Potty Training not working? (#5 Small Talk 2018)

When your toddler refuses to be potty trained

refusing to go potty photo credit: flikr.com

You have tried EVERYTHING. You’ve read articles on “how to potty train in 24 hours” or “how to potty train your child in a weekend” and NOTHING is working. What to do? It seems that everyone else you speak to has a potty trained toddler. You feel as if you are a failure. But you’re not.

There are some children who scream, cry, yell and generally have a meltdown whenever that dreaded word “potty” is mentioned. Others take to the potty like a duck to water. Every child is different and if you have one who is resistant to potty training, remember it is not you that is at fault. Now may not be the time. So what to do?

1: Patience

If potty training was a breeze for your first child it does not necessarily follow that your 2nd child will breeze through it too! Every single child is different and potty training tactics have to be adapted to suit the individual child. My first born was eager to “be a big boy” just before his 2nd birthday. And he kind of trained himself in the one day. My second child was not at all keen – in fact, I don’t think he even grasped the concept of going to the toilet, but at about two and a half, he suddenly was trained without much effort on my part! So, if your kid shouts and screams and does not want to sit on the potty it just means he or she is just not ready and that’s OK.

2: Know when YOU are ready

 photo credit: flikr.com

Moms have all sorts of things they have to juggle with on a daily basis, especially if they have more than one child. But we know our own children. We know when they are manipulating us or when they have a genuine fear of sitting on the potty (some kids are afraid of falling in!). And we know when they are ready, even if they protest. So when you have the time and patience this is then the time to start without expecting miracles in one day. It may happen or it may not. Take your child to the shop and let him or her choose the underwear THEY want to wear. Put your child in said underwear even if they say “no, don’t want underpants today”. Just calmly say “too bad, you’re going to wear them and you need to use the potty or you are going to have wee running down your leg”


3: Cleaning up their own accidents

helping you clean up their accidents photo credit: flikr.com

In “The Montessori Notebook”  they say that “if a child is involved in the whole (potty training) process, then the child has ownership in the process, too”. So should your child have an accident (and they will, believe me!) then they need to help you to clean it up – it is important that this should be done not as a punishment but to teach responsibility for their own actions. The best way to do this is to calmly let the child know that if they have an accident you will need their help to clean it up. Then when the “accident” happens (and it will, believe me!) you just say “it’s ok, you didn’t make it to the potty in time. Now I need your help to clean it up”. Then, once you’ve changed their clothes, you hand out paper towels to place over the wet patch or patches and together with your child, you clean it up! Once a child takes ownership over any accidents they may have, less and less accidents will start to happen.

4: Fear of the toilet/potty

small toilet seat for those afraid of falling in photo credit: wikimedia.commons.org

Some children have a genuine fear of falling in the toilet or hate the noise that their wee makes when on a big potty. They may also not like having to climb up on that little stool in order to reach the toilet. The solution is to either get one of those kiddie toilet seats that fit over the loo or get a smaller potty. Another idea is to let your child sit backwards on the loo (facing the cistern)– this is particularly helpful in getting little boys to wee in the loo and also gives you easy access for the wiping of a bum, should they have done a poo!

5: Knowing when

Finally you have got your child using the potty, but what can you do to make sure they keep on using it? The secret is to discover the driving force that encourages your child to use the potty. For some children this could be the desire not to wear nappies anymore. Others don’t like being wet and some just want to be a big boy or girl, or be like a bigger brother or sister. Once you find out what applies to your child, you can use this for those occasions when you are heading out and ask “do you need to go potty?” and, of course, they answer “No”. You then can ask “are you sure as you don’t want to get all wet, do you?” Or “do you want me to put a  nappy on you, then?”- the idea being that once you have found out what your child’s driving force is, then you re-inforce this with each bathroom trip. Soon they will know when they need to go!

Final thoughts

It WILL happen. Potty training can be frustrating. It can be maddening, especially if you think your child is just being stubborn about refusing to learn. If you are having a hard time training your child, leave it for a bit. Maybe in a week or two it will be the right time for him or her. Rest assured, potty training WILL happen when your kid is ready and when you, too, are ready!

You are an awesome parent and I would love to hear from you with any of your potty training tales either in the comment box below or email me lydia@gofotolifestylenewbornphotography.co.za

Yours in lifestyle newborn phototography


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