5 Strategies For Potty Training Stubborn Toddlers

I bring to you all today a guest post from Babysitters.net – enjoy!

Tackling the major developmental milestone that is potty training requires plenty pottyof patience and understanding, even
under the best of circumstances. When your child is stubbornly refusing to make the shift from diapers to a potty, however, the strain on a parent’s composure can be almost unbearable. Before you throw in the towel altogether and resign yourself to a life of changing jumbo-sized diapers for your college student, consider these five potty training strategies.

Don’t Resort to Punishments

When your child is outright refusing to use the potty and you know that she has a clear understanding of the concept, it’s easy to feel like the only possible solution is some sort of punishment when she has an accident. In fact, setting up a system of punishing your child for her failure to graduate to a potty chair can have deleterious effects. If she’s truly stubborn and simply isn’t ready to potty train, you’re effectively establishing a power struggle that can make her even less inclined to comply with your demands. If she’s just apprehensive and uncomfortable with such a big change, which can often be the case even when a child seems to be stubborn, the pressure of being punished for failure could actually inhibit progress.

Consider Taking a Break

It’s understandable to want your child out of diapers when she reaches toddler-hood  but her developmental schedule doesn’t always follow your own. If you’ve been trying to potty train your child for an extended period of time and have seen no real results, your best strategy may actually be to wait it out a bit. Giving your child a little break from the pressure of potty training and letting her spend a bit more time in diapers might be just the thing she needs. When she’s ready to use the potty and is somewhat receptive to the idea of eschewing diapers, you may find that you’re able to help her make that leap with a greater degree of success.

Make Potty Training as Comfortable as Possible

When a willful toddler that likes to do everything for herself is faced with the prospect of being helped onto an adult-sized potty and supported by a grown-up, she may lose interest in the entire concept. Making sure that your stubborn toddler who loves to assert her independence is able to access a child-sized potty chair with a modicum of privacy may help to advance your potty-training timeline.

Make Clean-Up a Group Effort

Diapers are whisked off and thrown away, while wet training pants make it into the laundry room and puddles are cleaned up by an adult. When your child has little to no involvement in the clean-up process during the aftermath of an accident, it may be more difficult for her to connect discomfort and inconvenience with not making it to the potty. Sometimes an accident occurs simply because a child is engaged in an enjoyable activity and doesn’t want to stop what she’s doing; when you quickly change her and allow her to continue as she was, the lesson about choosing not to go to the potty passes her by. When she has to stop what she’s doing to help you clean up her accident, find new clothes to put on and get re-dressed, she’s able to understand that there are uncomfortable and unpleasant consequences of not going to the potty.

Avoid Long Outings

A little bit of incentive can go a long way, even with toddlers. That’s why letting your child know that you won’t be taking any trips or going on any long outings until she’s able to go a whole day without a diaper or an accident can be an effective tool. Talk about a trip to the zoo or the park that you’ll take to celebrate her big-girl transition to the potty and make sure that she understands that success is up to her. Give her the keys to her own milestones and provide an incentive for her to make it there, and she’ll probably be more receptive. This same tactic can also work with little ones that are eager to emulate an older sibling who goes to school. Let her know that she can’t go to preschool until she’s potty trained, because school is for big kids. The incentive to be more like a sibling she looks up to and to attend something as exciting as school can help her be more receptive to the idea of potty training.


In 2006, Babysitters.net was founded by a group of dynamic business professionals, bringing experience in customer service, traditional retail, technology, legal, and marketing. From there, they have grown and diversified even more in an effort to bridge the gap between babysitters and parents who ultimately, need each other’s services. They just couldn’t accept that finding a sitter last minute, or finding a babysitter after moving into a new town, could be so timely and difficult.


6 responses

  1. I was fortunate with my daughter. She was in a hurry to be a big girl and wear real panties; she practically potty trained herself. My son is way too old for me to remember. (30s) 🙂

    1. That’s great it went so smoothly with your daughter and I assume if you don’t remember about your son, it must have not been too bad!!

  2. Potty training is something which I’m still working on with my #3. She has had some misses but it’s getting better.

    1. I’m glad to hear it’s getting better and I hope she’ll be all the way there in no time!

  3. Thanks for the tips. My son isn’t ready yet, I think. Will surely put these in mind.

    1. Good luck when the time comes!

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