16 answers

Trying to Potty Train My 3Yr Old.

Hello I am a mother of three wonderful girls ranging from age 4 all they way to almost 6months. My middle daughter is 3 and I have been trying to potty train her I have tried everything such as having her pick out new panties where we tell her she doesn't want to get them wet because they are so pretty, or letting her know she is a big girl and big girls go potty in the toilet. But for some reason she always resorts back into saying no I want my pullups or when we give her panties and we ask her if she has to go potty she tell us yes but all ready goes potty. I know that I shouldn't do it I even resorted to bribing her saying that only big girls go to the zoo and if she would like to go to the zoo she has to be potty trained she then would do it for a little bit but then resort back to mommy I want my pullups. I dont know what else to do...Please help

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank You everyone for all your great responses. So we have decided to leave it alone for a little bit and try again and see if she will be ready next time....Hopefully she will just let us know she is ready instead of pushing her to be ready... Thank you everyone.

Featured Answers

I didn't have time to see if my response would be repetative, but take some time on a weekend and let her go without anything on. She's old enough to know when she has to go, and if she doesn't have anything on it's either the toilet or the floor. It sounds tough, but it works. Then back it up with rewards. M&Ms worked great for my son!

Letting her go wet, might be the way to go. It worked for a friend of mine. I have boys and my youngest was hard to potty train. Letting him stay wet, no pull-ups. Did help.

More Answers

Can you say "power struggle?" Your three year old can :). And if she's anything like most 3 year old girls she's really good at it.

1)Stop the struggle. Leave the whole issue alone. Put away the pretty underwear and stop talking about using the potty-- completely. And don't say anyhting to her, just stop. No negative comments, no hinting around, no talking about being a big girl... NOTHING.My intuition and experience training 3 kids, one of them the most stubborn girl you will ever meet :), tells me she will ask on her own. And when she does make the underwear, etc available but don't make a big production out of it. Be encouraging and helpful but not over the top involved.

2)It sounds to me like she can do the potty thing. And if #1 doesn't work here's somethign that worked with my sweet little stubborn princess. She gets two pair of underwear for the day; when they're "gone" there's no going anywhere out of the house.There's no playdates, errands with mom, trips to the zoo, etc. Every day is a new beginning and there is no negative discussion when underwear "gets used up" for the day. It's just "oops no more underwear today now we need to stay home." And make certain there is something planned for the afternoon. When she misses an activity because of "lack of underwear" don't make a big deal of it (avoid the struggle)--- "I guess we'll have to try that activity tomorrow." end of discussion. It took my sweetie one day of missing a playdate to understand the need for using the potty. THE KEY HERE IS THAT YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN SHE IS READY AND THAT IT IS TOTALLY A POWER THING THAT IS KEEPING HER FROM USING THE POTTY. If you have any doubts don't do this.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

i dont know if it will help but my daughter wouldn't even here of potty training. when i asked she would scream no! so one day she got a bad diaper rash and i told her that if she pottied on the potty seat her bum wouldnt hurt. i then moved the potty to the living room and voila! she went from screaming and not even sitting on potty to almost completely potty trained in less than a month. she now uses the big potty and panties. we still have an accident every now and then but i have accually had her out in panties with out incident. hope it helps.

1 mom found this helpful

L. - my son is 3 years and 2 months. We tried to potty train about 3 months ago and he really was NOT into it at all. Crying, I don't wanna, don't make me sit on the potty, just not ready.
3 days ago I decided to introduce it again. He has been wearing diapers, and they are starting to dig into his skin a bit (around the waste and his legs). Now, I could buy him bigger diapers, but I decided not to. I just told him the diapers were starting to leave marks on his body because he was just too big for diapers, and we went back into underwear. So far, one accident a day! It's been great, and he is really proud of himself, and me of him.
Your daughter is probably not ready yet. BUT, I am a firm believer in taking away pull-up, diapers, anything that is NOT a diaper. So, maybe if she doesn't have the pull-up option she will stop asking for it.
Good Luck, L.

1 mom found this helpful

If she is 3, she is ready, but she knows that she can go back to pull-ups whenever she wants, because you keep letting her. My son potty trained before he was 2. He showed signs he was ready so we went to big boy undies. The first day he had so many accidents and was begging for his pull-up, but I said no. The next day he had 2 accidents, then one a week, then none. He knew that pull-ups were not an option once we went to big boy undies, so he tried and learned how to use the potty.

I didn't have time to see if my response would be repetative, but take some time on a weekend and let her go without anything on. She's old enough to know when she has to go, and if she doesn't have anything on it's either the toilet or the floor. It sounds tough, but it works. Then back it up with rewards. M&Ms worked great for my son!

Hi Lily,
For my kids, a sticker reward chart worked great. Each time they used the potty, they placed a sticker on the (homemade) calendar that I hung directly across from them. I bought stickers at the dollar store and kept them on the back of the toilet and they got to pick whichever one they wanted. Other days, I used M&M's as treats. I don't think a little bribery hurts every now and then. :)

Letting her go wet, might be the way to go. It worked for a friend of mine. I have boys and my youngest was hard to potty train. Letting him stay wet, no pull-ups. Did help.

Be prepared for some additional laundry. You need to stick to your guns and no more pull-ups. They are a great invention, but some kids use them as a security blanket and easy way to use the bathroom. Buy her some acetate/rayon underwear, not the thick cotton trainers. The 'silky' undies are very uncomfortable when wet. A little chafing will accomplish what all the 'Mom talking' can't. And the embarassment and inability to be able to go places will change the behavior. But you can not, I repeat can not, have a pull up in the house for this to work. She knows what she's doing and she knows what buttons to push for you. Behavior=consequences, even at 3.
I've read the other responses and I must have had wonder kids because my daughter was day time trained by 18 months and dry at night by the time she was 2, the boys by the time they were 18 months and 2.5 at night. Their potty chair was always available, it sat on the floor next to the toilet, they had a 'library' to sit and 'read', they had elastic waist band pants, no buttons, snaps or zippers. You have to make it easy for them to do on their own and when they say they have to go, you make sure that there's nothing in way of making that happen. We did use pull ups when we were on vacation for bed time, as it was hard to find their way to a strange bathroom in time, so this prevented accidents and additional laundry for our hosts.

Either give it a rest for awhile and wait for her to decide she's ready. It will happen, I know it seems like forever. My first son was 3yrs 4 months!
Or... take away the pullups.

There are a number of things you can't make a child do..eat, sleep, and poop on command. You can make it desirable for her to be potty trained. You "forget" to buy the pullups for a day. You could go somewhere and not bring pullups. Things like that.

I started potty training my son around 2.5, but he wasn't actually trained until 3.5. I spent a whole year fighting the situation when he wasn't ready. I suggest waiting until she shows you clear signs that she's ready, it will be easier on the both of you.

It is either a power point for her and she is winning or she is not really ready for potty training. Either way, you have to decide if it is really worth it right now to force the issue.

This is one of those things that usually we have to let our children decide to do. After many frustrating months trying to potty train our 3 yo, we gave up. Finally one day he decided he was ready to go. And within the month he was completely potty trained with no accidents.
It is possible she just isn't ready yet. Continue to ask her and encourage her, but let her be the one to decide when she is really ready to go.

Good morning, I potty trained my little girl when she was 1 month away from turning 3. What worked with her was m&ms. She would get one for going potty and two for going poop on the toilet. Sounds funny and I was hesitant to use this form of bribery as I was worried she would want m&ms for ever after using the bathroom! Not to worry though I used my m&m method for a couple of months and now at 3 and a half she never asks for m&ms. Whatever you do don't push her.....at 3 this good turn into a not so fun power struggle between the two of you!! The best of luck to you!

It absolutely has to be her wanting it for it to work. You cannot force her into it. Don't be so hard on yourself for bribing. The world runs on incentive. There is definitely a time and a place for bribery or incentives in parenting, and potty training is one. You can use stickers on a sticker chart to work toward a bigger goal like the zoo, or if she needs more immediate reward, you can use small candies. Use whatever is the most important to her. Once you know she gets it, but chooses not to, tell her you are out of pull ups, and hide them all. Let her know that you won't be able to make it to the store until later in the day, and then "go buy" one later. Left with no pull up, she hopefully will chose the potty instead of the floor.
Ikea has potty chairs in many colors for 3.99 each. We took my son and let him pick out a few in various colors and leave them in different parts of the house so there is always a potty near by to remind him to go. Also, because he picked out his favorite colors, he is more excited to go.
If you have been putting too much pressure on your daughter, you may have to totally back off for a while before starting any of these.


It sounds like your daughter just isn't ready to potty train yet. My son turned 5 earlier this week and has only been potty trained for about 7 months. We has some huge regressions, and some set backs along the way. I would wait and try again in a few months.


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