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Best Potty Training Tips for Stubborn Toddlers

Updated on April 16, 2012

Potty training can be a hard time for busy parents or stubborn tots. With all of the advice that is available online and around town, what do you listen to and how do you tell what is best for your own child? What if all of the signs are there that your child is ready and understands but just will not co-operate? What can you do to avoid becoming very distraught or frustrated with the progress of your child?


I have a 3 year old that is as stubborn as they come. I have been trying to get him toilet trained for almost a year now and nothing seems to stick. He has gotten to the point where he will go pee in the toilet but refuses to go poop. So, I set off to find some ingenius ways to get him to complete this cycle of his life so he will be ready to move on to other things(like going to school in September which is all he talks about).


Here is a list of the best potty training tips and equipment you can use if you are not having much success when it comes to potty time with your little one. ( Even as I write this I hear my little one saying "Mommy, I'd like to go pee pee.")

Bribery? Should You Do It?

There may be some parents out there that are against this type of training because they think it instills the wrong kind of thinking into a growing childs head but yet, those parents who have tried it can think of nothing better to do. I don't think it is a bad idea. It lets your child learn that if he does a good thing, he can be rewarded and that continuing to do well reaps even more rewards. These rewards can be money or stickers or little candy.


My son loves stickers. So I created a pee chart for him that is hanging on the fridge. It has every hour of the day on it and a slot for pee and poo. When he goes pee, he gets to put a little sticker up on the chart, when he goes poo, he gets a big flashy sticker(so far, like I said, we are still working on that section). He loves being able to pick out a sticker and put it up on the chart by himself.


I would have used candy or cookies but my kids already get those whenever I feel inclined to have some myself and I have never used them as a bartering tool so I am not sure they would work. Besides, I would not want my other son too feel left out and not get any.


Another trick you can try with your son is that if he would like to go somewhere special, you can tell him that if he can do the big number two for several days in a row, he can go to the zoo and see his favorite animals or go get some ice cream, or go on a ride at the mall. Pretty much anything that will give him something to keep in mind as a big prize.

Make a Game of It

Many people find success in making a game of it. If you are training your boy to pee standing up, you could place cheerios or fruit loops or anything round that floats and is easily flushable into to toilet water. Then tell your son to aim and try to shoot the targets down. If he does a good job than he can win a prize. This can be candies, pennies, or even little toys from the dollar store. Many times you can get a bag of items like dinosaurs or cars or something and let him pick one out.


For little girls, you may have better luck with buying a singing potty or a peeing dolly that they can sit on a potty beside them and learn how the dolly goes and then get in the habit of wiping the dolls bum just as they would their own.

Always Give Positive Reinforcement

This may be hard for some parents especially when they are dealing with a stubborn child, but often the child just needs a little more encouragement to be self reliant. If your child is used to you doing a lot for him, suddenly having to do things for himself may be causing a lot of mixed emotions running through his body that he may not be able to deal with. By giving him consistent reinforcement, encouragement, undivided attention, love, affection and pride, he will be ready to take on the challenge and want to show you that he can do it.

Use Potty Tools When Necessary

Some children do not need any special devices to help them learn the ropes but other children and parents find it easier, especially in homes where there are multiple children and a lot going on. Something such as the potty watch can be used to set the time for 30 minutes or an hour. When the time is up, the watch plays a special song and the child knows it is time to go pee and comes running to tell you or off to the bathroom himself.


There are singing potties, flushing mini potties, peeing baby dolls, and more for helping children learn how to use the potty. But sometimes none of these things seem to work. What do you do then? Many times you just need to bite the bullet and be patient. Put your child in underwear only and keep asking them if they need to go to the washroom or take them there every 30 minutes to an hour. You may find that you go through like 8-10 or even more pairs of underwear in a single day, but if you continue and keep it up and only let your child wear his pull up when he is napping or sleeping at night, in a few days, he should stop the frequent wetting and make it to the toilet more often. Within a week, he should be good.

Get Creative With the Process

Pooing on the other hand may take some time. You may need to find out why your child does not want to poo on the toilet. Some children are afraid. They may think that it is a part of them they are flushing away, or they may be embarrassed. You could try talking to your child and make up a story about how the poo goes into the lake and the fish need it to eat or build there home. This could give your child a good reason to want to go, so he can feel good about helping out the fishies.


You may need to sit and read stories to your child for a half an hour before he will go number 2. If you have tracked his time, this should give you an idea of when to take him up and sit him down with stories. My son seems to go around 10:30am and 5:30pm. So, since I also have a 2 year old who I am hoping will get into the swing of this as well very soon, I take them both upstairs with some books and try it out. A little persistence is all we need and I know we can do it.


As a few last minute tips I want to mention how things can be when you are going out to places such as the mall, grocery store or some place where there may not be a bathroom nearby. My son is petrifed of the flushing in those automatic toilets and will not even step into the washroom with me. For children such as this, having a portable potty that you carry around in your car could be the answer you need.


Also, if you are going to be going on vacation, moving or anything that is a big change for a child, you may want to put potty training off until you are either back from vacation or settled and comfortable again. My son will be starting school in September. I need to be getting him potty trained and comfortable within plenty of time for that or he may regress. Regression is a common thing for little ones if they are put into an emotional situation that takes some getting used to. They may just forget to do some of the things they used to do like maintaining their bladder. If this happens, don't get mad, just try to understand, give encouraging words to your child and help him work through the new situation as best he can.

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