How I Potty Trained My Stubborn Toddler

How I Potty Trained My Stubborn Toddler:

Today on the blog I’m sharing a few things that helped me while potty training my “stubborn” toddler.

I put stubborn in quotations because I realized during this process that my toddler in fact was not stubborn, she was hesitant and scared, which was a result of a HUGE lack of communication on my part. Her feelings were completely valid and justified.  (Keep reading, ill explain. it’ll all make sense.) Heck, I was scared!!! This was definitely new territory for me and a HUGE learning process for the both of us. 

We tried several different methods at several different ages, failing each time. I couldn’t understand WHY she was just not going to the potty! It was frustrating and I was losing motivation. I was starting to believe my toddler was going to be in diapers forever.

I read countless blogs, watched endless videos. All sharing similar stories of how they successfully helped their kids learn. 1. just take them to the bathroom 2. Have them sit down on the potty and 3. eventually they’ll get it. Easy, right? 

Now, I’m no expert or specialist. I’m simply a parent trying to help other flustered parents get to the realization and revelation that potty training doesn’t have to be scary or daunting. 


Each of our attempts to potty train resulted in a terrified toddler. I realized one day it was because she had NO IDEA what the heck was going on. I did, but she did not.

The entire time I was the one setting the tone, I was the one keeping mental notes of when it was time to go sit down again. I was the one in control. 

Did I mention to her we were potty training? YES. Did I realize that my toddler had NO IDEA what a potty was, or what it even meant to use the potty. No. 

Once I realized my huge mistake, I felt so bad. This entire time i thought she just wasn’t comprehending. I really didn’t stop to think about the small details.

Heres the thing, Kids comprehend and are smarter than what we give them credit for. You just have to communicate in ways that they understand. 

Olivia very much loves to be independent, she likes to know whats going on. What is happening and why its happening.

I had to take a step back and kindly explain and repeat detail by detail, step by step the process of what the potty was, what happens when you use the potty, and how to use it. We talked about it casually for a couple of weeks, just to get the idea comfortable with her. 

During this time she was still in pull-ups and she’d soil in them. I took advantage of this time to show her what it meant when she went pee and when she went poo each time I would change her into a new pull up. 

STEP 2. Lower your expectations!

Do some toddlers potty train in a day? Yes! is there a possibility that yours won’t? Yes. And guess what, They’re BOTH ok!

Learning how to use the potty is A LOT of pressure on a small child. For the first years of their lives they’ve developed a comfortable routine of soiling and voiding in a diaper. They had no idea that one day it would come to an end. Which circles me back to step one, Communicate! Now remember, this doesn’t mean underestimate, it means reassurance,safety, guidance and talking through the process. 

STEP 3. Utilize your child’s interests.

Olivia LOVES music, all aspects of music. She love to sing, dance, listening to music. This girl will stop dead in her tracks to bust a move. I had the idea to have us listen to all of the song options for the alarm on my phone and had her pick her favorite one. I communicated with her that every time this song came on it meant we had to go sit on the potty. No pressure to use it, just go and say hi and have a seat. ( Her potty seat had Bubble Guppies characters and she loves saying hi to each one of them) This now gave the alarm control and she was less hesitant to go than when I was directing her. Every time that song came one I’d act so surprised and we’d excitedly race to sit on the potty.

STEP 4. The timer.

At first, before we picked the song and I realized my mistake, We were going and sitting on the potty every 10-15 minutes. Almost every thing I read about potty training stated to take them very often in the beginning and then slowly space it out. That did not work for us, AT ALL. It was way too overwhelming and I could see it was really stressing the both of us out. So instead we did it backwards, we went every 2-2.5 hours. Just to sit, no pressure to go. During this time would also be a good opportunity to utilize your child’s interest. The more relaxed they are, the more likely they’ll use the potty. We took a few minutes sitting on the seat to read books, blow bubbles, and sing songs. 

STEP 5. Undies. 

Once we were both comfortable and she felt ready, we tried going to the potty  for about the first week while still in pull ups. Once she had her first success we CELEBRATED, Till this day i still cheer her on when she goes. She really had to SEE the process in action to realize what it is that she had to do, Which is why i really do suggest going all out with your celebration. Clap, Dance, Jump up and Down. Don’t be afraid to make this fun and exciting, you might feel silly but I promise your kiddo will appreciate it.

Then, after a few days of her catching on, actually using the potty, and no longer feeling scared, we decided to use panties. I explained to her what we would be doing. Saying things like, “OK we have to say bye bye to diapers, we get to use panties now! HOW AWESOME!” I got her super excited about wearing panties, I surprised her with a pack of undies with her favorite characters on them. I also kindly let her know that she should not go pee or poo in them. Of course I knew accidents would happen and I had absolutely no intentions of punishing her or making her feel bad. I just wanted her to understand that it was not another form of a diaper that she could freely soil without making an attempt to at least use the potty first. 

STEP 6. Putting all of the steps together!

Its important to take as much time as you need during each step, and really customize things to your lifestyle and child. Every one is different. I’m not going to lie, It was HARD. By day 2 of her wearing undies I was in full blown tears, you just really have to be consistent and be your kiddos biggest support. Remember that this is as scary for them as it can be stressful to you. This is a RELATIONSHIP, it requires effort and communication from the both of you. And give yourself grace, be kind and gentle with not only your child but also yourself. Don’t give up, The reward is so so sweet! There’s nothing like seeing your child light up with the realization that they’ve overcome a fear and accomplished something huge. YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Bonus: books!

This book was AMAZING! It was really easy for her to follow and understand. If you have little girls, I definitely suggest getting this book!

Disclaimer: blog contains affiliate links. When you purchase anything from these links, I have the opportunity to earn a very small commission, at no extra cost to you! Thank you!

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