When I mentioned we were beginning potty training on the blog last month, Colleen commented on my post and offered to answer any questions I had about potty training. I jumped at her offer, shot her an email and she was kind enough to agree to participating in a Q&A post all about potty training. I asked you guys to submit your questions for the post as well since I know so many of us are currently going through potty training or hope to tackle it in the near future. I compiled the questions to send to Colleen (many of us clearly have the same issues/concerns) and I hope you find Colleen’s answers helpful and encouraging!
Let’s dive in!!!
Take it away Colleen…
A Little Background Information about Colleen
Hi everyone! My name is Colleen and I’m so excited to answer all of your potty training questions. I have my M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy and a post-master’s certificate in Behavioral Intervention in Autism. I previously co-facilitated potty training clinics for children with special needs, but now I work part-time as a Child and Adolescent therapist. I’m also a stay-at-home mama to my toddler and pregnant with baby #2. My husband and I live on our family farm in the Chicago suburbs with our 2 French bulldogs, 2 goats, and 10 chickens. I would love for you to swing by our blog, Frenchie Farm, and say hi!
A Friendly Reminder
Please remember that the tips provided are meant for general suggestion purposes only. If you’re experiencing significant potty training challenges, I encourage you to reach out to a local professional who can provide you with an individualized behavior plan to meet your specific needs. Now let’s get started!
Potty Training Q&A
- Our son is afraid of releasing the pee into the potty. Instead, he holds his pee in and waits until we put a diaper on for his nap or bedtime and then goes. Any advice about making him more comfortable to release on the potty?
Here are a few things to consider: How old is your son? Prior to this behavior, did he demonstrate readiness to start potty training? (General interest and excitement to use the potty, ability to identify wet and dirty diapers versus dry, etc.) Is this behavior new, or has he always shown fear when using the potty? If this behavior is new, then have there been any significant changes within the household lately? Is he experiencing any developmental milestones? Depending on your answers to these questions, perhaps your kiddo just isn’t ready to potty train (and that’s okay!) If he has shown readiness to potty train and his fear is new, then what is your response to the fear? We don’t want to reinforce the fear (i.e. give the fear too much attention), but of course we also want to tend to our child’s needs. Make sure to give him LOTS of verbal praise and access to a highly preferred reinforcer (i.e. snack, activity, or anything he loves) EVERY TIME he uses the potty.
- Pooping in a toilet: HELP!
Alright mamas, this one can be so frustrating, but remember you’re not alone if you’re experiencing poop issues! If we step back and think about it, pooping on the potty is kinda scary. From a developmental standpoint, our kids are trying to figure out what’s going on with their bodies while learning a brand new skill. That’s a lot to ask of them!
If you’re having pooping issues, here are a few things to consider first:
- This is such a huge bullet and I’m going to repeat it multiple times in this post – has your child demonstrated readiness to potty train? All kids are different, so there isn’t a “one size fits all” age for potty training. Just because your friend potty trained her child at 18 months (WHAT?!) doesn’t mean that your child is ready right now.
- If you need to over prompt your child (i.e. constantly asking your child if he/she needs to use the potty or sitting your child on the potty every 2 seconds) then your child isn’t actually potty trained. We need to teach our kids 1) how to identify when he/she feels the sensation to pee/poop and 2)how to hold the pee/poop until he/she makes it to the potty. This takes A LOT of skill, so don’t rush it! Wait until your kiddo is developmentally ready.
- Has your child always demonstrated fear about pooping? Does he/she have a history of withholding poop? Is your child’s poop a harder consistency? If your child is experiencing physical discomfort while pooping, then this will only intensify his/her fear about pooping in the potty.
If your child is definitely ready for potty training and hasn’t demonstrated any physical discomfort while pooping, then consider the following:
- Is this behavior old or new? Any major changes in the house or variations in schedules (i.e. vacations, holidays, sleep changes, new babies, etc). Any major developmental milestones? These can absolutely impact potty training success.
- Does poop refusal in the potty occur with one or both parents? If the behavior only occurs with one parent, then we need to make sure that both parents react the same way to the poop issue.
- What is your response when your child refuses to poop in the potty? Do we reinforce the fear by allowing him/her to gain access to a diaper?
- If your child has an accident, is there any consequence? Pooping in your underwear isn’t exactly comfortable. When potty training, we want to teach our kids the following correlation:
- Accidents = discomfort (wet and dirty underwear doesn’t feel good) and there is always a consequence for the accident
- Peeing/pooping in the potty = GOOD THINGS HAPPEN! Lots of verbal praise and access to a highly preferred reinforcer (ANYTHING your child likes! Examples can include snacks, playing on the iPad, watching a show, etc)
- There needs to be some sort for consequence for accidents. You can say “ No! You’re supposed to poop in the potty. Now we need to clean up the mess.” Use whatever feels right while also being respectful.
- The biggest takeaway point here is that we want to 1) make the child understand that pooping in underwear uncomfortable; 2) have a consequence for accidents; 3) give your child LOTS of verbal praise and access to preferred activities when he/she successfully poops in the potty
- My 3.5 year old finally started regularly using the potty, but only when we tell him to go. And even then sometimes we’ll ask, he’ll say no and then have an accident 5 min later. Is there anything we can do to help him with telling us when he needs to go?
This would be an example of over-prompting our kiddos to use the potty (it’s okay, it’s super common mama!). If we’re over-prompting our child, then he isn’t actually potty trained, we’ve just taught him to be over-dependent on our prompts to use the potty. I would recommend devoting a few days (I mean 24/7) to teach him the following:
- Teach what your body feels like when you need to go pee/poop – it can be very helpful to give your son a ton of liquids so you have a lot of opportunities for him to feel and identify this sensation
- When you feel this sensation, run to the potty ASAP!
- Rather than physically bringing your son to the potty all the time, give him reminders to check in with his body (i.e. Hey bud, remember to listen to your body. If your body says you need to pee or poop, run to the potty!)
- Accident? There needs to be a consequence (refer to the bullets above)
- Successfully used the potty? YAY! Lot’s of verbal praise and access to something awesome (see bullets above)
- My daughter has been fully potty trained during the day for about a year but is nowhere close to being potty trained during the night. She wears a pull-up and it’s always soaked. At what point should we work on that and then how? I know we can limit beverages close to bedtime, but otherwise I’m not sure if we will need to wake her up, or is she naturally is going to start waking up when she’s a bit older?
How old is your daughter? Does she wake up when she pees, or does she sleep through it? If potty training is going well during the day and she isn’t actually waking up when she pees at night, then I personally wouldn’t rush night time potty training. Waking your daughter up at night could lead to other issues (like a VERY sleepy mama). Give it some time. Once she starts waking up before peeing, then you can start working on her running to the potty rather than using her diaper.
- My daughter was well on her way to being potty-trained (no accidents for 2+ weeks) and then her 2 year molars started to cut through and she REFUSES to use her potty. Could those things be related? I don’t want to push her if she’s not ready but I also want her to be potty trained!
YES!!!! Be consistent with the potty training method that you have been using, but also be patient with your daughter. It will probably work itself out. I wouldn’t worry too much!
- I have an almost 10 month old little boy, so potty training was nowhere on my radar until in a mom group I heard of moms setting potties out between 12 and 18 months just to let their little ones sit on the potty for fun/getting familiar with it. What are your thoughts on this? Any advantages or disadvantages?
I don’t see any disadvantages to this (other than taking up space in your bathroom, ha!), but I don’t think it’s by any means necessary. Your son will naturally begin to show an interest in the potty just by watching you use it. To put it in perspective, my daughter is almost 2 years old and I haven’t done this (and I have no intention of starting potty training anytime soon). If you want to bring the potty out, then awesome. If you would prefer not to have it take up the extra space in your bathroom, then that’s totally fine too 🙂
- My daughter will be 3 in July, and we potty trained her this past February. She picked it up super quickly and did so well. She even got the hang of going number 2 within about 10 days, and she’s been a pro with that ever since. However, for the past month, she’s regressed terribly, and we cannot figure out what happened. The trouble is it doesn’t seem like she cares. We’ve tried reminding her a bunch of times, we’ve tried incentives again, we’ve even tried some consequences (like not getting to wear dresses, which are her favorite). I’m sort of at a loss because some days, she’ll do well, and then other days, she couldn’t be bothered to stop doing what she is doing. Any suggestions?
Have there been any major changes lately? New babies, changes to her schedule, sleep changes, vacations, etc.? Behavioral changes can be our child’s way of telling us that they need something from us. What is your reaction when she has an accident? Does she gain access to lots of attention? (Even if the attention is that you’re upset and/or give her a redirection.) On the days that she does well with using the potty, what is your response? I would recommend taking some time to go back to the basics. Give her LOTS (and LOTS!!) of attention when she successfully uses the potty. Also give her access to something she really loves (snacks, special time with mom or dad doing a fun activity, etc.) every time she uses the potty. You’ve got this mama! 🙂
- My son is 22 months old. We are having issues with him taking off his diaper overnight, almost every night (despite snapped onesies, pants, sleepsacks – He gets it all off). My problem is that he’s not very verbal, and I don’t believe he has the cognitive skills to anticipate when he needs to go, he just knows that he has gone. Any suggestions are much appreciated. Cleaning up a poopy crib every morning needs to stop.
Oh no mama, this is awful! Twenty two months is really young, so I definitely wouldn’t recommend potty training yet if he hasn’t shown readiness (which based on the info in your question, I don’t think that you believe he’s ready yet). This one is tricky. I would focus on trying to find a pajama arrangement that prevents him from taking off his diaper, which sounds like it will be trial and error. Do you know if he generally poops at the same time each night? Can you put the volume up on the monitor so you can hear him when he moves around and removes the diaper? If you can try to change his diaper before he removes it, then that would hopefully alleviate the issue. Ahh, good luck!
- Is it better to start potty training with a mini kid toilet or just go straight to the big toilet with the insert thing so they don’t fall in?
Personally, I’ll be using the mini toilet for my daughter, but this can be a matter of preference. I would recommend following your child’s lead on this one. If he/she is excited to use the big toilet and shows a readiness to do so, then go for it! If you think using the big toilet will just make potty training harder, then there’s no harm in using the mini toilet, too.
- I have boy/girl 2.5 year old twins. My girl seems ready to train, she consistently goes pee on the potty several times throughout the day at daycare, and will tell me a lot of times when she is peeing or pooping in her diaper (usually with a look of distress). My boy on the other hand seemed interested a few months ago, but has since lost interest and never wants to sit on the potty. He isn’t afraid or anything, just indifferent So my question is: Do I try to train them at the same time, or just focus on my girl first and then my boy later when he is more interested?
First of all, it sounds like you’re doing an awesome job listening to each child’s specific needs. Whether you decide to potty train them together or separate is completely up to you, but seeing as you’re open to doing it separately, it might make sense to go ahead and start the process for your daughter. She seems ready, so I say go for it! I have a feeling that once your son sees his sister being potty trained successfully, he’s going to start showing an interest and readiness again. Keep following each child’s needs and I think it will go smoothly for you!
- We recently potty trained my daughter and she has been doing amazing at home but really struggles when we are at friend’s homes or out to eat. We prompt her more in those scenarios but she pushes back and does not want to go. But then, 2 minutes later will have an accident. We have also tried being more laid back to take the pressure away, but she still pees just as much. Any tips? Thanks!
Potty training can be super tricky outside the home, so you’re definitely no alone. Here are a few things to consider: Does the accident usually happen due to distraction? (i.e. having fun playing with a friend or being at the restaurant) Or do you think the accident is because she doesn’t feel comfortable using the bathroom outside the home? I would recommend that you take a few random outings that you can dedicate completely to potty training. Make sure you provide LOTS of verbal praise every time she uses the potty outside the home. Also, be sure to have some highly preferred reinforcers in your bag (i.e. snacks, games, videos on your phone, etc) to take out every time she uses the potty successfully. Good luck!
Alright friends, I hope my suggestions were helpful! Feel free to visit my blog with any other questions or swing by and say hi! 🙂