After working day and night to feed your baby and changing diapers for a year or two, you want to have some independence from your little one, for the sake of your own sanity. But the reality is, your toddler might have totally different ideas about that matter. He or she is comfortable in the diapers that they have been getting used to from day one.
Since potty training is just another stage of development, like learning to use a spoon and fork, you should look for signs of readiness, the same way you did for starting them on solid food.
Here are some of the signs that your toddler might be ready for potty training: If your toddler’s diaper stays dry for a couple of hours, he or she hides when a bowel movement is coming, asks you to change their diaper, or tells you when they have a soiled diaper, it is probably time to start potty training. Once your little one can follow simple instructions and understand the difference between pee and poo, training becomes a possibility. If your toddler does not display these types of signs, you will have to wait a little longer to initiate the potty training.
But what if your toddler shows all the signs of readiness and approaches the later side of the age range, but still refuses to potty train? All children have different natures and rates of physical development, which can make potty training more challenging for some than others, but here are a few examples of underlying factors to look for that could contribute to your child’s refusal to use the potty.
Why does your toddler refuse to potty train?
1. Hard to let go of the familiarity and convenience
If your toddler decides that potty training is too much hassle compared to doing their business in the secure and comfortable diaper, you will face a strong refusal.
2. Fear of accident
If your little one experiences fear and embarrassment from the pee trickling down his leg, or makes too much association between the potty and that feeling of wetness and discomfort, he will resist taking off his diaper.
3. Afraid of parents’ negative emotions
If your little one sees you get upset whenever they have an accident or are unable to use the potty properly, it can trigger anxiety about using the potty, which will make them resistant to the idea of potty training.
4. Stressed about the constant state of alertness
To successfully guide children to the potty on time, parents need to frequently ask, “Do you have to go to the potty?” or even set a timer to remind themselves to do it. This can, of course, be stressful for some little ones, to be in a state of constant vigilance that they have never experienced before—which makes the diaper a much more attractive alternative.
5. Fear of losing part of his body or the sound of the toilet flushing
Some toddlers can have a hard time separating their bodies from what comes out of them, which makes them terrified of their own bodily excretions. Also, many little ones are scared by the sound of the toilet flushing, which can take them off guard and be quite loud.
How to deal with a toddler refusing to potty train?
1. Make it an exciting and fun experience
Prepare for the potty training ahead of time by involving your little one in shopping for underwear and picking out a potty. Make a sticker chart and get some fun stickers of things your child is interested in, and offer rewards like snacks and small toys once they reach a certain number of stickers.
2. Better late than too early
There are a lot of articles, books and videos out there about early potty training—as early as under 6 months—but do not feel pressured. Children not only need to develop sufficiently to control their own bladder, they also need to be capable of understanding and following instructions.
3. Never show your frustration
Children are quick to catch changes in their parents’ mood, so if you express your frustration negatively, they can develop negative associations with potty training. If your little one is scared of the toilet sound, always flush after they leave the bathroom. If they have an accident, do not scold—express your regret gently, in a cute sing-song voice, if it helps contain your frustration. Eventually, they will outgrow these things but for now, it is best to minimize anything that makes them fearful.
4. Use the time to deepen your bond
Do not only focus on getting to the point of training your child to use the potty quickly and efficiently. Rather, use this time to forge a stronger relationship with your little one. To do proper potty training, you need at least 3 days straight of stay-at-home time, giving you ample time to spend close to your child.
5. Let time take the wheel
Even if you feel like the progress is too slow, or worse, you feel like your child is regressing at times, don’t be discouraged. Once your child starts to grasp the concept of potty training and gets used to the physical sensation, there will eventually be an end in sight. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink—your toddler will let you know when he or she has mastered the potty.
To sum things up, every child will be ready for potty training eventually, although that timing will vary depending on a variety of factors, from personality to physical development. The most important thing is to never rush and remain patient. Remember that it is a big leap for your little one to potty train, both physically and mentally. As much as you are struggling, your child is struggling with you.
Focus on making fun out of this potty training journey, by doing lots of exciting indoor activities and enjoying this one-on-one time with your little one.
Let your child take his or her time to master the potty as you encourage and cheer them on. As frustrating as the setbacks might be, the quickest way to speed up the process will be your understanding and love.
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