Potty Training Setback? Here's How to Make Potty Training Fun Again

Jan 18, 2023 | 4.5 Minutes Read

Potty training is pretty exciting in the beginning. Kids love to shop for their first Pull-Ups® training pants. They thrive on the attention they get at the beginning of the potty training process.

And hearing all that encouragement can really build their confidence. But what can parents do when the thrill is gone, and their kid doesn’t want to interrupt a fun activity to go to the potty?

Toddler boy happily cheering
There are kids who sail through potty training without ever looking back. Yet others lose interest after a week (or two or three) and wish for the ease of a diaper. If your toddler lost interest in potty training, don’t worry. This isn’t a major potty training problem. It’s something that can probably be fixed by adding a little more fun to the process — or switching up your ideas for fun potty training if they’ve lost their charm.

Starting from Scratch?

If your toddler lost interest in potty training, don’t think that potty training won’t work. Starting over and using a different approach may help spark that interest again. Reinforce the whole idea of potty training with some of the many children’s books, videos and even toys that are available to get them used to the idea of going on the potty.

Then, plan for a potty-related activity that will be ongoing until the child is reliably using the potty. Mom and potty training expert Vicki Lansky suggests a chart or calendar that rewards the child with stickers for successful trips to the potty.

For slightly older children, Dr. Michael F. Wasserman, a pediatrician with Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, LA, suggests making potty training fun by offering a little prize at the conclusion of each potty training session. He suggests a jar of coins, small gifts or snacks kept near the potty.

“Older children recognize that money is important, and it can be very motivating,” Dr. Wasserman says. “But I would caution any parent not to make it too large of a monetary reward or you can go broke.”

Fine-Tuning Technique

Some kids may be coming along fine with their potty training but need a little fun and fine-tuning for their potty training techniques. Boys have an extra step when it comes to potty training as they learn to stand and pee.

Jan Kreider of San Diego, CA, made this fun for her son, Aaron, by putting cereal pieces in the toilet bowl and having him aim for them. “This is an inevitably messy process, so I also had him help clean up after he was done when he missed,” Kreider says. “I think that motivated him even more to aim well so he didn’t have to get out his little bucket and sponge.”

For kids of all ages, be sure that hand washing techniques are emphasized throughout the process of toilet training. This is particularly important for little ones because they may not have the coordination to keep their hands from touching their bottoms when wiping. Consider a “fun” soap and their own little set of towels. Or download our printable hand washing poster to hang in the bathroom.

Ready or Not?

There are plenty of potty training obstacles, and one of the biggest may be trying to start before your child is ready.

The signs of potty training readiness can be rather subtle. That’s why the parent of the backsliding potty trainer needs to first reexamine the situation and be sure that the child isn’t being pushed or encouraged to potty train before they are ready. Our Potty Training Readiness Quiz can help you decide.

“People often make decisions about potty training based upon a child’s age, but, regardless of what grandma says or friends’ kids may have done, there is no magic age when potty training should begin,” says Dr. Wasserman. “A child who is not ready to train may get caught up in the excitement at first but will not be able to succeed over the long term.”

There are also some important reasons to hold off including the birth of a sibling or switching to a new daycare. If your child is experiencing any of them, it might not be the right time to work on a big new skill like using the toilet.

It also helps to know what kind of personality your potty trainer may have. If you take our brief assessment, we can help by providing you with personalized tips and advice based on your child’s personality.

Long-Term Commitment

In addition to age myths, parents need to avoid being caught up in the idea that potty training should be instantaneous. Some children may potty train in a day, but that’s certainly not the norm, Dr. Wasserman says.

“Potty training is a process that will take weeks, and you have to think of staying with it over the long term,” Dr. Wasserman says. “Thinking this will be accomplished in a matter of days can lead to too much unrealistic pressure on everyone.”

Keep Up the Fun

Make sure you’ve tried a bunch of different ideas for gamesrewards and activities. If a sticker chart has lost its charm, consider making a My Potty Book together or filling up a potty treasure chest for your boy or girl. Or, arrange an encouraging call from your child’s favorite Disney character, and more.

Fun Ideas for Potty Training a Boy

If you’re potty training a boy, you might have started with him sitting on the potty to pee. If you’re ready to make the transition to standing, try these ideas for helping boys learn to aim:
  • In the tub, have him pee into a cup.
  • Allow him to go outside when there’s no one around. Have him aim for a leaf or rock.
  • Let him “write” in the snow.

Patience Is Key

If you’re facing some real resistance, it might make sense to disengage for a while. Or if your child has been potty trained for weeks but suddenly has started having regular accidents, they may be experiencing potty training regression. It’s usually stress-related, but as a precaution, be sure to check that your child is not experiencing a health issue such as constipation, which can cause regression. Rest assured that our tips can help to get your child back on track.


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