Potty Training Refusal: 8 Tips For Parents

Jan 18, 2023 | 3.5 minutes Read

Do you hear “No” a lot these days? Your little Potty Partner can’t help it: saying no is their first step on the road to independence. It sure makes potty training complicated though! Keep these eight tips in mind if your child refuses to potty train.

Great tips and tricks for helping a child who refuses to use the potty
Whether you’re just introducing the topic of potty training or you’re months in and suddenly your toddler refuses to potty train, you potentially feel frustrated, overwhelmed and maybe even a little irritated. It’s a journey you’re on together, and you obviously can’t continue on your own.

Potty training regression is an issue that many families experience, and there are ways to deal with regression. There are some important life events that can make it tough for kids to potty train too such as the birth of a sibling or starting daycare, and they’re good reasons to hold off on potty training.

Some families just experience a tough spot though, and with a little rethinking of your approach you might be able to get back on track with your goal: easy potty training. Consider these important tips:

  1. Ignore accidents and negative behavior. Accidents are bound to happen, and your disapproval will only create more negativity. Try to maintain a neutral reaction, and never use punishments or threats. If you get frustrated, take a deep breath and try again later.
  2. Consider your words and your tone. It’s often not just what we say but how we say it that matters. Be sure your tone is positive and encouraging — even when it’s tough. You definitely don’t want your child to feel shame or embarrassment about their body.

    Be sure to praise your child for their successes, and tailor your words to their potty training personality. Some kids thrive on praise while others will feel pressured if you pour it on too heavily.
  3. Tailor your approach to your child’s personality. If you’ve taken our Potty Personality Quiz, see our potty scripts for ideas on what to say to your resistant little trainer based on their personality

    • Eager-to-please kids will be excited to learn about potty training, and they’ll want to understand the rules.
    • Shy kids will need some time to get used the idea of potty training before they actually give it a try.
    • High-energy kids are always on the move, and slowing down to use the potty can be seen as an interruption in play time. They’ll need extra incentives and lots of fun and games to hold their interest in potty training.
    • Cautious kids like to follow directions and do things the right way. They’ll want you to explain all the steps and reassure them throughout the process of potty training.
    • Free-spirited kids are going to need some extra motivation. They’re generally much happier focusing on whatever currently has their attention than worrying about if they have a wet or dirty diaper.
  4. Give your child control. Refusals are about the natural need for control. Giving choices — inside and outside of the bathroom — will increase cooperation over the long run.
  5. Using Pull-Ups® training pants can help them feel like they’re in control of the process too—Pull-Ups offer protection that little hands can move up and down easily. They’re an important step in the journey to becoming a Big Kid.

  6. A power struggle means “Back off.” It’s important to let your child be in control of their body and learn at their own pace. Take a break for a few weeks if you need to. Potty training requires physical, cognitive and emotional maturity — and it’s a big step for any child.
  7. Boost fruits and veggies. Constipation is the hidden enemy of potty training, and painful poops can trigger resistance. Healthy, fiber-rich food can help if you think your child might be constipated.
  8. Use a little reverse psychology. Try this game: Tell your Potty Partner that you have to go potty, and that you get to go first. They just may try to be the winner of the potty race!
  9. Add some fun to potty training. From a potty party with a Pull-Ups® “cake” to a sticker chart, there are all kinds of incentives you can try to get your child excited (or re-energized) for potty training. There are also some great potty training games. Kids with all personalities enjoy them, but they’re especially great for kids who like to be on the move and having fun. Favorites include:

    • The Potty Training Race. A fun way to teach your child how to use the potty, The Potty Training Race is easy. Place the potty chair somewhere in the bathroom and then race to see who can sit down first. You can even put the potty chair in other rooms to mix it up.
    • Pull-Ups® Scavenger Hunt. The Pull-Ups® Scavenger Hunt lets your curious kid seek and find all the things that have to do with going to the potty such as toilet paper and soap. It’s also a great way to introduce Pulls-Ups® training pants — an important tool in the journey to becoming a Big Kid.
    • Can You Do What I Do? game. Kids love to mimic their parents, and this easy potty training game invites them to do just that. You’ll guide your toddler through the steps of the pottying process and ask them to copy you as you say, “Can you do what I do?” and your child responds, “I can do what you do!”
While having a toddler who refuses to use the potty can be frustrating, don’t give up hope. There are a lot of great ways to get them excited about becoming a Big Kid. And remember: They won’t refuse forever. But we can’t promise you won’t hear more of that “no” during the teenage years!


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