Dry pants: A rapid method of toilet training children

R. M. Foxx, N. H. Azrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Toilet training sometimes requires considerable time. An intensive learning procedure was devised for shortening this training time and tested with 34 children who were experiencing toilet training problems. The procedure had the following major characteristics: (1) a distraction-free environment, (2) an increased frequency of urination by increased fluid intake, (3) continuous practice and reinforcement of the necessary dressing skills, (4) continuous practice and reinforcement in approaching the toilet, (5) detailed and continuing instruction for each act required in toileting, (6) gradual elimination of the need for reminders to toilet, (7) immediate detection of accidents, (8) a period of required practice in toilet-approach after accidents as well as (9) negative reinforcement for the accident, (10) immediate detection of correct toileting, (11) immediacy of reinforcement for correct toiletings, (12) a multiple reinforcement system including imagined social benefits as well as actual praise, hugging and sweets, (13) continuing reinforcement for having dry pants, (14) learning by imitation, (15) gradual reduction of the need for immediate reinforcement and (16) post-training attention to cleanliness. All 34 children were trained and in an average of 4 hr; children over 26 months old required an average of 2 hr of training. After training, accidents decreased to a near-zero level and remained near zero during 4 months of follow-up. The results suggest that virtually all healthy children who have reached 20 months of age can be toilet trained and within a few hours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-442
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1973

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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