Why I’m Giving Up on Potty Training My Third

Note from Chief Mom Ambassador | March 1, 2018

After potty training my two oldest kids, I thought I knew what I was doing when it came time for my third to ditch the diapers. After all, I’m not a novice at this. I’ve been around the potty training block. While I did get some help the first two times from my mom who was visiting, I felt like each time the process went smoothly. The kid showed interest. I gently used various tactics to say, “You’re a big kid now.” I gave treats when they successfully went on the potty, and as needed, stayed inside to focus on the effort all day long.

Then came our third, Olivia. She’s certainly been a game changer for us. In many other ways, might I add, she has been the most challenging, which was quite unexpected for me. I really thought the third kid would be a breeze! Maybe that’s where I went wrong. I just thought it would be easy and went in with too much confidence. You see, Olivia is strong and stubborn and I’m just so stinking tired—the perfect combination.

Here’s how it began. Olivia will be turning 3 this May. She started showing interest in the potty a few months ago. Finally, it was time, I thought. I started getting excited at this new stage in life where I would be completely and totally done with diapers FOREVER. I put my tried and trusted tactics that proved successful with my older kids into action. We let her pick out her own big kid underwear, bought fun potty seats, and stocked up on her favorite treats for when she went. I even blocked out days to stay home with her so that she could get on the potty every 20–30 minutes.

Guess what? When we started the process, it actually worked! I patted myself on the back thinking what a pro I was and how it was such a breeze. And then, it happened. She regressed. She completely stopped the process, refusing, screaming, and having a meltdown every time I had her go. It turned into a complete nightmare. I fought through it, thinking I could just bully her into going on the potty. It turned out I was wrong.  And now, we’re back to where we started—no more going to the potty. She flat out refuses. What am I doing wrong?

Since I have the trusted Moms Meet community as a resource, I quickly turned to other moms for guidance. What I received in return was an outpouring of tips and words of encouragement. I’ve posted some of them below so that if you, too, are on the potty training road to nowhere, these will help boost morale.  

“My first daughter struggled with potty time, so I came up with the potty treasure hunt. I had a little treasure chest filled with her favorite snacks, small toys, and stickers. Every time she went potty and had a success, we made a big deal with blow horns and confetti. She loved the praise and attention that she started to go on her own. As she got older, we just graduated her rewards to art time, craft time, extra play time—something to show her accomplishments are appreciated and not overlooked. I hope you are able to find a way, every child is different.” – Nebar K.

“Have them go naked on the bottom for a few days. It’s easier to catch if they start going, and they seem to get it easier.” – Katherine R.

“Wait until they’re ready, and don’t push it before they say they’re ready.” – Erin A.

“They make a potty watch that you can program to play music every hour so it reminds the child to use the potty. This puts the child in control.” – Tara P.

“Used the method in Oh Crap! Potty Training. Worked great. Potty trained at 2.5 yrs.” – Cassie D.

“I tried everything to potty train my daughter but stand on my head, but she wasn’t ready until around 3 1/2. Honestly, I agree waiting until they are truly ready. For my daughter, she wanted to be a big kid like her peers and that was really when it finally became important to her! Pushing kids too early only leaves you frustrated and kids confused!” – Lisa F.

Our journey towards big girl underwear continues, so if you have any more tips or insight you think will help, please share them below.


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