Kids & Parenting

How NOT to Potty Train your Toddler…

I think this has been one of the toughest lessons so far. Or perhaps it’s because it’s current it seems like an issue… I seem to remember weaning felt rather similar at the time…

As the title implies, we are not a success story in this particular case.

The first time Little K used a potty was almost 8 months ago.

So much for all those ‘How to Potty Train in 2 days’ articles I was reading!

We had kept a potty in the flat from turning 18 months, just so she wouldn’t be shocked when we expected her to use it. She would sit on it quite happily (nappy on, fully dressed) and over time we started introducing the idea that this is where ‘big girls go for wees and poos’. She seems perfectly happy with this concept. We started by keeping her nappy free in the flat and it didn’t take us long to get her weeing and pooing on the potty regularly.

Maybe this was the problem? We went in too gentle. Maybe we should have just produced it one day and really gone for it?

After a month or so, I dedicated a weekend to staying in and focusing solely on potty training hoping that it would give her the push she needed. We stripped her off and she ran around in the nude all day, happy as anything.  We sat her on the potty every 30 – 45 minutes, or when we got any ‘cues’.

NOTE: Cues include squatting, squirming, leg crossing or just plain weeing on the floor.

She was fantastic. She received a sticker every time she weed or pooed on the potty which she decided she wanted to put onto the potty itself each time. By the end of the weekend, it was covered in a variety of stickers.

Obviously, there were accidents. She pooed on the sofa, she weed on the kitchen floor, all the standard expectancy. Overall though, I was thrilled.

However… (there always has to be a however)

What I realised after the two days was that at no point had she told me that she wanted to go on the potty.

We tried for another two days. Again, she went numerous times on the potty and was more than happy to sit on it and use it. But she would never give me a warning of wanting to do so, it was only when we consciously asked her to come and sit on it, or actively put her there ourselves.

After four days, unfortunately she had to go to nursery. We put her back in nappies as she was definitely not ready for knickers at this point

Was this a mistake? Maybe I should have taken time off work and carried on?! Should I have sent her in knickers and hoped for the best…

We informed nursery that she had started using the potty at home and they agreed to assist while she was with them. I am fully aware that with numerous children to be watching it is not as effective, but was pleased to hear on collection that she had used the potty twice during the day… BUT both times were when she was put on it during a nappy change rather than asking to go. She would sometimes tell that she was going or that she had gone, but never an advance warning.

Maybe she was too young? Should we give up completely and revisit at a different date? Do we continue the softly softly approach until she shows us she is ready?

This continued for weeks, and then we went on holiday, and then it was Christmas, and then the excuses continued….

Maybe we should have cancelled all the above events? Who needs Christmas if your child can wee and poo in the right place?!

And now here we in February. I wouldn’t say we’ve made no progress, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked/expected?

Are my expectations too high? She’s pretty bright for her age so I was kind of expecting her to pick this up with little issue…

Yesterday, when her Nana was looking after her, she refused to wear a nappy, but asked for her knickers (she received some for Christmas, and we keep getting them out too look at in the hope this day would come!)…

She used the potty twice before her first accident, and yet she still isn’t telling us when she needs to go…

She is aware of wiping and hand washing. She has extended dry nappy periods. She is dry after naps.  She tries to pull her pull ups up and down. She always wants to see us when we are using the toilet, and even runs to show me where ‘Mummy does her wee wees!’ (a beautiful sight for you all there!). She is generally co-operative and enjoys praise (and her sticker rewards!)… From what I have read this is all the main cues for being ‘ready’…

So I’m putting it out there for the experience of the world wide web to advise…

What would you do? Do you have any hints and tips?

Do I take a week of work and really work on it? Keep going as we are? Keep her in pull up nappies? Go straight into knickers full time? I have no idea… At this rate it feels like she’ll still be a part time potty user when she’s 10!


How NOT to potty train your toddler - A guide to accidents, self doubt and parenting guilt


11 thoughts on “How NOT to Potty Train your Toddler…”

  1. A great place to go is the ERIC website, a charity for potty training and continence issues. They have a help line and offer email support as well as leaflets and advice online. I cannot recommend them highly enough!
    In all seriousness, the amount of ‘train in two days’ causes so much heartache. Many children WON’T learn in two days, and the mums are left feeling like they are the wrong minority, when actually they are the normal majority and the ‘two days’ people are just very lucky.
    I tried to days and kept going on and on and sadly it led to witholding and associated issues (constipation and pain). This has ended up with over a year of medical care and medication for my child – if it’s not working, stop and wait!


  2. Put her in pants, let her wee herself if that’s what she does, she will realise it’s uncomfortable if you don’t change her immediately and eventually she will get it. I honestly think nappies/pull ups just delay children, my little boy was the same, then after 2 weeks of pants and numerous accidents (even when out and about) he just got it. Biggest advice I could give is ditch the nappies swap to pants! X


      1. You can get little pads called dry like me. Basically baby Tena lady to avoid massive accidents. I use for my little one. We run on average about 1 accident a day and the pad saves it making it to her shoes!!! 😊


  3. Have you tried modelling to her? Like saying your thought process out loud ‘I had a drink a little while ago so I might do a test wee to see if I need one’. We still do this before we go out of the house/leave anywhere with toilet facilities with my three year old step daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey,
    Just read found this Pinterest we are having exactly the same thing with our little girl. Seems like we’re too far to go back but she never tells us!
    Have you had any further success?


    1. I’d love to say we’ve made it…. but we haven’t yet! However, I think we are making progress. We have stopped using the potty and have bought a toddler seat that goes on the toilet and a mini set of steps so she can do it all herself. She’s really into being independent at the moment so this seems to be working better as she can do it all herself and she gets to sit on the toilet like a big girl… She has started telling us with a little notice but we’re definitely still not in a place to do the move into knickers as every time she puts them on she just wees in them!! Keep going! We’ll get there in the end x


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