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Potty Training Your Child

Most parents eagerly look forward to the days when their child is potty trained. However, children don't always learn as quickly as parents would like, causing stress and discouragement. This is a guide to potty training your child.
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October 22, 2009 Flag

This is a potty training tip. I never realized the importance of using a potty chair.

My nephew was taught to use a regular toilet, not a potty chair. As he grew older, he was having trouble moving his bowels. His mother, thought nothing of it, and assumed he would eventually grow out of it as kids sometimes do. In fact, her younger twins were fine "going potty" on their own chairs without having any issues.

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He would sit and sit without any bowel activity. Once he did relieve himself, the movement was hard and not normal in size. His diet was fine, he ate plenty of vegetables, fruit, and high fiber. His mother was getting frustrated thinking he was "holding back" and causing his own discomfort. Also, the toilet he used was often becoming clogged. They had a plumber come and he could not find anything wrong with the toilet.

When he was six, she finally talked to the pediatrician hoping for some advice about curing his emotional problem with moving his bowels. She was surprised at what she was told.

As a child learns to potty train, their feet should have leverage, they should not hang. There are special muscles that "push out" bowel movements. Pushing down on your feet help develop these muscles.

Since my nephew never used these muscles because his feet would hang, they never developed properly. This made it physically difficult for him. His mother was so upset that all this time she felt it was him, never knowing it was a physical problem.

She was given exercises for him to do so he could develop the muscles. After a few months, he is getting better. She was told that a child should use a stool for their feet if they do not use a potty chair. This way they have leverage when they "go".

I have never heard of this but I have known many other children who have had this trouble and wonder if that was their problem. I hope this helps anyone who is in process of potty training their children.

Source: My niece

By mkymlp from NE PA

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April 28, 20100 found this helpful
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Because for some people Teresa, the closer to the natural squatting position that they can get, the better the bowel movements and the less problems they have, bowel wise.

Most people don't realize that sitting on a toilet can actually put pressure on certain nerves that are used to evacuate the bowels, and that can cause a multitude of troubles. Most people also do not realize overseas, in most places, you don't even get what we in America consider the norm. You get holes in the floor (Some are very nice) and using them places us in a more natural position than our American toilets do. Using a stool/bench, even after the feet can touch the ground, helps corrects that for some.

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December 16, 2011 Flag

Potty-training a boy? Take a small stack of baby wipes and place them behind the toilet seat on top of the hinges. If the little guy misses (like in the night), the wipes make it a whole lot easier to keep the toilet clean. Replace often.

By Brianna S. from Dutch Harbor, AK

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May 4, 2016 Flag

Toddler boy sitting on potty chair holding a book

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This is a guide about potty training a toddler. When a youngster is making the transition to using the toilet, it needs to be a positive experience.

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May 3, 2016 Flag

Young child's feet dangling as they sit on the potty.

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This is a guide about creative potty training ideas. Although there are standard recommendations for potty training your child, sometimes a bit of creativity is needed.

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May 2, 2007 Flag

My tip today is for all you mothers out there needing an inventive way to reward your child for doing the right thing. When your potty training, it gets really frustrating trying to catch your child when they need to use the bathroom.

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January 31, 2005 Flag

A great potty training tip is to purchase "cheap" coffee filters and place in the child's potty, it makes cleaning up #2s a snap!

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June 24, 2013 Flag

I have a 3 year old daughter named Breawna. My husband and I started potty training her when she was 2 and she was doing really well, but later on that year my mother-in-law's colon cancer returned full force and shortly after that she passed away. My daughter and her "gaga", is what she called her, were very close, especially since we live in her house. Now my daughter refuses to go potty on the toilet, it has gotten so bad I had to resort to diapers again. I have tried everything from telling her she will get a prize if she goes, to sticker charts, to just putting her in underwear, and finally even putting her in time out, which was a last resort by the way. I'm stuck! Any suggestions I have not tried? She will be 4 in August and we need to stop the diapers and to be honest its getting kind of expensive. lol Thanks!

By Nikky

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June 26, 20130 found this helpful
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I strongly suggest that you put her back in diapers and forget potty training for a while. You're wasting your time and causing her frustration. She has had a traumatic experience with the loss of her grandmother. She needs time. Try again in about 3 months. And if it doesn't work then (you'll know within 2 days whether it's working), wait another 3 months or so before trying again. I know that diapers are expensive, but you said yourself, you're having no success! Some things cannot be rushed. If she's not ready, she's not ready--and she can't help it!

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June 15, 2012 Flag

How do I get my 3 1/2 old son to want to potty train? He just started talking now. My other son is almost two. Should I train him at the same time?

By Karen

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June 26, 20120 found this helpful
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With 13 grandchildren, I can offer what I think works best. Kids love to imitate & "compete", especially with siblings - train them at the same time. Let the older one watch the younger one & vice-versa.

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April 28, 2011 Flag

My dh and I have let our dd start wearing panties to bed at nite since she went one week without an accident in her pullup at nite. Now she has been about a week without accidents at nite, but is having at least one every morning after she goes to the bathroom first thing.

Can anyone give me some advice as to how to stop this? I really don't want to put her back in the pullups unless I have to. We are so close to no more diapers since we will soon be potty training our ds as well.

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

By Jessica

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May 1, 20110 found this helpful

Sorry about the cost of diapers and pull ups but...parents are often too anal about potty training. They'll be fine when they're ready!

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Anonymous Flag
May 1, 20110 found this helpful

Since she's doing fine at night and until after her first poddy of the morning why don't you just change her panties after the first oopsie and not make a big deal about it? That way she'll learn it's okay to have a boo boo and that all she has to do is change into fresh undies. Making a big deal out of it or putting the pullups back on might confuse/embarrass her and take that much longer to finish training. I am sure you wet your panties once in awhile in one way or another and simply change them. Treat this situation just the same.

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May 1, 20110 found this helpful

Both my daughters went through a phase of wetting themselves during the day after they had been potty trained. I am not sure if it was a control issue, ie., something THEY controlled or not. It lasted about 2 weeks until they stopped doing it purposely.

Good luck!

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September 2, 2011 Flag

My daughter is 3 and a half. She is usually usually fab with toilet, but for the past 2 weeks, she's constant weeing herself. I have been to the doctor and there is no infection. With her, it's not normal that she can't hold her wee in. She's weeing herself few times a day. For some reason, this has been since we had been on a plane.

By Danielle

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September 2, 20110 found this helpful

I would get another doctor's opinion, and fast. Either there's a psychological problem that needs to be addressed, or if, as you mention, she's actually unable to control her urination, both could be signs of a larger problem.

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September 6, 20110 found this helpful

Could there be something that she is eating that is causing this? My son had problems one time when he was a little guy from eating a lot of watermelon. However, this only happened a couple of times. I think perhaps you should have her checked out by a doctor again, or look to see what other changes have been going on her life that might cause her to regress. Three is pretty little; she might be upset over some changes in the family or something that is going on at daycare or?

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September 6, 20110 found this helpful

Toilets on planes are much different than toilets at home. It seems like you could be sucked down a plane toilet when it flushes. Did she go to the toilet on the plane? Are you sure she knows she can't possibly be flushed down the toilet? It sounds strange, but she wouldn't be the first kid to get this idea.

This may not be the problem, but it's probably worth checking out.

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August 18, 2011 Flag

My daughter is now over 3 years old. When I first started to potty train her she would rather poop then pee on the potty. Then the past couple of months have been stressful because I can't seem to get her on the potty to poop. She makes a huge fuss and screams and cries because she doesn't want to go on the potty. I need help! Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get her on the potty to poop?

By Kelly R.

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August 20, 20110 found this helpful

Stop forcing her. Forget about it and put her back in diapers. Soon she will tell you she wants to use the potty. It has become an issue so you need to let time pass and wait it out. Years ago we tried to get the kids trained by two. I have noticed that these days children are taking longer. Either way, your child will get trained so stop worrying.

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August 20, 20110 found this helpful

Is she using the "big potty"? May be too big/scary! If she's using a training potty, try using it as a reading opportunity. She sits on the pot and you read to her, distraction! Another thought, take her to Walmart/Target and let her pick out her own Big Girl pants and impress on her that she cannot mess these pants, that they are her very own, special, picked by her, panties. Just some thoughts.

I had boys and had always heard that girls were easier than boys - shows what "they" knew, huh? Good luck, relax, and remember - one of these days you get to teach her to drive - it'll make potty training a breeze! :)

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August 20, 20110 found this helpful

There has to be something great that happens every time you put her on the potty, like a special song, or a small treat (my sister used an MandM for her son). Then there has to be a special reward when "results" are produced in the potty, like a sticker. My daughter had a special sticker book for this.

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September 22, 2010 Flag

My son will be 3 in 2 weeks and now I have another baby on the way. My problem is, is that he absolutely refuses to poopie in the potty. But he can pee like a pro.

We've tried praising him, bribing, scolding, and we are now to the point that once his diaper bag runs out, that's it, no more. We have no clue what to do anymore.

He's our first little one and despite advice I've read, I know my son well enough to know that dancing or stickers won't cut it with him. It's going to be a while before the diapers run out, but if he gets his bull-headedness on the kiddie gloves are coming off (haha). I'll keep ya'll posted on the progress.

By Tanya from Lancaster, OH

Answers:

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

You may think this sounds crazy, but I use to sit my son on the toilet backwards. I would give him some of his cars or something he could play with while he did his number in the toilet. He would play for awhile on the tank lid with his toys. Then, praise him because he's done such a good job. Might help you. My kids were 17 months apart and I remember it was nuts at times. Also, I remember he got to get some "big boys underwear" when he was doing it the right way. That was his reward. Hope this helps. (02/14/2010)

By nightrain71

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

You may want to hear this, but give up until the new baby is born. Then he may enjoy being a big brother. Right now he may want to be the baby while he can. 3 years old is not old for a boy to be training, at this point he is training you. Let him be, ignore the situation and things will work out. I never knew of any kids going to school with diapers, preschool is a great incentive also. Letting him change his own pants after a "mistake" could also make him think twice! (02/15/2010)

By jabsgram

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

I must have been lucky. I had 4 boys and a girl. The girl of course trained faster than the boys. But they were all trained by two and the girl at 15 months. They always say that the parents are trained if it is done too early. Yes, it does take persistence, so you might say the parent is trained. But if it works, so what? I never had to bribe them, just had to tell them they did a good job. Sitting them backwards is an excellent idea if it works! (02/17/2010)

By Laniegirl

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

Be careful. A very good friend of mine had trouble getting her son to use the toilet as well. Long story short he had to be taken to the hospital for constipation and they were sharply reprimanded by their doctor with the threat of child protective services being called. She (the doctor) informed them to let the child take the lead in this area and it would work itself out. I feel that the medical community over reacted to the situation and probably could have handled the entire issue better. The line between raising a child and abusing one becomes blurrier each day. Good luck to you and please share if you find a "trick" that works with your child. (02/17/2010)

By lostinthe

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

Definitely stop making this so important, he knows he's winning. Buy some fabulous "big boy" pants and show them. Say in a matter of fact tone that when he is a "big boy" and uses the toilet like big people he can wear them. Then put them up where he can see them, but not play with them. Go about your business. When you change him, do not scold, tease, or threaten, say nothing. It's just a thing you do. I suspect he loves the attention, so perhaps you can up that in other areas. He's a smart kid, he'll figure it out and some wonderful day, he'll say he's ready. (02/17/2010)

By obiwan

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

It is possible that it could be a sensory integration issue. It's not frequent, but some kids don't recognize the feeling of needing to go. You might try talking to an occupational therapist or physician before you take off the kid gloves. (02/17/2010)

By old dog

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

Make sure the child's feet can touch the floor, as in on a potty chair and not your toilet. Children need to be able to push using their feet, as the muscles used to have a bowel movement aren't yet developed. I read this in a Dr.'s column. Good luck! (02/17/2010)

By Liza Lou

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

I think it was Super Nanny who had this problem on one of her shows; find out what your son really loves to do or wants to do and make that part of your resolution. For example, if he loves to play video games, make sure he knows only boys who poop in the potty can play the games and stick to your guns. (02/17/2010)

By Nannyof5beauties

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

You know your son well, if you know what bribes won't cut it with him. If that's the case, then you know that 3 is not too young to be honest with, or expect some sort of conformant behavior.
Just be straight forward. Let him know when the baby comes he will have to do it, because it will be a big help to you. Tell him honestly what you expect, and why he has to do it. Let him know you'll appreciate him being such a big boy.

If people think 3 is too young to understand honesty and straight talk, they are nuts. He's not too young to learn, and it will help you both, so there's no shame in wanting him to do something he could do, if there is no medical reason he can't. (02/17/2010)

By Jron7667

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

My nephew was 18 months when he first pooped on the potty. He's almost two now. If we let him run around with no diaper, he knows to go potty. If he has a diaper on, he poops in it. We also taught him to sit backwards on the toilet. (02/18/2010)

By Coll3

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

Don't know if you're using a potty chair or the Big Boy toilet, but ( light years ago!) my son was just like this.

Our problem ended up being that he just didn't want to use the "baby" potty chair and leaving his droppings on the floor was something he didn't want to do, either. I covered an old phone book with contact paper to create a washable step-up and for him. That's all it took, along with taking off the diapers and the training pants altogether when indoors. He didn't want to poop on the floor, either.

Remember: he'll train in his own time; they all do. Also remember that there's payback: my little pooper was tearing his hair out when his firstborn gave him potty trouble :) (02/18/2010)

By PupperMom

Potty Training a Resistant Three Year Old

I threw a handful of Cheerios in the toilet and told my son to sink the submarines. It worked really well. (02/18/2010)

By tikko

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June 17, 2008 Flag

How can I potty train stubborn 3.5 year old? My nephew had been raised in a less than desireable environment. He knows when he needs to go but CHOOSES not to go in the potty. I have tried EVERYTHING. The only thing that got a reaction from him was taking his pull ups away and letting him roam bare bum, he thew an absolute fit and told me that his mommy put diapers on him and so I should. Later when he was getting ready for bed I put his night time pull up on him and 2 seconds later he had a poop in his pull up, so I made him clean it up and he was very upset because it was yucky and he didn't want to clean it up, he wanted me to because his "mommy does". Am I being too harsh?

Danielle from Kelowna, BC

Answers:

Potty Training Advice

The reward system worked like a charm for me. Every time my children used the potty, they got an M&M out of the jar. (07/04/2006)

By Marnita

Potty Training Advice

Bedwetting in an otherwise toilet-trained child is not about toilet-training. These kids usually sleep so soundly that they don't feel the urge. Talk to your doc if this persists in kids who are fully trained and still wet only at night after 4 or 5 . Enuresis (night-time wetting) is more common in boys than girls and often is more prevalent in boys whose father was a bedwetter, too. Other than that bit of info, all the other posts are right on-reward, do not punish, and let the over 3's clean and change themselves and even strip their own beds and bring soiled or wet things to the laundry. (07/04/2006)

By Linda

Potty Training Advice

* Tell him you are not his mother therefore you do not have to clean him. Also, this is the way it is done in this house! Just remember to be kind.

* Slightly different: When I broke my last glass bottle at the age of 18 months, my mother told me that the other bottles in May's Chemist were for little babies, implying: No more bottles for you! And I was fine. (07/04/2006)

By Carol Churchill

Potty Training Advice

I tried everything, and i mean EVERYTHING to potty train my son. he was even turned down for preschool because he was still in pull ups. i broke down asked my sons pediatrician what to do. he told me to leave him alone, he'll go when he's ready. he said theres absolutly nothing that will make him use the potty until hes ready to use it. so i did. i quit fighting with him, and just left him alone about it. i bet it wasn't 2 weeks later i heard him on the potty, declaring himself potty trained, and he has been since. at that age, that is about the only thing they have complete control of, wether to use the potty or not. we make all the other decisions for them, so when its time, they'll decide and let you know. (07/04/2006)

By halloweenfreak

Potty Training Advice

We were foster parents and had to take lots of classes, and I do mean lots! We were told that kido's think there loosing parts of them and are afraid to use a potty or toilet. We were told to make a game of it, like if there peeing , sing a song of Oh, I hear it raining or thundering when there pooping. Also, as someone else said , for a little boy put things in the potty that he cane aim at. It does work, but, it's time consuming cause YOU have to stay on top of everything. Good Luck (07/10/2006)

By Megan's mom

Potty Training Advice

Potty training can be difficult regardless of the home situation of a child BUT I would say that could be part of the problem with your nephew. Instead of letting him roam bare, I suggest some really "cool" BIG BOY underwear. Make a big deal about, and let him help pick them out. Maybe part of the reason he is being so stubborn is because he is looking for attention, regardless of what kind. Children do that when they feel neglected or ignored. I would say lots of POSTIVE reinforcement. My son was really tough to potty train but the "cool" underwear really made a HUGE difference. He hated to mess up his BIG BOY undies. Remember patience and love goes a LONG way. (07/11/2006)

By buffalogal95

Potty Training Advice

You noticed that he chooses not to go, so now what you have to find out is how to make him choose the potty. Punishments aren't going to do it - how likely are you to do something for someone if they're yelling at you, berating you, or doing things you don't like? You've got to remember that at his age the potty training is really to make your life easier - going in a diaper is easier for him - so you have to give him a reason to want to do this. Especially if he's from a home that wasn't most stable, praise and attention will help a lot. Talk to him about why he should use the potty (cleanliness, he'll be a big boy, you'll be proud of him, etc.) teach him how to use it, and then step back and let him do his own thing. Bring it up occasionally by mentioning how you think he's smart enough and big enough to do it and then ask him if he'd like to try. Once he realizes that there's no pressure, that he'll get lots of praise if he does it, and that you're not going to flip out on him if he doesn't, then he'll be confident enough to do it and he won't feel the need to rebel against you.
(07/11/2006)

By Trix

Fun Tips for Potty Training with NO Sweets Needed!

I have 2 kids under the age of 7, one who loved potty training and another who loved to be stubborn though potty training. Here are some ideas I used with various rewards that did not use sweets:

First I bought a cheap little gum ball machine (Wal-mart, Walgreens, and even the Dollar Store often has these). You can fill it with something like Kix cereal or small Cheerios (if you DO choose candy, Smarties are a less sugary option that fits). My kids always loved using the gum ball machines to receive their reward! I used 2 small machines with two different choices of cereal so they could choose what they wanted each time.

Second, I allowed them to pick out some stickers at the store. I bought a piece of medium sized, bright colored poster board and made a chart with their name on top. They got to put a sticker on the chart each time. They would fill the chart to work towards a goal that they would choose. If it is a toy that they choose, or being taken somewhere like the zoo or Chuck E Cheese, it might help to have a small picture of the item or place taped to the end of the chart to remind them of what they are working so hard for.

A prize basket works great too! No candy needed (but bite sized candy bars and M&M packets may be fine for some parents too!) Go to the section of the store where you can find party favors. They often have lots of packages of small toys with the latest cartoon trend on them, and they are also cheap! Small cars for boys and lip balms or cute hair clips for girls are fun. If you like the idea of allowing them to receive stickers to stick all over the toilet but don't want to have to scratch them off later, choosing window adhesives are a great idea for sticking to the toilet, shower door or mirror! Individual adhesives are also a fun choice to put inside the prize basket. Wrapping the prizes allows them to get more excited. Not knowing what they may find in there will make them want to use the potty more, simply to discover the treasures in that basket!

If you want to add fun without rewards there are still ways to do it: I, too, use multi colored Cheerios for my son to aim at (he likes to pick the color he wants to throw in). Letting them pick out their new underwear can be an exciting thing to them, (or even new sheets for their bed) and they will be more likely to want to keep them clean if they chose them and like them. A fun step stool is great, either with a recognizable character on it or with stickers all over it (window adhesives come in handy here too to decorate the toilet seat).

Last but not least, my kids LOVED singing about it! We made up lyrics to sing that worked great for us. The verses sound like "This is the way we wash our clothes":

"This is the way we potty train, potty train, potty train! This is the way we potty train so we can be a big boy/girl!

This is the way that we go pee, we go pee, we go pee. This is the way that we go pee in the potty chair!

This is the way we wipe ourself, wipe ourself wipe ourself. This is the way we wipe ourself so we can be nice and clean!

This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands. This is the way we wash our hands after we go potty!

I dry my hands off really good, really good, really good. I dry my hands off really good ... AND NOW IT'S TIME TO PLAY!"

I hope these ideas work for some of you! Good luck! (05/21/2007)

By Joelle

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