What Problems Might I Encounter During Training?

Legs of girl sitting on toilet potty training
Jessica Lewis/Flickr Open/Getty Images

Question: What Problems Might I Encounter During Training?

Answer: There are several problems you might encounter when potty training your toddler. Some may occur right up front while others may not be present until potty training is well under way.

Here are some common issues:

  • Child doesn't want to use the potty at all.

    If you find that your child doesn't want to go to the potty at all, make sure that your child is ready. If your child is ready, check to see if other factors might be causing a problem. Is there a lot of pressure or stress being put on her to use the potty? Is she constipated? Is she afraid of the flushing sound? Is she afraid of falling into the potty? Can her feet easily touch the floor or a stool while she's sitting on the potty? Can she easily turn the light on in the bathroom? Identify and eliminate any fear factors and try training again.

  • Child was using potty well, and is now having accidents again.

    Sometimes outside factors can affect potty training progress. Illness, a new child coming into the family, change in caregivers at daycare, a divorce or any other event that changes the daily routine can cause a child to regress. Try to keep things as close to normal as you possibly can, and offer your child added reassurance during these stressful times. Keep training and resist the temptation to go back to diapers.

    Another issue that can cause set-backs once a child has already begun successful training is a medical problem. Constipation, diarrhea and urinary tract infections are painful and cause irregularity in elimination patterns. If your child is experiencing pain, hasn't had a bowel movement in several days or has urine that has a strong smell or is "off" in color, contact your health care provider immediately. Once these issues have cleared up, return to training as before, making sure to follow any preventative measures recommended by your provider.

  • Child is defiant about sitting on potty when asked or told, often saying "NO!"

    This is your typical power struggle. Your child wants to be independent and so she is asserting herself. She wants sitting on the potty to be her idea, and will resist when she feels otherwise. There are a couple of ways to address this. First, you can just give up and let her lead the way. Don't ask or tell her when to go potty, just let her go as she needs to. Second, you can make her think it's her idea. Offer her a special book and give it to her saying, "I thought you might like this book in case you need to potty sometime soon." Or you could tell her you need to go potty yourself, that you'll be busy in the bathroom for a few minutes but will let her know when you're done in case she needs to go, too.

    When you encounter problems, just remember to handle it calmly and keep moving forward with your training. Try to remove any pressures from your child and treat this process as just one more skill your child will learn. Don't be discouraged, your child will learn to use the potty. Keep reminding her that you're her biggest supporter and everything will... err... come out OK.

    Do you have a question you'd like to see answered? You can send your questions to me at babyparenting@aboutguide.com and I will answer them here on the site.

  • Continue Reading