Potty Training the Stubborn Child

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An interesting phenomena happens when you are pregnant.  You want any child who isn’t potty-trained already and is of age to hurry up and potty train so you have one less in diapers. 

Until a couple of weeks ago, I had 2 in diapers and one of them had been “of age” a seriously long time.  He was 3½ and probably my most stubborn child to date.

I had been trying to potty train him off and on for at least a year.  Sometimes he would seem ready only to totally freak out when I tried to put undies on him instead of a diaper.  I’d even tried bribery…several times.  In fact, my mom even tried it just a month ago.  All to no avail.  He seemed totally unmoved by wet and poopy pants.

Then, there’s this little guy – aged 22 months.  He tells me all the time that he is “yuck”.  He loves to have his diaper changed!  So, I decided to do something drastic…

Set up a bit of peer pressure.

So, I purchased not one, but TWO froggy potty chairs from Amazon (they came with high reviews for little boys!) with the thought that each little boy would have his own and I could possibly get both the boys potty trained before this newest blessing arrives.

We really talked up the fact that new potty chairs were coming.  The day the box arrived was thrilling!  We opened the box and both the little boys grabbed their chairs and took them straight to the bathroom.  They both sat on them and chit chatted away for several minutes and I was just sure I witnessing the beginning of success.

The next morning I put the 3 year old in undies, but when I suggested it to the 22 month old, he hollered at me with all his might and I decided not to push the issue.

However, the second I suggested the potty chair to my older potty-trainer, he refused and pointed to the toilet.


He has this oh so cool froggy potty chair and he wanted the toilet?

Oh well.

So, I got him up on the toilet and lo and behold, he went potty!

And he never had a potty accident again!

Now, poop training has proven to be a different ball game.  Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t.  Sometimes he waits for his night diaper, sometimes he doesn’t.  But the success of potty training has given me hope!

I’ve never pretended to be a potty training expert.  Every single time is an experiment.  But I must say when it comes to the stubborn child, the best thing to do is play it cool.  Try a little bribery, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work.  And if at first you don’t succeed, wait a while.  They will get it…eventually.

By the way, the 22 month old really hasn’t turned out to be much of a potty trainer yet. That said, I would purchase two potty chairs again for the sheer fact it somehow triggered understanding in my 3 year old. And that, my friends, is priceless!

36 Comments on Potty Training the Stubborn Child

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36 thoughts on “Potty Training the Stubborn Child

  1. Funny the things that do work for potty training! And I appreciate the fact that you thought each training of a child was a new experience. I have felt the same way. I’m just not the type to set timers and clean the carpet for days… not me!

  2. My first was super easy — naked, done in a few days, at age 2.5. No big deal.

    Then, my second. Sigh….

    I left him naked a lot of the time starting at 2.5. We cleaned up multiple accidents a day. He’d hide under the playground or tables to poop on purpose. I decided to not push it…even if we were cleaning up lots of messes, he was also becoming aware of what he was doing and would, someday, use the potty instead.

    And he did. Right before he turned 3 he decided the potty was better and started just going on his own. And now he’s potty trained. Not making a big deal out of it and leaving him naked and enduring the accidents led to him being trained when he was ready.

  3. Don’t feel bad–both my children were about four when they potty trained. They are a year apart so the peer pressure did help. I’m just trying to work on nighttime training for one now. Not so fun!

  4. We had a stubborn potty trainer. He is our strong willed child. He turned five and would still not use the potty. We had him evaluated to make sure there was not a problem. He was fine. It baffled us. We were at our wits end. Then one day our son let me know he just pooped his pants because he did not get his way. It turns out he was pooping and peeing his pants whenever he did not get his way. So we began to address the issue for what it truly was– defiance. Now he uses the bathroom all the time and he is happier as he becomes less defiant in other areas as well. I know that typically this is not the issue with potty training difficulties, but was for us. Having a strong willed child can be difficult as a parent, but my husband and I know that God has a plan to use that strong will for HIS glory. So we are training him to submit his strong will to us so that one day he will submit his will to his Heavenly Father.

    • I have been struggling with my 4 1/2 year old. He is the youngest of 7 and definitely the hardest. I had an aha moment today when he stood on the stairs and moved his hips around in circles as he was peeing on the carpet. He knows how the pee and poop in the potty, but this was the first time I have seen that he was having an “accident” very purposefully. Sigh. At least now I have a bit more understanding of the situation.

  5. My boys have both been stubborn at potty training as well. I tried all the tricks and finally decided that it’s really not *that* big of a deal…they’ll get it. My oldest was nearly 3 1/2 as well before he got the “poop” part. My youngest now just turned 3 and he seems pretty stubborn as well.

  6. Are you still going to be purchasing from Amazon after their recent strong stance for homosexual marriage? I’m trying to figure out where I’m going to start buying stuff online!

  7. I have six children aged 14 to 10m. My first four potty trained easy by the time they were 2 1/2. #4 decided she wanted to learn at 15 months and did so. I thought I had the potty training thing down. God taught me otherwise. #5’s turn to learn came up. I went into teaching him at 2 just like the others. He did not follow the pattern. He could have cared less that he had wet pants or poop in them. He would hide and poop. He is my strong willed independent child. He has taken much longer to learn a lot of things. I bought him a froggy potty too because I thought it was cute and would motivate him. Not! What a waste of money. I’ve owned several potty seats. The best one is the simplest. It is the one that is just a seat cover that fits on the big toilet. Anyway, I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but sometime around his fourth birthday I finally walked him up to the toilet and told him to pee in it standing up (before that I always made my boys learn sitting down – primarily because at 2 they are simply too short to pee standing up). He peed in the toilet and that was that. I think it was fun for him and he felt “in control” or something. I dont’ know. Anyway, he hasn’t had an accident since except at night – he is an extremely deep sleeper. Now he will tell me when he has to go and he runs to the bathroom – sometimes he even goes by himself without telling me. The main thing I’ve learned from this is that every child is different and it is just when I think I know how to do something, or have some aspect of my parenting “down” that God will use one of my children to remind me of who is really in control (just how much I still have to learn/how little I do know).

  8. My strong willed daughter was almost 4 before I finally got her to go poop on the toilet. It was so very frustrating to wait that long but it taught me that there are certain things I just can’t make her do, no matter how much I want to. She made sure it was her decision to finish up potty training, not mine.

  9. Sounds like you’re doing a great job! I remember having two in diapers and one on the way. I asked and asked the Lord, okay begged, for Him to please help me get my son potty trained before the baby came! I could do two in diapers but not three. He was so gracious and answered my prayers. But we had many years with all three kids wetting at night. Lots and lots of laundry!!

    • Yes, we’ve been there too. I’m still putting my 3 yr old in a diaper at night, but he is usually dry when he gets up in the morning.

  10. Oh, I’m glad I am not the only one with a stubborn little boy! Potty training is my least favorite – and least successful – mommy requirement. It took me forever to train my girls and then it took another forever to get them out of pull-ups at night. My son simply tells me no, he doesn’t want underwear. Many days, he’d rather not have anything on at all! I allow it, but it leads to accidents so….I push on. Can I say how envious I am of other mothers who have no potty training issues at all?!

  11. I’ve been potty training my twins who just turned 3 and boy has it been an adventure! I will say that we have finally made a break through on the poopy area for one of them and that is wonderful! Now to hope it rubs of on her twin sister! Good luck with the potty training and the new little blessing!

  12. My 3 1/2 year old sometimes shows interest and will use the potty a few times a day but refuses underwear (new territory for me). I’ve never only had a baby in dipes since my 1st born. But with Nate turning 4 before this little one will, Lord willing, join us gives me a glimmer of hope.

  13. I’m struggling with my 2 1/2 yr old – he goes if I take him, and if we never leave the house he can go all day without accidents. However, he refuses to tell me if he has to go to the bathroom, I’ve tried code words, bribery, super-praise the few times he has told me, and yet he is VERY independent about the whole thing. If he’s playing with other kids he just poops/pees and keeps playing. He’ll hide if he sees me and won’t tell me he went. He can verbalize what is supposed to happen when I ask, but just won’t do it at the time. I know he is kind of young, but he’s advanced in other ways, and has in the past gone days without wet accidents when he can take himself to the bathroom without help.

    • This is how my son started out. I just put him back in diapers because I didn’t want to deal with messes all day long and no forward progress. This time, for some reason, he was able to tell me prior to needing to go. That made me realize he truly was ready.

  14. My 3yr old little girl is being so stubborn! I try not to get to upset about it but it does frustrate me when she runs into whatever room I am in and says “me peed on the floor.” I am hoping this phase passes soon!!

  15. I just potty trained my fifth child an she was the easiest one yet. She is 22 months old and was showing signs of readiness. My sister got an ebook from a friend called, 3 day potty training by Lara Jensen. She was thinking of trying it. She emailed me the book and I read it in 30 minutes and decided to start the next day. It worked! No more diapers, not even at night! So I passed it onto a friend who had the same results with her 21 month old. My sister passed it onto a friend who had the same success with her 2 1/2 year old! I am just so excited I had to share!!
    The first step involves having the child throw away all the diapers so there is no going back!
    I wish you much success!

  16. OH MY GOSH! I’m having such issues! My son will go pee in the potty all day, no matter where we are, home, Nana’s, the grocery store…but poop…not on your life. It’s so frustrating because he’ll come to me and tell me that he’s done it in his pullup/diaper/underpants but he WILL NOT do it on the potty. It’s so frustrating. I’m grateful that he’s at least going to the potty, but if he’s so aware of it, why doesn’t he GO?!??!?!? *L*

    • At this point, I’m just thrilled my son waits until he is in a diaper to poop because it used to be in his pants. I just keep telling myself…someday.

  17. For children who are having trouble with pooping in the potty it is important to make sure they are getting enough fiber and water. As they become aware of the need to poop, most children can control when they go and will hold back if there is any discomfort.

  18. I have a friend who used some of kind of method that I had never heard of. She tells her son (she has 4 boys) that he need to poo and pee in the toilet, puts underwear on them and takes them to the bathroom periodically, as well as asking throughout the day. She also tells them that if they don’t go to the bathroom in the toilet but uses their pants, they will have to take a shower. (She stays home for the time it takes, a week or whatever). I can’t remember if this is a regular shower or a chilly shower. Nevertheless, I know her 2 youngest are afraid of the shower so the next to the littlest potty trained fast (all the boys did) but I don’t think the youngest has yet, he is 2 and they have been traveling a lot this month so she may have quit for now. By the way, this method would never work for mine, they all loved showering and have showered since infancy (sometimes it was easier to just jump in the shower and have hubby hand me a baby, bathe her, hand her back out and then shower myself). All mine would play in a shower all day! I don’t know what I think about her method, she read it in a book and I had never heard of that. All of mine were different experiences, unfortunately, my oldest was easy-breezy so I thought they were all going to be…..LOL!

  19. I completely understand. My first one was so easy to potty train. She wanted to start really early. She thought it was fun and a game. My son was totally different. He would go about a week peeing in the potty, but poop was a whole other story. Then he would pee in his pants. The worst was when he would hide behind something just to poop. When we would take it to the potty and flush it he would freak out!! A friend told me about a book called “Where’s the Poop”. WOW AMAZING! Who knew. When it was about his time to poop we would go sit on the potty and we would ready this book. He was totally potty trained in about 2 weeks, poop and all. He was about 3 at the time. We still have the book for future children. Don’t know if would help you, but I know it would not hurt. Blessings to you and your little one during this time.

  20. Hi Amy,

    All of my big kids trained at 4. The last one day and night trained in just a week. The twins are just over 4 and they will go on the potty. While they love the big kid underwear, they assure me they are not ready yet. We’ll see about that. I am determined to have them completely weaned (just one tiny feed at bedtime every other night) and toilet trained by the end of the summer.

    You’ve still got some time :)


  21. What do you think about training a 13-month-old? She’s not capable of pulling up and down her pants, but then again I just don’t think she’s had occasion to try. I suppose I could teach her to do it. She doesn’t tell me when she is about to go, but she will stop, look down, and point to her diaper – an indication that she is currently going. And there are sometimes when she wakes up dry from a nap. To me this says she’s about ready, but is she just too young? Is there a pattern somewhere to make training pants with the absorbancy of a diaper?

    • I suppose you could always try and see what happens! You could sew up some soaker pads and lay them in her training pants to help absorb.

  22. When I was little (around 3 1/2 as well) I still loved my dipper. I knew HOW to use the pot, but I didn’t WANT to. My dad said, “Ok, next time you use your dipper, I’m taking it off and washing you down with the garden hose!” (It was Summertime) I said that would be just fine, but after the first try…well, dippers ended pretty quickly after that. (as in like instantaneously) :) That water was COLD. :)


  23. This was my first potty training day with baby #4, but boy #1. In the past, I’ve done the whole potty party train-in-a-day thing, which has really meant it’s been done in under a week with girls not yet two. I waited a couple of months past this one’s second birthday, he has insisted on attempting to potty on his potty every time he’s had a diaper change for at least a month now, and he stinkied two nights ago, but I still didn’t see a great success today. I didn’t get too stressed, figured I’d give it up to ten days of big boy pants and mopping by mom before I caved to the fact that he may not be ready. Still, much fun and encouraging to read this today, and your potty training expert entry. Thanks!