Top Potty-Training Problems (and Simple Solutions!)
What's stalling your child's potty-training success? Child development expert and potty pro Jan Faull offers solutions to common toileting troubles.
Reminders for Potty Success
I started potty training my son when he was 18 months old, because the daycare he was going to required it by age 2. Now at 3, he still only will go if the daycare provider tells him to. When will he start going on his own?
Children need reminders to use the toilet for quite a while. Children get so involved in playing that they have trouble thinking about their bowels and bladder while involved in play. Rather than telling him to go to the potty, say to him (really!), “Think about your bowels and bladder. Are they full? If so, you need to go to the potty.” With this approach, you’re putting the burden on the child to listen to and read his body’s signals for needing to use the toilet.
Sibling-to-Be Potty Blues
I’m due in three months, and my toddler just won’t use the potty. What should I do to get her interested before the new baby gets here?
It’s really best not to set a potty training deadline for your child. She may learn to use the potty by time the baby arrives, and she may not. The baby is your timeframe, not hers. Have her sit on her potty chair a couple of times each day, read potty stories to her, and have dolls and Teddy bears sit on the potty. Have her watch you and others use the toilet. Pressure to perform works against potty-training success. Also keep in mind that even if your child learns to use the potty before the baby arrives, she’ll likely regress once the baby is born. (Read more about that here.)
Getting Toddlers to Poop
Ok, we finally have our toddler peeing in the potty. But he won’t poop—help!
To get a child to poop in the toilet, try these approaches:
1) Have him practice twice a day. Don’t expect performance; just encourage practice with the expectation that in his own way and time he will poop on the toilet.
2) After your child poops in a diaper or disposable training pant and after you’ve cleaned him up, have him flush the poop down the toilet and then set him on the potty. Have him sit there for only a minute or so; read a short story, if necessary, to keep him sitting there. Be encouraging and upbeat: Say something like, “Someday you’ll poop on the potty just like mommy ( or daddy, brother, or sister).
3) Pretend that a doll or Teddy bears goes poop in the potty. Make up a story about a doll who didn’t go in the potty but then magically one day the doll decided to go all on her own. Build on the story to reflect your child’s real life potty and pooping situation.
4) Most important, realize this is just about all you can do. It’s your child’s body; he will perform once his mind and body are ready to do so. This readiness connection you can’t force or hurry.
Toilet Training Regression
My 2-year-old son started potty training (because of his own interest) when he was 20 months old. He was really good at it for six months, but now won’t go near the bathroom—and now he poops especially during naptime. How do I get him to use the toilet again?
As difficult as this is to hear, give potty training a break for a month or two. Your son will learn to use the toilet, but it might not be for another three to four months. It’s difficult when a child looks like he’s on the road to potty training but then regresses, but it happens. He’ll get back on track, but not if you pressure him. Have him sit on the potty before his nap, but if he doesn’t go, so be it. You can’t control whether he does or not, all you can control is giving him the opportunity to try.
Tackling the 'No' Stage
We had two weeks of potty-training success with our 24-month-old daughter. But lately we’ve been asking her if she needs to go potty, or asking her to come with us when we go, but she says NO! We don’t want to force her to sit on the potty, but how can we get her excited again?
Two-year-olds say “no” to most everything: going potty, going to bed, and even going to the park! It’s all about asserting independence. Therefore, don’t set her up to say “no.” Just say, “It’s time to go potty.” If she balks, ignore it. Then in a minute or so, escort her to the bathroom to go on the potty. In time she’ll be telling you, “Mommy, I need to go potty.”
Potty Training in Public Places
What’s the best way to go about potty training in public places? I bring her potty seat along, but she won’t use it when we’re out of the house.
Continue to take the potty with you. There’s no need to put her back in diapers. Since she might have an accident away from home, be prepared to clean her up by taking along an extra set of clothes. New places in general and public restrooms in particular are difficult for children to successfully navigate. It all takes time, but she will eventually learn to use them but it might be another three months until she does so.
Juggling Potty Training and a Newborn
I have a 2-year-old and a 2-month-old. I breastfeed, and my toddler seems to always want to go potty right in the middle of a feeding.
What should I do? How can I integrate the two without becoming very ragged? And how do I get my husband in the potty routine when he’s home helping me?
Bring your child’s potty chair out of the bathroom and put it in a spot where you typically breastfeed the baby. With two young children, you must learn the fine art of multitasking. Sometimes, your clingy baby can go in the bathroom with you if your older one needs help. Also, you can put your baby down in the crib for a minute or two when you need to be in the bathroom with your 2-year-old. The baby will be fine for the short period while you assist your toddler in the bathroom. With regards to your husband, when you’re feeding the baby and your older one needs to use the potty, he should be the designated escort and potty training assistant.
Moving During the Training Process
My daughter is 24 months and showing signs of potty readiness. But we’re moving across the country in the next two months—would it be smart to get her started now, what with a huge transition coming? What might we expect?
If she appears ready, go ahead and get started. But realize that moving across the country will undoubtedly cause your child stress, therefore she may regress. So don’t be alarmed if she becomes resistant to the potty training process on the road or immediately when you arrive at the new home. Follow her lead; don’t push. Once you’re settled into your new location, she’ll likely be willing to get back on track with learning to use the potty.
Dealing with Potty-Pushy Relatives
How can I tell my parents that putting guilt on their 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter just isn’t going to make him any more eager to use the potty!?
If you and your son see grandma and grandpa frequently, you’ll need to take them aside and tell them as lovingly as possible that you’re managing potty training your daughter and to please not make any comments (offer examples) that are guilt-provoking. Tell them that your focus is to offer encouragement and to expect her to practice knowing that in her own way and in her own timeframe, she’ll learn to use the toilet. If you and your daughter only see grandma and grandpa occasionally—like once a month or so—ignore their comments, as they’ll likely have little effect on your child learning to use the toilet.
Roadtrips & Potty Training
Our family is taking our 3-year-old on a road trip this summer, with two days of full-time driving. Do you have any tips for making the potty situation easier? She is nearly completely trained, but I’m wondering how we might prevent accidents (and stops every two hours).
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but my best advice with a newly trained child on a road trip is to plan to stop every two hours. You may want to take his potty chair with you or you can purchase a portable toilet seat adapter. Take extra clothes along in case he has an accident. You might even consider putting him in a disposable training pant for those long two-hour stretches. Regardless, you do best traveling with young children of all ages when you stop every two hours to allow them to use the toilet, run around a bit, and have a snack. Remember when traveling with kids, it’s a trip—not a vacation!
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