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How to potty train your child in a day.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

I'd have said that, except that the friends who told me about this system, which they learned from a book, were people I'd known a long time. I knew they weren't kidding or exaggerating.

The book is Toilet Training in Less Than A Day, by Nathan H. Azrin and Richard M. Foxx (and available at, of course). Surprising, at least to me, is that this book isn't new, but came out around 1974. I can't check because I've already lent my copy out!

The friends who told me about this book waited till their son was two and a half, which was probably a better idea than doing it at two, as I did. Their son's experience was like the book describes, that after your training day, most children have just one accident. My son was trained at two, we weren't able to follow the book to the letter, and we had two big trips within a few weeks of the training day.

Still, the training day went very well and my son progressed just as the book said he would, telling me by the end of the day, all on his own, that he had to go potty. Even though we had the unusual experience of having more than one accident, it was still worth it because at that time, he'd been consolidating his urine to the point I was having to use three diapers (cloth) at a time and sometimes, even that couldn't keep his clothing from getting wet.

He continued to wear a diaper to bed at night for another ten months, but we had many dry diapers in the morning. (The book recommends continuing with diapers overnight if the child is younger than two and a half at the time of the training.)

I have to say, the book is extremely well thought out. It's written by two people whose field is not child psychobabble, but rather learning and training. There is a rather long and tedious introduction to the book explaining how they developed this potty training method and its benefits. Any parent already knows the benefits! You can skip right over this and cut to the chase, the actual instructions.

They explain the method in excruciating detail, but it's necessary, which you begin to understand when you read the questionnaire at the end, a must. The questions are a good self-test to see if you understand everything and know exactly what you're going to do for the (roughly) four-hour training period. I read through the questionnaire, thinking it was just pro forma, but found I had to go back through the book a bit to answer a few questions.

They also give you charts to make up to keep track of what you do. These are also extremely useful during the training, though some were more useful than others and by the end, I wasn't bothering with one or two. Still, I was glad I'd made them all.

One note: the book was written by Americans for use in the States and assumes familiarity with training pants as known in the days before disposable diapers. If you're in a country where these are only known as disposable diapers in the shape of underpants, you'll have to do the training in regular underpants.

You can also try to get real training pants from the States. The kind of training pants recommended in this book are easily found and have highly reinforced crotches (like 5-ply) and are extremely absorbent, almost like a diaper. Disposables will not work with this potty training system because key to your child’s learning to control his bladder is the consequence of feeling what happens if he doesn't.

Sometimes, you may be lucky to pick up something like this at a second-hand shop, so it's worth taking a look.

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Potty training in a day
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