Potty training looked easy -- for all of two days.

Three months shy of her third birthday, my daughter Carolyn successfully used the potty three times. Just 48 hours later, she refused to even sit on the potty. Candy bribes led to stickers, then the iPod. Now, we just sit on the potty and watch "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" for hours on end.

Carolyn calls potty time "camping out." She strips down to her birthday suit, drags in a pillow and blanket and, on lucky days, she actually does her business on the potty -- usually after a three-plus-hour camp-out session.

My niece told me about a mom who fully potty trained her son in three days. That's how I ended up with the 287-page PDF download of Jamie Glowacki's book, "Oh Crap. Potty Training." It sounds a lot like potty-training boot camp.

A joyful moment, at the Liberty Street Pediatric Clinic in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as Lori Saunder of Whitmore Lake, talks with her 11-month-old son, Aiden as
A joyful moment, at the Liberty Street Pediatric Clinic in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as Lori Saunder of Whitmore Lake, talks with her 11-month-old son, Aiden as he uses the potty. (Hugh Grannum/Detroit Free Press)

But first, I'm going to try my hand at the advice provided by our been-there, done-that readers:

  • It took me no more than a week to have my daughter completely potty trained when she was 2 years, 9 months.

    My supplies: character panties -- The Little Mermaid, Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba and Bubble Guppies; the bribe -- a visible bag of mini M&Ms on the highest bathroom shelf.

    On a Saturday morning, I started by putting her in panties and having her sit on the toilet every hour. I told her that if she went pee in the toilet, she would get five mini M&Ms. We had several accidents that first day, but she got her five M&Ms the time she did go.

    The next day was not much better. On Monday morning, I told her that if she used the potty at day care, she would get five M&Ms when she came home. She did use the potty once, and she wet herself the other time. By Thursday, she was yelling, "I have to go potty!" whenever it was time. By the following weekend, she was no longer having accidents.

    As for going No. 2, the rule was six M&Ms, which excited her!

    She doesn't ask for M&Ms anymore. That got old after a couple of weeks.

    -- Debbie Espejo, San Jose

  • My trick: cold turkey. I bought three packages of big-boy underwear and told my son he had to use the big-boy potty. I even threw away the last of his diapers.

    We had so many accidents those first three days; we went through all of his big-boy underwear. But eventually he realized the diapers really weren't coming back. He hated feeling pee-pee running down his legs.

    For nighttime, I bought underwear with a plastic liner, and we had some rough nights. Knocking out drinks two hours before bed helped. Within a month, we were accident-free.

    -- Beth Evers, Walnut Creek

  • My daughter is stubborn with a capital "S." She fought me on everything. So I had my husband take over after two weeks of her refusing to use the potty for me. I'm not sure if it was the change of people -- or missing mommy -- but in two days, she was asking me to take her to the potty.

    -- Susie Lyle, Martinez

  • I remembered what my instructor said in early childhood education class: that "children could be afraid of losing part of themselves when the toilet was flushed." When my son was born, I talked with him while I was changing his diaper. "Oh, you went pee-pee or poo-poo." Then with my son in arms, I would take the poopie diaper to the toilet and flush the contents of the disposable diaper as the instructions on the box indicated and say, "Bye-bye, poo-poo."

    When he started to walk, my son would run ahead saying "poo-poo" and waited for me to flush the contents so he could say, "Bye-bye, poo-poo."

    At 18 months old, my son pointed to the toilet one day, jabbering away. So I asked him if he wanted to sit on the toilet. I got a big smile. From then on, whenever I saw that "look" on his face, I would ask if he wanted to go poo-poo in the toilet. This surprised my mother one day when he went running to the toilet saying, "poo-poo, poo-poo."

    Great news -- no more poopie diapers! This made it easier to complete the potty training when he was 2 ½ years old.

    -- Linda Skipper, Campbell

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