attached parenting

Potty Training A Stubborn Child


This post is LONG overdue. Jack potty trained about a year ago. And oh goodness, it was not easy. I have talked about before what a….determined….stubborn….makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes child?……Jack is. So it was no surprise to Michael and I that he was a bit uncooperative with potty training.

Jack was about 30-months-old when we started the potty training process. He was showing signs of readiness. He was waking up with totally dry diapers each morning. AND he was needing less and less diaper changes.









However, since he was holding for longer periods of time, he was SOAKING any type of diapers we put on him each time he peed. I picked him up for daycare once with his back-up back-up outfit on. He peed through his clothes twice in 5 hours! I was tired of dealing with wet, crying toddler each a couple times a day.  

We were also still getting Jack’s food allergies under control. He still occasionally ate things that gave him nasty diaper rashes. The poor guy has sensitive skin on top of this too, so his rashes would last for days and need special medicated cream to soothe.  I knew this would stop if he wasn’t diaper into this allergen-laden poop each day. And, I was so over having two in diapers. We mostly used cloth, but both used disposables as needed too. I was tired of washing mounds of diapers a couple times a week. I was tired of buying two different diaper sizes from the store. I was tired of chasing diaper changes taking 20 minutes every hour or two. I had wiped enough butts! I was ready for Jack to use the toilet.

So we bought Jack a little sitting potty and a toilet seat.  And similar ones at grandma’s house. We started by just putting these items into the bathroom. For like a week we told him that those were for him to go potty in like a big boy. But we didn’t have him use them yet, just let him see them and get used to the idea.

Then one day we decided to got for it. We switched him to Pull-Up….which I was reluctant to do. I have mixed feeling on them. They are pretty much just diapers than can be pulled down easier….hence the name. Even though they claim they allow the kids to feel wet, it still feels like a diaper. Most parents told me their kids did not care about the difference and just went in them like a diaper anyways. I also didn’t want to spend more money on more expensive pack of diaper. But then, my mom bought a giant pack of them so I took half and decided to give it a try. I explained to Jack they just back-ups, in case he doesn’t make it to the potty. The first week he tried to get to the potty, but pretty much didn’t make it priority so just went into the pull-up.

15403719_1819592128067032_6699556345869016139_oIt became clear Jack needed more structure to potty training. I know there is that “Potty train in 3 day” method. But I knew that was not for Jack. You cannot force a stubborn child to do things fast. I followed the advice that Pull-Ups suggests. Setting a timer and having him sit on the potty no matter what—even if he doesn’t go, he will just get used to the idea. Normally, I do not believe in bribing kids to jump developmental milestones. But I knew Jack’s stubbornness needed more motivation. So we made a potty chart. Dots for pee, X for poop. Nothing fancy, just something so he could visualize the progress. He picked the prize of a Shopkins play-set if he filled the whole chart. IMG_9619.JPG

At home, the timer and chart worked great! We started with the timer every 30 minutes for 2 days. Then stretched it to an hour. Then to 90 minutes two days later. He filled the chart and we were so happy! He was even doing great at daycare (he went for 4 hours twice a week then). So we put him in underwear and he got his prize. He still used Pull-ups at night just in case, but hardly needed them. But, we couldn’t keep him close to home forever. It was time to venture out into the real world.

However, things did not go well when we went out. He really did not like going in public restrooms. He just sat there and cried. There were several accidents and car wardrobe changes. Also, about this time we moved twice. Out of our apartment (they kicked us out to remodel but did not have a similar priced unit at the time) and into my parents house. Jack started to have more accidents at home because it was a very stressful time for lot of reasons. I went back to work so he spent more time at daycare or with my mom. He is very attached kid, this was too much change for him. 

He also got back-to-back illnesses for most of the winter—including 2 ER trips. We sadly had to go back to Pull–ups most days. I felt defeated. He felt defeated. I felt like we went back to square one.

We just kept pushing forward. He went back to asking him to go potty every hour. We sat down and talked to him after each accident. Sometimes this resulted in screaming from both parties, sometimes there were tears, and sometimes Jack understood.

In the spring things got better. We moved into our own home. Jack was thrilled to have his own room for the first time. And his own safe potty. He also stopped getting sick. Things settled down and he went back to no accidents within a month. He even ditched the Pull-Ups for nighttime. 

He walked into his 3-year Well Child appointment in underwear. I snapped the above photo because I was so proud. Part of parenting a high-needs, stubborn child requires you to understand they need time and space. They have their own timelines. Sometimes they are much faster than other kids. Sometimes they are very…painfully…slower…. than other kids. I offered Jack the structure and support. He followed the plan once he was ready. I will admit, I yelled at times and it definitely was wrong of me. That probably contributed to the set-backs. Everyone is human, so just apologize and do better the next time.

Give your stubborn child love, support—-and buy good detergent and carpet cleaner. It might not be easy, but they will do it.







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