Potty Training Stumbling Blocks

Potty Training and Frustration are Synonyms

You need some advice as you start the toilet training journey?  Patience. That is the one most important thing to have while training.  Besides impatience, you will most likely experience frustration, some anger and a feeling of helplessness.

Common Potty Training Stumbling Blocks

Some children are afraid to sit on the toilet because they are afraid they will fall in or afraid they will get flushed down.

  • One solution is to buy a potty chair that sits next to the toilet and isn’t quite so intimidating.
  • Another thing you can do is place a toilet ring on the toilet and practice sitting on it for a few seconds at a time while they have their pants still on. Explain to them that there is no way they can fall in or get flushed down. This way the child is only working on one challenge at a time. After they get used to sitting on the ring and feel safe, you can start seating them on the ring with their pants down.
  • Sometimes it’s just with BM’s that there is a fear. Again, if they can tell you they have to go, let them sit on the toilet with their diaper on. Immediately empty the diaper into the toilet to let them see the process. Let them flush it down. As some time passes, gently persuade them to attempt the job without the diaper.

Sometimes a child seems like they’re doing really well and headed down the right path. Then all of a sudden, they stop using the toilet.  This is very common and there is no need to panic. Simply encourage the trainer to get back to going potty on the toilet as soon as possible, remembering that patience is so important.

Power Struggle:
You want your child trained and he does not want you telling him what to do:  may become a power struggle. This is a rare time where the child will win the struggle. They have more control in this situation than you do. Again, step back and take a deep breath. Start again with a refreshed attitude.

Home vs. Daycare:
Sometime a child will start using the toilet at home, but not at daycare or vice-versa. It doesn’t matter, either place is good. They might choose at home because there’s more privacy. Or they might choose daycare because they just do it when all the other children are doing it and it’s no big deal. Praise them no matter where they started the process and it will naturally progress to both places.

Boys are older:
Boys tend to wait a little longer to decide they are ready to train.  No reason why except that boys develop a little bit later than girls.

Attention Getter:
Some children crave attention whether it’s positive or negative. Having bathroom accidents is getting them attention, all be it negative. Be sure to over praise accomplishments and make accidents “no big deal.”

Children seem to have a lot of accidents while playing outside.  It’s simply a matter of having so much fun they don’t want to stop to use the restroom.  The solution is to have them go before you go outside and, if it’s an extended amount of time, you need to be the one to say it’s time to go instead of waiting for them to decide.

It’s taking too long!
Sorry, not much help I can give you here. It’s up to your child on how long it’s going to take and you’re just along for the ride!

Medical Condition:
Do not automatically rule out that your child may have a medical condition that is causing accidents. If you’ve tried everything you possibly can with no luck, consult a physician. If it is a medical condition, you can get help with it. If it ends up not being medical, you’ll know better how to approach continued training.

No Bowel Movement:
It is common for children to be able to urinate on the toilet without being able to have a bowel movement on the toilet.  It’s natural progression.  Be patient.  If they go in their pants, just encourage them to use the toilet the next time.

Your child might have experienced a painful bowel movement and they’re trying to not let it happen again. Using their diet, soften their stool to make it a little easier.

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Things You May Be Doing to Slow Down Progress

  • Not consistent enough. If you try to train only on days it’s convenient, but not every day, it will prolong potty training by quite some time. 
  • Showing too much frustration or anger. Even if you don’t feel you’re showing it to your child, they may be able to sense it and be nervous during their training process.
  • Using Pull-ups. Although pull-ups are a great tool when used properly, they do slow down the potty training process when used all the time. Children learn to go potty on the toilet because they don’t like the wet feeling they get when they go in their pants. Pull-ups keep trainers too dry. Save the pull-ups for when you are away from home and don’t want to chance an accident or if your child can’t make it through the night without wetting the bed.
  • Receiving pressure from family and friends. Everyone has an idea of when children should be trained and like to give you their opinion. Every situation is different and every child is different. Don’t let pressure from family and friends make you try to rush your trainer.
  • Rewarding for single accomplishments. If you’ve chosen to use a reward system and that system involves giving them something every single time they go to the toilet, they will most likely learn to go a little bit at a time and go more often to get more rewards. Instead of rewarding individual accomplishments, try rewarding goals they’ve met.

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Potty Training Stumbling Blocks Advice:

If you or your child reaches a time when the frustration gets to an unmanageable level, it’s time to take a break. Try not to make it too long because you need to remember that consistency is important.  But if there is too much negative energy in the bathroom, you need to get rid of it.

Just hang in there... Take a deep breath. Give your child a pep talk.  Buy some new, fun underwear. Then start again with a refreshed attitude.

Share Your Potty Training Stumbling Blocks or Accomplishments

If you were able to work through a frustrating potty training experience and would like to share your accomplishments with other parents on the potty training journey, please write us and we'll post it on our site!

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Marcia Reagan is the creator of DaycareAnswers and lives in Central Minnesota with her husband and two children.  She's been an in-home daycare provider for over twenty years and loves to share her experience and passion for daycare with other providers.  

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