Motherhood and Parenting

The 3 Day Method: Why It’s Not Working for You.


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There’s this thing called the Three Day Method and supposedly it’s the self proclaimed only way to go when it comes to potty training. Never heard of it? Well, essentially you keep your child bare bottomed or just in underwear for 3 days, taking extra care to make them use the toilet every 15-30 minutes. This includes at nap time and bed time too, YIKES, right? When your child does their business in the toilet they get a small reward, we used 2 M&Ms. Sounds pretty simple, right? Maybe even perfect? That’s what I thought too! Everything I had read made it sound pretty simple, albeit time consuming. Oh boy, was I wrong…
4 days and more than several wet pairs of wet underwear into this method, M was still having just as many accidents as the day we began, even with toileting every 15-30 minutes. My husband and I decided that we should stop trying so hard and revisit the idea later. 

Fast forward three months, M was just about 2 1/2 years old. I busted out the big girl undies again with a renewed hope that THIS would be it. The good news: accidents were down to about 5-6 times a day as opposed to 10. The bad news: day four came and went with still no improvement. At this point, my patience was fried. M was also discouraged and probably just as stressed about the whole thing as I was! Once again, we took a break. We still took her to the potty when she told us that she had to go and there were actually quite few times that she was successful, so once again we decided to attempt potty training, but this time with a different approach. 

We bought PULL-UPS!! Yeah, I know I know. It’s exactly what the Holy Grail of the Three Day Method goes against but guess what?! As a mother of an almost 3 year old, a now 10 month old who crawls everywhere, and a dog I don’t exactly have all the time in the world to scrub pee out of the carpets between toileting every 15-30 minutes. Heck, there’s some days that I don’t even have time to shower. 


So, we gave M the Pull Ups, the cute girly kind with one of her favorite characters {Doc McStuffins} on them. I filled up her potty treat jar with M&M’s and we went to work! When M wakes up in the morning we take off her diaper and she goes potty first thing and gets her M&M’s. What a great way to start the day – chocolate and a successful potty time! Then, I set the timer on my phone for about 30 minutes, and take her when it goes off. Every 30 minutes we are off to the bathroom. Sometimes, M even tells me herself that she’s gotta go! So far, this has worked fairly well. We are only having around 2, on really bad days 3, accidents a day. One of these is usually poop, which she still has yet to do in the toilet.

Pooping in the toilet for toddlers who are potty training proves to be more difficult for most. M often tells me that she has to to #2 but she’s already went. So, off goes the pull up, and with her watching I dump the poop into the toilet {ah, motherhood, ain’t it grand?} and explain that poopy belongs in the toilet and not in her pull up. Maybe the reason that it’s so difficult for little ones to poop in the toilet is because it’s scary for them, maybe it’s because those muscles and reflexes aren’t developed yet, and maybe it’s even a little of both.

Someone once told me that “You’ll never see a teenager in diapers. When she is ready it will click. Give it time.” That person was right! It will hopefully “click” soon for M. In the meantime we will continue using pull ups and setting the timer for potty breaks. When she is ready we will put M in the big girl undies she picked out all by herself just today and pray for the best. 

No huge developmental milestone takes just three days! First we crawl, then we walk, and finally we run. It’s important that we, as parents, remember this. Why make an already stressful developmental milestone even more stressful by confining our children to one room with just a few toys for three days so they’re not too distracted? What happens after those three days and they’re playing all throughout the house? They’ll be distracted! And they won’t know how to deal with it and have an accident. Why make more of a mess for ourselves to clean by using just undies? 


Being potty trained will happen when your child is ready. In the meantime, REWARD your child for making it to the bathroom on time, PRAISE them for going potty in the toilet, and REASSURE them that accidents happen and they can try to do better the next time around. 

4 thoughts on “The 3 Day Method: Why It’s Not Working for You.

  1. Great post! I have read so much about potty training and all my friends who have been through it just tell me to go with the flow. Good luck sounds like your LO is almost there!

    1. Thank you! Yes, it’s definitely less stressful to just go with the flow. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still stressful and I am getting a little impatient just waiting for it to happen haha. But, she will get there when she gets there!

  2. Hey Ash, I am trying hard to get my two year old potty trained.. the reward thing doesn’t work for me.. and with a two month old in my arms, I feel completely frustrated sometimes when she throws a fit.. I haven’t thought about pullups yet.. I am going to try this method.. hopefully it works. 🙂 Motherhood is certainly tough

    1. Hi Sophie!! Hopefully your potty training journey is improving. I know how frustrating it is. We’ve just gone almost an entire week with 2 accidents! Good luck!!

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