How to Fail at Potty Training

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We’re on round 2 of potty training at our house, and this time I’m learning from my mistakes. Want to know how to fail at potty training? Here are some of the things I did last time:

Don’t Wait Until Your Child Is Ready
Signs of readiness include: seeking privacy when pooping in their diaper, ability to pull up and down pants, recognition of when they are wet, telling you if they just went in their diaper, interest in watching you go to the bathroom, etc. If you want to fail at potty training, definitely don’t wait until they are ready. You should start as soon as you see just one of the readiness signs listed above.

Be Inconsistent
The best way to fail at potty training is to be inconsistent. If one of the methods you read up on doesn’t work for you, quickly switch to another one. During our round 1 of potty training, we tried several different types of reinforcement. We started out with instant gratification, where our son got a sticker or candy every time he went. Then we tried to slow things down by doing the jar method (adding a pom pom to a jar every time he went and getting a prize when it  was full). We also let him earn toys for poops, since those were less frequent and more stressful. Our son quickly earned all the prizes and we didn’t really want to buy more, so we tried to go back to the sticker or candy prizes and he decided he didn’t care.

Force Them to Sit on the Potty Frequently
Make your child sit on the potty every 15 minutes. While this is an actual potty training method, it backfired for us because it made our son hate the process even more. We tried bribing him for every time he sat on the potty, but that just added to our inconsistency with rewards when he actually did pee or poo instead of just “trying.”
We did try the “three day method” where you have your child sit on a portable potty while you endlessly entertain them with shows, games, and food. This also was stressful because you can only entertain a sitting toddler for so long.

Make Sure Their Main Motivation is the Prize
While prizes can be effective incentives, if a child truly does not want to potty train, they will only last as long as prizes are given. No more prizes, no more point in peeing on the potty. Also, your child may start to “game the system” where they squeeze out a few drops every 30 minutes just to get some extra candy.

Let Your Guard Down After a Week
So it’s been a week since the last accident? Congratulations, your child is now potty trained! Oh wait, they just regressed. We thought we had it in the bag when our son did so well after a week. But like many other children we knew, he also regressed. We battled it out for a month before giving up. Here’s the thing: it takes 64 days to build a habit. Potty training is getting your child in the habit of going pee on the potty. They’ve spent their entire life up to this point going in their diaper. Just because they did great for a week does not mean that they’ve got it down.

The good news is that round 2 of potty training is going much smoother! We waited until after D was 3 to start again, we’re being consistent, we don’t force him to sit on the potty, and his main motivation is being a “big kid.” However, it’s only been a week so we’re not letting our guards down yet.

Looking for more tips on potty training? Check out our post “How to Potty Train a Strong-Willed Child.”