Toddler potty training doesn’t have to be a nightmare — it’s meant to be fun! I’ve shared some very useful information on potty training on another page, which you’ll probably want to visit; here, let’s focus on ‘overcoming potty training resistance’ and helping a recalcitrant child enjoy learning to use the potty.
The first thing you need to do in overcoming resistance is to find out why it is that your child doesn’t want to graduate from diapers or use the potty. There are a number of possible reasons:
• He may be afraid of accidents
• He may be uncomfortable on the potty
• He may have had bad experiences: constipation, scoldings, or the like
• He may enjoy the comfort of a diaper
• He may enjoy getting the extra attention or a bit of focused ‘mommy time’ during diaper changes.
• He may simply have physical difficulty holding it in between potty stops, though this is rare after 18 months.
• He may have seen another child make a fuss over using the potty, and be imitating.
Why is your child’s issue? Once you’ve located the problem, you’ll know what you need to do to help your child get over it and will be able to give him what it takes to make a successful potty training.
If your child is afraid to go on the potty, it’s up to you to show him his fears are groundless. You don’t do this by ridiculing him, but by walking him through whatever his worries are.
One very important thing that parents doing toddler potty training for the first time often get wrong is making a big deal of accidents. Making your child afraid of having accidents is not the way to get him to use the potty—instead, it makes him long for the security of diapers with a longing that may become overwhelming. If your child is already worried about accidents, talk to him about how accidents happen to everyone and you won’t be upset if he gets his pants wet sometimes; all you want is for him to try to do it as seldom as possible. When he gets wet, don’t’ over-react. If you’re starting with a non-traumatized child, a simple ‘Uh-oh! Let’s go to the potty quickly!’ might be appropriate as you help him find his potty and get a rag or paper towels to clean up the mess. If your child is afraid of accidents already, though, even that is too much. Just guide him gently to the potty and say something like “It’s okay, I’ll clean it up for you, you sit on the potty for a minute.”
Potty time can be very exciting for your child if make it that way. Let him help you choose a special potty chair and choose special underwear, then keep up the ‘party spirit’ throughout your child’s potty training experience by staying invariably encouraging, proud and pleased; never scolding or judgmental.
Many children who’ve grown up in disposable diapers have difficulty being potty trained because the feeling of wet clothes after an accident is entirely new to them. Modern disposable diapers quickly soak any liquid away from the skin; a wonderful innovation as far as comfort is concerned, but not so good for helping your child understand or grow comfortable with his own body processes. If you find yourself needing to go back to diapers because potty training episode one wasn’t a success and your child isn’t ready for underwear yet, you may want to consider doing cloth diapers. Clean up is a little harder, but it’s not too hard if you use disposable diaper liners to catch—and easily dump—messy stuff, and then throw the actual diapers in a diaper pail till you’ve collected a load.
If your toddler is still young, the problem may simply be that he isn’t ready to use the potty. Consider letting off for a while, and come back to it sometime when you’re both fresh, there isn’t a whole lot going on. You’re not in a potty-training race, and the time will come when using a potty comes naturally to him.
Whatever your toddler potty training problems may be, remember, these too will pass. Patience, patience, more patience, a good dose of loving encouragement and a sense of humor are what you’ll need to get you through.