Help with Potty Re-training

Updated on August 05, 2009
J.M. asks from Cuyahoga Falls, OH
8 answers

My three-and-half year old has difficulty using the potty. She has frequent accidents. Tee-Tee is less of a problem, even though she forgets to go while playing and tee-tees on herself. The main issue is the poo-poo. She almost always goes in her panties. Sometimes she starts in the panties and then finishes in the potty. She is ashamed and upset about it and hides when she has the accident.
We did "reward after", explaining, requesting, even ignoring. In other words I tried different approaches, that I read about or was told about, but nothing seems to work. I'm worried what will happen when she starts pre-school in few weeks. HELP!!!

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answers from Indianapolis on

What always worked with us was the "potty first" rule. Kids at that age just do not want to take the time to go potty. There's nothing fun about it, and it takes time out from doing fun stuff to have to do it.

Any time she wants to change her activity (go from coloring to watching TV) or wants a drink of water...anything that's different from what she was doing, "POTTY FIRST. You can do whatever you want....but potty first." (and then keep track and if she hasn't gone potty in about 15-30 minutes, and wants to change activity again - potty first.)

As she got a little older, if she "relapsed", we'd set the timer for 30 minutes, and had her go potty every 30 minutes. Once she groaned, "I know...go potty." and we told her if she would do it herself like she knows how, we wouldn't have to do that. Soon enough she got the idea.

Good luck!

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answers from Cincinnati on

Hi J.,

I would try to encourage her. She obviously knows it's a problem, otherwise she wouldn't try to hide the accident. Let her know you want to help her and that she doesn't need to hide things from you. Be loving and gentle.

I would try to see if she has a 'schedule' that her body follows when she needs to go poo. If you can determine that schedule (whether it is first thing in the AM, or so many minutes following eating or drinking), then take her to the potty and have her try to go before the accident happens.

When we were potty training my daughter she would often get engrossed in playing and then would ignore the urge to go pee or poo until it was IMMEDIATELY upon her. My sister is a social worker with a specialization in Child Development. She suggested that we demonstrate that it's ok to stop what we're doing to go use the bathroom. Make a big deal out of it. I started doing that and it did help. Now, my daughter really doesn't have any issues stopping, going to the bathroom and then going back to playing.

For the demonstration, for instance, if I was playing with her and needed to go I would stop, say 'Oh! Mama has to go to the toilet I better stop playing and go potty.' And then when I returned, I would reinforce... I stopped playing, went potty and now I can play again.

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answers from Dayton on


I learned after potty training 3 kids that our parent idea of when kids should be potty trained might not be realistic. Sometimes kids are not physically or psychologically mature. I struggled so much with my first too, trying to rush them so they could go to preschool. It lead to a lot of tears and no results. At the end, the oldest one didn't get potty trained until he was3 and a half (and started at 2 years old), second one I was a little bit more relaxed about it and started at 2 and a half and was potty trained much faster. Every kid is different and some are ready earlier than others. With my third one, she is 2 and a half, and we are taking it slow and completely relaxed. This has made the experience less stressful. I think maybe your daughter might be feeling a little bit the pressure of getting potty trained before preschool starts and her body might be quite ready yet...

I hope the potty training goes easy and fast for you and your daughter :)



answers from Indianapolis on

I agree, potty first rule.
Also, is she excited about going to Pre-school? Because if she is, let her know that she may not be able to go to Pre-school if she is not potty trained. And having frequent accidents is not considered potty trained. At least that is how it was at our preschool.
Good luck,


answers from Columbus on

I would try to find a pattern to her bowel movements. If you know she will be needing to have a bowel movement you can remind her maybe even suggest she try before she really feels the urge. My kids are pretty regular and I know for example that my 4 year old will have a bowel movement within an hour after he eats breakfast.
When she has had accidents in her pants is it always because she is distracted and doesn't notice she needs to go? Maybe even a calm general discussion about how to hold it till she gets to the bathroom could help. It sounds like she would rather go to the bathroom in the toilet and that is a big help. My oldest son truly didn't care if he pooped his pants. It sounds like she wants to do the right thing which I feel is half the battle.
Good luck!



answers from Cleveland on


Since I work in the childcare field, I strongly suggest you call and talk to the director and/or teacher at the preschool she'll be attending. They will want to know that she still pees and poops in her pants sometimes, and that they will need to remind her (though I'm sure they have scheduled times when all the kids use the bathroom) frequently.

I can tell you from experience that childcare providers and teachers do NOT appreciate the surprise of a child pooping their pants. Give them the heads up and see what suggestions they have.

Good luck, J.



answers from Indianapolis on

There are two things to consider. One is that she may have a muscle weakness/control in regards to warning her she has to go. You may want to consider talking to her physician regarding this matter.
The second one is she is just pre-occupied. I would suggest warning her if she does this again you will have no choice but to put her back in diapers she since is not a big girl but still a baby. Next accident it is back to diapers and start rewarding her with special treats if there are no accidents but taking away "big girl" privelages if there are accidents.



answers from Cincinnati on

Hi J.,

I have an 18 month daughter too and i am trying to potty train her....... I could probably give you a suggestion that may help you. Have you ever tried to place your daughter directly in the potty seat as soon as she wakes up in the morning...... Cause if she manages to go that time during the day then accidents are less likely to happen.... And probably with doing it repeatedly again and again day after day after it may register in your daughters mind that she needs to poo poo every morning and her system will get used to doing it. Remember that you will have to do it as soon as she wakes up even before she brushes her teeth. Hope this will help......

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