Potty Training Woes!

Updated on May 10, 2009
A.H. asks from Franklin, TN
21 answers

How long should it take to potty train? I know every child is different but I was just wanting to know what the average is. I bought the book "Toilet Training in a Day". I'm sure it has worked for some but absolutely did not work for my little girl. She will go if I make her go but will not go on her own. She refuses to poop in the potty. I know she is smart enough and understands. Maybe I am expecting this to happen too fast. We started on Friday and had her in panties. By Saturday evening we put her in pull-ups. We just couldn't keep cleaning up messes. I am beginning to feel like I am going to be stuck in my house (and to the potty) indefinitely. We've tried giving and withholding rewards, telling her friends and family will be so proud of her (or disapointed if she doesn't) potty. Any help on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for the wonderful suggestions. What I am hearing most of you say
is that it is ok that she is not trained. I just have a lot of friends and family there were
putting a lot of presure on us...(why weren't we potty training yet...) I'm sure many of you know
what I mean. We are just going to slow down and let her lead us. We'll continue to try to go but
just no presure. WOW! What a weight off my shoulders! Thank you, Thank you!!!

Featured Answers



answers from Huntington on

I'd put away the potty and start again in a month or so. My philosophy has been that kids usually have an age where it 'clicks' and you can either start then and do it in a week or start months earlier and spend months potty training! Just a personal theory, but anecdotally, it has been proven true in my experience.

Good luck!!



answers from Raleigh on

Hi A.. My daughter will be 3 in July. I started potty training this past February and read several different books--my favorite was called Mommy I Have to Go Potty. This book said that it takes an average of 30 days for a child to really "get it" and had good advice for how to handle all different situations. It took a good week to stop having accidents and it really did take 30 days for complete success. I had to really work on my patience to get through this one! My daughter is day trained, but I still put her in a diaper at night because she still sleeps in a crib.

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answers from Nashville on

It doesn't sound like she is ready. A couple of months after my son turned 2, he was interested in wearing underwear and using the potty. He wasn't ready, however, and we changed clothes several times a day because he didn't realize when he had to go until he was already going. I kept the potty out and available to him and periodically asked him if he wanted to use it, but he still wore diapers. A few months later, it just clicked with him and he was able to realize he had to go in time to get to the potty. After that, he wore underwear all day and had few accidents (we still remind him to go but generally he goes on his own). A few weeks later, he told me he didn't want to wear diapers to bed. It was a fairly easy process and I think it was because we waited until he signaled he was ready.



answers from Nashville on

48 hours is not a big deal. It can take up to a week, or longer, depending on the child. I gave my neice a "baby" doll that peed. Not with the intention of training her, but, it did the trick. She saw her "baby" pee in the toilet and it was like the light went on. She took the baby off the potty, and sat down and went pee. Never peed in a diaper again. Pooping is sometimes a little harder, but praise is the best. Hide the frustration. Good luck!



answers from Raleigh on

that's an aweful lot of pressure for a little girl and a mommy/daddy. I'm trying to figure out this whole potty training thing to. We started at 18mos with my little boy (boys are harder than girls, so I've heard) and we just let him figure it out. He's the type of kid that everything has to be "his" idea. He's not going to do something because you tell him to. He has to understand the point. So we strated gradually by putting him on it before every bath, then before bed every night, then every morning. Then we tried the underwear and he made a few messes but doesn't like the wet feeling.

He will be three next month and I know that sounds like a long time, but he's pretty good at it. he goes to the potty at school, and most of the time he will pee on his own. We still have poop issues, but i found a website - www.handipoints.com that has different activities. I'm gonna look into that today.

We took our time and when we were just hangin out at home, he wore underwear and if we go out in public, he wears pull ups. I always remind him not to wet his pull ups and to tell mommy when he feels the pee pees coming. He's gotten pretty good at that and will tell me when we're in resteraunts and stuff.

You gotta do what works for you guys. dont worry about what everyone else does. look at what kind of learner your child is and match the task to the child. Candy/treats may not work, but sitting down with mommy to work a puzzle might.

Good luck! we all need it!



answers from Wheeling on

The way i taught mine is this. maybe you might think it's silly but it worked for me.
I would go in with them Boy or Girl while they were very you.
I too would set on my potty. let them know you are doing the same thing they are doing.
let them hear what you can do.
And then say Mommy or daddy is a good girl and clap and praise yourself for doing it. While your littleones are setting on theirs.
They will see that they are not getting punish.
And just maybe it will excite them to do it to.

It is just my crazy idea. But it works or did for me.
Gradually they will see what is to be done. then slowly you can walk away and see if they can do it on their own.
Maybe you can say to them Mommy's is all done. Now your turn. Then get up and stay with them for a while. Then gradually leave. You will just have to see when you can walk away. Show them you must wash your hands after potty.

I hope I gave you some ideas



answers from Greensboro on

You've gotten a lot of good advice already - and here's mine. She's been going potty in a diaper for 2-1/2 years - which is all she knows. Now you want her to change it. You've got to teach her how. She didn't learn to walk or talk in 48 hours. It's all a process and it will take as long as it needs to. My daughter is 3-1/2 and we've been working it off and on for almost a year. In the beginning it was because I wanted her to use the potty, not because she wanted to. It usually turned into a battle and I always lost because I wasn't in control of the bladder. The last few months it has been really good. She wears panties during the day and a pull-up at night - she still wakes up wet quite often. There are accidents every now and then during the day, but at least she is now telling me that she has to go. I feel like it has taken forever for her to tell me, but taking it slow and remembering that its just a learning process and staying calm has worked for us. Oh - and for pooping, we bought her a new dress every time she pooped in the potty. Yes, her closet is full and we haven't been buying anymore, but the money spent on dresses was well worth her learning that she could do it on her own. Now if she has accidents we take a dress away. Yes - that's horrible, but she realizes what's happened and she hasn't lost a dress in 2 weeks! Good luck A..



answers from Clarksville on

We are in the middle of potty training our third child, who is also a 2.5 year old girl, and I can tell you for a fact that there is a lot of social pressure involved for both the parents and the child when it comes to this step in life. It is difficult when you have the desire and expectation of her being finished with diapers and she still won't follow through. We have been there with our two oldest. But you have to realize that this is a very individual thing. Every child potty trains in a different way, at a different pace, and even at a different age. I remember when we were trying to train my now 5 year old son that the pediatrician commented that the normal age for a child being trained is actually much later than society tends to demand it.

My best advice is to offer the potty frequently throughout the day. You may even set a timer for every hour or two, and when it goes off, tell your daughter, "It's time to try to use the potty." Be cheerful through the whole process; praise her when she sits on the potty even if she doesn't produce, and make a very big deal of it when she does actually go. It can take a long time for them to be comfortable pooping on the toilet. I don't know why. I just know it has always been the biggest hurdle for our kids. Do not make this a punishment thing, whatever you do, because you are only turning into a power struggle. At a minimum it will cause frustration and stress for everyone, and at a maximum it can lead to some serious behavior issues related to the bathroom that, trust me, you don't want to deal with.

Above all, be patient and remember that she will eventually pick up on the whole thing, and she will be delighted to be done with the diapers at that point. Until then, make it a pleasant experience for everyone.



answers from Lexington on

Don't get stressed. Ask frequently if she needs to go offer praise when she does and reassure her and make sure she knows everyone has accidents when she does not make it on time. Don't worry she will be trained before she starts school. Pull ups are great for when you are away from home but they pull the dampness away from the skin so the child does not feel uncomfortable. While at home set her on the potty about every 2 hours and see if she goes and I would use panties she will not like the feeling of being wet. After she is trained you can always have the carpets cleaned.



answers from Nashville on

OK. I am 44, have 4 kids (19, 18, 6 and 3 1/2). I've done the potty thing 4 times and all 4 times was completely different. Please, don't tell her people will be disappointed. She will start to hold it in. Our third child did this; we dealt with constipation (using enemas)and soiling for 2 years. I thought I wasn't going to make it through that experience; I don't wish that on anyone! He was 2 1/2 when we started potty training; soiling and constipation lasted until he was 4 1/2. Purely awful on him and his mind. So we waited for our last child to give us signs of interest in the potty - he was just about 3. Make a board (nothing more than a poster board)and get some of her favorite stickers. Every time she uses the potty she gets a sticker (1 for #1 and 2 for #2)- that's what we did for our last child. When she wakes up in the morning sit her on the potty. If she is a napper; sit her on the potty when she wakes up from nap. If you give a bath at night; use the potty before bath, get jammies on, read story, use potty (put pull up on) and go to bed. Our fourth child knew how to use the potty, knew what it was for and every single time we put a pull up on him he would go in the pull up. Took the pull up off; put underwear on him, would go in the underwear. Took pull up and underwear off and let him go "commando" (as my husband calls it) under his clothes; he would use the potty every time (had few accidents at first - but it was manageable). When going commando the first day I set the timer every 30 minutes (see how she does) and then the second day set timer for 1 hour intervals and so on ... you will just have to see how she does. When the timer went off we would go sit on the potty. Sometimes he would go, sometimes he wouldn't. If he went he got to put a sticker on his Potty Board! REMEMBER: NO BIG DEAL IF SHE GOES IN HER PULL UPS OR HAS AN ACCIDENT. I can't stress this enough. Don't put pressure on her; if you do it will take her much longer to be potty trained. What you are trying to accomplish is to get her brain to remember what her body feels like when she needs to go and relate that to using the potty. That's hard for a 2 1/2 year old!!!! They get it when they get it and not any sooner! Our fourth child went commando for about a month. We put a pull on him every time we went out. After about two weeks of going commando we went out commando; thought I would be brave and try it. He did great! We used the potty before we left the house (that's the rule) and then when we got to where we were going we used the potty again; even though he said he didn't have any he went. Again, it's training his brain to realize what his body feels like when he has to go. He wears a pull up at night; night is a totally different story and we probably won't try underwear at night until about 4 years old or later ... one thing at a time. Although, by accident, he didn't wear a pull up at night a few weeks ago and woke up dry ... Anyway ... it will happen. Don't force her. Try the timer; make it a game. Reward her (stickers on board) every time she uses the potty and praise her and tell her how proud you are of her. Try no underwear or pull up during the day. Maybe at nap time you might need one; you will have to judge that. Use the potty before nap and see if she wakes up dry. Now our fourth child wears underwear during the day (no more commando) and uses the potty (all on his own) and doesn't have any accidents. This has taken about a month. I tried everything; none of it worked for us either. I observed him and realized his brain was telling him that he had something to "catch" the pee or poop if he was wearing underwear or pull ups. So, take those off and his brain started to realize he didn't have that. After about a month we put underwear on him during the day and pull ups at night and all is good. I would probably wait a month or so and try this; seems she might not be ready - you may even want to wait until she is 3. I think, sometimes, we measure our children's successes by other children's successes and we shouldn't do that. Each child is a child, but different in their own right and develop at different stages in their life on their own terms their own way. Allow her to be little; wear pull ups; don't push too fast and know that one day soon she WILL get it; when SHE is ready - not because we want her too or because we are ready for her to be. Hope this helps.



answers from Raleigh on

Hi A.
It's funny you mentioned that book. We used it 28 years ago with our first boy, and it didn't work for us, either! ; ) Your daughter, at 2 1/2, is just now coming out of a season of fierce independence..add to that a normal fear of seeing her waste (part of herself) flushed down that mysterious hole! You might want to hold off for a couple more months without pushing in any way. The more you push, the deeper into a power struggle you can place yourself. After all, potty training is a convenience issue, not a character issue. You can afford to wait until she's more receptive to the idea, when her fear or resistance subside a little bit. Besides, it's easier to put her in a sundress and barebottom out in the yard in the summertime where she is really be aware of her own leaks, than to clean up messes and dirty panties around the house right now. She sounds quite unwilling now. There will be a 'window' of opportunity for you to easily train her, in the shortest period of time. It may not come on your schedule, but it will come. If you recognize it, and respond to it, your potty training experience will be as short and pleasant as it can be. Look for her interest in being out of diapars,in big girl panties, or in being clean without diapar changes. You can even praise other kids who have successfully made that step, as long as you're not using the praise to manipulate your daughter. She'll know. Be patient, and keep your eyes open. It will happen.



answers from Raleigh on

Save both of you the stress and aggravation and WAIT.

I tried potty training my oldest son at 2 1/2 because that seemed like the thing to do even though I had read in numerous places that most kids will really get it on their own closer to three. After a day and a half we were both over it and I decided not to even think about it until he turned three. Two months before his third birthday I realized he was telling me when he had to pee if he was naked, so the next day we pulled out the underwear and that was that. He did still insist on pooping in a diaper for one more month, but I didn't push that either. Changing the dirty diaper of an almost three year old once a day is not pleasant, but for me it's much better than cleaning up numerous accidents and doing extra laundry.

My youngest son turns three tomorrow, and two months ago I was thinking, "Okay, this is when his brother was ready for the toilet, and he's shown much more interest and ability than his older brother did at the same age, but he still seems like he's not really ready. Should I DO something to move this along?" What I realized I needed to do was readjust the timeline in my head, and a week ago today he actually told me he needed to poop (he was in a swim diaper), and although he asked for a regular diaper I put him on the toilet and distracted him with the potty book he's been looking at a lot on his own and reminded him of the bubble gum that all the big boys get in our house when they're finally big enough to poop in the potty. At first he couldn't go, and I did put a regular diaper on him, but within a few minutes he told me again that he had to go, so I put him on the toilet and that was that. He's been in underwear ever since. No nagging, no bribing, no watching the clock, no camping out in the bathroom singing songs and reading books waiting for something to happen. Just the privilege of gum for pooping in the toilet because increased freedom comes with increased responsibility. :)

So cut yourself a break--I'm sure you deserve it!--and wait. Good luck!



answers from Raleigh on

Every child is different and your daughter just may not be ready yet.

I know when I was fretting over this and complained to a daycare worker 'he's never going to be potty trained.' She said 'don't you know? That why they have roommates in college, to change their diapers.' ;-)

In other words, it feels like forever but it isn't. This too will pass.



answers from Charleston on

It doesn't sound like your daughter is ready. And really 2.5 is a little young to be expecting her to go potty. I would just keep the potty handy, read her books about going potty. Everybody Poops is a good book. Wait about 6 months then try again.
I know it feels like this is going to last forever but it won't. How many adults do you know that never got potty trained?
My duaghter was a few weeks shy of her 4th bday before she was fully potty trained. It will happen but it will be in your daughter's time.



answers from Raleigh on

Children are best potty trained when they are ready; the age varies from 24-36 months and this is just a range with children finding interest in the potty earlier or later. It's a time when they are growing up and should feel empowered by it; I would suggest telling your friends and family how proud you are and not how disappointed- negative reprocussions will simply keep her in diapers longer. It can take weeks/months, three days is not fair to her nor to your expectations. Throw that book out and talk with her and observe your daughter- you know her better than anyone else. If she is wiggling, holding herself, straining, put her on the potty.



answers from Greensboro on

my son is also 2 1/2... we've been working on potty training for about a year off and on. he showed great interest and was basically trained then went back and has done basically nothing with it for months....he is the same way, very smart, knows how to do it just doesn't really think about it i think (at least not till its too late)

my biggest thing is, don't turn it into a battle....you cant win the potty battle... she will. she will do it when she is ready. try not to make her feel bad about not going.. remember she is still young and still learning. you don't want her to feel like you are disappointed in her or don't love her. if you are really concerned about it, try putting her on a potty schedule... rest assurred, she will not be going to highschool in diapers! :) good luck! i'm right there with you!



answers from Wheeling on

First, you must believe that this is possible (it can be terribly daunting). Quit 'trying everything'. Choose your tack and stick to it. Small reward (or at least a happy 'potty dance') when there's success, and as little as possible notice for 'failure(s)' She IS old enough to use it on her own, but for some mamas, there's almost a desire to 'keep them little', and the effort to help them mature is 'half-hearted'. Obtain the attitude that you're doing this for HER -- enabling her. Think, 'let's do this' instead of 'I'm doing this TO her'.

This idea of 'when they're ready' is OK in today's envirinment where it's easy and possible to just keep buying disposable diapers forever, but it simply wasn't practical 'back in the day' when mamas had to WASH diapers and reuse them. I guess I'm of the 'old school' and feel that I have a right to push them a little to be more self-sufficient instead of catering to their 'readiness', as long as it's done with a happy and positive attitude.

I'm at our daughter's right now with her 18 mo old girl on the potty playing with a shape sorter as we speak. I'm in the next room. I just tell her to stay there until she pees, and she can get up. She gets up some (and I have her to sit back down), but she does eventually pee a little, so I make a big praise over her success, diaper her, and that's it. She'll get it. I love potty training (better than her mommy does! LOL), so I get to 'do the honors' when I'm here.

Don't use the pride or disappointment of others as an incentive. Make this about HER. When she learns to potty every time with no messes, she can choose her own underwear at the store. Start looking at them now, and ask her what ones she'll want to buy (and if you're afraid that they might 'sell out' of them, buy them when she's not with you and hide them). Make sure she's dry and no poopy pants for at least a week before letting her have them. Keep a chart of successes (not failures).

I'm sure you'll get lots of other advice, but this is doable! All my 4 were fully trained by age 2, and only the 2 boys had a few nighttime (wet) accidents after that.



answers from Memphis on

There is no "should" because there is such a wide variation -- each child is different, each family is different, some children just naturally potty-train easily or early, while others resist until much older.

My two children were very different. I realized my older one was ready to potty-train when he happened to be going without a diaper one day, and said to me in a horrified voice, "Mommy, I pee-pee" -- he hadn't peed yet, but he was saying he needed to, and was horrified at the thought of just peeing in the floor where he was. So I scooped him up and put him on the potty. There were plenty of accidents, but it probably took about a month or so before I felt comfortable that he wouldn't pee on himself for short trips (but I think I still put him in diapers for longer trips) -- and he slept in diapers for more than a year longer, and still (at 4&1/2 y/o) sometimes wets the bed, especially if he drinks right before going to sleep.

My younger son was quite different. He started pulling off his diapers when he was about 20 months old. At first, I thought it was just because they were wet, but he took off his dry diapers sometimes and then went in the floor! So, I decided just to p-t him, even though I thought he was actually a little too young (because it was either train him to go in the potty, or train him to leave his diapers on and just go in them). It took a looong time -- several months, even -- before he would reliably go in the potty and not just go on the floor. Actually, he was better when we were out than when we were at home (probably because I would take him to the potty more frequently or regularly when we were out, but would let it slip when we were at home). He is now almost three and hasn't had accidents in many weeks or even months, and he almost never wets the bed (he actually wakes up and goes to the potty in the middle of the night sometimes!).

We had a lot of messes to clean up (although both children were very good about always pooping in the potty), so I can't really "recommend" my way of doing things, but it worked for me in the *long* run.



answers from Johnson City on

Don't worry she will get it eventually. However it might be harder now that she's older--don't stress over it. I started my son long before his first birthday. When he would start going I would take him to the bathroom. I let him pick out his pull-ups. He liked wearing big boy pants. I never pressured him but alway praised him. I kept a small dish of plain M&Ms on a high shelf in the bathroom. Each time he went I made a big deal out of it and he got ONE M&M. This was very exciting for him. I kept a potty chair beside his bed and could hear him getting up to use it at night. He was proud of his very own personal potty chair-I think he put stickers on it. ( it was a long time ago-he's 23 now.)



answers from Louisville on

2 1/2 is still young, it sounds like she wasnt quite ready to give this a try. wait a month or 2 and try again.



answers from Charlotte on


Mine did the exact same thing. Just have patience. Mine just turned 3. (lil late I know) The first day I had to have her sit on the potty until she went. I too was tired of cleaning up the mess. It took a few days and when I made her she would go. I just made a big deal gave her candy. Then one day she started going on her own. This past weekend she went stinky. We are on our third week. So just make her go every so often. Keep telling her what bigs girls do and make a huge deal. She is being a normal 2 1/2 year old. She will get it and I wish the best of luck.

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