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Learning To Use The Potty

I have had potty learning on my brain for about nine months, maybe longer.

Never willing to push her or make learning to use the potty a battle of wills, I have let Grace take the lead.

We got a potty for Grace's first birthday. We put it in the living room, and Grace really liked sitting on it (fully clothed) to play and watch tv.learning to use the potty

Eventually, we moved the potty to the bathroom, and Grace continued to enjoy sitting on it while fully clothed.

Now and then, Grace took her diaper and pants off and sat on her potty. A few times, she even got some pee to land in it.

Two days after that, she gave up on the potty. Forever.

Over the summer, I often asked, “Grace, would you like to sit on your potty?”

Nope.

I allowed her hiney to air out often, usually more than once a day.

Sometimes, the diaper-less Grace peed on the floor. More than once, she said:

Momma! There's a big poop on the floor!

But she never wanted to sit on the potty.

Once, I left her diaper off for most of the day. She peed down her own leg, and she found this experience to be very disturbing. From then on, if she thought she was about to pee or poop, she would climb up onto the couch, raise her legs toward the ceiling, and yell,

Put my diaper on! My diaper, Momma! MY WANT A DIAPER ON!

I gave up pretty quickly on my dreams of a potty trained 2-year-old.

That didn't stop me from buying almost every potty training book in print. The Potty Book For Girls. Big Girls Use the Potty!. Once Upon a Potty for Girls. Everyone Poops. Sesame Beginnings: Potty Time!. Potty Time with Elmo. No More Diapers for Ducky!. And even Elmo's Potty Time DVD.

It got to a point where I would bring an Amazon box in from outside, and Grace was clap and cheer.

I get new potty book!

It was then I realized that I'd gone a little overboard. If she hadn't figured it out from three books, she probably wasn't going to figure it out from seven books and a DVD.

Then, Grace started to show signs of being ready. She put her dolls on her potty, and she made sounds like they were peeing and pooping. All of her Little People (even the animals from the farm) took turns sitting on the potty in their house.

But still, Grace wouldn't sit on hers.

And then I brought home a Dora Toilet Seat for the toilet, and I showed it to Grace. Around the same time, her grandparents bought her a three-pack of Dora panties.

Grace wanted to wear the panties. If that meant sitting on the toilet, she was willing.

I was ecstatic! She wore the panties all afternoon one Sunday.

3 pairs of panties, 3 pee spots on my living room carpet.

I was frustrated, and I was not ready for so much peeing on the floor. I thought learning to use the potty would mean that Grace would get it, and then we could stop buying diapers. I wasn't prepared for so much frustration.

Grace was upset, but she gave in quickly when I said she had to wear a diaper if she wasn't going to pee on the potty.

This past Saturday, Grace walked up to me and said, I no wear diapers any more.

Incredulous, I asked, “Oh no?”

Nope. No more diapers for Gracie. Diapers are yucky.

“Are you going to pee on the potty?”

Yes. My wear gutchies, and my pee on potty.

“Okay, if that's what you want.” I replied.

It was, indeed, what she wanted. She sat on the potty every half hour all day Saturday and all day Sunday –

She never once peed or pooped on it.

A few times, she sat on the potty, pulled up her pants, washed her hands, and then peed on the floor.

Once, she didn't pee from 8 am until 5 pm.

Another time, she held it all day and then peed on the floor after reaching in to the refrigerator.

I don't get it.

I'm carting lots of dry training pants and lots of dry pants around where ever we go because Grace wants to wear them. She's adament that she is not wearing a diaper anymore.

Each time Grace pees in her underwear, she gets upset, and she asks for them to be changed. We change her pants and her gutchies, and we start the process over again.

I don't think Grace gets it, either.

I hope she gets it soon.

Has this happened to you?

What did you do? What did your little one do?

Do you have any advice for me?

© 2009 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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24 thoughts on “Learning To Use The Potty”

  1. I think you have to connect the panties to the toilet. IF you let her wear the panties, take her into the bathroom every hour to “try”. If she refuses to “try”, put a diaper on her and tell her she isn't ready for panties. If she has an accident, don't let her try again for awhile. No more books, no more dvds…no more fun associated with the training. It just is. Don't be punitive, just very matter of fact. No trauma, just the facts. She knows what bodily functions are going on, now you have to get her to connect them to the behaviors you want. Also, you didn't say how old she is. My first and my third didn't potty train until they turned 3. Almost to the day they both informed me they were done with diapers and had no accidents. My second child did it at 2.5 and had no accidents.

  2. i am not sure if this helps, but I found with my daughter that I could show her – with water – what happened with her panties when they got wet, and then I would put the water and panty over the toliet and show that process. who knows, it may work for you too!

  3. I feel your pain! My daughter was also very difficult to potty train, and now she is struggling to get her own daughter trained–and has been since May! I find comfort in the fact that I don't know any children who don't eventually “get it”. You've tried all of our suggestions, so I can't give you any advice other than be patient–it will happen eventually. Blessings, Kathy

  4. I understand exactly how you feel! When my girls were younger, my oldest daughter was early doing EVERYTHING while my youngest daughter was doing everything late! She wanted no part of using the potty until she was 4 years old. I tried everything, just like you, but nothing worked. Each child has their own point when those milestones will be met and I don’t believe that we can really do anything about when that will be. They happen when their bodies are ready for it.

    I hope that you and Grace will find “Potty Success” very soon!

    Blessings~

  5. I feel your pain! My daughter turned three in Sept… we have been potty training for MONTHS! I eventually gave up on the underwear because I didn’t want to be scrubbing my carpets all day long. We use pullups instead… it’s my sanity saver. 🙂

    One thing I did read was to reward them for staying dry. Peeing on the potty isn’t the primary goal… it’s staying dry and clean. Using the potty is just they way we achieve that. So you could try to reward her randomly throughout the day… ask her “Are your panties dry?” And if they are make a big deal about it and give her some raisins or something. Then when she uses the potty talk about how great it is that she used the potty so that she could keep her panties dry.

    I think potty training has been the hardest thing for me so far as a mom. It’s super frustrating. I am convinced that I will be sending my daughter to high school in pull ups! I hope your daughter figures it out soon.

  6. Good question.
    With my first, she was a breeze. Found her one day sitting on the throne all by herself going potty. She was almost two. That was it. She was trained. After she was potty trained, I realized what a pain it was to do the potty thing. She had to try out every bathroom in every store we went to (at least 20 minutes to go, check everything out, play in the water, smell the soap, and discover the mystery of paper towels). And it never failed that as soon as we got in the car, she had to go. And when they have to go, you gotta run/drive fast. I hate public bathrooms too.
    Along comes little sister and she wanted to be like big sister. She did awesome for about 2 months (at 20 months) and then got bored with it and didn’t want to do it anymore. I dropped it. Now, at almost 2 1/2, she is starting to take the lead and tells me when she has to go at times. I still don’t bug her about it. Every so often I will talk about it with her, but don’t make a big deal about it. If she wants to go, then I’ll praise her and give her a sticker with all the fanfare.
    A parent once told me “it’s unlikely that children will still be peeing their pants when they are in college. Don’t worry about it”. So, I don’t.

  7. You’ve made the toilet a FUN seat by allowing her to sit on it clothed in the living room then bath… now it’s time to remove the FUN & keep the diaper on or perhaps trying pull-ups until she uses the potty for it’s meaning. I’d also say, “I’ve got to go pee in the potty” when You have to go. This would let her SEE that you do it & she may follow your lead.?.?.?. Bradley liked basement corners [strange] until I finally caught him & MADE him clean it up!

  8. Tara – I’m stuggling with the same thing with Elizabeth. We bought the little potties and she sat on them a few times (with clothes) and she once peepee’d by accident (I think) at my Mom’s house and I think she thought she only had to do it once. :):) For a while she refused to even sit on the potties. Now my Mom and MIL (who keep her for me) have her sit when they change her diapers but she still only wants diapers. She tells me when she’s peeing or pooping but not in time to get to the potty. I don’t want to be frustrated with her either but it is hard for me to understand, that she doesn’t yet get it. My MIL thinks we need to buy pull-up so she can get more of an idea that she needs to be done with diapers. Erin’s comments below make a lot of sense and I might try to incorporate them. You are doing more then me to make potty training happen. I know Elizabeth will get there in her own time – she has with everything else…crawling, walking, talking etc. As I said to my mom, “we bought the potties, she trained right?” I wish. Good luck!!!

  9. We went through the same thing with BB. It wasn't until he was 3 years, 2 months that he became potty trained. I finally decided that I had had enough of diapers and I refused to buy more. I told BB that we couldn't leave the house until I knew he wouldn't mess up his pants. It took a few days, but he figured out to pee in the potty pretty quick once he got tired of staying at home. Pooping was another story entirely, though. It took another month before he would poop in the potty. He would wait until he was down for bed or a nap and go then. Finally, I just told him that he couldn't watch TV for the day until he pooped in the potty. If, after his initial success that day, he pooped in his pants, the TV went back off for the day. He doesn't really watch that much TV, but somehow just knowing that he couldn't watch TV seemed to motivate him.

  10. “I get new potty book!” – I'm DYING laughing! My guys always think Amazon boxes are computer parts or books for Daddy. This misconception is going to come in handy come Christmas shopping time.

    This is EXACTLY what happened to me, not once but twice. Both my guys were pushing 3 real hard before they mastered the potty. They loved underwear and they loved sitting on the potty. They eventually also loved the carpet cleaner I had to buy.

    What finally worked for me, and this depends to a great extent on your day care staff, was letting them take the lead at school. For a week, they worked on it while I did nothing at home. Once they were rolling right along at school, within a week the problem was solved at home. I felt a little guilty that incompetent mom couldn't potty train her kids, but at least this got it done.

  11. Laura – Thanks so much for your comment. I agree with you 100%. I don't want to frustrate her or make her feel like she's being punished. That's not my style. On the other hand, it is frustrating that she every time she's peed, it's been in her pants.

    I talked to her about some Pull-Ups today, and she declined those. She really wants to wear the cloth pants. (We have cloth trainers, but they don't absorb much. She only pees 2 or 3 times a day, so it's a lot when she goes.)

    I think I'm going to give the cloth training pants a little more time – maybe 5 to 7 days? before I write them off and force her back into Pull-Ups or diapers.

  12. Honestly, that's my attitude, too. I have had potty learning on the brain for a long, long time, but I really haven't been pushing Grace. Now, she's decided that she wants to wear panties, and that's that. I'm reluctant to make her wear diapers if she wants to wear panties… but I'm also reluctant to allow her to wear cloth pants forever if she's going to keep peeing in them.

  13. I COMPLETELY understand! Grace was like that for a long time. She wanted to wear the diaper, so she wore the diaper. I didn't even worry about it at that point. Now, though, she wants to wear the panties… so we have this struggle. I know they do it in their own time, and I'm okay with that, too. I just don't know what to do to foster her learning but also keep my floors dry. 🙂

  14. So did you let them just wear the underwear that they wanted to wear? And you just cleaned up the messes? That's where we are right now, but I wasn't sure what kind of time frame to let that go on for. I'm thinking 5-7 days, but what if it goes longer? I have a hard time forcing her backwards into diapers.

  15. I do not enjoy potty training and I probably waited too long to get my kids started. My daughter was 3 and my boys were 4 when they were fully potty trained. Once we started trying they got it right away! I had a friend who started trying to get her daughter potty trained at 18 months. They struggled until her daughter was 3.

  16. I remembered another thing someone told me… I know all the books and professionals say not to force them to use the potty or whatever. BUT… I learned to just say “it's time to use the potty”. There is no choice. When mommy says sit on the potty it's time to sit on the potty. It's not a punishment… it's just what needs to be done. If I ask my daughter if she wants to use the potty she will always say no. It was a little bit of a struggle at for a day or two but now anytime I say to sit on the potty she does.

  17. My Daughter and I just went though this. She turned 3 last April, and I was under the misconception that potty training would just come natural after that. Boy was I wrong. We had the potty for a while before she turned 3 but never pushed it. Finally I started asking her about every 30-45 if she had to potty. Of course, she always said no, then 5 mins later she would pee in her pull up (we switched to pull ups the moment we started trying). So next I went to making her SIT on the potty every hour. For the longest time we were going though pull ups like crazy because she just wasn't wanting to potty. Then we started just letting her run around without pants on as much as we could. That helped alot, at least for the first few days. Then we were right back to square one… her peeing on herself… but this time she would hide it. Everyone I knew kept telling me that when she's ready, she'll catch on. But of course me, being the control freak that I am, figured that I could help hurry that along. Again, I was wrong. Finally I started a sticker chart. Everytime she peed in the potty she got one sticker, every time she pooped she got two. After she got so many stickers she got to go somewhere or do something that of her choice. That was it for her. She was hooked on going to the potty. She would pee in it a million times a day! We still kept pull ups for night time though. Plus she refused to poop in the potty. Finally I explained to her that she wouldn't be able to go to school next year if she didn't poop in the potty like a big girl (she's obsessed with going to school). We still have accidents every once and a while, but for the most part she goes in the potty. Over the last week we have stopped with pull ups at night as well. I stop giving her liquids about an hour before bedtime, then I make her pee right before bed, and then I'll wake her up before I go to bed to go potty again (I tend to be a night owl). So far she's done great. We've had one night that she peed in her panties and that was because i fell asleep early and didn't wake her up.

    I know how frustrating it can be. There have been many tears shed (her's and mine) over the course of it… But I am totally a converted believer that when they're ready they'll go… and the more you push when they're NOT ready… the more stubborn they will become about it! I hope this helps!

  18. My Daughter and I just went though this. She turned 3 last April, and I was under the misconception that potty training would just come natural after that. Boy was I wrong. We had the potty for a while before she turned 3 but never pushed it. Finally I started asking her about every 30-45 if she had to potty. Of course, she always said no, then 5 mins later she would pee in her pull up (we switched to pull ups the moment we started trying). So next I went to making her SIT on the potty every hour. For the longest time we were going though pull ups like crazy because she just wasn't wanting to potty. Then we started just letting her run around without pants on as much as we could. That helped alot, at least for the first few days. Then we were right back to square one… her peeing on herself… but this time she would hide it. Everyone I knew kept telling me that when she's ready, she'll catch on. But of course me, being the control freak that I am, figured that I could help hurry that along. Again, I was wrong. Finally I started a sticker chart. Everytime she peed in the potty she got one sticker, every time she pooped she got two. After she got so many stickers she got to go somewhere or do something that of her choice. That was it for her. She was hooked on going to the potty. She would pee in it a million times a day! We still kept pull ups for night time though. Plus she refused to poop in the potty. Finally I explained to her that she wouldn't be able to go to school next year if she didn't poop in the potty like a big girl (she's obsessed with going to school). We still have accidents every once and a while, but for the most part she goes in the potty. Over the last week we have stopped with pull ups at night as well. I stop giving her liquids about an hour before bedtime, then I make her pee right before bed, and then I'll wake her up before I go to bed to go potty again (I tend to be a night owl). So far she's done great. We've had one night that she peed in her panties and that was because i fell asleep early and didn't wake her up.

    I know how frustrating it can be. There have been many tears shed (her's and mine) over the course of it… But I am totally a converted believer that when they're ready they'll go… and the more you push when they're NOT ready… the more stubborn they will become about it! I hope this helps!

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