Toilet Training in Less Than a Day

By Nathan H. Azrin, Ph.D. & Richard M. Foxx, Ph.D.

The idea or concept of using a potty doll to potty train a child was developed by two psychologist named Nathan H. Azrin, Ph. D. and Richard M. Foxx Ph.D. in the 1970s. These two psychologists were studying what is involved in learning and how learning can be made more rapid.

They were working with special needs people and their objective was to improve the level of functioning and happiness of these people. They found that their newly developed procedures could indeed help special needs people to improve learning to eat independently, to groom and dress themselves and to function better.

They then tried these methods to toilet train children and discovered that with this method 95% of special needs people were able to toilet by themselves in an average of 3 days. They were very pleased with the results and in the next stage of their research, they devised new training procedures that emphasized language ability, imagination, imitation, verbal rehersal and verbal instruction in addition to learning by association and learning by reward.

The results they obtained with normal children exceeded their optimistic expecatations. The average child of normal intellegence required less than half a day of training. Within 3-4 hours of intensive training, the child had learned to toilet him/herself, was motivated to do so and had taken a giant step toward independence.

They tried these revised procedures using language on special needs children and found that many children with mild disabilities could use the language depend parts of the procedure and could also be toilet trained in less that a day.

So they had come full circle. In an attempt to elevate special needs adults to a more normal functioning, they had devised effective procedures to teach them independence in toileting. With a revised approach and changes to the technique - they were able to potty train children very quickly and as a result of that - they also came up with method to potty train special needs children as well.

Their procedures or methods are based different approaches to teaching children. The key considerations are:

  • Potty Training has to be pleasant experience for the child
  • Do not attemp potty training until your child is physically ready and is free of medical problems ( see article on potty training readiness )
  • The child has to be relaxed on the potty; so that the sphincter muscles will relax and enable elimination.
  • Reinforce or reward desired behaviour
  • Imitation and social influence by the use of a doll that wets

This book - Toilet Training in Less Than a Day - was first published in 1976. Since then, over 2 million copies of the book have been sold.

I used this book in 1994 to potty train my son. The concepts, ideas and method are all very solid. It is not the easiest books to read. Since than, many experts have recommended using a potty training doll to model the "going potty" for the child. More recently, Dr. Phil recommended using a doll that wets on his two shows.

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Worked great for the first 2 kids, but my 3rd is struggling! (9/27/2012) Reviewer: Jess (Richland, WA)

We used this method with great success with our first two kids. Did it again with our 3rd and she got it pretty well, except for bowl movements and the book doesn't have much advice to offer, just that they'll get it because kids always pee when they poop.

Not this girl, she rarely pees and poos at the same time. She did pretty well the first week with only a handful of accidents. Now she is fully trained to pee in the potty, but poops in her pants about 4 out of 5 times. What do I do now? 10 practices in poopy pants is a huge mess of poop everywhere on the potty and her legs---yuck! I make her clean out the poopy training pants and have even tried cold sits baths.

What else can I do?

PTC Comment: Have you ever noticed if there is a timely pattern to her going poo? For example, after lunch, after nap, same time of the day, etc. If so, try to schedule her potty times at that time as well. Here is the name of an article that may also help you with this issue, it is called "Child Refused to go Poop in the Potty" .

Worked for all 5 of my kids! (8/14/2012) Reviewer: Wendy

If you follow all the instructions and your child passes all the readiness tests, it really does work.

I have seen some moms who only used the parts they felt like, it didn't have a happy out come.

Email Customer Care at (7/3/2012) Reviewer: Tina D. (Pearland, TX)

Bee, without knowing more details it is hard to pinpoint the issue.

Contact Potty Training Concepts at the email above or post on our Facebook for more help.

Help (7/2/2012) Reviewer: Bee (Australia, Vic)

I am trying the book and really struggling. My son is very alert and knows all u say to him but when I ask where u wee, he ignores me.

I'm losing this battle very quickly, please help. We have had 2 potty wee and 4 wetting, aaahhhhh!

It worked for me 37 years ago! (10/17/2011) Reviewer: Linda Birdy (Levittown, Pa) I saw the doctors on "The Mike Douglas Show" many years ago. Everyone thought I was crazy to attempt this. It was done in one day and she was successful. Now 37 years later, we are going to do it for my granddaughter when she is ready.
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