Dr Phil Potty Training

The Dr Phil potty training method is a fast-track potty train in one day technique also known as the Modeling Method. The method was first mentioned on the Dr. Phil show in a 2002 autumn episode on parenting.

You can get this method in book format from Amazon - Potty Training in One Day: A Guide for Today's Parents, by Narmin Parpia.

Dr Phil potty training is an adaptation of Nathan Azrin and Richard Foxx 1970’s "Toilet Training in Less than a Day" method. Fast track potty training methods are an effective but aggressive approach to potty training. Some children just aren't ready for this method; you know your child best. A very quiet, sensitive child, for example, may need time to digest each step of toilet training, and decide when he or she is really ready for this step.


While that Dr Phil potty training method will work quickly for a lot of families, it may fall far outside your parental comfort zone depending on your overall style of parenting.

Dr Phil Potty Training is based on Motivation and Modeling.

Dr. Phil claimed that most children could learn to use the potty in a day through a method of modeling and positive reinforcement. A super hero provides the motivation and you, the parent, provide the modeling. Either demonstrate the use of the toilet yourself or have a doll demonstrate the process of "going potty for you.

Potty Doll And Chair

Dr Phil potty training works very well by modeling behavior using a potty doll and a potty chair. Your little one will learn to effectively use the toilet by teaching a doll the very skills she needs to learn – namely using potty. The toddler is given either positive or negative reinforcement for success or failure. On the positive side the child receives a potty party for their successful efforts. In terms of negative reinforcement, the child must practice "potty drills."

When To Potty Train

Dr Phil’s potty training method suggests waiting until your child is at least two years of age to try this process.


By comparison the Azrin and Fox training method suggests starting a little earlier (20 months). However, they caution that your timing should be child-centered (i.e. the child can follow basic directions and seems to know physically or by facial expression that they need to urinate). This approach also puts greater stress on pre-training your child on undressing and re-dressing, observing others using the toilet, and teaching the basic potty talk you plan to use in training (such as “go potty”).

Preparation For Potty Time

Before the actual big training day, you prepare the child by modeling -- showing them the process of going to the bathroom using yourself or the doll as a model for correct behavior.


Spiderman, Batman, Superman or Dora the Explorer?


First, identify your child superhero or child superheroine who usually has a colorful name, costume, and abilities beyond those of normal young human beings.


This is an important step, as you will need your child’s favorite superhero to telephone your little darling at the successful completion of training. Or, your child can call them and tell them about their success. All you need is a helpful friend or relative to play the part of Spiderman or Dora on the phone.

The next step is having a place where you can train without television or toys distracting.

How to Potty Train

The 7 Stages Of Potty Training

The next four to eight hours are spent teaching the child how to properly use the toilet.

Stage 1. Training the Potty Doll
Your child will practice the potty routine with the potty doll (wearing big boy or girl underwear). Since your child has already observed toilet use, teaching a potty doll to use the toilet before using potty himself things should go relatively smoothly.

Ask your child what to name the doll. Once your little darling chooses a name for the potty doll let him offer the doll a beverage. Tell your child that the potty doll is wearing big girl pants and take the doll to the potty chair.

  • Pull down the regular underwear of the doll.
  • Sit the potty doll on the pot.
  • Watch it pee on the potty together.

Make this exciting. Cheer, shout and praise.


Stage 2. Potty Party Time
After the doll has been successful give the potty doll exuberant praise. Throw a party for the doll, complete with streamers, confetti, horns and party hats. As you celebrate the success let your child know that when she or he goes like the doll did, they’ll get a party too. Your child can also call their favorite super hero to report the good news!


Stage 3. Go "cold-turkey"
After practicing with the potty doll, it's your child's turn to use the potty. Take off his diaper or pull-up pants and make him wear only underwear. Ditching your child's diapers and placing your little one in underwear will allow them to see the outcome of not reaching the toilet.

Dr. Phil cautions against using any type of training diaper that you can pull up and down. He says your child should be wearing toddler underwear for this approach to be effective.

Stage 4. Bottoms up!
This is the juncture at which you give your child a lot of fluids … and then more fluids throughout the day … just as your little darling gave beverages to the potty doll. This will encourage her to urinate very frequently. If she doesn't seem interested in drinking, you may want to resort to salty snacks, sugary drinks or Jello.

Stage 5. Dr Phil Potty Training Prompts
Ask regularly if he or she needs to go potty and have them practice pulling down their underwear and sitting. Each time the child attempts a toilet behavior (sitting on potty, pulling down pants, dry pants etc.) they receive a treat and verbal reinforcement.

Stage 6. Dr Phil Potty Training Accidents.

There is no question that potty accidents WILL happen. In that case, change the child into new pants and then practice going to the potty 9 times back to back. Parents need to stay cool during those drills.

Dr. Phil suggests:

  • Don't scold when a potty training accident happens
  • Make potty training a positive experience.
  • Build muscle memory: have your little one practice - pull underwear down, sit on the potty just for a few seconds - pull underwear up (x 9).

Stage 7. Potty Party and Superhero Call .
Eventually you’ll have a success. Immediately go ballistic throw another party with streamers, confetti, horns and party hats. Offer exuberant praise and have your child call their favorite super hero to share their success. And tell them what a great job they’ve done. A favorite character who is noted for feats of courage and nobility also works well.

Dr Phil potty training method contribution to the original is doing potty drills with dry underwear instead of with urine soaked underwear as Azrin and Fox advise. Dr. Phil focuses on positive reinforcements without the strong reprimands for accidents.

Does Dr. Phil Potty Train In One Day Work?

Dr Phil Potty Training Facts: As is the case with most potty training methods - there is insufficient research to determine how successful or efficient this method is or how it compares to other methods. Whether or not Dr Phil potty training systems actually work in a day depends heavily on the focus a parent provides and the readiness of the child. If you are easily frustrated, don't have lots of time to devote to toilet training or cannot stand messes, this method probably isn't for you. If you have a very sensitive child or one who doesn't seem to care about making messes - this might not be the right method for them.

The keynotes are modeling the steps of going to the potty with the doll and then asking your child to teach the doll. Combine the visual example to mirror with plenty of liquid so that the child needs to go frequently on training day, and lots of repetition. Good luck :)

Here is a link to Dr. Phil's website for more parenting techniques.

How To Potty Train: 10+ potty training techniques. Is this not the right potty training style for you? Use our "What's your Parenting Style" guide to select the best way to potty train for you.

Leave a comment or share your story about kids potty training.

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