How NOT to Potty Train

Oh boy… welcome to my worst nightmare.

About a year ago, just before my oldest daughter turned two, I decided that it would be time to start potty training.

I am a bit of a Pinterest nut so I had seen plenty of articles on there about “Training Your Child in Three Days”, “Potty Train in 1 Day”, or even “Potty Training Your 18-month-old”. What??? I will tell you right now, this is not going to be one of those posts.

Obviously, I thought that these methods were going to work for anyone and potty training would be easy as can be.

WRONG. So very, very wrong.

Potty training has now become my arch nemesis.

At almost three-years-old, I have tried to potty train my daughter about 8 different times in the past 10 months. I have learned plenty of what NOT to do when potty training… hopefully this post will soon be followed with our potty training success story. No promises though.

potty train

How Not to Potty Train

The first thing I learned is that one method of potty training is not going to work for ever single child. I am really happy for all of those people who can potty train their child in 24 hours and never have any issues after that, but if I have to see it one more time I might scream! You have to take potty training as it comes based on the needs of your individual child. For some, those easy and quick methods might work. Congratulations! I wish I had that luck. But don’t feel bad if your child takes more time than a weekend to learn this brand new skill.

Rewards may not always work either. I thought for sure that since my daughter has such a love for sweets, the M&M’s, marshmallows, and chocolate chips that I offered as a reward would work. I was absolutely wrong. She was even more upset when she couldn’t have them after screaming about having to sit on the big girl potty. That was an entirely new fit and another round of tears that had to be dealt with.

Another huge thing that I have taken from this potty training nightmare with my stubborn child is DO NOT FORCE IT. If you try to make your child potty trained when they aren’t ready they are most likely going to get really frustrated with it and/or totally despise it. My child screamed every single time I put her on the “big girl potty”, both the seat and the potty chair. She didn’t want to have anything to do with that thing for like 7 consecutive months. I kept trying to make her feel better about it but she just was not ready then. She is a really smart little girl and knows exactly what’s going on. I should’ve known if she was getting that upset about something that she understood, it probably just wasn’t the right time.

I would say the biggest thing to not do when trying to potty train is be impatient. You are going to really have to hone in on every bit of patience you have to clean up the messes that will be all over, to do the constant laundry of big kid underwear that they think is a diaper, and to listen to the whining or screaming that may come along with it. You may have to prepare yourself for a battle in the beginning and patience is the only way you will come out somewhat sane.

I am 4 months pregnant with twins, so potty training is now a necessity. She also seems to be ready and much more receptive to the idea now that she’s a little older and since we’ve taken a 3 month break from trying to potty train at all.

Here we go… back to big girl panties, urine on the floor, and cleaning number 2 out of underwear before washing 6 pairs a day. I am going to make a “potty sticker chart” this time around and hope for the best!

Wish us luck! Hopefully this time we will be successful:) For all of you parents out there who struggle with potty training or have an older child who just isn’t there yet, you aren’t alone! Don’t feel bad about it and don’t let others whose young kids have been potty trained since birth make you feel inferior.

I would love to know: What are your tips on making potty training easier?

*Cheers to the lessons in patience we learn as parents*

joanna at motherhood and merlot

You may also like


  1. Oh boy, I feel your pain. We started potty training our toddler at 26 months and it’s been quite a journey! He was doing so well for the first few weeks, but had several regressions. Now several months later, every day is a guessing game! I will definitely agree that waiting until they are ready is the single best advice when it comes to potty training. Lately, I’ve found that having “scheduled” times for potty is also helping. We try to go in the morning, afternoon, after dinner and before bed. The consistency is helping, day by day. Hang in there!!

  2. I should prob start thinking about starting potty training for my daughter! I am so lazy when it comes to this stuff. I only trained my son when he HAD to be potty trained to move up to the 3 year old class! So I put him in underwear about a month before his 3rd birthday and brought lots of changes of clothes everywhere! It worked! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Lauren recently posted…Family Favorites: Books my Kids are Loving in JanuaryMy Profile

  3. With my oldest, we were in a hotel for a month waiting for our house sale to close. My husband and I decided that we would wait till we were in a more stable environment before we started potty training her. Well, she had other plans and pretty much learned to potty on her own. Fastforward to our second and last child during potty training. We tried potty chairs in the living room, 3 different kinds of potty seats, stickers, positive affirmation (to which she replied “Don’t say yay!”, and lastly food bribery all of which was met with much resistance from our little trainee. I had decided to encourage myself daily by reminding myself often that she would be going to college in “big girl panties”, I was sure of it! I hoped! I finally, at my wits end, decided to put the potty seat on the big potty, step stool under the potty for assistance and the light on and encouraged my little independent firecracker that if she wanted to go to the potty, all she needed to do was go in and go, and make sure she washed her hands with soap and water afterwards. Well, it worked! I thought it would be NEVER before she was potty trained but it worked and she never had an accident after that first independent potty experience. Now that I think about it, I really don’t prefer an audience either! Every child is different and I am thankful for the learning experience.

    1. I know all about the resistance, even the “Don’t say yay” or “No, it’s not a good job!” She is very independent, maybe I will just try to let her work it out on her own time:)

  4. It will happen, not to worry. We had a sticker chart and it worked well. The kids placed stickers they picked out onto the chart when they tried or went. Each child is different and so is the timing of when they are ready. I had a day care provider for my last when I was working she taught my youngest in summer. She had the little potty outside by the slider door, when she was in panties she would see her cue run her to the potty. Then indoors of course she’d take her to the bathroom. I had to make sure I was doing the same at home outdoors and indoors too! Then within a week or two she got the hang of it. I thought that was genius!
    Theresa @DearCreatives recently posted…Best Ever Macaroni And Cheese #Recipe With Step by Step How ToMy Profile

  5. I’ve been working on potty training with my 2 year old son for about 5 months now and he still has accidents almost everyday. I can’t give any advice on which method works best for which methods don’t work at all, but I can say that consistency between parents is key! making sure that the standard is the same for all households that the child will be in is also very important. I recently found out that my child’s father was not working on potty training at all when my son was at his house. It was a devastating blow! Especially since we have been working so hard at home. Either way, I definitely believe in the notion that each child will catch on in his or her own time. Keep it up, mamas. You are doing well.

  6. I am not looking forward to the day I have to potty train my daughter. I have also seen those articles; I recently saw one about how someone potty trained their 13-month-old (which is how old Eve is) and I was like, should I be potty training her now? But I realized she is just not ready! And like you said, what works for one child will not work with another. Thanks for the tips, Joanna!
    Bev recently posted…If I had $10,000, Iโ€™d spend it all on EtsyMy Profile

  7. I recall we used Ikea as an incentive with our older boy. He REALLY wanted to go into the ball pit, and we told him he could if he was in underwear. “I can do that!” he said. “I’ll wear underwear. Then we explained that he would actually have to, you know, be qualified — by always using the potty for poop for a while. After that, he was motivated pretty fast. But he was 3 1/4 at that point. My hurdle with boys was poop training. But it will happen. Just be consistent and don’t stress about it too much.

  8. Reward stickers and a potty training charts are a
    great way of marking every success. Training for one or two days here and there is not going to a
    lead to successful obedience dog training plan. According to Freud, our personalities and psychological
    problems are determined when we are very young.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge