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Potty Training Strong Willed Children

Updated on September 22, 2014

Frustrated with your strong willed child? Potty training can be tough!

So you've tried the training pants. You've seen your little one without a diaper on streaking through the house. You may feel like giving up, but there is hope. Raising a strong willed child can be a challenge, and even more so when they are toddlers.

This is my review of several potty training techniques that I have used for the last 2 years, and my journey in potty training

my strong willed daughter. Pushing her to do something was the wrong way to go. I tried different techniques, but we finally succeeded! Parents I want you to know you are not alone, and you are not failing just because your little one is not potty trained yet. Try to go easy on yourself. It will happen! Strong willed children often do things in their own time, but you can help the process along.


Recommended Products

Toilet Training in Less Than A Day

Potty Training Songs to Help with Training

Invest In A Portable Potty

Incentive Charts At A Glance

Great Books on Potty Training

Now for some potty humor..books that will make you giggle

Complications Related to Potty Training

All by myself Mommy!

Ever hear these words? I do on a daily basis. Many people think that their child is independent, but you do not know the understanding of the word until you've met a strong willed child.

My husband and I started out as all the books suggest. Bring the potty home and let the child explore. My daughter loved taking the potty apart. She enjoyed putting it on her head and sitting on it. From there we started to sit her on the potty occasionally. We thought that at least then she would get the idea what it was. I would sit as she did to model what she needed to do.

As she got older, my daughter started to act out the behaviors needed to go potty. She would sit, wipe, flush, and wash her hands. At this point, I thought "great! Now we can get started". She was 2 1/2 at this time.

The first thing we tried was potty reward charts.

Now this is a good concept IF your child is motivated by charts. I actually made my own with a picture of a potty and butterfly stickers. My daughter was into butterflies at the time, and I thought she would like to stick one on the potty after she went. Well she continued with her great potty behavior, but there just was nothing coming out!

Next, I tried to read her signals. Know the signals I would place her on the potty when it seemed that it was time to go, but nothing would happen. Now, we are all human and I did get frustrated, but try to stay calm. A strong willed child is purely motivated by their own drive to do things in their own time and by their own agenda! My daughter would refuse and hold it in simply because she did not want to be told what to do! I do not recommend waiting it out because this could lead to urinary track infections or constipation.

Scrambling for answers we started asking around. Someone mentioned potty training in a day. Well we jumped right on that one! Amazing right? We bought the gear needed. We played up the whole day and NOTHING. My daughter loved watching the doll go potty, but it did nothing to motivate her.

Some people suggest putting the child on the potty every 15 minutes. We tried this method, but it just made my daughter more stubborn to hold it in.

Finally, I did some looking around on the internet and devised a plan.

1. Put the child in underwear.

This was the essential step. My daughter felt comfortable in her diaper and was perfectly happy to continue using it!

2. Do not mention going potty EVER.

This just means that a power struggle is ready to begin. Let it be their idea to go potty.

3. Help them clean up accidents.

Be nonchalant about the clean up. Just help them get into clean underwear and go about your day.

4. They will go EVENTUALLY!!

Do not give up. It will happen!

5. Praise the child immediately. Offer an incentive. Jump up and down. Call everyone you know. Whatever it takes DO IT.

Those of you out there who know what I'm talking about will appreciate all the struggles we went through. I started potty training my daughter at 2 and she is 3 1/2 and has been potty trained for a couple of months now!!

Relax, enjoy your independent fully potty trained child!

Recommended Product

Potty Training in One Day - The Potty Patty Doll
Potty Training in One Day - The Potty Patty Doll

Potty Patty and Potty Scotty are anatomically correct dolls that are great tools when using the Potty Training in a Day Technique.


A Potty On The Go

Mommy's Helper Cushie Traveler
Mommy's Helper Cushie Traveler

I love this fold up potty seat. Your toddler will feel secure when on the big potty.


Toilet Training in Less Than A Day

From two noted learning specialists, here is the amazing, scientifically proved Azrin-Foxx method that teaches toilet training quickly -- in less than four hours for the average child. And after that rewarding learning period, he or she will willingly use the toilet without assistance or a reminder!

Potty Training Songs to help with training

When all else fails, brainwash them. Kids are influenced by catchy ads and songs all the time. I sat with my daughter and watched potty training videos on youtube to help reinforce my potty training efforts. Beware of videos on youtube. Some are risque to say the least, but there are ones that could traumatize your one where Barney flushed Elmo down the potty. Not good for a child afraid of going potty!!

Automatic toilets are an issue. Place a post-it note over the sensor, and you control the flush!

Invest In A Portable Potty

Travel Potty
Travel Potty

This potty is great because it comes with its own carrying bag. My son is scared of going in public toilets, so the solution is to use this potty at home to get him used to it. We can now go out and not worry about accidents. He does not have to worry about those really high and noisy potties in public restrooms!


Great Books on Potty Training

Complications Related to Potty Training

My daughter, being the strong willed child that she is, would hold in her bowel movements. This started a chain events that made it very difficult to potty train. First she held it in. Then, her colon would enlarge and she became constipated. She then had difficulty going which lead to her holding it in more. She developed megacolon and had to be treated. We opted for a high fiber diet. While this is one complication that can occur, there are others to watch out for:

Megacolon: Bascially, this is an enlarged colon caused by blockage in the colon. There are many different causes for megacolon. Constipation is the most common cause for toddlers, but if it continues you may want to consult a physician. One thing more--avoid suppositories and laxatives. Think of them as a last resort. They can upset the delicate blance of bacteria within the colon and make the problem worse.

Urinary Tract Infections: UTI is fairly common and can cause painful urination. Smelly urine or change in color can be an indication that your child has a UTI. Keep your little one well hydrated and consult your physician regarding treatment. I would avoid giving apple juice to toddlers because it can cause diarrhea.

Food Allergies: Particularly being lactose intolerant. Other allergies can cause problems, but a milk allergy may be the culprit.

Developmental Delays: A child with developmental delays will show signs of delay in more than one area. If your child is developing normally, then they will potty train. It's a matter of will and emotional maturity on their part. If there are developmental delays, you can continue using potty training methods. Just know it will take longer.

Fear: Your child may simply be afraid of the potty. Be patient and encouraging. Try to potty train in a relaxed setting. Public toilets are the worse! My daughter also has hearing issues and hates public restrooms. Automatic flushing toilets are the worse! She sits there afraid it's going to go off any minute and runs into the corner like someone running from a bomb exploding. Automatic hand driers are another issue. My little one cringes and holds her ears every time we step into a public bathroom with those hand driers. There is a lot to be afraid of in this new world. Toddlers have so much to get the hang of. Just remember they will not be going to high school in diapers!

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    • steph7h profile image

      steph7h 5 years ago

      Lots of great resources, nice lens!

    • profile image

      MichaelDubrovnik 5 years ago

      Everyone here are such good mama. Be the strong little ones!

    • amkatee profile image

      amkatee 5 years ago

      @anonymous: What other behaviors are you seeing? Or is it that she just poops in her pants. What is motivating her to hold it at school but not at home? If she can hold it there then she can do so at home, but it sounds like maybe more than just the pooping might be an issue. What other behaviors is she displaying?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My 4.5 year old granddaughter refuses to poop on the toliet. She will pee but will not poop. We took the pullups away and now she just poops in her pants. A lot and frequently and anywhere and everywhere except in school. She holds it all day and then lets go at an amazing rate when she gets home. Also her behavior has gotton worse since we took away the pullups. Anyone out there that has any suggestions, we would really appreciate the input.

    • Spiderlily321 profile image

      Spiderlily321 6 years ago

      My 3 yr old son is very stubborn when it comes to the potty. He has his days where he will want to use it often and then days where he holds it in until he has his training pants on. Some days he will want to use underwear and other days he will refuse to wear them. I can't get him to poop in the potty either. I'm still working on it and trying to be patient. I know he will get it eventually.

    • jholland profile image

      jholland 6 years ago

      I was very frustrated trying to train my daughter. Even after her third birthday she would hit the floor screaming if I even mentioned the potty. One day she asked me for a toy from my store - and I told her she could only have it if she was dry for three days. A week later she decided to start going potty. Within 3 weeks she was totally trained and 2 weeks later she was sleeping through the night dry. It just had to be on her terms and her timetable.

    • amkatee profile image

      amkatee 6 years ago

      @TheMotherSquid: You could try those plastic diaper covers. I personally do not like them, but it may help with the mess. If he does poop, then quickly rinse the underwear out. It should take care of most of the stains if you use cold water.

    • TheMotherSquid profile image

      TheMotherSquid 6 years ago

      I think undies are key. I cloth diaper, but when I put undies on, it is soooo hard to clean up the poop! Plus, it is a big mess when he wets on the couch, and he refuses to sit on anything that would suck it up, haha. Any suggestions?

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      @Gypzeerose: And I would have gone through with the potty training in a day technique - he was actually getting it and I gave up on it. I think I thought it was too easy or something. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      For my strong will child I got a potty chair with a tray on it, and put Cheerios on it for a reward snack. While he ate his treats, well...

    • PamelaU profile image

      PamelaU 6 years ago

      All I can say is - they'll do it in their own time. My son was great - just turned two and our of nappies during the day. Daughter is a bit different - she's been refusing but will sporadically decide to go in her potty. When she does, we'll make a big fuss, but otherwise we leave it up to her. Try to ignore people pestering you about it, and ask them not to mention it in front of the child, as I found this counter-productive.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      Excellent lens. I think pushing is exactly the wrong way to go, and I am attracted to many of the alternative ways you found. Oh! and I am very opposed to pull-ups. One of my children would run around in those all day long. He needed to feel it a little bit, and they just contained too much.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Here's my potty protest song for kids "Potty Song Blues"

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for a helpful and insightful lens! This particular topic has been a long road for us.

    • profile image

      rabbitowner 6 years ago

      Hi! I have not potty trained my toddler yet. I am wotking on it already for 14 months and tried a lot of things but no results. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is very useful.

    • bhthanks profile image

      bhthanks 6 years ago

      My toddler is not yet two years old, and I'm not sure when the toilet training will begin and how it will develop. Thank you for this informative article.

    • toesinthesand lm profile image

      toesinthesand lm 6 years ago

      I also have a child who has been determined to hold it in! He has been "pee" trained for quite some time but we have had a lot of issues with #2! Finally, finally, just this week, he has begun using the potty for both! He is 4, will be 5 in two months! I just wanted to post that you have a great article with some very good and helpful ideas. It took a very long time for me, but I agree with you, patience is the key. I have 4 children, and this child is my last one...I really did not expect to have such issues with potty training. But as he has done in just about every area, he has taught me that while I thought I had this parenting thing down to a science by now, I really know nothing, LOL!!!!!

      Hang in there, parents who are desperately hoping for success. He or she will NOT go to college in diapers, promise! It will happen. I think the key, as mentioned in this article, is to not talk about it. When I figured this out, I had more success. Some kids, I think, just have this thing in their heads that if you want them to do something, they dig in all the more. Act nonchalant and like you don't care if they do it or not!

      Good luck to all, great article!

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 6 years ago

      I used "Toilet Training in Less Than A Day" very effectively for my children. I think it works well for all kids, but especially for strong willed kids, as they need to feel they are in control. Great site, thanks for sharing.

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 6 years ago

      My strong willed son actually potty trained himself - and he did it because he wanted to be just like the big kids. He was at daycare and was told he could not go to preschool until he was wearing big boy underwear during the day. He was the first in his daycare group to potty train himself and was asking to go to preschool at just 2 and a half years of age. Unfortunately he still had to wait until he was 3 before he could be moved. But I was very proud of him for making this such an easy process for me.

      He stopped wearing pullups at night shortly after he turned 3 years old. It was his decision. He just told me at bedtime one day - no pull-ups please mommy. He had a few accidents but within a month he was sleeping dry through the night.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I think some people just try to start their kids on the potty too soon. One of my sons had no idea when he had wet his big-boy underwear unless it just rolled down his legs and got him wet. We just went back to diapers for awhile, no big deal. Not long after his third birthday it all sort of clicked with him and he potty trained in no time and almost never had a wet night, either. I heard sage advice back then, "He won't go to kindergarten wearing diapers, so don't worry about it." I'm very glad I took that advice and eliminated the stress and the tears. Know your child, don't give in to peer pressure (your peers, not theirs) and everyone will be fine!

    • profile image

      all-about-toddlers 7 years ago

      Good lens. I have had a lot of experience in this field and there is a huge section dedicated to this on my website.

    • Othercatt profile image

      Othercatt 7 years ago

      My son took a year to potty train. So I was dreading it when the time came to train my daughter. But wouldn't you know, I only had to put her on the potty one time and she was hooked. Never wore a diaper again! Great lens. Very funny!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      The Childrens and Parenting Group that this lens belonged to has survived all the recent changes on Squidoo and is now a Lensography. This lens is now featured at Children and Parenting HQ.

    • profile image

      richard10029 8 years ago

      Fortunately my child was not very stubborn when it came to potty training. My cousin's child on the other hand was a real challenge. I wish I would have ran across this lens about a year ago. It would have saved my cousin a lot of headaches!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Another lens that is a credit to the Children and Parenting Group !

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      You should check out How To Potty Train your Child in 5 hours by Chris Westra. My chiroproactor and two of my friends have successfully used his method to potty train our children in 5 hours or less. Outstanding Consistent Results.

      Great Lens!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      This lens entered Fresh Squid Contest for October as one of the lenses that has been featured on Fresh Squid group during September!

    • profile image

      herbie66 9 years ago

      Welcome to the 'Pregnancy and Baby' Group

      ( )

      5 stars for your great lens!

    • Angelina Howard profile image

      Angelina Howard 9 years ago

      I can relate to this lens. We have potty trained 2 girls and 2 boys. The girls were by far the easier. Thank you for sharing your tips.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Yep, been there, done that and yes, they weed on the T-Shirt! One thing I discovered though is that until they can really understand what you are asking of them, you are in a lose, lose situation. Welcome to the Children and Parenting group!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great info! I'll need this info in another year or two when our little guy is ready for potty training (so please keep this page up and running!)

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      This I'll have to handle next summer! Thanks for tips, gonna use it! ;) Glad to have you at Fresh Squid group!

    • profile image

      Marinadxb 9 years ago

      Going through it now, my super strong willed little boy totally gets the whole thing but just does not want to go to the potty - hates it! Went once on the big toilet, with the childrens seat on top. I'm still a bit concerned, as I start and stop...arrrggghhh! Hopefully it will come soon, as this boy can seriously 'hold it'!!

    • CounselMom profile image

      CounselMom 9 years ago

      Oh my...I can totally relate to this page. Don't want to "label" my son but I've wondered if he is strong-willed...or just acting out his firstborn tendencies. Either way we've had quite a time...trying most of the things you tried as well: reading books, watching videos, sticker chart, potty time every 15 min. or so, intensive days of underwear only with lots of liquids, etc. Nothing seemed to really do the job. Whew...we finally ended up with a similar combo of steps like you did and it worked! Finally, after more than a year of training he's figured it out! Great lens :)

    • profile image

      Roy-Scribner 9 years ago

      Great lens! My 3 year old has just gone through this. We camp a lot, which adds another challenge to potty training!

    • profile image

      gods_grace_notes 9 years ago

      Oh, my goodness... I' m still laughing over Joshua's wee-wee and poo-poo. Perfect for sharing with little ones who are learning about the potty!

      Now, catch that baby sleeping, and show us MORE!

      MORE! great mom tips. Cute!


      : )

      You’ve Been Peeped By a Giant Squid!

      Come and see...

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 9 years ago

      My daughter recently turned two and we're working on this now. Might have to check out the potty training in a day book. That would be great!