Even if you’ve made the best plan, it’s possible your toddler refuses potty training — at least for a while. Potty training resistance is most commonly seen in shy kids who feel all this growing up is just happening too darn fast. Cautious kids who start to feel out of control will begin to resist, too. And even kids with high-energy, free-spirited and eager-to-please potty training personalities will resist if they’ve been pushed too far, too fast. So, what should you do if your toddler refuses to use the potty?
Remember: It’s Their Body
If your child has been using the potty but suddenly starts having accidents, it’s called regression. It can happen for many reasons, but they’re usually related to stress (something every parent with a toddler knows a little bit about, right?).
Position Potty Training as Your Child’s Choice
Forcing a child to potty train by using threats, punishments or other coercive methods will eventually backfire. And showing disapproval when an accident happens can add even more negativity to the situation.
If your child is doing the deed out of fear, they might comply — for now. But it’s much more likely there will be physical or psychological consequences down the line including constipation and other complications. Too much pressure can make your child feel like they’re using the potty for you (or for their teacher, Grandma or someone else), not for themselves. They won’t internalize that sense of control and success that’s so important — in potty training and in so many parts of life.
Re-evaluate Your Potty Training Approach
- Know how to talk about potty training. If you’ve taken our Potty Training Personality Quiz, see our potty scripts for ideas on what to say to your resistant little trainer based on their personality: eager-to-please, shy, high-energy, cautious or free-spirited.
- Serve up some crunchy goodness. Constipation can lead to painful poops, which can be a reason for potty training resistance. Be sure your child is eating plenty of fiber-rich fruits and veggies, which can help them avoid constipation.
- Make sure you’re being consistent. Kids want to be in control of the potty training process, but creating consistency is an important task parents can help with. When you take your child out of diapers and switch to Pull-Ups® training pants, make the switch permanent (well, until it’s time for Big Kid undies, that is!). Wearing Pull-Ups® training pants is a symbol of how much your child is grown, so ditch the diapers and keep that message clear.
- Add some fun to the process. Check out these potty training games along with our tips to make potty training fun. If you’ve already been using some fun potty training rewards and games, mix it up and try something new. What gets one kid excited — like a sticker chart — might not be motivating for another. Knowing your child’s potty personality can help you figure out how to pique their interest and keep them engaged in the potty training journey.
- Look at your gear. If you’re using a regular toilet, make sure you have a child-size potty seat that makes your toddler feel comfortable. A toilet can be big and a little scary for some kids — especially with that loud flush. If you don’t think the regular toilet is working, try a portable potty chair. Of course, if you’re not having success with a potty chair, trying out the regular toilet is worth a try too. Ask your child what they feel more comfortable using.