How I Potty Trained My 2.5 Year Old In 3 Days (& You Can Too!)

I have been dreading potty training since July 20, 2018, the day I found out I was having a boy. I had heard horror stories about how hard it is to potty train boys. Pee. Everywhere. is all I knew. When Isaac turned two, I knew we were getting close. More than that, I wanted to be close. The boy was two and pooping like a full grown man. By 2.5 I was ready for him to go on the potty, but I wasn’t mentally ready for the act of training. And neither was Isaac.

From January of this year until we started potty training in May, I started dropping hints. I gave him, and myself a count down. When it warms up, we’re going on the potty. Starting in May we’re going on the potty. Once the diapers run out, we are going on the potty.

But the story doesn’t start there. We attempted potty training just after he turned 2, so let me start there.


The False Start

Right before Isaac turned two, he developed a strong interest in the potty. I was always told that it was best to wait until they were ready, so a few days after he turned two, I decided we could try.

Isaac and I went to the store and he picked out four packs of big boy underwear. He was a big fan of the Pixar Pack, Paw Patrol and Baby Shark.

We picked up a little potty and a potty seat for every toilet in the house. Definitely recommend one with the little hood for little boys. Its also important to know if you have a elongated or round toilet seat, because if you put a round seat on an elongated toilet, it doesn’t fit right and moves around a lot.

Isaac and I were ready. We threw on a pair of undies and I gave him a cup with juice. We sat on the potty every fifteen minutes for two hours with only dribbles.

Then we got ready for lunch. In the thirty minutes of me prepping and us eating lunch, boy peed on my floor four times. But, it wasn’t just accidents. He would be running and start peeing, stop and look down at himself like he had no idea what was happening.


We stopped then, and we didn’t start talking about it again until January of this year. I gave myself, and him, four months of prep talk before begining.

The First Three Days

Yes, I potty trained my 2.5 year old in 3 days…mostly. Let me be clear. Isaac was 100% pee potty trained in 3 days. A number 2 took a bit more time, patience and loads of laundry. But we will get there:

Day One

As I said, we had four months of prep work. We talked about the potty. Isaac watched me and ben go potty, we told him how gross poop in diapers was. Honestly, nothing phased him. As May approached, my self inflicted finish line, I worried that he wasn’t ready and we would try and fail again. I desperately didn’t want him to fail, because I didn’t want him to think down on himself.

I didn’t want to push him, so we just kept talking about it until one day.

As we changed into clothes for the day one Friday morning, I asked him if he wanted to put on his big boy underwear. I had asked him this before without any luck, so I wasn’t expecting it when he said yes. Excited, and scared, I helped him into big boy underwear and we began.

I started supplying fluids like I had nothing better to do. I didn’t have a real plan. I knew we were going to drink like it was our business, that we were going to go potty every 10-15 minutes until he went for the first time, and that he would get one piece of candy for a successful pee and two pieces of candy for poop (that was my mom’s trick). Other than that, we were flying on instinct.

As I sat, I decided to pick up the ebook 3 Day Potty Training. I had heard great things and figured some reading wouldn’t hurt anything. I read the entire thing in less than an hour, its a quick read, and it did change my way of thinking. (I 100% recommend this read, it helps get you in the mindset.)

The only thing I really changed after reading, however, was how I phrased my questions. Instead of asking Isaac if he had to go potty, I reminded him to tell me if he had to go. This puts all the power in his hands and showed that I trusted him (I so didn’t trust him but I defintely think the act made a difference).

Let me be clear, there were accidents. That first day there were a total of 5 accidents. 2 of those were pee on the floor, have to clean up accidents. The other three were just little dribbles in his pants.

Despite the accidents, I could tell by the end of that first day that Isaac understood and was excited about the potty. He didn’t have another accident after 2 PM. He woke up from nap dry, and went right to the bathroom. That night, I put him in a pull-up just because I was scared. Turns out, he didn’t need it.

Day Two

As soon as Isaac woke up on Day 2, we went potty and changed out of the pull up and into undies. We started back on fluids, threw away a symbolic diaper (hid the rest of the box because Adelaide will use them and we aren’t wasteful), and went accident free. There was one dribble in his pants that day, but most of the pee went on the potty.

Day Two is when we also decided that he wouldn’t be wearing a pull up to bed. I sent Ben to Walmart to pick up a mattress protector, waterproof covers, and a third and fourth sheet set.

This was also the start of the poop fight. Isaac did NOT want to poop on the potty. He was one part scared and one part unsure how to even poop like that. He usually just pooped in the diaper, standing up and playing. He would stop to push, but wasn’t squatting in a corner or anything.

Now, an important note: we were only being positive during these three days. Only positive. Isaac had my FULL, undivided attention for three whole days. He hadn’t had that much attention since Adelaide was born a year before. We didn’t yell or scold him for anything in these three days (except when he pushed his sister down while running around playing). It was a very positive weekend. We kept things as stressfree as possible for him, because the potty was a BIG change in his little life.

When there was a big old turd in a tiny pair of underwear, keeping cool wasn’t easy. But somehow we managed. When there was a turd, we redirected. I did my best to get the poop to roll our of the undies and into the potty so that he could see where the poop was supposed to go. I reinforced the idea that when he poops on the potty, he gets two pieces of candy, and continued to praise the hell out of him with each successful pee on the potty.

Instead of scolding him for pooping in his pants I said something along the lines of, “Next time we will poop in the potty….Look how gross that is….Baby Shark doesn’t like having poop on him, right?” We would dialouge. I asked him where the poop goes. And on it went.

By the end of Day Two, I was pretty exhausted. I had been glued to his side all day, felt like I had done nothing all day, and was so nervous about the reality that I would probably be woken in the middle of the night and have to change sheets. He hadn’t had more than a tiny turd of a poop, weird for my three times a day little boy, and I desperately didn’t want him to get constipated. There was just a lot going on by the end of that day.

Honestly, the full attention was the hardest part. I normally let my kids play by themselves if I don’t hear loud thuds or screams. Isaac was even getting annoyed with me following him around. At some point him and Adelaide went upstairs to play in his room and when I walked in the door seconds after he said, “Mom, go away!” So….it was getting on everyones nerves.

Day Three

On Day 3 I had set my alarm for 6:30. Isaac typically wakes up between 7-8:30 and I wanted to be up. I sat on my couch with my Kindle, and turned on the video monitor so I could run up there as soon as he moved. That was around 7:30.

I sprinted up the stairs, preparing myself for wet sheets and an upset, soaked toddler. What I found, however, was a completely dry bed and 2.5 year old who was excited about being dry and going straight to the potty.

Waking up, peeing and getting a piece of candy was all that little boy needed.

Day 3 was, honestly, EASY (when it came to pee). By Day 3 Isaac had mastered peeing on the pooty. He knew when he needed to go and knew what to do. On Day 3, I decided to venture out to a quick trip to the grocery store. It was just Isaac and I while Adelaide took her morning nap at home with daddy. Though I was worried, my boy did it! On our way out of the store he told me he had to go potty, and he stood up for the first time inside a ladies stall at Meijer.

That night, we headed to Ben’s grandparent’s house for Mothers Day dinner. I packed Isaac’s big boy backpack with four pairs of undies, two changes of pants, and a shirt. As I put his stuff in his backpack, I reiterated that these materials were just in case and that we were putting it in a backpack because he is a big boy now, and the diaper bag is for babies. The glow of pride on that kid’s face was priceless.

On day 3, we didn’t have a single dribble of an accident. However, I did change 4 pairs of underwear, because the poop was still a struggle but…peeing was good to go!

It took Isaac 3 days to master peeing on the potty and holy crap, the freedom that came for us not having to change his diapers was worth every second.

Like I said however, the poop was another story.

Pooping on the Potty

As I said above, I don’t know what it is/was about pooping on the potty. Isaac wasn’t a fan and just didn’t want to. As Day 2 came and went without a real poop from him, I worried about his little body. I knew that kids often got scared of going number 2 if they got constipated once, I actualy remember this happening with my little sister, and I didn’t want him to go through that.

To cut to the chase–it was about two weeks before Isaac was doing great with pooping on the potty. And those two weeks were a constant battle.

By probably Day 5 of underwear, I could tell he knew when he needed to poop because he would all of a sudden try to run up to his room.

By Day 7, he was starting to poop in his underwear and then run to the bathroom to try and get it into the toliet.

By Day 8 he was trying to clean up his “accidents” on his own. That day I spent an hour and a half scrubbing a tiny brown spot off the carpet.

By Day 11 though, we had a decent sized poop on the potty. When he finally went, we cheered and clapped and I gave him a huge piece of candy. We talked about how easy it was and how much cleaner. We washed over him with pride.

Like I said, it was two weeks of a battle. Through it all, Ben and I tried so hard to just stay positive. We didn’t want the potty to be a punishment so we didn’t force him to sit on the potty for any amount of time to “try” and we tried so hard not to scold and yell at him.

That, however, lasted until about Day 13. He pooped in his pants and it was just….all over his butt. I was so grossed out and beyond annoyed because I knew that he knew what he was doing. He just didn’t want to stop what he was playing with to sit on the potty.

I was over it.

I don’t know if this was an A+ of D- mom moment, but I took him outside and hosed him off. Instead of trying to wipe it all off before throwing him into a shower, I carried that boy, butt-naked, to the side of the house and hosed him off.

He HATED it.

Oh he was so pissed.

I told him that when he pooped in his big boy underwear, that is how we were going to clean him off. Prior to this…ahem…episode I had been just wiping and throwing him in the tub. My kids LOVE bathtime, so I knew that this was a problem. Essentially he was being rewarded when he pooped his pants and that not good.

So the hose it was.

That night we went to Ben’s mom’s for dinner, and Isaac pooped on her potty. No potty training seat, I’ll tell you why this was important in a second.

We had one more episode with the hose, on the next day. Then, suddenly, that night before bed Isaac said he had to poop.

We went to the potty and this time, instad of putting the potty seat on, I showed him how to hold himself up on the potty.

The turd that came out of this kid was freaking HUGE. Sorry to be a bit gross and graphic, but you clicked on the potty training post, you get what you came for.

BOY OH BOY did we cheer. I told Isaac, “Dude, that a big old man poop!” which he just thought was hilarious. He ran downstairs to tell Ben, “Daddy! Me have a big man poop!” and collect his big piece of candy.

I asked him if it was hard to poop on the potty, No.

I asked him if his belly felt better, Yes! he cheered.

And that was the turning point.

Over the next few days there were minor “accidents,” but onyl just skid marks as he started to go.

However, as of the writing of this post (5/28) we are 8 days skidmark free!

So what changed? The hose, for one, was a big thing. But the second, and more important piece, was removing the training potty seat.

Since Isaac had to hold himself up without the training seat, he was in a better position and had something to push against. I had read online somewhere that having a step stool for kids learning to poop on the potty is important so that they have something to bare down on. Think about how you go number 2.

We have tall toliets so his feet barely hit the step stool still. But, honestly, I think him holding himself up really just put him in a better position for it to just slide out.

That one successful turd was all we needed. Since then, he’s done a great job! There are still some days where he doesn’t want to stop and go on the potty, on these days I do have to make him sit down to try when he is showing the signs.

My Advice to You

Everyone always says something along the lines of they’ll go when they’re ready and to an extent…this is totally true. More importantly, in my opinion, is that YOU have to be ready. During our false start, I realized how unprepared I was to potty train. Not physically. Physically I knew what I needed to do, how I needed to do it, and I was terrified. I was so not mentally ready for pee on my floor, for the positivity needed or for the reality that life would revolve around him until he was a pro. Most of this is because I had a baby. When I tried the first time, Adelaide was only 6 months old and was attached to me. When we tried again, Isaac was 2.5 and Adelaide was an independent, bossy one-year-old.

First step, get YOU prepared. The kid will jump on board pretty dang quick, but YOU need to be prepared. There will be messes and you just have to be okay with it. If you have a partner, they also need to be on the team. I definitely think that one person should be the primary potty trainer, but secondary parent needs to know the drill and be ready to pickup the slack elsewhere.

Second up, you need to be attached to that toddler for three days straight. I didn’t clean in these three days. Ben stepped up and took over with Adelaide, and cleaning up at the end of the day. Isaac didn’t go anywhere or do anything without me and we all hated that piece, but it works.

Third, and most important: for three days things are ONLY positive. Isaac and I played together, spent every moment together, and I didn’t yell or scold him for those three days (aside from when he pushed down his sister). The entire potty training experience was postivie and there was no negativity associated with this three day life change.

Along side of positivity, PRAISE. Everytime Isaac was successful, in any big or small way, I cheered and danced and praised him. He loved it, and quickly started joining in in the excitement. Have a reward sysemt ready to go before you start. As I said we did one candy for #1 and 2 candies for #2. I had a bowl of M&Ms and Smarties that he picked from everytime we had a win. Isaac loves candy, and had been a candy fiend since easter. Right before potty-training, I had actually thrown out most of the candy in the house because he was just obsessed and the sugar made him misbehave. So, bringing back candy as this reward was exactly what he wanted. Other people on the internet have done sticker charts, small dollar store toys, etc. Do what will work for your little monster.

And finally, have patience mama. It’s going to be a long three days-two weeks (for #2). There are going to be accidents. You are going to get frustrated. Your toddler is going to get frustrated. His/Her success is your success. His/Her failure is your failure. In this instance though, you and your toddler are on a team.

As a little cheer for you too, no matter how long it takes here is the good news: they’re going to do it and one day you won’t even have to wipe their bums. Isn’t that just…ahhh..relief?

I hope that this guide helps to encourage you in your potty training endevour, and maybe gives you some good alternative ideas.

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