How to Potty Train a Stubborn Toddler

  • up
potty training

What two words strike fear into every parent's heart?


And this fear is even stronger for parents of stubborn children.

You know who you are. Your day is just one argument or power struggle after another and by evening you're exhausted.

What happens when you add potty training to this equation? It could spell disaster... but if you follow our steps and take your time you'll be diaper free before you know it!


Beginning Potty Training: The Parent's Q&A

1. When should I start thinking about potty training?
The worst thing you can do when starting on this journey with a stubborn child is begin the process too early. If they aren't ready to start, they will not cooperate. Period. The power struggle will be in play right from the get go and even if you stop and take a break for a month, they'll remember who won this round and will try it again next time. Trust me.

Most children are ready to begin potty training between the age of 2 and slightly after their third birthday, with boys tending to come in later in this time zone. About 50% of boys are trained by age three while 66% of girls are trained by age three. Special needs kids will most likely train later.

Don't try to rush the process by starting when your child is too young. The American Association of Pediatrics reports that kids who begin potty training at 18 months are generally not fully trained until age 4, while kids who begin training at age 2 are generally fully trained by age 3. Many kids will not master bowel movements on the toilet until well into their fourth year.

2. When will I know my child is ready to potty train?
Your child will show you tell-tale signs that they are ready. Here are some things to look for:

  • Your child will tell you when their diaper is dirty.
  • Your child will tell you right before or while they are going that they are going.
  • Their diaper stays dry for about two hours at a time during the day.
  • Bowel movements come at regular times.
  • Your child will typically stay dry through the night.
  • Your child may show an interest in the toilet and an interest in underpants.
  • Your child may take off wet diapers themselves because they're uncomfortable.
  • You may notice your child making a face before peeing or pooping.
  • You may also notice that your child is more independent, wants to do things for themselves or do them their own way, and probably enjoys some alone time.

Your child is not ready to potty train if they are resistant or afraid of the toilet, have a bowel movement or urinate right after you've had them sit on the potty, or wet their diaper in less than two hour intervals.

3. How Long Will it Take?
That completely depends on your child. For most kids you can expect it to be a good two or three months before they are completely potty trained. For others, especially kids with special needs, it could take much, much longer. Take a deep breath, put on your patient hat, and be prepared for lots of accidents.


The Potty Training Shopping List

Being prepared ahead of time will help you gain the upper hand. And it's always a good idea to be one step ahead of your toddler!

  • Graco JumperPotty or training seat: Getting a good potty seat is really key to your success. You want your child to be comfortable and feel safe on the potty. We really love the Baby Björn potty seat which fits directly on the toilet, but some kids prefer to start out on the floor. In that case, the Baby Björn potty chair is a good choice.
  • Step stool: If your planning to have your child sit on the toilet with a potty seat, you'll definitely want a step stool to keep them feeling secure and balanced. Sitting high up on a toilet seat with your legs dangling can feel scary and uncomfortable. A simple step stool can make a world of difference and help your child feel safer in the bathroom.
  • Potty training picture bookPotty training picture books: Throw some potty books on your book shelf and incorporate training into your reading time, too.
  • Underpants: Have fun picking out underpants with cartoon characters and bright colors. Make a special trip out of it!
  • Training pants: These pants are more absorbent than regular underwear and can pick up little leaks. You can pair them with vinyl pants as a nice in between stage between diapers and underwear.
  • Elmo's Potty TimePotty training cartoon videos: There are many training videos out there that will help reinforce potty training through cartoons. We love Elmo's Potty Time.
  • Drink and wet doll: Remember how fun you had with these life-like dolls? And they are a great learning tool too!
  • Sweatpants and other easy to remove clothing: You've probably already got a nice collection of comfort clothes for your child, but if not, now's the time to pick some up. Of course, some parents opt for the pants-less potty training approach!


Preparing for Potty Training

Stubborn children will sense something is up before you tell them and they will be on their guard. Rather than trying to spring potty training on your child like a sneak attack, involve them in the preparations. Involved kids are more likely to cooperate and less likely to view the whole process as a you-versus-them scenario.

potty training

Here are some fun tips to get your little one on your potty training team:

  • Have your child help you "train" a doll or stuffed animal. You may want to even consider buying a drink and wet doll with a little toilet so your child can get the whole experience of drinking and then urinating afterwards.
  • Go out and have fun buying cool new underwear.
  • While still in diapers, have your child begin to help with diapering so that they become more aware of the process. Have them get you a dry diaper, decide where to get changed, pull pants down and up, even help wipe. Talk about what they are doing and begin talking about how soon they will be using the potty.
  • Read fun picture books about toilet training.
  • When your toddler is still in diapers, don't change them right away so they can begin to associate a feeling of discomfort with diapers. It will also help them become more involved because they may begin asking you to change their diapers.
  • Let them watch you in the bathroom so they know that adults and older siblings use the toilet. Talk about how nice it is to not have to wear diapers. Tell them they will be learning to use the toilet too very soon.
  • When you're really ready to get started, fill a basket with about two or three days worth of diapers and say, "These are the last diapers. When these diapers are gone you're going to have to use the potty." This way your child will have a heads up and a very tangible sign that potty training day is coming soon.


The Step-By-Step Guide to Potty Training

Well, potty training day has finally arrived! Hopefully your little strong-willed toddler is still on board! Now's the time to take things easy, don't push too hard, and get out the bleach wipes because you're going to need them.

Follow these simple tips and you should be crossing diapers off your shopping list in no time:

  • Pick a week that you can devote full-time to potty training, like spring break or winter holiday. Don't start training during a time of stress, especially at the birth of a sibling where kids naturally regress a bit developmentally anyway. If you can mange it, try potty training during the summer when it will be warmer and more comfortable for your toddler to run about with little to no clothing on.
  • When it's time to sit on the potty, don't ask your child if he has to go potty because the answer will usually be no. Just take him to the potty and sit him on it.
  • Sit him on the potty until he goes or for a reasonable amount of time (5 minutes).
  • After sitting on the potty, set a timer for 30 minutes if he didn't potty, 1 hour if he did. Sit on the potty when the timer goes off (this way the timer is the one saying it's time to sit on the potty, not you).
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Wear underwear and clothes that are easy to get on and off. Many parents potty train their kids with no pants at all just so that they can focus on the potty and not the clothes. If your child is completely naked for potty training (at least on the bottom), accidents will be much more obvious to them. Summer is a great time to potty train because of warmer weather.

Here's a Fun Tip:

Golden OfferPut a couple of drops of food coloring in the potty and tell your child that when she pees it'll turn the water a different color. Or put cheerios in the potty and see if your son can aim and sink them.

  • Don't get upset over accidents (because there will be some). Just clean up and continue with the day. You don't want your child to become afraid of failure.
  • Praise is very important, but make sure you don't overdo it because this can actually add pressure to the situation, too. You don't want your child to feel like they've let you down when they have an accident.
  • Help him relax on the potty. A good way to do this is to come up with a soothing potty song. We sing, "Pee pee, pee pee, it's time to take a pee pee," nice and slow and to the tune of "A Tisket a Tasket."
  • Have a reward ready for successful potties. A big glass jar of M&M's works well because it's colorful and they can see the prize sitting on the shelf waiting for them. A chart with squares and stickers is good too. Don't forget lots of praise and hugs too! Of course, this means that whatever you give as reward in the bathroom has to stay in the bathroom—no M&M's throughout the rest of the day!

    Give a reward for sitting on the potty even if they don't pee, but give a bigger reward if they do pee. Wean off the rewards after a couple of weeks of successful potties. Begin by "forgetting" the treat until your child reminds you—eventually they'll forget too.

  • Continue to wear a diaper to bed for a while or on long outings. Don't worry about night time dryness while you're teaching to use the potty during the day.

Remember: Relax and take it easy. Your child will learn how to use the toilet, even if they are terribly stubborn. It may take a bit longer and you certainly don't want to rush or pressure them, but if they're developmentally ready to potty train, it will happen. Really.

So good luck and have fun with it!


Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means that if you click on the link and purchase an item, will receive an affiliate commission. Of course, only recommends or reviews products or services we have used and approve of. This information is being disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s rules concerning web advertising. Click here to read more.

You Might Also Like

Ivan in his bed
4 months ago
Does your child need a special bed in order to be safe at night? Do you need help requesting a bed through your insurance? Here's some advice on how to get your insurance to cover a safety bed for your child.
Ivan and his dad hugging under a tree
1 year ago
Have you thought about how you refer to your child? Do you say, "my blind baby" or "my baby who is blind"? Does it matter?
Baby Ivan smiling and wearing a hat
1 year ago
If you could go back in time to when your child was first diagnosed with a disability, what would you tell yourself? What advice would you give?
little girl in a pink dress with a magic wand
1 year ago
I recently asked this question to a group of special needs moms: "If you had a magic wand that could 'cure' your child's disability, would you use it? Why or why not?" What they said might surprise you!

Not on Facebook? Post your comments here:

Posted by Anonymous on Aug 17, 2011 - 3:27pm

I don't even know where to start. My son is 3 1/2 years old and 'won't' poop on the potty. only in the yard when we turn our heads away. I find your articles do not give suffient advice for me. I am terribly frustrated and ready to sell him on ebay. Please help us!

Posted by Anonymous on Aug 18, 2011 - 7:24pm

My daughter is 3 1/2. She is very smart. She goes up in her room and shuts the door when she poops. She can tell when she is wet and starting to tell us when she is peeing. We have had in just underwear other than bed for 3 days now and I can't even get her to sit on the potty. What am I doing wrong? I asked her why and she just says she is not going to do it. I have potty trained 3 other kids and never had this much trouble.

Posted by Mommyof3boys on Aug 21, 2011 - 9:57pm

I have 3 boys 1,2,3 1/2 my questions is about my oldest. My oldest is 3 1/2 he is very smart and very stubborn he will not tell us if he has peed or even if he has pooped is there anything i can do to help him grasp the concept of wet and dry we have tried the rewards we tried just sitting him on the potty we have tried letting him sit on the potty with books we have even let him watch mommy and daddy potty, we have even tried the cool alert training pants and nothing seem to be working right now i'm trying just putting him underwear to see if he knows he's wet or dirty. so my question is is there anyway to help him learn when he's wet or dirty. i would like to have my 2 boys potty trained by the time the oldest is 4 and the middle one is 3 my middle one is taking potty training alot better then the oldest he will take his soiled diaper or pull up off and he will want his peed diaper or pull up changed right away. i honestly think he will be trained before my oldest but i would really like them to train together so i don't have to buy so many diapers anymore please i need help or suggestions

Posted by QuestioningMom on Aug 24, 2011 - 10:27am

I am having a similar problem to Mommyof3boys. My son is 3 years and 4 months old and we started potty training back in February when he started waking up dry and pooping in a corner. We got him a potty seat that he eventually started to sit on with clothes, then asked to use the potty after watching his dad and I a few times. There were times he would even sit on the potty for an hour, peeing twice. Then we moved, sooner than expected, and he regressed for a little while. He eventually decided he wanted to use the big potty. That was back in June. Now, he no longer asks to go, doesn't tell us when he is wet unless it leaks through his pants. We have tried going cold turkey for a day with only underwear and using the toilet every 30-45 minutes. He was wet almost every time. We have tried the M&M's in every bathroom, but he would only ask for them after we took him to the bathroom and didn't seem to motivate him to ask to go. He eventually forgot to ask for a treat.

We are currently using some stickers of a cartoon character he likes and a chart for when he has a dry pull-up. Should we give him a sticker every time he uses the potty, or continue only giving him one when he is dry? He knows the difference between dry and wet, but he won't let us know if he needs to go potty, or even when he is going potty. Is he still not ready, or is he just resisting change?

Posted by marymcd on Aug 24, 2011 - 4:03pm

Your whole family has had a pretty busy year, it seems. You must be at your wits end doing 30 minute toileting and getting such a poor response. How about going back to basics, just for a short time, to let the tension around this dissipate a little? It may even give your little guy a chance to remember how good he felt being in big boy underwear and helping to keep himself clean!

If you do try to 'reboot' the whole toilet training for him, it might be worthwhile to keep the diaper or pull-up changing as methodical and boring as possible; it's not 'tickles and giggles with mommy' time! That way, when you do come back to the training program, the reward system will have a renewed appeal for him.

When he was sitting on the potty for an hour, was he using it as a seat first and a toilet as a secondary thought? That may not be the long term idea you really want to be giving him.

In any event, I wish you the very best of luck but it doesn't sound as though you need it. I think your son is almost there!

Posted by Moniker on Aug 27, 2011 - 5:01pm

Thank you so much for this article. It made me aware that I started too early. My girl is 22 months old - shows a lot of signs of readiness. Now, she is happy to sit herself or dollies on the potty byt won't pee herself. Today when I saw her weeing I quickly put her on it but she cried and cried so I stopped. In the evening she didn't want the diaper and asked to be sat on the toilet to wee but didn't. Didn't want the diaper either. Actually she wanted me to undress her completely and put her on the toilet again. I left her there alone for couple of mins so she could relax but no results. just crying. How do I reboot a child who likes the potty for fun and other activities but urinating? What to do with a child who is clearly interested but won't do it? Many thanks! x

Posted by Anonymous on Sep 02, 2011 - 2:40pm

my son turned 3 in April and has never used the potty. He is so afraid of it to the extent he will scream and cry for hours and never go, then pass out for hours afterward from exhauation. It breaks my heart to see him like this & I wish I could understand why he is so afraid. I read on another website that if kids with urination or bowel problems associate the potty with that pain and my son has had constipation issues since the time he was an infant. We have bribed him rewards if he would go, taken away things when he had accidents, I have put underwear on him all day and he continuously wets them without even caring, read him potty books, and he even has a 4 yr old friend that he will go in the bathroom with when he goes but nothing phases him. What bothers me most is that he looks older than 3 because he is so tall so it looks awful that he still wears diapers. Our doctor doesn't understand the reasoning either. if you could please HELP me I would greatly appreciate it!

Posted by Anonymous on Sep 05, 2011 - 9:55am

My son turned 3 a few weeks ago. About the time he turned 2, we could leave him with no diaper and he was so excited to go pee in the big potty while standing on a stool--he would even go by himself. Of course, he needed help actually getting the pee in the potty since he wanted to do it just like Daddy and stand up. He even pooped in the potty a couple of times at Grandma's house. But then it's like overnight he just decided he didn't want to do it anymore, and he won't even entertain the idea anymore. We have cool big boy underwear, a potty chair shaped like a puppy that doubles as a stool..I'm lost. He is very bright and will tell us after he's pooped in his diaper, not so much for #1 though. It's like he could just care less. I have a week off work near the end of the month and would like to just get this over with, or at least the brunt of the power struggle! We have tried rewards such as candy, have a chart with gold stars hanging in his bathroom, the whole nine yards but nothing seems to motivate him to actually try going in the potty again. Any ideas?? Please?!?!

Posted by kbundick on Sep 11, 2011 - 3:00pm

My son is 3 years old. I started potty training him right after he turned 3 in April of this year. I have tried several methods with him and it seems as though nothing is working. In the beginning I was sitting him down every 20 minutes. That was just causing frustration on his part so we stopped that method. If he goes around with nothing on he will go everytime on the potty poop and pee. Pull-ups did not seem to work for him since he would just pee in them and go about his business. He understands that the picture on the front needs to stay visible and he even shows me the picture and tells me to "run potty" he still pees or poops in them. I have also put him in underwear and take him to the potty about every 2 hours. That seems to work the best but he will not go on his own. I think he knows when he has to go because for about 2 days he was going all by himself with no issues. As far as I am aware there have been no life changes in our house. I have tried rewarding him with stickers, candy, toys. You name it. Yes I am a little frustrated but not trying to show it. When he wets or poops in his underwear I have him take the wet underwear to him room and get new underwear and shorts or pants. And he has to help clean up the mess. Is this just a case of stubborness or is there something else I can try to do to help him or is it just going to take longer. I am a stay at home mom and my husband sees all these other kids potty trained and partially thinks I am not doing a good job. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Anonymous on Sep 13, 2011 - 12:54am

My daughter will be 4 in two months. She potty trained herself at about 28months of age. She hardly ever had an accident for 4 months. Then she was having accidents all the time and finally decided she didn't want to do it anymore, she just wanted a diaper. So we took a break, we have been potty training again for the last three months with a lot of success. Now she is back to having a lot of accidents. Any suggestions?

Posted by singlemother08 on Sep 18, 2011 - 5:39pm

My son is 3 and a couple months old. I know for a fact that he is ready to potty train as he is telling me everyday "there is poop poop in my diaper" and he will sit on the potty for my babysitter and have results but when I put him on the toilet he will whine after a couple minutes and have no results till about 5 minutes after he gets off the potty. I know he is just playing me for a damn fool. Idk what I should do anymore as I'm getting frustrated and he is starting preschool soon and want him to at least be half ways potty trained by then. Any suggestions?

Posted by Anonymous on Oct 12, 2011 - 11:42pm

Hi. My daughter is almost 3 1/2 and doing the exact same thing as your daughter was doing. We've had her in panties for 2 days now and refuses to sit on potty. Gets upset when she wets but seems panicked right before she starts to pee because she can tell she's about to go. Do you have any suggestions since your post was a couple months ago? Thanks!

Posted by cis on Oct 19, 2011 - 9:57am

I have tryed every thing on this page and she still refuses to try. she even tells her dolls no potty never. Im beside my self on trying to get her to go on the potty . any one have this much trouble with a child?? My two were trained before 2 yrs old,. this is my grandchild I need help!! any one out there have any thing to help me . Of course we had cloth dippers not pamper which they dont feel the wet.
thank you a grandma who needs help

Posted by a on Nov 22, 2011 - 1:05pm

Okay so after reading some of the entries by other parents I don't feel so bad... and I am grateful that my son is not alone in this battle. My son 3yr 3 months is in the process of potty training for a month and half. We started preschool 1 month ago and potty trained was a requirement, the school agreed to work with us since we had already started it.
No diapers just underwear, we started 30 min intervals and he luckly had a regular bm @ 9am every day. Going #2 seems to be our issue now. We made a potty box of prizes and every sucessful potty he got to pick a bag with a prize. Well now we have mastered the concept of when and where. He tends to not have #1 accidents at school or home. Unless I become preoccupied and remind him to try. He will go unassisted sometimes too.
My need for help is #2....
Since we have started school he has gone 1 and 2 on the potty. Now going #1 is not an issue he refuses to go #2. And his bm are not regular like before due to his diet change and probably added stress.
He will sit for 10-15min then get off and go in his pants. He does the same at home and we have removed all his toys from room. At school and home he is expected to clean up the mess and himself and change his clothes. At home I make him rinse out the clothes and he helps start laundry. He does not like cleaning up the dirty! Or picking up the bm in his pants. So.... Where next?
I try to keep my cool. I ask him "Where do we go potty?" he replies.."In the toilett" I ask "is it wrong to go in your pants?"
replies "Yeah, it's not cool"
I am losing my mind.. and my temper which never helps.
Any advise would be so appreciated!
Thanks again...

Posted by Kimberly on Dec 09, 2011 - 3:18pm

I am equally frustrated with my youngest daughter. She will be 3 December 23. For over a year now, we have been dealing with "potty training." Having potty trained my two other children, I knew to wait for the signs of readiness. A little bit before she turned 2, she started showing signs of being ready to start the training process: didn't like being dirty, taking off her diaper, and bringing me diapers demanding she be changed. When we started, she wouldn't use the potty.It took MONTHS of trying to get her to pee on it. When she finally did pee on the potty, we still had to take her. She never did it on her own. She still had accidents--which we expected.

Now, she is turning 3 in a couple weeks and it has been a night mare!!!!! She still is not potty trained and she is destroying my furniture and carpet! I had her in panties because she really wanted to wear them. She was doing really well in the beginning of wearing them (we even went shopping together and had her pick them out). However, she started peeing all over my house---even after the fact of me taking her to the potty and her going. I put her back in pull ups because I was constantly scrubbing the floor and furniture. Now she secretly takes them off, hides them and pees her pants.

She has peed several times on my couch, in many corners of my house, and in the closets. I have had many trails from the playroom to the bathroom. I have had many puddles in the middle of the living room. When she does this and pees her clothes, she sneaks into her drawers and changes her outfit. This is how I find out she has peed her pants. Last night was terrible! She not only peed her pants, but pooped them so bad that it was running down her leg and falling out of her clothes because she didn't have a pull up on. My husband and I had to grab bath wash a spray her off in the water hose. It was terrible.

Here is the catch and frustration for me. She has stayed with a relative twice on two different occasions. Each visit was for the weekend. During her stay she wore panties (her aunt did it) and my daughter DID NOT have one accident!!!! My daughter was taking herself to the potty without even being told! She recently stayed with her other aunt this past weekend, and same thing!!! NO ACCIDENTS and was never told to go potty---my daughter just did it all by herself. She even slept without pull ups! However, when my daughter came home this past Sunday she has peed all over my house, herself, her bed, and my back porch---you name it. I am at my witts end. We have tried candy, stickers, new panties, hi-fives, dancing, every reward under the sun, and now bribery (bribery came in due to desperation). I have no idea what else I should do.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec 13, 2011 - 2:56pm

hi everyone
i have read some of your comments and i am "happy" that i am not alone in this boat...potty training is so frustrating for me
my son is 3 and would not use the potty at all..not even for #1...when he was 2...he was showing sign of readiness...he even started to pee and poo when i put him on the potty seat...but would never say when he has to go
i let go thinking that he might be too small...and since then i have been waiting for the rite time
we moved in june...and had another baby in august...i had started in june...but he would cry so hard when put on the potty and would never even pee or poo let alone saying when he has to go
now i want to try potty training again...but do not know from where to start so that not to make him afraid and have him to cooperate
plz any idea or suggestion...i dont know what to do

Posted by Anonymous on Jan 01, 2012 - 5:36pm

I am in the same boat as you. My daughter is 3 years, 4 months old. She was completely potty trained this past summer - we had to potty train her for preschool. She would go on the potty and toilet, she would use public toilets as well as our toilets at home. She then started to have bowel movement issues, where her stool was so hard and big it would be painful to pass. She started to have daily accidents in school and her preschool teacher suggested that I put pull-ups back on her. I resisted for about 3 weeks since I knew she would regress if she was allowed to go in her pants. But, after 3 weeks of daily accidents I conceded. Big mistake! She now wears pull-ups to school - sigh. She stopped pooping in the potty and only wanted to poop in her pull-ups, but at least she would pee in the potty. And we were just relieved that she was pooping - she has the tendency to hold it and go for days without pooping. Then she stopped using toilets at home, at school, and in other public places. She only wanted her little potty. Now, she is even starting to refuse her potty ... yesterday she had accidents all day -- 2 poop accidents and 4 pee accidents. Like other moms writing to this blog - I've tried positive reinforcement - candy, stickers, charts and prizes! We've read books - she usually responds well to learning through books. She gets a giant lollipop when she poops regardless of where. But, I am out of ideas. Should we just go back to pull-ups completely and take a break, recharge our batteries, and try again? I know why she is is regressing - there are 2 reasons: 1) she's afraid of the pain associated with the few bowel movements she had that were big. But, now we've changed her diet so that she is not in pain, and give her miralax to help move things along. I make sure to talk to her after she poops - was it painful, what don't you like about it -- I bought the Everybody Poops Book and we talk about it constantly. 2) she is afraid of the "big potty" toilet because her legs dangle and she is afraid of falling in and/or off. She is tiny for her age and I can see how this can be intimidating. I bought one of those little rings that sit in the toilet and have a step stool in the bathroom. But, she flat out refuses and cries hysterically when I try to get her to sit on it. So why she is regressing isn't the issue for us -- it's what do we do about it that I am struggling with. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012 - 12:26am

My son is great with asking to go potty and rarely has an accident, however; when it comes to pooping on the potty that is another department. He poops his pants consistently and I can't get him to go poo poo on the potty. I ask him where are you supposed to go poo poo? And his reply is always, "On the potty!" Yet, 4 minutes after saying that he is pooping in his pants under the kitchen table. I missed him by 4 minutes. Tonight I tried just taking his pants off and letting him go naked around the house and he is pooping on the floor in front of the bathroom.

I am running out of idea's of what to do with this issue. I am spending so much money on underwear and I refuse to use "PullUps" since he is basically pee-pee trained and doesn't want to wear a diaper.
Any advice? I am totally out of idea's...

Posted by Anonymous on Jan 16, 2012 - 9:16am

My 2yr son has shown interest in the potty...he seems to have more success at daycare than home. Recently I've been very confused with his behaviour, as I'm letting him tell me when he is interested( because he is so early on, having just turned 2) ..he will ask for the "potty"and as soon as he's ready to sit he'll crys " don't want it". if I dress him and start to take him away, he crys for the "potty". He will also do this same behaviour asking for the "big potty" (toilet) and once on it, will cry for the "little potty" (whatever one he's NOT on). What do I do with this behaviour?

Posted by Anonymous on Feb 01, 2012 - 3:30pm

So many almost big many different quirks...all with parents pleading to try to meet this goal. I need to add my son to your list. We were successful for about 5 days. He took to it with confidence. Then I noticed it was getting longer and longer between when he would pee. I would beg, suggest and bribe...he would dance, wiggle, grimace. After a weekend of him holding his urine for 20+ hours at a time, I begged him to wear diapers again. Even with a diaper on he was holding for hours in clear discomfort. I gave him a couple of days in diapers to let his body relax and find its rhythm again. Now I am not sure what to do. He is just over three, has showed the signs for months, but obviously needs to control this. I just get the impression he would control it to the point of not ever going if he could. Would love some suggestions....the holding thing was miserable for do we proceed?

Posted by Kimberly on Feb 14, 2012 - 5:19pm

I recently posted back in Dec., 2011. I was COMPLETELY at my witts end with potty training my soon-to-be 3 year old daughter, Meredith. After months of fighting and work, I made the ultimate decision, after writing my post, to go back to diapers and pull-ups, and surrender and admit defeat. No more potty training for a while.
I took all her panties and hid them, that way, there was NO chance of her sneaking, putting them on, and pottying all over my house. I kept the diapers and pull-ups way up high with no chance of her getting them....since she had a bad record of "changing" herself.
I no longer asked her, nor took her, to use the potty. All potty training came to a screeching hault! Meredith didn't miss a beat and kept on going. She was not bothered in the least at the fact that she was wearing diapers again.
On New Year's Eve, my husband Ryan decided to sit her down and have a talk with her. To this day, I have no idea what he said, but whatever it was, she began taking HERSELF to the potty without even being asked. I never said a word to her. Never praised her or made a big deal like times past. I would just tell her thank you and wash your hands, lol.
At this point, she was in just pull-ups, peeing on the potty. She still pooped her pull-up and wouldn't go on the potty. I never said a word, nor asked her "where are you supposed to go poo-poo?". We just ignored it.
One day, she came out of the bathroom, I was sitting on the couch reading, and she said, "I POOPED!" I thought to myself, OH NO...It's probably a huge mess! But to my surprise, she pooped in the potty! I helped her clean herself up and wash her hands, but once again, never made a big deal out of it.
That was the beginning of Meredith pooping on the potty!
She had to do it herself, on her own, without being told. Since that time, she gradually got better but was still wearing pull-ups because she was still having poo-poo accidents. However, it has been a month and I am here to say she is wearing panties and peeing AND pooping on the potty all by herself!! She has had two or three accidents, in a time frame of 3 to 4 weeks. And I am A-Okay with that!! We still do not make a big deal about her using the potty all by herself. She is even at the point where she can go outside and play, and bring herself in to go to the bathroom without being reminded. We even leave her in panties when we go to the grocery store, church, restraunts, etc. and she has had no accidents. Most of her accidents were caused by her not going when she first felt the urge because she was busy playing.
What I have learned from all of this is....Potty Training is TOTALLY different for each child. NO two kids potty train the same (my first 2 were a breezeeee compared to my last one!). Results are based on the individual child and the person training them. As a parent who has potty trained 3 kids, the most important thing I have learned this go-around is, to know when to start and when to quit. Eventually, the child WILL be potty trained! Fighting, crying, pleading, bribing (which ALL I have done) do not work. Patience, learning your child's personality, and just loving them for who they are...that is what worked best for me in the end with Meredith. She has been my most head-strong, stubborn child, but ever since I just stopped, took a time out, and just loved her, it all just fell into place. She is so sweet and smart, adventurous, and out going....and potty training the first go around was just too much for her. I am very glad I made the decision I did to quit and just give it all a break and let her just be a kid and me just her Mom.
I am very proud of her and I wish everyone on her the best of luck! It WILL happen one day!!

Posted by Kimberly on Feb 15, 2012 - 12:37pm

Amber, She turned 3 Dec 23rd....and we are now in Feb. So I would say it took her a good month for her to completely potty train herself. Total time from when we stopped till now is about 6 weeks. 6 weeks is a lot better than a year and half of battles, that is for sure! :o) I'm very glad I decided to quit when I did.

Posted by Kimberly on Feb 15, 2012 - 12:42pm

Amber, I actually started potty training Meredith when she was around 20 months old, as she started showing signs of readiness. What a roller coaster that was!!! You can actually read my post above, dated 12/09/11. It is a book of a post, lol.

Posted by Angela on Mar 19, 2012 - 11:41am

My 4.5 year old grandson - yes 4.5 yrs old - is NOT potty trained. He doesn't live with me so I don't have a lot of details. But he will NOT tell us when he pees or poops. A wet diaper doesn't bother him in the least. I have to feel him all the time to see if he's wet because when I ask him, he denies it. Same deal with a poppy diaper. His mother indicates that when they try training him, he simply then refuses to pee. That doesn't sound logical--- surely he can't refuse to pee for more than a day. And like I said, I don't know what methods of encouragement they've tried or for how long of a period of time.

At what point does it become enough of a concern to think about the issue being psychological --- if there is such a thing?


Posted by Sylvia's Mom on Mar 23, 2012 - 5:36pm

Need some advice... my daughter, who just turned 4 last month is having trouble with potty training. She was doing really well for a few months (right around her 3 birthday) with using the potty for #1 but wouldnt sit down long enough for #2 ( no matter how much we asked her to wait a few minutes) instead pooping on herself a few minutes later. Then she seems proud to announce it to everyone that she pooped on herself. Whenever she is asked why she just says "i dont know". Most of it happens when she doesnt want to stop whatever she is doing to go to the bathroom.

Any advice on what I am doing wrong and how I can go about this differently?

Thank you

Posted by Anonymous on Mar 25, 2012 - 4:03pm

Hi! My 3 year old daughter is "backwards" We have been trying to potty train for over a year now. She is great with pooping in the potty (thank goodness for that), but she will not consistenly pee in the potty.
We have tried the "drink and wet doll" We've tried the stickers and charts. We tried the snacks. I've put her in big girl panties. Even nakedness.
Just recently, I've started putting her in Time Out, because I know that she knows how to pee in the potty.

I don't think feeling wet is uncomfortable to her. Even as a baby, she never cried when she was wet.

Please help. Thank you :)

Posted by Anonymous on Apr 14, 2012 - 7:23am

ive started toilet training my 23rd month boy five days ago.i have had few negative signs that he is not getting the matter and fewer signs that he can hold it. the good signs are that he recently could hold it during the day till 1.5h. yesterday he did it from 5:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., he woke up and felt uncomfortable with the diaper(which i was putting only when he sleeps and naps), i took him to the bathroom, he pointed me on the way that he has done it on the floor, i put him on the toilet seat, he continued it. of course the moment he saw the sink as he is fond of playing with water on the sink) he objected to the whole sitting thing, after convincing him to sit, he did it and went well with it). another good sign is that after he pees on the floor, he tells me when he has done saying, pee pee!!!nevertheless, later that day, he opened his legs and did it no matter how much you ask him the big question and answers correctly (where do we go??and he takes u there), he still can't manage to connect between telling me before and going to the bathroom. he thought that he has done his task and told me (well after doing it).is he ready?any advice?

Posted by Patricia on Apr 21, 2012 - 11:27am

My son is 3 1/2 he hates any kind of toilet or even the mention of pee pee in the potty. We have had him on the toilet and when he has to go so bad that it starts to come out itself he is screaming and trying to stop the pee from going in the toilet. He seems he doesnt like to let it go in the potty! Go figure...So we are struggeling big time. He got to a point that he wouldnt pee in a pull up or toilet.. Then he would have accidents so HELP anyone?? It's been a nightmare. We haven't even gotten to the poo poo yet :{

Posted by Anonymous on Jul 19, 2012 - 6:56pm

I have a 31/2 year old grandson who my daughter and son inlaw adopted a year ago. Been with us since he was 1 month old.They have and I have tried to get him to pee in the potty.They bought him cool underwear.He screams to put them on,he wants to wear his diaper,he will kick them off.He has tried,but he rather have his diaper on.His older sister sits with him and talks to him through the process,a book,sing.Maybe once he has peed,but no nothing.He will be 4 in October.:(.My kids were easy as well as my grandkids.He is very very stubbron...

Posted by Anonymous on Jul 21, 2012 - 4:11pm

I was reading that letting your child go without diapers and underwear is a way to toilet train them. Therefore if they pee or poop on the floor it is okay. I think this is really disgusting and certainly hope that old fashioned training pants or some form of underwear would be a whole lot nicer than walking about peeing and pooping at will.

Posted by Danielle Shank on Oct 17, 2012 - 7:36pm

I have one for ya'll... My son is almost two, he started telling me he needed to go, moved up to pull ups, and was doing great then one day he just stopped... Then a little while after that he started taking his pull ups off and pooping and peeing in his room. I have told him no and will take him to the bathroom, I have got on to him, put him in time out, I have even spant him (not hard) one time and that didn't help. I will make him sit on the potty seat for 5 min after he does it and nothing is helping him... When he would use the potty I would get happy, call him a big boy, and give him hugs and kisses.... Nothing is working any more... The only thing I could think of doing is putting the seat in his room but I think that would just make it worse. He is a smart kid for his age and is in 3T clothes. I feel like I'm running out of time cuz he is getting to big for his seat. Does anyone know what I can do?

Posted by HeatherB on Oct 18, 2012 - 10:09pm

I am working on my 26 month old son now and he is just not getting it. He is very smart he talking in sentences and uses big boy cup the only thing left is the diapers. He knows when he has to go because he hides in the kitchen to go 1 and 2. I sit him on the potty and tell him to pee pee and he sits for a minute gets up waits for me to walk away and runs and pees in the kitchen floor. He is a very active child and will not sit several minutes on the potty. I think he is mentally ready and if I could get him to do it the first one or two times that he would then underrstand what I want him to do and he would eagerly do it but I can't get him to do it the first!

Posted by Anonymous on Jan 26, 2013 - 12:57pm

So I am becoming very frustrated with my 3 year old son. We have been training him for a month now as he has just started to show interest. He goes pee amazing with the babysitter but when he is home it is a struggle. He will sit on the potty and sometimes does great. Than he goes in spurts where he goes in the pull ups and won't tell me he has to go or has went. My husband is military and is gone often so when he went away my son did good for a couple days after and has now stopped doing well again. Also the pooping is not happening on the potty at all and he holds it till it hurts him even when he goes in his pull up. So confused . Help!

Posted by Shannon on Feb 20, 2013 - 11:12pm

My 33 month old daughter is stubborn. and we quit using pull-ups because she used them like diapers. she has pooping in the potty down but still has accidents alot with peeing. she screams and fights me everytime i try to take her to the potty to try and pee. its so frustrating. i try to take her and she screams and says she doesnt have to go but like 5 mintues later pees in her underwear and tells me she peed. any advice?

Posted by Sean on Mar 21, 2013 - 1:03pm

We have an almost 4 year old. She tells us when she needs to go potty and is very smart. She is however very stubborn and strong willed. She will not give in no matter how many treats and rewards we offer her. Our pediatrician says she will go when she is ready. Like I said she is almost 4 and holds her pee and constantly fights with herself about having to go but she says she's scared and can't get over it. Any suggestions and has anyone encountered this before. Thanks for the help.

Posted by
Lu Lu
on May 11, 2013 - 3:52pm

My 3 and 1/4 year old girl is still in nappies and seems to be pooing all the time, I change her then she goes again 5 mins later. Sometimes its only twice a day - the other day it was 8 times!! She also crosses her legs and goes all stiff to poo (think this stems from when she was younger was constipated and was on medicine so its habit) but how do I get her out of it. Was going to try and potty train properly next week (weather depending) but am confused as to try or not due to the above. She has said a couple of times she doesn't want a nappy on but when I take it off she keeps doing little poos then one big one - at not regular intervals!!
Let alone the wees!!
Any Help would be gratefully received. Thanks

Posted by
Lu Lu
on May 14, 2013 - 7:08am

Thank you for the advice have now contacted my health visitor for advice (and am waiting a call back). Have been putting it off cos I'm expecting to be told off for not trying yet!!!

Posted by
Lu Lu
on Jul 08, 2013 - 4:29am

Hi I wrote a little while ago because my daughter was pooing all the time, Well we've finally managed to get wee wees in the potty and 1 poo which was huge and hard but she stood up over the potty to do it but at least it was in the potty!! Since then that was 2 days ago (Saturday morning) its now Monday and she won't do another one, she is on constipation medicine which I have given her every morning since Friday but she is also still doing little (more like wet farts) in her pants at various times of day. When I ask her if she wants to poo she says no and she can't !! I don't know how long to leave her before speaking to a professional cos I think that surely it has to come out sooner or later but obviously dont want her to get bunged up!! Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.

Posted by Anonymous on Aug 13, 2013 - 1:18pm

My toddler boy is very aware of his body, knows when he is going or when he has gone pee or poo but refuses to tell us when he needs to go or when asked if he needs to go potty always says no. He runs off and hides in his room or somewhere that the adults are not to have his "accidents" . When he has an accident I don't yell at him or punish him but I do ask him where pee and poo are supposed to be put and he says " the potty" I then remind him that we don't pee or poo in our pants. We have tried the sticker chart and the potty prizes but nothing has worked so far as to teach him to say when he needs to go. I'm getting so frustrated with this because we are going on 2 full months of accidents unless I put him on the potty all the time. Am I expecting too much from him or what can I do to help him learn to say when he needs to go???

Posted by
on Mar 31, 2014 - 2:16pm

My daughter will be 4 in September and puts herself on the potty at home and at my in-laws home where she stays while my husband and I are working. I CANNOT get her to go in public, or at my parents home. (The only place she goes is at our house or my in-laws house). This is a problem because we cannot be out for an extended amount of time without having to go back home, and when my in-laws can't watch her, she will not go for my mom. We are talking, she will not go for 20+ hours...she'll go before bedtime at 8 p.m. and then will not go again until I get home at 5 p.m. the next day if my Mother is watching her at my parents home. I did not make her go at home this morning before I dropped her off at my Mom and Dad's house because I thought that would make it harder for her to hold, thus allowing her to get over her stubbornness and use the potty for my Mom. She has used the potty over there once before, but it was after I returned from work to pick her up. Even if I do let her go at home in the morning, I leave my house by 6:30 a.m. and do not get back until 5 or later some days. This is still too long for her to be holding her potty when my mom watches her. I know this is a control thing for her, she is very stubborn and set in her ways and she does not want to give up the control. My Mother has tried rewards and has tried sitting her on the potty for little time periods and longer time periods. NOTHING seems to be working. How can I get my daughter to go for my Mom at her home, and for my husband and I out in public?!?

Posted by
on Apr 30, 2014 - 10:36am

My son just turned 3. He will sit on the potty or toilet but will hold it and not doesn't matter how long he sits there he just holds it and goes right after he gets do I get him to just pee.unless we by chance catch him by some miracle. But he never just goes on purpose.he is just so other two were so easy to potty train.HELP.

Posted by
on May 06, 2014 - 10:55am

HELP! We're trying to potty train our 3 year old daughter. She is VERY stubborn. She'll put her undies on and stay dry.....for 6+ hours. She'll hold her urine all day until I give in and give her a diaper because she is miserable (And so are we.) Any suggestions??

Posted by
Niccole Eberhart
on Oct 20, 2014 - 2:15pm

My 3 year old little girl seems to be a little stubborn. She does great most days when it comes to going potty but she will not poop on the potty. She will say her belly hurts and we will sit her on the big girl potty for at least 10 mins and nothing but then not even 2 mins later she will have went in her pants. I have even tried showing her that mommy does it. Any help would be great. Thanks.

Posted by
Marissia Glynn
on Jan 26, 2015 - 2:30pm

my son will be 3 in march am finding it so hard to get him to use the potty he cries every time we mention it my husband and I are so frustrated sometimes he say he want to do it but when put on the seat he cries or when he say he wants to go he already finish doing it. Right now we leave him in the underwear no pampers just hoping he will get it before april any advise?

Posted by
on Feb 21, 2015 - 12:39pm

I've started potty training my 3 year old for nearly a week now he has wee'd on the potty at home and stands up over the potty to poo in it which is all good. The problem I have is when we are out he refuses to go on the potty in the park, in the toilet and just wets through. I have to do school runs next week do I go back to nappies as he is doing ok at home I use bribes stickers and sweets but no joy outside. Any advice would be great.

Posted by anonymous on Mar 04, 2015 - 1:47am

Yes indeed fustrating...son will be 3 in a few weeks, started training in january and started out well with wee on the toilet for 2 weeks (no poo) with rewards and was excited to flush the toilet.could go on little outings, but refuses to use toilet at relatives or daycare and would hold on for 6hrs and just wet him self... After a few days of accidents at other aces while im at work.... Now he flat out refuses, treats wont work, he just cries even if i mention about going to the toilet. Feeling the pressure as my nephew who turned 3 in jan is fully toilet trained with in 3 weks, even nights. He started off by wanting to do poo first, then about a month later he wanted to do wee, and he has had not one accident day or night.... Children are sooooo different

Posted by
Casey Harrasser
on Jun 02, 2015 - 3:32pm

I am so lost. Here's my story:

When my son was 2 1/2, he showed all the signs and interest in the potty. He watched us go to the potty. He would ask us all kinds of questions about it. And he was very regular with his bowels and peeing. He was noticing when he pooped and would tell us about it. So we decided to give potty training a try. However, it turned into a HUGE problem. Not only would he scream and freak out over sitting on the potty, he started holding his bowels. I was in contact with his Doctor constantly and they ended up having him come in because he wouldn't poop for so long... like a few weeks. They put him on Miralax for months. He was to have 1/2 cap-full every day to keep him regular and basically make the poops easy to come out so he wouldn't necessarily notice it, because they think pooping started to hurt him.

Now fast forward to now: He is 3 1/2 years old. Able to talk much better. However, never talks about his pee or poo. We started reading him a bunch of potty training books and stuff. He showed interest and constantly talked about wanting to be "the prince of the potty". So we decided a few weeks ago to get one more box of diapers. We talked with him about it and he was on-board. Last week, we went to the store and he got to pick out undies for himself. He wanted to wear them when we got home. Although he fussed when we first put them on, now he really likes them. But he still won't go potty in the potty. And he won't tell us unless we ask. Today is Day 5 of our potty training. I'm doing EVERYTHING that I've read, heard, etc. I have a potty chart with color happy face stickers. I had him decorate his potty. I let him pick out his undies. I read to him while on the potty. I let him play with my phone on the potty. I have him sit for 5 minutes. I set a timer for every 30 minutes. Yet somehow, he's STILL not doing anything - not even pee - in the potty! I'm trying to be positive and encouraging, but I'm just plain frustrated and confused as to why he's not even peeing in the potty.

Today, I decided to have him walk around with no undies on (he's nude on the lower half). He spent most of the morning on the potty. Then while I was making him lunch, he peed on the floor and was like "OH NO!" and I asked him what happened and he said "I peed on the floor. It got on my leg." So I cleaned him up and had him help me clean his leg. Then I said "Oops, you had an accident again.. Next time please tell me you have to pee or poo and we can sit on the potty." And he just yells "NO!" but then smiles. So I ask him "Where does pee and poo go?" and he goes "In the potty!" So he understands.... but what's going on??????

Is it normal that he hasn't even gone pee? He's 3 1/2. I'm so frustrated. :(

Posted by
on Jun 17, 2015 - 3:45pm

My son is very lazy except for pre he's so excited to pre but he pops were ever he is we let him run naked so he doesn't go in his cloths cause he will pee in them and poo without telling us we have tried taking him every 15 to 30 min to potty just to try but he crys so we tried rewards ice cream cake candy toys but still didn't work HELP!!!!

Posted by
on Jun 19, 2015 - 6:01am

help my 3.6 year old son is stubborn he has grasped poo fine but he is having about 3 toilet accidents a day how do I solve it cause he starts school next year

Posted by
on Jun 27, 2015 - 7:03pm

My daughter is 27 months and i wamt to start potty training herbecause i am expecting another little one in october but she wont go in the toilet but she will go on the floor what can i do