Potty training troubles

You're not a failed parent if you can't get your toddler potty trained. You may just need a little expert advice. Here are what a couple of our experts had to say on the matter.

Refusing to use the potty!

Desperate Dad, Neil needs some advice on what to do with his little girl.

'Our daughter is three years old and still wets & dirties her pants. We thought we were through the potty training phase when she was 2 but alas.

We have tried numerous ways to encourage her to use the toilet, even resorting to confiscating toys when she had a 'mishap'. But she refuses to use the toilet. Do you have any advice?'


Occupational Therapist, Paula Barnard-Ashton offers her advice.

The first little trick that I have learnt is that if she is not at a nursery school, then place her in one.

The routine of going to the toilet at regular times in the school program, as well as peer interaction / modelling, often seems to do the trick. If she is however in a school, and still having mishaps, then it is a little trickier.

My next option is for you to firstly downplay the issue, and try to anticipate her needing the toilet, making regular toilet stops, so that the likelihood of an accident is less.

If she is refusing to actually sit on the toilet, then it could be a behavioural issue, which may require you to "lay down the law". These things are very complex, it could be that she is not feeling the signals in time, or that she is looking for attention. Patience, be firm and love!

Toddler won't toilet train

This just as desperate mom, Julia, is at her wits end when it comes to potty training her daughter.

'My toddler is resisting toilet training so strongly that I am despairing. I really want to get her out of nappies, but the more we encourage her to use the toilet and wear panties, the more she refuses.

It's becoming a real issue now and I don't know how to encourage her without putting pressure on her, but I do feel that at three years old, she should be moving on from the nappy stage. Help!'

Expert advice

Parenting expert, Anne Cawood is more than happy to help.

Children all develop at different paces. Some just take longer to train than others. The worst thing to do is to put any pressure on her - potty training should never become a discipline issue. It should develop naturally - children never start Grade 1 in nappies!

If a child has a strong temperament, the worst thing is to try to over-control her - this will only make her more rebellious and you will not win the "battle". They learn that this is something you cannot force her to do - and you will really develop enormous problems if you do not ease up on the pressure.

Suggest that she use the toilet, encourage her to learn when she needs to go, limit the reminders and the nagging, leave it up to her. Stay patient and be very encouraging when she is successful, and remain calm when she has accidents. She will then toilet train herself - because this is a natural thing to do - and not because you are pressurising her to do so.

Need more expert advice? We have the experts who can help.

What have been your potty training experiences?

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