Potty Training Toddlers: How to Not Give Into the Struggle


potty training toddler tips Mercy Des Moines

“No, thank you, Mommy. I LOVE my diapers!”

Those are words that can make parents of a 3 ½-year- old cringe during potty training.

If your child is older than three, healthy, and not potty trained after three months of trying, he or she is considered resistant rather than untrained. The most common cause of this resistance? Your three-foot-tall toddler has decided to engage in a power struggle with you.

It’s hard not to enter into this power struggle. You think, “How dare this little person call the shots?” The best way to end this game is to stay away from the struggle.

Follow these potty training tips to help your child learn to LOVE going in the potty, instead of in his or her diaper.

six tips for potty training toddlers

1. Give all responsibility to your child. Tell him or her that our bodies make pee and poop every day, and it is his or her job to put the pee and poop in the potty.

2. Take away all diapers and pull-ups, unless they need them to poop. (This article only relates to bladder resistance). Tell him or her that since he or she is now a big boy or girl, he or she will be wearing big boy or girl underwear – like the new princess or Batman underwear he or she picked out.

3. Have the potty easily accessible and in sight. It can be in the yard, the playroom or wherever your child is.

4. Stop ALL reminders to go potty. (Even if they are holding themselves and hopping furiously up and down!) Reminders keep the power struggle going – stay strong and silent.

5. Give rewards for using the potty. The trick is to find what motivates your child. Ask, “What would help you remember to put your pee in the potty?” Rewards can be a sticker for each time they go in the potty, then after 10 stickers are earned he or she can get a larger prize. Rewards can also be access to something your child desires – think 30 minutes with paints, a new dress- up costume, or watching a Disney DVD. This access is time limited, they are earning a privilege to use it. (Note: Never withhold physical affection or parent/child activities such as reading. These are essential for your child’s development).

6. If your child has an accident, don’t scold or berate him or her. Tell him or her that he or she can’t go around in wet, messy underwear. Have him or her change and clean up, with your help as needed.

Be reassured that all kids will eventually potty train. You will have stumbled on the right incentive to motivate them. Resisting won’t be fun without parental involvement, or your child will just decide that diapers and messes aren’t fun anymore.

Mercy Potty Training


Lynn Howard is a registered nurse practitioner at Mercy Clinics Pediatrics West in Clive.

To schedule an appointment with Lynn, please call (515) 222-7337.





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The post is the second in a series of sponsored post by Mercy Clinics. 

Is My Baby’s Poop Normal? 

This post is sponsored by Mercy Clinics.


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