We have a 2.5-yo, and we are attempting to potty train. However, she is very "strong-willed", and so we are experiencing some issues. First of all, she knows how to use the toilet. She has seen us do it, and she has in fact done it herself. When she does use toilet, we make a big deal and give her treats, praise, hugs, etc. (just like everyone recommends). However, now that we are emphasizing using the potty, she refuses to do so. We have stopped putting diapers on her when we are at home - and my wife stayed home with her not going out for about 4 days at one point - but she then holds her potty until either naptime or bedtime when we put a diaper/pull-up on.

We had some early success with #1, but she absolutely refuses to #2 on the potty. It got to the point where she became constipated since she held it in for so long. And now, she refuses to use the potty for nos. 1 or 2 and instead waits for bedtime and insists on either a diaper or pull-up. It doesn't help (we think) that she attends Mother's Day Out 3/4 times a week and as such we have to put a pull-up on.

We have contemplated insisting that she sit on the potty, but we are afraid this will stigmatize the experience. Furthermore, she treats anything we put on her, pull-up, diaper, cotton panties, as an invitation to potty (#2). We have also tried to bribe her with candy. Instead of encouraging her to use the potty, she "pretends" to use it then insists on getting candy.

Our daughter begins pre-school in the fall, and the school dictates that all pre-schoolers are potty trained by October 1. At this rate, we're going to miss that date and she will be in diapers until her teenage years. We would love any advice, or if someone has had similar issues to share their solution. I've heard people say that some kids just decide on their own to use the potty. Should we hope for that? I feel that at 2.5 years, she should've been potty trained already.

Thank you.

asked 02 Feb '10, 01:26

RHPT's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

To be clear, is your daughter using the toilet but just not the potty? Or is she now refusing to use either?

(02 Feb '10, 01:56) Tammy ♦♦

She's refusing to use either.

(02 Feb '10, 03:35) RHPT

Thanks everyone for the great advice. My wife and I have decided to "back off" for now.

(03 Feb '10, 02:17) RHPT

Just a very late update. We stopped pressing her, and around July my daughter decided she wanted to start wearing her "big girl panties" and viola....No problems ever since fingerscrossed

(11 Nov '10, 01:10) RHPT

Okay, take a deep breath. October is 9 months away. That's a hugh chunk of time in toddler time. It's like 9 years to us. She's only been alive for 30 months and look at all the stuff she's accomplished.

If I were you, I would just give it up for a few months and try again in April or May (or June, whenever she seems to have forgotten all about it). If she's dug in her heels like this, you're not likely to accomplish much except a lot of anguish on both sides, anyway, and you may just drag it out a whole lot longer. I have just proclaimed myself the grand-high-poohba of poopy and give you my express permission to just quit. (You know, if you want to.) And if anybody questions why you're not training her anymore you can say "Some woman in Winnipeg who's the grand-high-poohba of poopy gave us permission to stop", that should confuse them enough that they change the subject.

I think they do decide that they want to use the potty, and you're just setting yourself up for a battle if they haven't made that decision yet. My second son thought the entire idea was completely disgusting everytime we mentioned it to him when he was your daughters age, then one day a few months later he decided to try it, and never wore a diaper again. No accidents, no problems, not even at night.
Which was really, really, cool. (and I am completely not taking credit for!)

Or, you could try just putting her back in diapers and explaining that Mommy and Daddy talked about it and decided that she is just too little to go potty yet, so she gets to be a baby again and use diapers. Worked like a charm on my oldest when he was having a lot of accidents, he was the "big boy", his brother was the baby. He was terribly insulted, even though I had explained that he shouldn't be, and started using the potty like it was his new best friend. This might only work if you have that kind of "proud to be a big girl" dynamic going on, though.

My daughter is a few months older than yours, and believe me, I get where you're coming from. People have been telling me that I should be training her for about 6 months, (my mother, my sisters, her dad, I think the mail-carrier has mentioned it), but, you know, she's really not interested, and actually doesn't seem to have a hot clue about when she needs to go, so, I think I'll wait until she does and they can all worry about their own toilet habits.

If you're making going potty extremly rewarding (and boy, sounds like you are, I'd go potty for you people!), and a toddler is still making it a power-struggle, let it go. I've always had to keep in mind when dealing with my kids that it's my job to teach them. Not to "win". (I have a smidge of that "head-strong" stuff you're talking about, so, I really have to keep it in mind, and it's sometimes kinda hard to swallow, which is why I gave you the grand-high-poohba permission thing, looking back at when my older ones were small, I wish someone then had given me permission to quit smacking my head up against the wall of toddler stubborness.)

It'll be okay, as the GHPofP (and as just another parent who's been there) I promise. Probably by October, almost certainly by kindergarten, and definately by College.


answered 02 Feb '10, 09:05

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

Lots of good ideas in there!

(02 Feb '10, 10:54) Scott ♦♦

Very good suggestions. We made lots of progress after taking a step back.

(02 Feb '10, 17:56) K D

+1 "Definitely by College" :)

(03 Feb '10, 11:53) Benjol

You're stressing because of a looming deadline.

She's picked up on your stress, and either she's enjoying the power that she can derive from using her self-control against you (I don't think so), or she's just reacting to your stress/pressure.

Let's step back from the brink, take a deep breath, stop worrying about the issue immediately at hand, and think 'big picture':

If your daughter can hold on for 4 days, why are you worrying about a few hours at school?

If you look at things that way, the priority now is to diffuse the number-two-related tension, and try and get number ones back on track.

"I feel that at 2.5 years, she should've been potty trained already."

I may be reading too much into your words, but this kind of hints that apart from the practical deadline of school, you have some kind of 'moral imperative' related to potty training. Let go of the 'should'.

Strong willed is good, especially for a girl, even though it might not seem like it right now. If she knows how to 'just say no' later in life, you will have a lot less to worry about.

Letting her control over her body become the 'arm' in a battle of the wills is NOT a good way to go. She will 'win', everyone will lose.

Just my two cents.

(Context: My daughter is 5. She still does number 2s in a diaper. She goes to school. Never had any problems, the teacher doesn't even know)

(I'm answering this one anonymously, in future years my daughter may not appreciate this having been broadcast to the universe!)


answered 02 Feb '10, 06:51

Not%20this%20time's gravatar image

Not this time
accept rate: 0%

We haven't reached this milestone with our daughter yet so I can't offer any advice. I know it's coming so I'm interested in the responses. Perhaps some of the answers to the following questions may be helpful for you.




answered 02 Feb '10, 02:00

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦
accept rate: 18%

Does she have any friends of a similar age that are potty trained, you could try inviting them round to play and when she needs to go the bathroom let your child go with her. Kids love to copy kids.


answered 02 Feb '10, 14:14

Phil%20Seller's gravatar image

Phil Seller
accept rate: 9%

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Asked: 02 Feb '10, 01:26

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Last updated: 02 Feb '10, 14:14