What To Do If Your Kid Refuses To Potty Train
I have two boys and both of them were INCREDIBLY difficult to potty train. My oldest is 8 years old and I still say potty training was the hardest parenting thing I’ve ever done. Hands down. The worst part was that it seemed like everyone around me was having a super easy time with potty training. No joke, my niece potty trained just after turning two and with almost no “training.”
If you are struggling with a kid who doesn’t want to potty train, I’m proof that it will eventually happen. My pediatrician reminded us that no one goes to college in diapers when I expressed frustration. She’s right, both of my boys did ultimately potty train, even though they were older than I’d like and it took way longer than I thought possible.
My oldest had a speech delay so we decided to wait until he was more verbal to start potty training. When he was a little over three years old, I took a week off work after reading the three day potty training method. I did everything they suggested and cleaned up mess after mess after mess after mess. After a week, I sent him back to school with a stack of extra clothes and my fingers crossed. He had multiple accidents every day for months and months. It wasn’t until after he turned four that he really got the hang of potty training and stopped having accidents.
My youngest is a strong-willed child (to put it mildly), so I read several articles specifically on potty training a strong-willed child. I talked up potty training, got him excited, let him pick out underwear and took a week off work. He actually fared really well during our week of potty training at home but once he went back to school, he was having daily accidents. So much so that one day he came home in his swim trunks (they were the only clean spare clothes left) and pink tennis shoes (spare shoes that were left at school by someone else). His teachers actually said he wasn’t ready to potty train so back to Pull Ups he went.
Months later, his teacher sent a note home saying she thinks he might be ready to potty train so would we mind sending underwear and spare clothes in? I jumped at the opportunity to have someone else potty train my kid so I did what I was told. A few weeks later, she told me he is 100% ready to be in just underwear. My husband and I were nervous since we had such a tough time with his brother but once he decided he wanted to be potty trained, it was done. I can count the amount of accidents since then on one hand.
So, if you are in the midst of potty training a difficult child, know that it will eventually happen.
Potty Training Tips For The Hard To Potty Train Kid
I’m so glad I only have two kids because I know that I will never have to potty train another child (although I feel bad for my sons’ future wives). If you are having a tough time potty training, here are some of my survival tips.
- Accept that potty training isn’t easy for everyone. I felt like such a failure with my oldest son because everyone I knew seemed to have an easy time and it just wasn’t working out for us. Not every kid is easy to potty train but every kid will eventually potty train so don’t beat yourself up.
- Don’t put pressure on your kid. This one can be tough if your child has to be potty trained by a certain time for preschool, but try not to pressure your kid. The more anxious and stressed out I was with my oldest, the more accidents he had (and hid), whereas, once I admitted defeat with his brother and let him go back to Pull Ups, he let me (well, his teacher) know that he was ready to potty train.
- Find Your Currency. We started off with big rewards with my oldest son, which got really expensive, and didn’t make him potty train any quicker. We should have started with smaller rewards and when we were struggling, pull out the big rewards, rather than starting big and having nowhere left to go. We started with M&Ms with my youngest son and when he was really close, offered up a train he wanted to push him over the edge. It worked.
- Sticker charts work. I was resistant to sticker charts with my oldest son but tried them with my younger son. He got a sticker every time he was dry at potty time. Since he likes trains, I drew train track boxes and every 7 spaces, he got a prize at the “station.” It worked so well with him that I regret not doing it with my older son.
- Set your timer. I’m pretty terrible at remembering that it’s potty time so I set a timer. I also tried to do activities that would fit in the 30 minute increments so that potty time didn’t interrupt fun. As we got farther along, I could stretch out potty breaks until he just started letting me know when he had to go.
- They’ll potty train when they’re ready, eventually. Everyone kept saying to wait for signs that my kids were ready before starting potty training. Unfortunately for me, my kids had absolutely zero interest in potty training. They didn’t mind being wet. They didn’t want to stop what they were doing to use the potty. They did both eventually potty train, when they were ready to do it, but I still had to start them off before they were fully ready (otherwise we wouldn’t have started until they were both 4). Just know that no matter when you start the potty training process, your kid will fully train when he/she is ready.
- This bears repeating over and over and over again. Potty training is not for the weak. It is messy and not even remotely easy, unless you have a kid who takes to it. My kids didn’t want to potty train so it was miserable and took forever. That being said, potty training went more smoothly the second time around because I knew that it would eventually happen so there was no need to stress out. Of course, I was fortunate that neither preschool had an issue with kids who weren’t potty trained.
If you are in the midst of potty training misery, I feel you. It was a rough time in my home, both times around. The only consolation I have for you is that eventually, it will be over. My boys are both potty trained and your kids will eventually too – even if they make it unbelievably difficult in the process.