So this title may be overstating things a bit, but the three-day potty training method (in which you let your child run around in underwear or naked for three days so they can learn to tell when they need to potty) didn’t yield the best results for us. Instead, potty training was a much longer journey that was hampered a bit by Lion’s old daycare’s rules that underwear was only allowed after a child was dry and accident-free for two full weeks. Of course, whenever Lion was in his pull ups or a diaper, he didn’t do as good a job of using the bathroom when he needed.
We introduced Lion to the potty at around 20 months because he started showing a real interest. He would tell us whenever he peed and ask for a new diaper. Because he was in the toddler room at daycare with just five other kids, the lead teacher in his room would often encourage him to use the potty at school and he had some success with it. We didn’t want to push the potty training, though, because he was still fairly young and we had a newborn at that time. I do regret not pushing it when he first started showing interest. At that time, we would give him stickers whenever he successfully pottied and he would become very excited. He would potty almost every time he sat on the toilet, but wasn’t telling us when he needed to go. I wonder if we tried the three-day method then it would have been successful because it was something he was really interested in. If I had to do it all over again, I would have at least given it a shot.
Instead, we just kept waiting to see if things would click and didn’t try the three-day potty training method until he was about 28 months. We took him to the store to pick out underwear and he was super excited about it, but really didn’t get the concept. We tried the three-day potty training method over the course of several weekends, but I would say he still didn’t fully catch on. He liked when he was successful, but if he was busy playing with his toys he would insist that he didn’t have to potty and then promptly have an accident minutes later. It soon became a battle over the potty and he never wanted to sit on it anymore. It became increasingly frustrating for all parties involved and Mr. Dolphin and I finally decided to back off and try again in a few months.
When we tried again around the 30 month mark, he was much more successful when he was at home. He would wear underwear and didn’t like to get wet. Although he would still have the occasional accident, particularly if he was really caught up with a toy, overall he was doing a pretty good job of agreeing to potty. Of course, it probably helped that we started rewarding him with an M&M when he pottied successfully and a toy at the end of the day if he didn’t have any accidents.
While he was pretty much potty trained at home at this point, it was hit or miss at school. He had moved into the preschool room which has twenty kids and although the teachers worked with us, he wasn’t quite as successful. Also, we noticed that he was much better about using the potty in the morning, but after the morning teachers went home for the day he pretty much only went in his pull up. I think his morning teachers were much better at prompting him to try to go, whereas the afternoon teachers just waited for Lion to declare that he needed to use the bathroom. We tried to explain to his teachers that he was potty trained at home because he wore underwear and didn’t like to get them wet. His teachers insisted that he had to go two full weeks without any accidents. Even when Lion had really good weeks, he would always have an accident at some point in the week so wasn’t considered potty trained by their standards.
In the quest for a new daycare after we learned his old daycare would be closing, one school said they had a space for him in the 3-year-old room. Even though he wasn’t 3 yet, they said they could put him in there if he was potty-trained. I explained that Lion’s current state of potty-training was that he would stay relatively dry at home in his underwear with the occasional accident, but was much more sporadic at daycare in his pull-up. The director immediately said, “Oh, no. I wouldn’t have him in a pull-up at all. They need to feel the wetness. That’s what really motivates them to get potty trained. Just send him in his underwear and he’ll be fine.”
Although we ended up going with a different daycare, I really felt that if we could just send Lion to his new school in underwear he’d probably be fine or catch on really quickly. And that is how he became fully potty-trained at 33 months.
Part of me worried that it might be a lot of transition for Lion all at once. A new daycare, going to a different school than his brother (who at the time was still attending the old daycare), not knowing anyone there and suddenly not having the security blanket of a pull-up. I may have intimated to his new teachers that he was potty trained, but that he might have some accidents because of the transition and they agreed that they would expect some accidents.
Well, on the first day, Lion made it through without a single accident! On the second day, he had two accidents. Then, he had no accidents on the third or fourth day, and just one on the fifth day. I thought it was a pretty successful week, all things considered. In 11 weeks or so that he’s been there now, he’s only had maybe one other accident (other than the two he’s had while napping).
So, while the three-day notion of potty training really didn’t work for us, the principle that not using a diaper/pull-up and going with underwear so that the child can feel the wetness did work. It took much longer than three days, but we are finally potty trained. It felt like we were potty-training forever and I’m not looking forward to going through it again with Panda, but it is now just a normal part of Lion’s day. I do think that when Panda starts showing readiness signs, I might push a little more in the beginning and see what happens, regardless of age or what else we have going on.