23 answers

Potty Training Block

I have a beautiful daughter who is 2 years and 5 months old. She is very bright and always happy and likes to do things herself. She seems ready to be potty trained, she will sit on her "little potty" and loves to wear her pretty panties. Unfortunately she has a total block when it comes to actually letting go to put her pee pee in the potty. She will sit on the potty for a very long time in order to get a "treat" but when she cannot hold her pee pee anymore, she cries to have her diaper put on and refuses to go in the potty. From everything I have ready, she is physically ready but not emotionally ready. I'm OK with that, but I was wondering if anyone had tried any techniques to get them past this type of block. I think once she finally lets go, she will be pretty much potty trained.

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Have her give all her diapers to a baby she knows - the younger the better and tell her the baby "needs" them and she doesn't now that she has her pretty panties.

It's okay if she pees on the floor the first time - don't panic it will help her get over the fear of letting go...

Hi J.,

I am a first time mom of twins (girl boy) but they are not of age for potty traning yet. My friend also has twins (girls) and one of then was great at potty training I think right around 2 or alittle after. The other one too her time. One technique she used which I thought was great, she told her daughter that Cinderella were leave her a present in the mailbox if she went potty in the toilet. Her daughters love the princess disney stuff. She was so excited so she went potty and there was a present from Cinderella. She did this a coupel of times and it worked. Her daugther wanted to talk to Cinderella so she called her mom and she pretended to be Cinderella and she fell for it. Her duaghter is potty trained now.

I think it was a cute trick.

Good Luck.

More Answers

When I read your post, it brought back wonderful memories of my son's potty training adventure! I had the "potty chair" and it had this cute little teddy bear holding balloons (a sticker) on the back rest. Everytime my son went potty in the chair, I got excited and told him that the little bear was very happy that he went potty! Of course, this got him all excited too and it became a game with him. He always wanted to please that little bear!

Be very thankful that your daughter is not afraid of the potty chair ~ that's a very good start. If your chair doesn't have a little sticker or something on it, go find one (maybe a tinkerbell sticker or whatever she's into). Let her help put the sticker on and whenever she does "release" into the potty chair, make it a game about how pleased the character in the sticker is.

And please know that she will become comfortable in due time, so just have patience and keep trying. Have a fantastic day!

Just wanted to let you know that BANANAS (5232 Claremont Ave. Oakland 94618) is offering FREE Potty Training workshops with the fabulous Meg Zweiback:

This workshop, facilitated by Meg Zweiback, is for parents of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 year olds. Children in the toddler age group need an approach that emphasizes practice, repetition and lots of opportunities to be successful.

This workshop, facilitated by Meg Zweiback, is for parents of 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 year olds. Children in this age group are more self-directed and need more motivation than younger children to be successful.

This workshop is for parents whose children have not started to use the potty or who have had difficulties. The focus will be on the challenges of this age group, not on the basics. Parents are encouraged to come to the July 8 workshop for “basics” or to read Meg Zweiback’s book, “Keys to Toilet Training” before the workshop.

Hi J.,
My oldest daughter was also an eager to please and independent sprite, but she would not go "let go" on the toilet.

Finally-- inspired by desperation and other experience with her-- I drew a picture, a little 2-d diagram of her body. "This is where your lunch goes. It goes in your mouth, and down your throat and through your stomach and your colons...and water goes into the kidneys.. and water comes out as pee and food comes out.. etc."

She lit up like a little spark-plug. "I understand now!"

It's funny-- she's nine now, and she STILL has to intellectualize everything before she jumps in.

When my second daughter was 2 and we started the potty training business, my older daughter said, "You better draw her a picture, mom."

Of course, the strategy didn't work with the second. She was the chocolate chip motivated kind.

As a mom of twins that are 2 years old and 4 months and completely potty trained...without an accident x 1 month..even during naps and at night.... I can say keep going you will love it when it finally happens. Have you tried putting her on the potty right when she wakes up from a nap and in the morning. I mean right when you hear her first start waking....rush her to the potty and she will go usually right away. Reward the success with something that she loves and when she sees how excited you are and she is it will start happening all of the time. Keep giving her tons of fluid...and no more diapers in sight....have her throw them in the trash...it really does work. I think it was on the today show this about the potty whisperer....try looking it up. Good luck....no more diapers are definitely in the near future and it is a wonderful feeling!!!!

Ok, might sound funny, but I had my daughter's potty sitting right across from mine, and when it was time for her to go, we'd both sit on our respective potties. I told her to "listen for the sound" and we made a game of putting our hands to our ears and clapping when I started. Then I would say, "Now you do it! You make the sound!" She loved it, and it worked!

Good luck!

Potty training in the United States takes place at a much later age than it does in many other countries. In Europe many years ago, we tried to find disposable diapers for a 2-year-old. All we could find were small sizes. Later, we learned that, in many European countries, babies are most often potty trained at 7 or 8 months, when the babies often want to get away from the bulk and the mess of diapers. What a surprise!

When they are not trained then, the diapers become part of their reality and they may not see the value of potty training for themselves. If that sounds "out there," Google "infant potty training" for a wealth of information!

One of the most successful approaches I have seen is the use of the book (and recording, if wanted) "Once Upon a Potty--BOy" and "Once Upon a Potty--Girl". It is written for the child and gradually educates the child to the benefits of using the potty. The author has the goal of making using the potty the reward.

After many years of graduate study in child development, I learned that rewarding children with treats works for the moment but can develop long-term bad habits. For instance, there is some research that obesity may be attributed in part subconsciously seeking a food reward for every little accomplishment.

The potty books are very inexpensive and well thought out.

Have you read her any potty training books or shown her any potty training videos? "Once upon a Potty" is a great book and comes in both a girls' and boys' version. Also, does she come into the bathroom with you when you go? If so, you can show her the pee in the toilet after you go, answer any questions she has, etc., free of her feeling any pressure or fear around her using the potty. Also, imo, she should not get a treat for just sitting on the potty. You can put a treat (maybe a small toy she has wanted) up high in the bathroom but somewhere she can see from her potty. You can let her know in a very supportive way that she will get the treat when she pees in the potty. Sometimes it seems like kids (especially with poop) think they are losing a limb or something when they use the potty. The sensation of something freefalling from their bodies seems to be disconcerting at first. Personally, my advice would be to back off completely for a few weeks, start to read a potty book every day, and then try the potty again in another couple of months. If your daughter feels pressured, you could end up in a power struggle with her (she will figure out that she has control over something that is important to you). I ended up making that mistake with my son, and we took a break and tried again in a few months, which worked well. The sooner you take a break, the less likely you are to get into a power struggle -- trust me! Also, does she get the diaper when she cries for it? If so, from her perspective, why should she stop crying for it? Take a break, read Once upon a Potty, let her pretend to use her potty if she wants, and then try again with no giving in to pleas for a diaper. I second the no pants for a couple of days and follow her around with a potty idea. Yes, you'll be stuck at home, but it is so worth it! You'll get through this.

I would try only giving her treats when she actually goes potty from now on. Once my daughter got the idea of sitting on the potty, I stopped giving her treats unless she went. That seemed to work pretty good.

Have her give all her diapers to a baby she knows - the younger the better and tell her the baby "needs" them and she doesn't now that she has her pretty panties.

It's okay if she pees on the floor the first time - don't panic it will help her get over the fear of letting go...

Dear J....
Throw the diapers in the garbage.
Children get so used to going potty in diapers that they think they have to have one on in order to "go".
Your daughter is plenty old enough to be potty trained.
No more diapers.
I've known kids that were almost five and would only poop if they had a diaper on. That's just wrong. I know a boy who was still wearing pull ups at 10 years old. I love him, but I didn't want his crappy diaper to dispose of if he had a sleepover at my house. He still would only pee or poop if he had a "diaper" on. He would hold it all day and then let loose in a diaper. And his mother was fine with it. Diapers are a secutity blanket, if you will. It's so much better to let them figure out that the world won't end if they go in the toilet. Do NOT put a diaper on her so she can pee. Just don't go there. Maybe put her on the toilet for a bit...when she says she has to pee.....put her back on the potty. That's where pee-pee and poo-poo goes. Then, let her have the satisfaction of flushing it all bye-bye.

My best suggestion? Try giving her lots and lots of liquids to drink about 1/2 hour before you put her on. And maybe distract her with watching a video or some good books. worked for us! My son loved to sit there and be read to.

One of my twins did the same thing. She sat on the potty for months before she finally went. I just waited it out. When she finally went in the potty we made such a big deal that she now goes almost every time. We tried everything to get her to go so I'll list what we did since I don't know what really worked in the end. Some things to try are watching the Once upon a potty video. There is also a companion book. Another book my girls loved is Big girls use the potty by dk books, the author's name is pennington(or something like that). You can check the 10min potty dvd out from your library. Also, we started putting the girls in training pants when we are in the house. Being naked really helped too, especially with pooping. I stopped buying diapers and only used pullups or traingin pants. I also started changing them in the bathroom. Dumping the poop into the potty and having thm flush it. Wiping only on the potty. They only got a pullup when we were out. My girls are now good about going at home but I still need to train them to use unfamiliar potties. GOOD LUCK!

I am a mom of a 6.5 year old and a 2.5 year old and have been a preschool teacher for 10 years now and all I will say is DON'T WORRY. You can encourage her as much as possible but I've watched parents do it many different ways through out my years in preschool and one thing always rings the same, when the child is ready they will do it. If you think about it they are the only ones who have complete control over where and when they go( once their bodies are physically able to control it )
My son came to me a couple of weeks before his third birthday and said "Mom I don't want to wear diapers anymore" So we put him in underwear and he never wore a diaper from that day on( granted he did have accidents ) My daughter on the other hand is 2.5 and I just bought her new undies and she threw them at me and said NO she will not wear them, so I guess we'll revisit it a little later :)
Good Luck with your little one

Hi J. D,
I just let nature's TIME run it's course. I potty trained one child and my next two trained themselves. The first one I cajoled, I bribed, I praised, I did everything. I was so anxious to get her trained.I also remember having a crying child on the potty. Oh the stress! She was finally trained by three years old. My second tore his diaper off and trained himself. The third, well, I just didn't worry about it at all. I put the chair there in the front room (wood floor)just like I did with my other two. She also trained herself. once they are at this age (past infant training age) Let time run it's course and don't put you or her under this kind of pressure. In the end, my two kids that trained themselves were trained a few months sooner than my first. Go figure.

As you've already read in the other posts, it could be that she's just not ready emotionally & cognitively to potty train. That said, I recently purchased a book on-line called '3 Day Potty Training.' The author, Lora Jensen, a mother of 3-4 kids, says most kids can potty train by 22 months. www.3daypottytraining.com, so you can go there & read a bit before purchasing the book. But one of her main points is to NOT, have kids sit on the potty til they go or have them 'try' every half hour. Just put them in undies & tell them to 'let Mommy know when you need to go potty.' And the '3 Day' bit is that you devote a solid 3 days to potty training....meaning clear your schedule & plan on staying at home for 3 days. I have read the book (downloaded from her site)thru once & will do so again soon since I'm starting her method w/our son in a couple of weeks. With our older son, getting a sticker every time he peed was a great reward. He would put it on his potty so that Daddy could see them all when he got home from work. He also liked to call Daddy & my parents to tell them he peed on the potty. That & our praise seemed to be enough of a reward for him. I am not so sure about our younger son....he occassionally pees & poops on the potty already -about 1/2 the time- & he seems to love my verbal praise & will also praise himself. For little kids, eating peeing & pooping are the 3 things they have the most control over & if they feel pushed, most will dig in their heels & use this control to the enth degree. This can be a very frustrating process so try your best to not let her see or sense your frustrations. Hope this helps & good luck!

Hi J., I know that it is exciting to think that your daughter will be potty trained soon but in my experience try to be patient most children are potty trained by the time they are three. It is great that she likes to sit on the potty but if she still wants to be in a diaper just put it on and know that it will come in time. If you push too hard you will only be frustrated and it is not necessary. So save the pretty panties and let her be a baby a bit longer...she'll get there believe me.

Unless you're in a hurry to train her, she may be a bit young still. I would wait until she's closer to three. I trained my son at 3.5 (okay, boys are a bit slower) and it was super easy. Once he soiled himself a few times, he understood and never made any mistakes again. Parents at the day care were amazed about this as all their two year olds made mistakes, and often. I was not surprised at all, it's normal for a 3.5 year old to have more "maturity" than a 2 year old! And to understand the idea. Of course, during training, we rewarded him with point stickers (dora, dinosaurs, whatever you kid likes) 1 for peepee, 2 for caca, and stuck them up on a special calendar on the day he succeeded. It's personal, but I find training a 2 year old to be like trying to make him/her understand a "grown up" concept. It will be much easier as she ages, trust me.

Hi J.,
Isn't awesome? Motherhood and all of its little shifts? Your daughter will shift and possibly forward and backward and back. I share this because my son potty trained later than most due to low tone in his stomach and delayed language( yet and he is gifted..(and my daughter self trained before two and is currently regressing back a bit(2 years 6 months) after expelling both in potty. I did 1 mnm for pee, two for bowel movements..all was great...even waking up dry..then she had a cognitive growth spurt, better sleep, incredible lanugage( not speech but full on paragraphs with w questions )Language is in the same part of brain as emotion and her emotions are more intense these days..and her discovery is high, her potty accidents somewhat intentional..and I am letting her be in this space of panties, pull ups at night,
cleaning up potty together oops and pink and purple mnms from the party store..in a pretty jar. I am actually not a big fan of rewards and think it is important to phase them out soon so that is becomes internal regulation...Not sure if these are techniques or just another story...just wanted to share..and remind that the growing brain is going in a million directions and sometimes while one skill is being mastered..gross, fine, lanuguage, social, others take a back seat and then it moves around again..the young brain is fascinating. Blessings to you and your daughter

Hi J. D,
Your child when they are ready they will go, my son when he was potty trained did the same thing he wanted his diaper on. I made a calender and bought stickers of what ever he/she would like and let him put his sticker on the calender which was on the wall in front of the toilet so he could see and he was so excited to get a sticker for that he actually peed pretty fast. It took him longer to go number 2 he wanted his diaper on for #2. He took 3 months longer for that. Make sure she has a toilet ring that is smaller that way she doesn't feel like she's going to fall in and take her doll and pretend she is a big girl and sit her on the toilet and give her doll a sticker to put on the calender.

I hope this helped

Hi J. D~ my response is totally different, but hopefully it will be insightful. i read the book Diaper Free! by Ingrid Bauer, which is about helping your infant hold onto the innate skill of controlling their elimination. According to the book, what's happening in our society with this long-term diapering epidemic is that parents are actually 'diaper training' their babies. After the age of 1, babies learn to ignore their body's signals and just use a diaper. Then, when parents potty-train around the ages of 2-3, they're having to teach their children to unlearn what they've been taught. i will attest to this as we've been working with our son since he was 5 weeks and now, at 10 months, he catch almost all poops and many pee's. but, my point is, to to let you know where, most likely, her potty block is coming from.

good luck!

In my opinion, I don't think it's about being emotionally ready. I think it's that toddlers have a routine, and when that routine includes peeing in a diaper, they become upset when someone suggests doing something different.

Both of my daughters went through this, and my solution was to take away diapers completely. I had them run around bare-bottom, and watched them closely every second! When I saw that they had to go potty, I ran them to the bathroom and sat them on the toilet. Of course they cried for their diapers, but I would tell them, "You don't need a diaper because from now on you will make all your pee-pee in the potty instead." And then I'd just make sure they actually went pee-pee while sitting on the potty. Then of course once they actually went, I'd celebrate like crazy! But the point is, she can't hold it forever. As long as you are carefully watching her, you will notice when she has to go, and you can get her to the potty.

Good luck!

Hi J.,

I am a first time mom of twins (girl boy) but they are not of age for potty traning yet. My friend also has twins (girls) and one of then was great at potty training I think right around 2 or alittle after. The other one too her time. One technique she used which I thought was great, she told her daughter that Cinderella were leave her a present in the mailbox if she went potty in the toilet. Her daughters love the princess disney stuff. She was so excited so she went potty and there was a present from Cinderella. She did this a coupel of times and it worked. Her daugther wanted to talk to Cinderella so she called her mom and she pretended to be Cinderella and she fell for it. Her duaghter is potty trained now.

I think it was a cute trick.

Good Luck.

J. D,

She may not be ready yet for potty training. We can get them to sit on it with no problems, and they'll stay there to get the rewards, but if they can't make the mind and body connection of having to go pee, it's all a wash! I am a mama to 4 boys, ages 9,6,and twins that are 4. My pediatrician, God bless her, told me in very simple terms,"if they can't recognize the sensation of having to go, they won't be able to." She suggested keep trying, but make sure to explain about the feeling of needing to go. Tell your daughter that when she has to go she'll feel a tickle inside. You can even point to the area where she'll feel the sensation. As you make this a regular part of your conversation throughout the day, and when you have her sit on her potty chair, it will begin to register and she'll learn to associate the feeling with the need to go! It's worked every time for me, and I didn't have to stress about it. It also helps to not fall into to potty training trap of," well my child was trained at two!" Every child is different, and they can't do what they don't understand! Hang in there, you're so on the right track! I hope this helps.

A little about me:

I am a 34 year old stay at home, home schooling mama to 4 beautiful boys. I am a Christian, I love to sing, cook, hike, camp, and spend time with my family and friends.

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