Toilet Training Takes Time


Hello, we started potty training our 18-month-old nine days ago and have had little progress. I've read John's book on toilet training, and I feel like we're doing all he recommends but think we might be hovering too much. She has awareness of when she has to go but won't initiate going to the potty. She has soiled herself a couple times at the breakfast table, so she doesn't seem to mind feeling wet. She is dry miraculously at night, but is most reluctant in the morning to sit on the potty. Should we try a different approach or just stick with the system?


Thanks for reaching out to Parent Guru. One thing I like to remind parents is to take the long view of toilet training. The good news is that she will not be wearing a diaper in kindergarten. It may seem overwhelming at first, but learning to use the bathroom is something children have been doing for quite a long time, so don't over think it. The more anxious the parent is about the process the more resistance there will be from the child. Staying the course confidently leading her in this training is the best way to succeed.

You may want to tighten up your system in a few ways. Here's a suggestion about getting her to sit on the potty based on John Rosemond's "potty bell". You let her wear nothing on the bottom or very thin panties during the day and set a timer every hour. (Giving her more water to drink will help the process.) When it dings you simply tell her to sit on the potty. Then you walk away from the area saying, "let me know when you have gone potty and I'll be back to help you empty your potty." She stays on the potty until she has produced something. This system eliminates, hovering and gives the directive from a neutral source so she is not tempted to resist being told to sit on the potty. As she gets the hang of it, you can set the timer for 90 minutes and then 2 hours or whatever seems to be her particular rhythm. It usually works well!

I don't know how you began the toilet training process, but this would be an easy way to "begin again"... if the communication wasn't clear the first time around. The most important steps in toilet training are to clearly communicate that she is now going to be using the potty like a big girl and the potty bell will help remind her to go and sit on the potty. Keep in mind that toilet training takes time- some kids get it in a week and some take a few months. You are headed in the right direction and being dry at night is an added bonus.

Stick with it and remain calm, cool and collected even with the accidents and you will have a very proud little girl who can use the potty on her own soon.

Hopefully, this helps you.

Alyson Hudson
Certified Leadership Parent Coach

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