Are you discouraged with potty training? I’ve been there, Mama! I hope this post will give you hope for a light at the end of the potty training tunnel!
To the mama discouraged with potty training,
I was you, Mama. It took me two years to potty train my firstborn. Two.entire.years.
I had tried it all: sticker charts, candy, Dollar Tree trinkets, pull-ups, no pull-ups, panties, bare-bummed, potty training in one day, potty training in three days, tips aimed at potty training the strong-willed child. (We did not try infant potty training. That’s just not my style!)
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these methods, but they just weren’t best for our family.
It didn’t matter what we tried, it didn’t work.
We even took her to an urologist to make sure there wasn’t anything physically wrong with her. (There wasn’t.)
I imagined she would be wearing diapers forever.
I didn’t just feel like a potty training failure. I felt like a failure as a mother.
It was humbling–the messes, the tears (both hers and mine), the frustration and embarrassment.
When my second daughter turned 2, I didn’t even think about potty training her. While the mothers of her friends pulled out the stickers and charts and all kinds of prizes, I laughed and vowed to never potty train again.
No, really, I did.
I felt scarred for life. You might say I had potty training PTSD because that is what it felt like.
I would let her potty train herself.
And at 3 years and 4 months, she did just that. It took about a week, but when she was ready, my second child did it all on her own.
The method worked so well that I decided to do the same with my third child. So when she turned 2 and the other moms of the kids in her preschool class were reading potty training books and spending hours prodding their little ones along on the potty, I waited.
Her teacher even told me that she was ready, but I knew when she was really ready she would show me.
Last week, at 2 years and 9 months old, she did just that: She woke up on Tuesday morning and said: “Mommy, I’m ready to go potty now.”
She went potty all day long–no accidents.
I made her wear a pull-up, but at the end of the day it was still dry.
The next day, she brought me a pair of her sister’s panties: “Mommy, I’m wearing panties today.”
So I let her. Again, she went potty all day long.
Eight days ago, a switch flipped, and my youngest child potty trained just like that.
I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, Mama. I was the mama who stressed herself out daily for two entire years, wondering why her child wouldn’t potty train.
And I’m the mama whose child potty trained herself overnight.
Take it from one mama who has been in the trenches: Potty training won’t last forever, and if you need to take a break, just take a break.
Seasoned mamas told me, and I didn’t believe them. Believe me now: Your child will potty train when he or she is ready. If you wait it out and practice some patience, you will save yourself a whole lot of heartache.
That fiery firstborn of mine? She finally potty trained herself (after Mama had long given up) at 4. It wasn’t a moment too early or a moment too late. It was exactly when she was ready to potty train.
Dear Mama discouraged with potty training, I want to save you from feeling like a potty training failure. I don’t want you to spend two years fretting about what you are doing wrong or if something is wrong with your child.
I don’t want to leave you hanging, Mamas. Here is how my husband and I laid the foundation for our 2nd and 3rd children to have success with child-led potty training.
I hope you will be encouraged!
Have you ever felt discouraged with potty training? What are your tips for moms in the trenches who might be potty training right now?
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You don’t know how bad I needed this….My 4 1/2 will not potty train.For nothing.Dr say Dnt worry she will….I continue to fret.we are on that “break” and will resume panties this week.she has promised she is ready.all I can do is hope.thanks for posting.
Hang in there, Mama! There is hope! When I finally relaxed and stopped pushing, my firstborn trained!
I’m very laid back in my parenting style. Generally I don’t stress about my kids hitting any kind of milestone and am of the mindset that they’ll get there when they’re ready and there’s no need to concern myself with anyone else’s timeline.
Potty training has been hard though because at our church, kids are expected to move from one area of children’s ministry to another around the time they turn three. In order to do so, they have to be fully potty trained–accidents must be rare and they need to wipe on their own for both number one and number two. To me this seems like a steep order for a child who’s just turned three.
I’ve been pushing my daughter to potty train as her third birthday is this weekend, and she would really benefit from moving to the older class with more structure. She’s been doing well, but she’s nowhere near the specified mark of rare accidents and being entirely independent in the bathroom. This is what has me down about potty training. She’s the oldest child in her class now and some of the other children below her have been successfully using the potty for a lot longer. I’d hate to see her friends move up and leave her behind, as she already asks where some of her older playmates have gone.
Pulling her put of class until she can move up would be impossible, too. We have a 3 hour service and she’s a super active kid. She’d never handle sitting for that long. She loves her teachers and her friends and going to class but I’m concerned that if she continues to get older and her friends move along, awareness that she’s the odd one out will set in and become a source of embarrassment, and she’ll no longer enjoy being at church. I’d hate that as she’s very social and going to church regularly is a highlight for her.
Anyway, that’s my potty training woe. We really do have a wonderful children’s ministry and I love it, but am feeling pressured by this expectation when in and of myself, I would not stress at all.
That does sound very difficult, Laura! I have heard of preschools making that rule, but I have never heard of a church rule like that. 🙁 I’m so sorry you have to deal with that added stress!
How sad that they won’t work with you on this. I would just put her in a pull-up, say that you’re working on potty training and if she does have an accident, they should treat it like any other 3 year old who is still learning. After all, it’s not a big deal in a pull-up, is it? And if she’s only there once a week, how are they to know what is frequent and what’s not?
She might even decide to go more frequently by being with the older kids who are most certainly taking a potty break.
Our church is the same way. It is for health codes. Diaper kids must be in a room that is set up for diaper changing.
Hi, I’m so knee deep in pee. Its been like 8 or 9 months now and my child still has 1 or 2 full accidents a day and often dribbles in her underwear so we are constantly changing them and it feels like an accident. She goes when I ask her to go, but otherwise won’t. I don’t trust her to, I try to be relaxed and calm and not.let on my stress. But I fear that if I don’t tell her to go every hour she will have an accident. I’m afraid of going back to diapers for fear she’ll get discouraged and never want to use the potty again. We tried stickers and treats and she quicky loses interest. I’m holding out hope that she’ll just one day get it and stop wetting her self but I’m so frustrated and I feel like a failure. Thank you for your post. Any advice in this potty purgatory I’m in? I don’t want to quit but I don’t see much improvement!
Erin- I can relate with your experience with your first child! 🙂 I did the exact same thing- I started training my first child just before 2 and thought he would be fully trained by his 2nd birthday. The power struggles were endless and frustrating. I was trying to get him trained before my 2nd child was born. Whatever progress was made went out the window when baby #2 came when he was 2 1/2. He was over 3 before he was fully trained! I felt he would never get to that point. But I learned it had nothing to do with potty but more a power struggle. He would choose when he was ready. So my 2nd son is 2 1/2 and he will occasionally sit on the potty but I have backed off- He will do it when he is ready and I am ok with that. After all I went through with the first, I am doing what you did- just being patient! 🙂
Your story sounds so similar, Gina! I was trying to do it before a baby arrived as well…our first two are 28 months apart. I should have just waited! Waiting for #2 and #3 has made a world of difference!
All three of the boys trained at different ages. The first one decided he wanted to go in the big potty when he was just 2. I assumed that that is when I should have the next boys train. Boy was I wrong!
I am kind of glad my hardest one was my first because my expectations for #2 and #3 were really low after that! LOL It is so true that they are each so different!
Hello! So glad I found this article, we have been going for 9 months with lots of changes (multiple lockdowns, new sibling and multiple ear infections resulting in grommets) and I’ve been wanting to take a break and revert back to diapers but so many people have said not to go back (my husband, mum, childcare) even though I feel like we need the break! So to clarify, you stopped and went back to diapers? And then eventually when she was ready it happened? Thank you
Had a very similar experience. I read all kinds of methods and nothing worked. The house was a mess. I was about to give up when his speech teacher suggested he go to preschool (he had a speech delay). They require him to be fully independent in the bathroom to be in class so I went for it. Within a few weeks he was almost fully potty trained just from being around other kids that were! I think sometimes they need an outside influence, other than mom and dad, that they can look up to.
Starting preschool is what finally helped our firstborn as well! Our house was SUCH a mess…I was scrubbing the carpet constantly!
What an encouraging post! My son didn’t want to potty train, I was so worked up over it. He would even come up and say “I went to the bathroom, please change my diaper”. Then one day he said he would use the potty and he never wore a diaper again. We didn’t deal with all the accidents or pull-ups or any of that stuff. Now I know each child will get there when they are ready.
He sounds just like my 3rd! I couldn’t believe it when she just did it overnight!
This is where we are at! Strong willed firstborn girl. Trained a year ago, so easily, the baby brother came and I think she has pooped in the toilet a total of 5 times since (baby boy is 10 months old). My mom is encouraging me not to give up, because she does pee on the toilet, but she couldn’t care less if an accident does happen, and I just wonder if leaving it alone will solve it?? Gah!
Yes, they sound so similar! I would leave it alone. That is what finally worked for us! Hang in there!
Okay, so to clarify, “leave it alone” means just put her back in diapers? And never even take her to the toilet? Just want to be clear if I’m going to change it up here 🙂
This is interesting – because with my last (9th!) child – I decided to wait too. JUST THIS WEEK (he is 3 years, 3 months) he is pottying himself consistently. Because he wants to. I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. I’ve never seen a five year old in diapers (unless they have developmental issues.) So I think we can all RELAX. 🙂
It’s so funny, Natalie, because I was JUST thinking of you today in relation to this! Didn’t you write a post one time about you not pushing potty training? I think that post encouraged me!!
Let me edit a little. There may be five year olds in diapers – especially at night. My point is that eventually all average children grow up. I thought I should clarify. 🙂 Some may take longer than others. And the pooping thing is really a whole ‘nother related issue.
LOL! Yes, I get it! I might have a couple of those as well. 😉
We are going through this same situation with our third child right now( 2 1/2 years). She started going on the potty over a year ago, and she has shown she is capable. However, she is unwilling to train and go regularly. She wants to wear panties, but she is content to use them like a diaper and sit in them while they are wet. So, now we are at the point of waiting until she is ready.
I hope she will be ready soon!
Thank you so much for this. I went through the same thing with my oldest. She didn’t potty train until 4 either. Potty training my second oldest was a breeze though. 🙂 My youngest (a boy) is almost 2 1/2. I know it will be an adventure to potty train him, but I definitely feel more ready and I’m happy to wait until he’s ready, too. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your story. I really feel this is what more mamas need during potty training – encouragement.
I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone either!
This is a great article. I think it’s so important to wait until your child is ready. I read Potty Wise and it had a list of signs of readiness to look for, so when I thought my first born was ready I realized he wasn’t doing many of the signs of readiness. My second son is potty training right now and even though he hasn’t potty trained in a day, he told me one day he needed to go potty and he is way ahead of where his brother was at this point and I am way less stressed. There will be a day when you aren’t constantly searching out every bathroom, constantly saying “do you need to go potty?” And cleaning up messes all over the house. Breath easy momma, they will be potty trained and in hindsight it will have been undo stress. You’re awesome momma! Keep it up! ❤️
Such great encouragement!
Great article, thanks for covering a topic close to my heart! The encouragement is appriciated!! Just fyi- the link at the end of the article does not go to the ebook but the banner right above it does lead to the ebook for those that are looking for it!
Oh thanks so much for letting me know! I’ll fix that!
Thank you for this! I never understood potty training and was of the mindset that they would do it when ready. I introduced going on the potty at about 2 with my oldest and she just didn’t seem to get it but one day at 29 months she came up to me with a pair of underwear and said she wanted to wear them and I figured why not. She never looked back! Our youngest, at almost 3(next week) still isn’t potty trained. She will go if bare bottomed but put a pull-up or underwear on her and she pees in them! So frustrating but I keep telling myself she will when she’s ready. I’m hoping that will be soon 🙂
Thank you so much for this! I have been working on potty training my 3.5 year old boy for over a year and I’m on the verge of tears as I type this. He just won’t poop on the potty period and he will only pee on the potty if he is at home and naked. I’ve tried it all… Except to just let him be and do it in his own time. I’m giving it a go, taking a break from the constant poop talk and walking away from that damn Elmo potty. Cross your fingers!
My last child, my almost 4 year old daughter has been peeing on the potty for over a year now. She will poop in the potty if I catch her in time. But it’s like she’s too lazy to bother using the potty to poop! I know she will get there, but yes, back to pull ups we go. I am sick and tired of washing out poopy underwear every single day!
Thank you for such an encouraging post, I’m crying as I read it, I’m potty training my almost 3 year old boy, our first born.
Been through all the struggles, never imagined all the tears, frustration and exhaustion involved. I pray for patience and wisdom on how to handle it.
I’ve heard of this method before ” they’ll potty train when they are ready”
but reading your post was an eye opener.
Thank you so much.
I am so glad you were encouraged!!
So I’m not sure if any other moms have this problem, but we’ve been potty training for 2 months now and my 2 year old was doing great. He stayed dry and accident free for 2 & 1/2 weeks straight. Until about 2 weeks ago and then he just refused to sit on the toilet, and it’s just accident after accident( hasn’t made it to the toilet more than once a day). We went from me considering calling him fully potty trained to me crying because I’m 8 months pregnant cleaning up accidents on my hands and knees. Do I just call it quits for a while and put him back in diapers and not worry about it? Or because he did so well before just keep trying?
I’m so sorry you’re going through this, Alicia! My guess is that he senses the new baby is coming soon. A lot of toddlers regress when a new baby arrives. I wouldn’t push it, personally. My oldest was 28 months when my second arrived. I kept pushing and pushing and it just made things worse! It really isn’t that bad having two in diapers for a while! Congrats to you on the new baby!
I think I’m reading this article in disbelief because training my three year old feels like it’s taking forever. What do you mean by kids training themselves? They just up and start using the potty every time they need to go on their own with no prompting? How does that happen? I’m so confused.
Hi Nina! I’m so sorry for the confusion and discouragement! It’s not pushing them and letting them take the lead. It’s acting like nothing is wrong if they have an accident. This article explains it better: https://thehumbledhomemaker.com/child-led-potty-training/
What if we have been “trying” and its not working? Do we just stop and let him figure it out eventually? My son has high functioning Autism and that can be a whole separate issue but I think he can do this. He is 3 years 4 months and was peeing successfully in the potty. Never pooped. Now he won’t even pee in the potty. Would you recommend we just stop mentioning it? Bc at this point I’ll try anything. I’m so ready for him to get this and to be done with horrible burns and rashes caused by soiling himself!