Cold Turkey Potty Training - Do I Just Stick It Out?

Updated on June 06, 2010
L.J. asks from Minneapolis, MN
13 answers

My almost 3 1/2 year old daughter is working on potty training. We've got it down to underwear in the day, diapers only at naptime and bedtime. For the last two weeks, we've had many accidents in her underwear and only a few pee-pee's in the potty. Very intermittent, no consistent time of day. No poops on the potty, either in her underwear or diaper if it's on. I tried the every hour for the first week, now I backed off to every 2 hours (even this can be exhausting!) Incentives, potty charts, etc don't seem to matter. It's like she'd rather be wet, or pee on the floor (if I leave her naked from the waist below). ARGH!

So, not wanting to quit at this point - and not wanting to use Pull-Ups - would you say I should keep going and hope she'll "get it" soon? I would really like to have her potty trained by the fall, so she can be in some church activities that require her to be potty trained (and just in general). Any wisdom would be wonderful! Thank you.

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So What Happened?

Wow - what a range of responses! Thank you all for your thoughts. I do believe it is a power struggle (to a certain degree) with her being 3 and testing me. However a part of me feels that maybe she just isn't ready yet (that's the part I have to give up) As we know, it's hard to hear how other moms compare "when their child did what milestone when", and feeling guilty that mine hasn't achieved it yet. So, I will take all your answers to heart and try anew tomorrow! Hopefully in time I can write with a success.

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answers from Kansas City on

If you can deal with the messes, then keep going. What else can you do? 3 and a half is pretty old to just take a break and hope for more.

I personally think you need to have her sit for long periods of time several times per day until she starts to get it. You can have her play with toys, leapsters, books, movies etc.

Hang in there. It will happen eventually.

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answers from Portland on

This fall is a VERY long way away for your little girl; if you are 25 years old, that would be equivalent to more than two years for you.

It sounds like you are training her because YOU are ready. Since she's not interested in or connecting with any of your methods, she may not be ready to "get it" yet. That results in a great deal of failure and frustration for both of you to deal with, and for her, resentment and aversion as well. Kids will train in a matter of a few days to a couple of weeks when they are ready, and they do it because they want to, just like walking and talking.

I'll bet if you were to remove all pressure, other than the positive emotional work you can do with her by reading potty books, playing make-believe with her dolls and puppets, demonstrating how free and easy you feel because you can simply use the potty, etc., she'll get there faster than if you keep pushing, urging, and reminding.

Be aware that although 3.5 is not early for training, many kids need until then or even until 4 before they have all their physical and emotional factors for success ready to kick in. And for many kids, pee and poop training are two separate steps, with different physical sensations and different emotional components.

I don't think you'll lose any ground if you relax or even back away from the training completely. Just stay positive and cheerful. If you use the search box above, you'll find many stories by moms whose kids suddenly got it after the pressure to achieve was removed.

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answers from Boston on

This is a total power struggle. At 3.5 she should be able to hold it during the day. I've written about this before, and the short is that we had a terrible time training my incredibly stubborn daughter until we just told her that we knew she could do it and we weren't going to talk about it any more. I didn't insist that she try going, I didn't ask her if she had to pee. If she had an accident, I handed her a pair of dry undies and wipes and had her clean herself off. I said "good job" when she did go, but I didn't hold a parade, if you know what I mean. Two weeks later, she realized that she didn't have any power over me, because I was no longer cajoling her to go to the bathroom, and I wasn't getting upset when she had an "accident." Markedly fewer accidents after that. It was really hard to bite my tongue when it was so clear that she had to go, but once I trained myself, she trained herself.

Good luck. Potty training is the worst.

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answers from Milwaukee on

try leaving her with no pants or diaper on! i know it sounds gross but that's how i trained my son and within 2 weeks we had no accidents and completely dry thru the night!! i never used a diaper when i was home or at night-just the terry cloth undies with plastic pants over them!!

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answers from Duluth on

You CAN'T give up, that's what she's waiting for. We are currently potty training out 2 yo girl. We do panties all day & pull ups at night. Naps are on water proof sheets. No more diapers, period. She also has naughty streaks where she pees on the floor when I scold her or something. We just work through it. We also started with rewards & now she doesn't even ask for them anymore. Each child is different, all I can say is stick with it. You MUST be consistent. Good luck! I feel your pain.



answers from Iowa City on

I did the 3 day potty training method and it worked great. Instead of going every hour (when she may not have to go) just keep saying over and over, tell Mommy when you have to go potty. I'd also have a day when you fill her full of liquids so she has to go more, she is more likely to get the idea the more she goes on the potty. If you would like a copy of the 3 day method send me a private note with your email and I'll send it to you. Don't give up she's old enough.



answers from Sheboygan on

Check out this month's Parenting magazine. There is a great article in there about potty training. I cut out the article to keep for when I am potty training my twins next year, it's called "Extreme Potty Training: A Diary". Here is a link for it:

Good luck, and I hope this helps!



answers from Eugene on

Keep going!!! Don't go back. Try looking at when she eats and drinks, then when she goes. Rather than the clock on the hour. Timing! It might lead to more successes and less exhaustion. She/you will get.




answers from Minneapolis on

Your little Princess sounds just like my little Prince!!! You can't give up, you can do this!! My son is fully potty trained durring the day and most of the time during nap time. He does still wear something at night though. You should go back to the taking her to the potty every hour and if she goes she can have 1 or 2 m&m or skittles ( a tiny treat) for going. I told my son that if he told me he had to potty he could have 3 m&m's.... this was very exciting to him though it did take awhile for him to get the hang of it. With the poop issue... well he still won't go on the toilet...ugh! But I have gotten him to tell me when he need to go, which was a huge step and I gave him tons of praise the first time that he told me. I will than give him a pull up and he has to go into the bathroom to poop. He gave me trouble for the first month or so I think to see if I would just give up and when he knew that I meant buisness and that I wouldn't give up he all of a sudden became a pro and was going on his own. I'm not sure if you have the little potty chair or if you are just using the toilet, the little potty may be a little less intimidating. Don't give up... you can do this!! Best of Luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I would keep going! I agree with the responders who said do your best to make this less of a big deal to remove the "power struggle" aspect. I never gave "rewards" other than a "good job!", and never any type of punishment with my daughter. Just expect her to do it.

I completely disagree with the responders who say she is too young and not ready! If anything, children over 3 are more likely to make potty training a power struggle. I started training my daughter slowly at about 14 months and by 2 she was out of diapers completely during the day. At a younger stage they want to please Mom, a bit older and they want to push Mom's buttons. So do your best not to show frustration. Good luck!


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Are you having her clean the messes? That worked for our daughter.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with Laura.......Some seasoned moms once told me that a child will potty train in a day if they are ready. If they are not, you are not only frustrating yourself (I see the word exhausting in your note) but your child too. I am so glad that I listened to that advice. Both of my older boys potty trained in a day. NO frustration for me or them and boom.
As is your decision. Good luck either way you go.



answers from Las Vegas on

I did not read your posts, but I believe u r ready NOT HER! Kids will do it on their own-why make it stressful for u and her? My daughter who is now 4 1/2 trained herself in a day-YES A DAY! When she was ready at almost 3 1/2 yrs old-I introduced the potty and asked her now and then but did not FORCE the issue and BAMM! Now my son almost 3 1/2 did the same thing will pee in the potty but will not poop NOT an ISSUE HE WILL DO IT WHEN HE IS READY! I encourage, BUT DO NOT DISCOURAGE!!!!!!!! TRY IT!!!!!! BACK OFF! U may be surprised. L.:)

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