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My Toddler Won't Use A Potty, What Do I Do?

Posted by Anne-Marie Perkins on

All signs show that your child is ready to be trained in potty: they are at the right age, and many of their peers are moving beyond nappies. But for some reason, your child does not have any of these things. Here are a couple of reasons your tot might hesitate to be a potty training — and what you can do about it.


Why do toddlers resist potty training?

Why do toddlers resist potty training?

Regulation is always the primary aim for a toddler. The more you recommend that they use the potty, the better they can handle it. Many toddlers are often scared of falling in, are afraid of the flushing device or the noise it creates when you flush the toilet.

What can you do if your toddler is refusing to potty train?

You can take several steps to help your child get into potty training and get out of this stubborn "I don't want to!" phase.

  • Ease their fears -  If your toddler is afraid of the toilet's flushing sound or falling in, support their arms while he or she balances on the seat (or use a potty seat), and refrain from flushing until they are out of the room, then gradually get them used to the sound.
  • Make it your child's choice. Let your child know they can switch to underwear or pull-ups and use the potty whenever they want to, and that you're there to help whenever they ask.
  • Offer control in other areas. If you give your child choices in what to wear or what to eat for lunch, they may feel less inclined to resist when it comes to the toilet.
  • Provide an incentive. Without making a big deal of it, casually offer a surprise like stickers on a chart for any potty success without making a big deal of it, and give a reward after collecting a certain amount.
  • Recruit help. Ask a neutral adult figure, such as your child's babysitter or grandparent, to put in a plug for the potty. Often a comment from an outside figure will have more of an effect than the pleadings of a parent.
  • Be patient. Make it a non-issue and eventually your child will relinquish his diapers. (We promise, it will happen.)

Potty training is like walking or talking, a cognitive ability that children master at their own pace. That's worth repeating — when they're up, they'll do it, not when you're! Others are up for it before the age of 24 months, others only after age 3. Yet most fall somewhere in between. 

Potty training

Some kids swiftly take to using a potty, others take longer. As your child learns this new skill, it's common to have questions and face setbacks anyway. Speak to your health care provider about any issues or questions. Through potty training they will have helped many parents see their kids, and they can give you tips to make things easier for you and your child.

My child doesn't want to use the potty 

Don't worry. Remember that your child will want to be dry sooner or later, for their own sake. If they start seeing potty training as a fight with you, that's going to be even harder. Leave a month or so of the potty training, then try again, slowly and calmly. A reward chart with stickers can help keep your child motivated. 

My child keeps wetting themselves

You have 2 options here. You can go back to the nappies for a while and try again in a couple of weeks, or you can still leave the nappies off, but be prepared to change and wash a lot of clothes. 

Whatever you do, don't let it bring down you or your kids, and don't put pressure on them. Speak to other parents about how they were dealing. Do not confuse your child too often by stopping and commencing potty training. If you do stop, leave it for a few weeks before you start again.

My child uses the potty sometimes, but has accidents other times

Accidents can occur for a while, so tell them how happy you are when your child makes use of the potty or manages to stay dry, even if it's for a short time. While incidents can be incredibly stressful, try not to show your child how you feel. Explain that next time you want them to use that potty. If your child starts thinking about making a mess, the problem can get worse.

More About Potty Training: Read our ultimate guide to potty training.
parenting parenting advice potty training potty training tips

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