I was looking for some advice.
I have started training my 2 year old daughter 3 days ago following an ebook a friend sent me about toilet training your child in 3 days. Well, it hasn’t worked and my daughter has become terrified of the potty. She has learnt when she needs to wee, we now recognize the cues, but if we try taking her up to the potty she screams and cries. We will take her out and a couple of minutes later she will pee in her underwear. I am at a loss as to what to do. I don’t want to stop now that I have started. We are being positive, trying not to use any negative words and rewarding her if she does get any pee in the potty.
Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for writing.
I am sceptical on one trying to potty train a child in 3 days. There is way more to potty training than just what can be achieved in a weekend. However, to be honest, I have never tried this method although I am aware that many do. The shortest time I have managed is 3 weeks, and that is with years of practice. All children have different temperaments, so I think it is very hard to put them all in the same basket. Trying to potty train a child in 3 days more often than not involves a lot of negative reinforcement from the parent and strict discipline from both parties, which to me sounds more stressful than potty training already is.
However, it sounds as though you have already made a little bit of progress; if your daughter now knows when she needs to go, and you know when she needs to go, then you’re halfway there. Now you just need to get her to become comfortable using the potty/toilet. I suggest that everybody take a deep breath and relax.
Try to guide her to the toilet instead of pushing her. If you have the time, spend a couple of days in the house just concentrating on the potty. If she has accidents in the first few days, don’t worry about it. She will get there in the end. I have posted several articles on potty training which give a few different techniques (see the “Potty Training” category), so maybe you could have a read through and see if there is one that suits you and your daughter. Good luck, and don’t forget to let us know how it goes!
Reader Claire writes to the Nanny Godmother of her daughter’s struggles to bid goodbye to the nighttime nappy:
My daughter is almost 3. She has been dry during the day for over 6 months and has been using pull-up nappies at night.
She has started to refuse to wear her nappy at night even though it is soaked in the morning. I have tried lifting her when I go to bed but she just screams at me; I have also tried restricting her fluid intake from 6pm in an effort to keep her dry at night.
Should I just let her wet the bed and see if she stops weeing at night or gets herself up to use the potty? Is there anything else I can try?
Well, generally it is not recommended that you remove the nighttime nappy until the nappy is dry for a couple of nights in a row. I would try to go through the nighttime potty training process with her, but I would start from the beginning, as it sounds like her bladder is not quite ready. But we should definitely not discourage her; she sounds like a very independent little girl.
Before bedtime, if she starts to make a fuss about putting on a nappy, have a little chat with her. Explain that because she is still having accidents in her bed it would be better for her to wear a pull-up, but try to make clear it is not a punishment. Make sure she understands that if she needs to get up, she can call or come and get you at anytime. It might help if you put the potty next to her bed and make sure she can take her pyjamas down, and also that she can climb out of bed so she can do it by herself. A night light will make it easier for her to see what she is doing.
Make sure that your daughter drinks enough fluid during the day so she is not thirsty before bedtime. Taking her to the bathroom before she goes to bed will also help.
Even if she screams at you, I think you should continue trying to put her on the toilet so she gets into the habit of getting up. She will get the hang of it.
Good luck; let me know how you’re getting on!
Reader Clare is readying her granddaughter to tackle potty training against the backdrop of some trying family circumstances that may call for a modified approach and an extra dose of patience. Clare writes:
My granddaughter is 3 and has absolutely no interest in using the toilet. I believe there are a number of factors that may be influencing here. Her mother died unexpectedly when she was 19 months old; her father works from 7 – 4; her grandfather gets her ready for daycare every morning after her father leaves for work; I pick her up from daycare 3 times a week, play with her, feed her dinner, and then take her home about 7:30. Help!
I am very sorry for your family’s loss. And it sounds as though you all have a very hectic schedule. This could cause the process to take time, but I think with a little bit of positive encouragement, love and a lot of patience we can get through this.
Lots of children are reluctant to use the potty; it is a big change for them, especially if they are getting off to a late start. This is really something you are all going to have to work on together and help your granddaughter with. At this age you really do need her to want to do it, or it will be quite traumatic for all concerned.
Before starting, have a chat with your granddaughter about what is about to happen. Have her help you make a star chart and take her shopping to pick the stickers she wants. Also, whilst you are out shopping, take her to pick out her own knickers whilst explaining each stage of the process. But make sure she understands clearly that the process is not optional.
- “We are going to buy some stickers to put on your star chart so every time you do a wee on the potty you will get a sticker, and if at the end of the week you have 5 stars you will get a special treat.” Set the number low initially, and as the weeks go on increase it.
- “Would you like to help me pick out some knickers because you are a big girl now?” When you get home let her put them on straight away so she can see how it feels.
If she has an accident, just tell her it’s okay; don’t worry, it happens – but make her sit on the potty anyway. If you see her getting stressed about it, try to keep her calm and reassure her at all times that it’s all good and she is doing great. Try to give her lots of praise and reassurance. If she wants to hold your hand whilst she is sitting on the potty, let her; she may have a little anxiety.
When explaining your new routine to dad and granddad, have your granddaughter with you so you can tell them how well she is doing. This will encourage all concerned to continue the good work.
I wish you and your family all the best, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any more questions.
Two recent letters from readers on the subject of “Number Ones” show the importance of looking into underlying reasons for wetting behaviour in children.
My grandson is 5 years old and still wetting himself. We had him at doctors a while back and there was no problem. He comes out of school most days with wet trousers. We have tried everything from giving out to him, not letting him play with his favourite toy, or just changing him and not saying anything, but nothing works. Can you please help? My daughter is at her wits’ end and I don’t know how to advise her.
Has your daughter had a chat with the teacher? Maybe your grandson is frightened to use the toilets at school. Find out what the toilet rules are. Some schools only allow the children to use the toilet at break time. If this is the case, he might forget to go when he is having a good time, and then when he gets to class it is too late. Sometimes the school makes them go by themselves and that can be quite terrifying, especially if it is far from the classroom or outside. Also, in class they sometimes make the children put their hands up and ask to use the loo; perhaps he doesn’t like doing this.
I’m sure your daughter has tried talking to your grandson, but maybe she could discuss the fear factor and see what he has to say. You or your daughter could ask the teacher if one of you can take him to the toilet, or whilst you are at school send him to the toilet and see what happens.
If the problem is not anxiety over using the school toilets, it could just be a matter of habitual inattention or carelessness – for example, perhaps while he is having fun playing with his friends he can’t be bothered to think about whether he ought to use the toilet before returning to class. If that is the case, some disciplinary measure such as taking away a privilege – although I understand your daughter has tried this to some extent – could still show results if your daughter sticks to it until he has understood.
I wish you and your daughter good luck, Joan. Thanks for writing!
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Next, Katie writes:
Help! I have a 2 year 4 month little girl who has been using the toilet since she turned 2 but she just about always does a little wee in her knickers first, it’s clearly only a few drops and she then goes and does a big wee in the toilet but I have to change her clothes each time. I’m fed up and can’t seem to move her onto knowing before these drops come out. We have recently moved country and there is a third child on the way but the wet knickers have always been with us. What can I do?
Katie, thanks for your letter. Given that you’ve said that this has been happening for a while, I don’t think it has anything to do with the changes in your daughter’s life you mention. It sounds to me as though your little girl is just holding it in until the very last minute.
Try asking her every so often if she needs to go, and maybe even just take her to the toilet if you think she hasn’t been for a while – this should help. If the problem persists, consider consulting her doctor just to rule out any medical issues. Best of luck!
Nighttime potty training poses its own challenges, as some of my readers have discovered. As with many things involving children, success can be a matter of trial and error. In this post, I offer some tips to two readers to help their little ones get past this stage.
I found your blog – and it is great. Thank you for all the work! 🙂
I have a question about potty training.
My older son was potty trained before the age of 2, and everything still goes great during the daytime. So I decided to try to potty train him during the night as well. He is 2 years and 10 months old. He loves to sleep without a diaper, but we have a problem – he doesn’t mind to get wet. I let him sleep until he wakes up, and then we go to the bathroom and I put a new pyjama on. I am not comfortable with him sleeping in a wet bed for hours, but I don’t want to disturb his sleep either after he wets his bed. Any suggestions?? Thank you!!
Hi Ilze, I’m glad you found the blog and are enjoying it!
I would recommend waking your son up so he recognises that he is wet and understands what it feels like, because I am assuming that by the time he wakes up he is dry and a bit smelly. When you wake him up, even though he is already wet, put him on the potty/toilet anyway to sit while you change the bed. He will get it eventually. You are doing a great job, don’t give up!
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Janel sends the following note:
Hi! My daughter is 4 years old and still in night-time nappies. She has no health/other issues, and was potty/toilet trained at 2 and a half with no problems. I don’t know how to get her free of nappies at night-time. We’ve talked about it a lot, and for a time I did try waking her and putting her on her potty – with some success at first, but then she just became upset. She still will do a poo in her nappy – about once a week or so – and this is now something I feel I should be addressing. She eats a varied diet, and has no bowel/stomach problems, and I restrict all fluid after 5.30pm. She goes to bed around 7-7.15. Any suggestions for what to do to address this issue please? I really don’t want her starting school in the summer still needing nappies at night-time.
Thanks very much.
Janel, I would advise preparing your little girl by telling her that when there are no more nappies left, you are not going to buy more – and instead, if she goes one week without having an accident, she can choose a new pair of pyjamas.
It would surprise me if she has a poo accident in her bed as you don’t have an issue with this during the day.
I would make sure that you put her on the toilet at least twice a night the first couple of days, maybe around 10 o’clock and then again around midnight. If you notice that during this time she is staying dry, reduce the nighttime toilet visits to just once before you go to bed. Carry her, talk in a low voice, but unless you have to I would avoid too much interaction and keep the lights down low (even off if she is okay with that) so it doesn’t disturb her sleep too much.
You could also try putting her to bed with no pyjama bottoms on so she can feel the difference, just as you do when daytime potty training.
The longer you leave it to start, the harder it will be for everybody. So good luck, and feel free to let me know how you are getting on!
Reader Nicky sends the Nanny Godmother an unusual question:
I have heard of these tablets that you put in your child’s potty that make their urine change colour, however I am having trouble finding them, I was wondering if you know where I can get them from?
Truthfully, Nicky, I’ve never heard of this specific product and have no idea where you might get it. It brings to mind the urban myth about a chemical “wee detector” being added to certain public swimming pools.
A preliminary look around the Internet suggests to me that these may be nothing more than the children’s bath colour tablets made by, among others, Crayola and Tinti, and available from any number of retailers including Amazon and Target (if you’re in the UK you could also try BabyBathShop.co.uk). While I don’t think they chemically react with urine, I suppose you might see a colour change from blue to green, or red to orange, simply due to colour mixing.
I did locate online one related product specifically aimed at potty trainers, amusingly marketed under the brand name “Whiz Kids“, but it’s not clear that it’s really any different from the colour tablets for children’s bathtime which the same manufacturer also sells.
Perhaps one of our other readers can help solve the mystery. Readers, are any of you familiar with the product Nicky is asking about? Please leave a comment to let us know.
However, Nicky, don’t despair if you can’t find what you’re looking for. You don’t need special gimmicks to potty train your child successfully, just a few tried-and-true techniques and a good deal of patience.
Best of luck!
Toilet training seems to be on many readers’ minds at the moment. Michelle B. writes that she is having a “potty training nightmare”:
I have a little girl who was a month premature. She is going to be 4 in May and we are trying to potty train her again. I put her in underwear during the day and pull up when she sleeps. She won’t always tell me she has to go potty. Then there are times she refuses to use the potty. I have tried everything I can think of. I am hoping someone can help me. Do you have any ideas?
Michelle, thanks very much for writing (and also for “liking” the Nanny Godmother Facebook fan page)!
The problem with potty training later is that the child has learnt to ignore the body signals, and has become used to wearing soiled undergarments. They are also more independent, and thus are more likely to test your authority.
It sounds as though you have started before, but perhaps gave up or decided she wasn’t ready. This can also cause setbacks as she will think that if she doesn’t want to do it, you will just give up again. I would keep doing what you are doing. Don’t worry about the nighttime nappy yet; you don’t have to work on daytime and nighttime training at the same time. If you notice that your little girl is overdue for a visit to the potty, explain that you are going to take her there. Ask her to choose a book and distract her by reading a story (an interactive book is very good) while she sits. If you manage to get her to sit on the potty, give her lots of praise; let her see how delighted you are with her. I am a big fan of the reward system (e.g. little treats) – however, don’t do it every time, just occasionally.
I invite you to take a look at my other posts in the “Potty Training” category for additional tips. Please do hang in there and persevere!
Two readers have sent in questions about potty training; by fortunate coincidence they arrived in my inbox just as I was preparing to publish Top Tips for Stress-Free Potty Training, which I hope will provide some of the information they and other readers are seeking on this popular subject.
Hi I’ve got a little girl who has just turned 2 she uses her potty but am not sure if she is ready, am not sure what signs to look out for we did try it with Ruby about 1 month ago, what happened was that I do leave Ruby without a nappy on in the morning and at night time so she can just go on her potty when she wants and succeeded then I thought is this a sign, so I did try I thought I was off for 2 weeks so this is the time to do it, so tried Ruby with knickers on and kept asking her and she was doing well but Ruby when asked went on and did it but when Ruby felt she needed to go she goes on her own she can’t grasp to pull her knickers down she just sits and comes and tells me ya mummy clever girl and when I look she has weed on the potty but not pulled her pants down so I tell her clever girl I don’t make a fuss that she has wet them I just say come on little one let’s change you, so I thought Ruby wasn’t ready so I put back in nappies but, she still uses her potty though and when she asks I take her pants down so I was just wondering do you think she sounds ready to potty train again.
Melissa, thank you very much for your question.
It sounds like your little girl is actually potty trained already; I think it would be a bad idea to keep stopping and starting. Part of potty training is having them tell you when they need to go. When this happens, then you can take her and show her how to remove her pants and eventually she will understand and be able to do it herself. As for the nighttime nappy (diaper, for my American readers), you don’t need to do both at the same time. Potty training can be traumatic for everybody, so maybe just use all your resources to focus on daytime first, then concentrate on nighttime.
Another reader, Helen G., writes:
Hi my grandson is 2yrs 8months – we have been trying him with his potty – he was doing fine to start – would sit on potty – we were using the training pull up pants going out and either normal pants or letting him run about with nothing on if we were in the house – for the past week the nursery told me to leave him in normal pants to see if he would use the potty – he is now at the stage he won’t sit on potty and seems to be afraid to do the toilet – at a loss – can you help?
Helen, these are all very common problems when potty training.
I would advise for a start to get rid of pull-ups; it is very hard for children to distinguish between nappies and pull-ups. I think it would be a good idea to put him in pants at all times; this way, if he has an accident he will recognise the unpleasant feeling, and hopefully want to use the potty. If he really doesn’t like using the potty, then you could try a toilet training seat which you place on the toilet. If he continues to resist using the potty or toilet, try the reward system I mention in Top Tips for Stress-Free Potty Training.
Many thanks to both Melissa and Helen for writing to the Nanny Godmother. Good luck to you and your little learners, and please feel free to leave a comment to let me and our other readers know how it’s working out!
Anxious parents often ask me what is the appropriate age to start potty training. In my experience, I would not advise starting before 2 – 2½ years. Although physically your child may have the “feeling” from about 18 months, they haven’t quite achieved the developmental maturity or the ability to communicate clearly that are required for successful potty training.
Although you’ll be eager to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible, if you push ahead before your little one is ready, it can have the opposite effect and cause the process to last months instead of weeks.
Over the years, some people have speculated that babies can be potty trained as early as 6 months. This is called toilet timing, not toilet training. Toilet timing is nothing more than parents anticipating when their child will need to go on the potty. This is not hard to do, as babies reflexively eliminate when their tummies are full. As your baby grows and its body starts to mature, you will find that they can develop the habit of holding it until sleeptime nappy or until you remember to put them on the potty. However, it’s very important to understand that just because your child does not have accidents any more does not mean that they are fully potty trained.
I have successfully potty trained many children over the years using essentially the same technique, but each individual child has had a different experience. Some can take a little longer than others. So don’t panic, mummies and daddies – I promise you will get there in the end.
Here are some handy tips to get you started:
- Once you start, don’t stop.
- If possible, try to do it when the warm weather comes as there is less clothing to deal with.
- Always carry one or more spare sets of clothes.
- Don’t shout when they have little accidents.
- If all goes quiet, first check behind sofas and curtains as your little cherub could be leaving you a “gift”!
- Create a reward system – not for every time, but maybe for their first No. 1 and their first No. 2. And give lots of praise!
- When your child tells you they need to go, be prepared and don’t ignore it.
- Put some little books by the potty to keep them occupied, and remove yourself from the bathroom until you hear “Finished!”
- Of course, teach them to wash hands each time they go to the toilet.
- Perseverance and patience!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, and feel free to let me know how you’re coming along! I’ll be revisiting different aspects of the topic of potty training in future posts, so keep an eye out.