then although we had been trying for a few months unsuccessfully. But now it was time for school, and that meant he had to be potty trained within a few days. I had made it clear to the school that he was still in diapers, but they reassured me that I could easily get him out of them in a few days, and that if I needed a few more, then that would be fine. “How nice”, I thought. “Of course I can do this! I’ll give myself a week! That should be enough! I’m smart, I’ve read books, I know how to talk my child into doing things. This will be a cinch.”

Well guess what. Turns out potty training success has nothing to do with how smart you are or how many books you’ve read. It’s all about your child, and whether or not he or she is ready. That’s it. I tried talking to him, letting him run around naked, buying him super cool underwear, rewarding him with gifts and treats. I bought him a red potty, a blue potty, a singing potty, and a potty for every Disney character he loves. And then school started. For months he either held it in all day and then had an accident in the car on our way home, or just wet himself at school, which seemed to upset the teachers. My feelings of failure were made worse by the disappointed looks on their faces when I picked him up, followed by the lectures and the blame: “We’re trying to work with him here, but you have to help us out at home”. That unfortunately only made me go harder on my little boy who clearly wasn’t ready. I would get angry, I would yell, and I would cry when I was finally alone after having cleaned up a big, ugly mess. It was depressing for both of us. And it dragged on for a year. That’s right, a year! Not three days, not three weeks, not three months either, but a year. And we’re not entirely there yet.

For a while I was really worried about why Luca was resisting the process with such stubborn determination. After I spent a lot of time and energy blaming myself, I started seriously considering the fact that there might be something wrong with him. And then it hit me. I don’t know why I hadn’t been looking at the whole picture. It was only after I spoke to our pediatrician that I started understanding why this had been such a difficult process. Not only is Luca a highly sensitive child and incredibly aware of and affected by what goes on around him, but he was also put in school before he was three, with only a few days of moral preparation; the school was a French school, French being a language he didn’t understand; his father moved away for work a month after that; we followed him four months later, leaving our home and our families and everything familiar to him; and one month later, we had a baby. Not only did my highly sensitive son have to go through all that in such a short period of time, but I had to go and force him out of his diaper with very little consideration to whether or not he was ready, because the school required it.

When I think back to the beginning of this whole ordeal, it makes me sad that I handled things the way I did. But then again, what was I supposed to do? My only other option would have been to make my son wait for another year before going to school. That was it. He could read at the age of three, but of course that didn’t matter to the school because he refused to tell me he needed to go to the toilet on time. It’s only right, because according to school policy, a child has to be potty trained by the age of three, regardless of what he is capable of, and regardless of his readiness. This educational institution which is largely responsible for nurturing our little ones and helping them to develop into physically and psychologically healthy people, is willing to have a child miss out on year’s worth of exposure to structured intellectual stimulation and social play with other children their age because they still wet their pants occasionally. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

And now, a year later, we still have little accidents occasionally, we still use pull-ups at night, we still struggle to pull him away from the fun he’s having to go to the bathroom, and that’s all fine. We don’t sweat it anymore because he’s a happy, healthy, smart little boy, and we’ve never seen or heard of a teenager who still wears diapers. So it’ll just have to happen when it happens. I just wish our schools could also find a way to let it go, for our children’s sake.

Luca showing us what he learned at school at the end of the first module

Luca showing us what he learned at school at the end of the first module

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14 thoughts on “The 3-day potty training program for every child!

  1. raisingsmartgirls

    I’ve heard it may take boys a little longer to potty train than girls. And I have heard that as far as little children go, there are truly only two things that they have control over – what goes in them and what goes out of them. Potty training, just like feeding a child, is about teaching them to respect their internal signals and their boundaries. Feed kids when they are hungry, provide healthy choices. Some kids learn early on they don’t like soiling themselves so they will learn to respond to their inner signals before that happens. Others get so absorbed in their activities that they are willing to ignore their bathroom needs. Shaming a child, or the parent, only adds unnecessary anxiety and pressure which never helps.

    When bladder and bowel control increases, and inner signals are honored and not ignored, then accidents are less likely to happen.

    Stressful situations can occur which also cause some regression after potty training is underway. And that’s okay.

    My younger sister used to shame her child (saying, “you should be ashamed of yourself”) and I just felt so bad for my niece. That is so damaging to a child.

    My two younger children potty trained fairly early (18-20 months), my youngest daughter didn’t until nearly 3. But she didn’t go to preschool until 4, so it was fine.

    Hope things are improving.


    1. Leilaboukarim Post author

      Casey, thank you do much for reading! Things are okay now. I won’t say they’re perfect, but I know that doesn’t matter. It will happen when it happens, and that’s fine with me. Lately we’ve had our whole family over for the holidays and he’s actually be having accidents frequently. I know it’s because he doesn’t want to miss out on any fun, so he doesn’t let me know he has to go. The good thing is that he knows he’s done something wrong and feels shame without me having to say anything. I will guide him and teach and try my best not to make him feel worse than he already does, and I know the day will come. No good will come from punishing a child or pushing into doing something he’s not ready for.

      Thanks again For visiting Casey! Means a lot!

  2. annie

    Thank you for your story. This has helped me so much. I have been struggling with my daughters potty training issues for about 6 months now. She was doing really good but has had a major regression due to a combination of striations and health issues. She is 4 1/2 and still wears pull ups. Without going into much detail, our story has similarities to yours. I’m so tired of all the judgment that comes with having an older child still in diapers. It seems like people just assume I’m too lazy to potty train or that I haven’t tried the right technique yet or that I just need to tell her to be potty trained and she will do it if I provide consequences. It feels good to know I’m not the only one out there.

    1. Leilaboukarim Post author

      I hear you Annie. It’s horrible to receive unwanted advice or to be judged by people who think they know. For some kids potty training goes really smoothly and parents make the mistake of taking credit for that. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with them but rather the child’s readiness. And that’s it. I have tried a number of systems with my son that have worked on other behaviors, but completely failed with the potty training.

      We just need to learn to filter out all that negativity and constantly remind ourselves that no one knows our kids better than we do. I know I say that now and yet I still break very easily every time someone comes to me with some “news” about my son, or when they use words like “different” or “special”, none of those words carrying the positive connotation we want them to. It’s awful when you see how incredible your child is and others just fail to see them the way you do just because they don’t understand.

      The transition from diapers to the potty is a big one, especially on those who are highly sensitive and think way too deeply about everything. And especially on those who have been through a lot during this very critical phase.

      I am so glad you could relate to this Annie. When things get tough, just remember you are not alone.

  3. Nichole Gligor

    I know this is an old post, but I just found it. Thank you so much for writing this. My son turns 4 in July and we are no where near potty trained. In fact, the reason I came across your post is because we started trying again today and it was a disaster. The morning started out fun and he picked out which underwear he wanted. Then we were sitting on the potty every 15 minutes which he was okay with. He had an accident and came running to tell me, and I thought “oh good he’s getting it!”. Wrong. He didn’t want to put new underwear on, so I took it as a chance to try the naked method. He drank and drank and drank water until his little bladder was so full that he was sobbing. Even though he had started to pee, once we ran to the potty he was in all out meltdown mode. I felt terrible for trying to make him go! I hate the looks from people who realize my child still wears a diaper. He just doesn’t to lose what makes him feel secure. He still insists on milk from a bottle. We don’t take it anywhere and he doesn’t sleep with it. That’s just how he wants to drink it.

    Is there anything you found that made transitions easier for yours? I could use some advice that doesn’t involve insisting that my child is special needs because he does things differently.

    1. Leila Boukarim Post author

      Hi Nichole. I want to thank you sincerely for reaching out and sharing your story. I’m so sorry you all have to go through this. I have always said that potty training was by far my least favorite part of parenting. Our HSC had a very hard time, and obviously we all suffered because of it. We were forced to force him into it, and sure enough, it backfired big time. He was constipated for so long because of it as well. And long after he was wearing underwear during the day, he was still wearing a diaper to bed. Then suddenly, out of no where and for no apparent reason, he told us he didn’t want to wear his diaper. And that was it. I can’t remember how old he was, but he was old enough to make all this very frustrating and kind of hopeless.

      With my second child, we took a whole different approach, if you can call doing nothing at all an approach. I didn’t even want to try. I would casually talk to him about going to the toilet, but if he brushed me off, I never insisted. It wasn’t until my mother came to visit that we started to even talk about potty training. She wanted to give it a shot, and she was a little more firm (which doesn’t say much because I honestly wasn’t doing anything at all; not only did I not have the energy or will to go through what we went through the first time, but I was kind of hoping it would happen on its own). And after a few days, my son decided to stop wearing a diaper. Yes, he did have a few accidents, but that’s fine. He at least wanted to give this a try.

      I can’t really say this time around was smoother because of something we did or said, or didn’t do or say. I think a child’s character has a LOT to do with how potty training goes. Then you’ve got circumstances (my first was going through a lot at the time). Plus, my youngest had his brother to learn from which I strongly believe helps children with older siblings “grow” faster.

      I wish I’d learned something from this that I could share with you Nichole, but in all honestly, the only thing I did learn was that there are no rules. Every child is very different and their circumstances are different. Yes, it is extremely frustrating when it takes so much time, and the looks you get don’t help at all (try to ignore them… they’re not good for anyone). We also had a problem with the nighttime bottle, but that also just stopped for no apparent reason… Just because he was ready. It was also frustrating, and our pediatrician gave a lecture about tooth decay and ear infections, but there nothing we could do to stop him.

      But here we are today. He’s 6, potty trained, and drink milk from a cup 🙂 It happens. It always happens. And only when they’re ready. Hang in there Nichole, and if you ever get fed up (and I know you will), please write me an email and we can chat. Chatting always helps.

      Lots of love xxx

  4. Paula

    Wow. That has just made me feel so much better. Had such a struggle with my daughter – also forced into pushing her to be ready for nursery – and now having the same again trying to go from potty to big toilet. Again pressure from school…
    so good to know it’s not just me/us! Thank you.

    1. Leila Boukarim Post author

      It is certainly not just you! We often struggle with systems that have been around for so long, and hence aren’t questioned as often as they should be. Forcing a child to be potty trained and putting pressure on parents to do it is unnatural and wrong, no matter how you look at it. Stay strong Paula 🙂

  5. Nat

    Thank you so much for this! My son is 3.5 years old and is definitely highly sensitive. We’ve been getting some pressure from his daycare with potty training as he is the only one still in diapers. We’ve tried stickers, treats, small potty, potty seat, pull ups, underwear, and no success. We got to a point where he was crying on the potty, telling me he didn’t want to be there. And then I felt horribly guilty for forcing my son to do something he’s not ready for. Then my big Aha moment, he is highly sensitive, I have to wait until he is completely ready to take on this task. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone.

    1. Leila Boukarim Post author

      Sounds exactly like what we went through. Incentives used to work great with him, but not with potty training. It really is one of those things you simply can’t rush anyone into. You have to back off and wait for them to decide they want to. If only schools could see it that way… Our lives would be so much easier.

      Good luck to you Nat! It will come. All of it will. All in good time x

  6. A. Almond

    This sounds a lot like where we are at as well. My eldest will be 4 in a few months, it’s very bright and creative, but frequently has potty accidents, and will only poop at night, in her pullup after falling asleep. I want to send her to preschool next year because I think she would love it but the potty issue concerns me. She gets so focused on playing and activities that she forgets to go, and fights me hard when I tell her to go. I am beginning to wonder if she is an HSC. I realized 2 months ago that I am an HSP. We started potty training almost a year ago. I was going to start after a Christmas trip but Nonna started before then during a sleepover. She will go perfectly at Nonna’s house but we have so many issues at home. Since we started potty training, my 2nd daughter was born and it hasn’t been easy. She was born in our car, had a tongue tie, has silent reflux, and a milk protein allergy, definitely my high maintenance baby!! I’ve also been diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, and had to go completely dairy free since my wee one won’t take a bottle. Definitely a lot for my big girl to deal with. She is also very scared of loud noises, especially public restrooms. None of the training methods I have tried have been super successful. Your story gives me hope.

    1. Leila Boukarim Post author

      Oh my goodness! You sound like you’ve been through so much! Having a baby in a car… wow! I have no words. You’re incredible for having had to deal with so much and still finding the time and energy to understand how it has affected your eldest. You’re my hero!

      Stress is definitely detrimental to the potty training process. We learned that the hard way. But over and above all of this, potty training is frustrating, period. For some kids it comes easy, but for others it can seem like a never-ending process. The thing we need to remember is it will happen. No matter how long it takes, it will eventually happen.

      Take good care of yourself, and remember, you are not alone!


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