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What to do When Potty Training Isn’t Going Well

What are you to do when you start potty training and it isn't going well?  Picture this: all the signs are there...your child knows the words for pee and poop, shows interest in the potty, and your parental instincts tell you he's ready.  Yet you've started training, and a few days into the process your child is still peeing all over the house like a new puppy.  Do you give up?  Or are there options for "Plan B"?

Below is the advice I gave a parent who encountered this very situation.  Her daughter was very young (only 20 months) and Mom was pregnant and exhausted.  The key take away from this situation is that although you feel defeated, your child is learning more than you's all sinking in somewhere.  Often times it's just a matter of waiting a few weeks or months more until the new skills, body awareness, and coordination all start to work together.  Hang in there and soon your child will be diaper free!


I am going to tell you to consider taking a 'mini' break or to modify your plan of action.  Some kids really aren't ready until just a little bit older.  I think you might be surprised at just how much easier this is in as little as 2-3 more months.  For some reason, 22-26 months is a magic age for a lot of kids.  

I think if you could stick with it for a few more weeks she might do better, but after hearing that you are pregnant and exhausted, I think you are probably not up for more weeks of accidents.  This happened to my best friend  - she was training while pregnant.  After about a week, she gave up.....and amazingly about 2 weeks later....her daughter one day walked over to the potty, pulled down her diaper, and peed!  So it really is all sinking in, trust me...she just might need her bladder to mature for just a little bit longer. 

So here's what I would do:  Go back to pull-ups....but consider keeping underpants on under them.  Stop expecting her to tell you when she needs to go.  Keep a timer set for once per hour.  If her diaper is dry, reward for keeping it dry.  If  not, no big deal...just make her go with you to change it, and try to have her help as much as possible when changing her.  And, if she is dry, and if it's been a while since she's gone pee, take her to the potty and see if she can go.  But keep it low-key, no pressure, and don't express any disappointment if she doesn't go or if her diaper isn't dry.  I bet after all the hard work you've gone through it will really help things kind of fall into place for her...and you might be surprised at how often she does initiate on her own. 

Keep in mind she is really young!  Some families have luck with kids 18-20 months, but many won't even brave it until well over 20 months....and your daughter really did better than average.  Honestly! 

Give yourself a nice warm bath tonight and celebrate the progress she made - but stop exhausting yourself with the accidents in the meantime.  It will just take longer than you'd hoped....but she's well on her way.



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