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Toddler Refuses To Sit On Potty? 13 Ingenious Solutions!

By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH | Updated: 27 October 2021

Welcome to the wonderful world of potty training. If you're here then most likely your toddler refuses to sit on potty, right?

We all know the dreaded feeling... Your toddler refuses to do something and you feel that there is no amount of willpower, determination or begging that is going to change their mind...

Or is there...?

It's not about forcing your child to sit on the potty, it's about using clever tactics to convince them that their making the decision to do it themselves.

toddler refuses to sit on potty

Genius, right?

Well in today's article, I will be sharing with you my Potty Training Questionnaires to ensure your little one is actually ready to be potty trained, as well as my 13 Ingenious Solutions to help train any toddler who refuses to sit on a potty!

So without further ado, let's get right on into it!

When is it best to start potty training?

There is no one size fits all when it comes to starting potty training.

However, it is best to start potty training when your little one shows signs of being ready. 

These readiness signs usually develop between the ages of 18-24 months but can vary hugely from child to child. 

Fundamentally a toddler needs to be emotionally and physically ready for potty training and their brains need to have developed to the point that they are actually aware that they are urinating and pooping.

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How long does potty training take?

Potty training can take anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months to truly master. 

But you will need to dedicate a minimum of 3 weeks to really monitor your toddler and pick up on any signs that they need to toilet to avoid any accidents!

After this time, you will have hopefully laid the foundations of the potty habit and the next few months are about cementing the habit in your little one's brain to limit the number of accidents and master using the potty at the right time.

Teething To Tantrums Potty Training Questionnaires

Here are 2 quick checklists to run through that indicate when it might be time to give potty training a go. 

You do not need to be able to tick everything off, but a majority will indicate your little one is ready to begin using a potty!

  • Is your toddler willing to sit on the potty?
  • Are they waking from a daytime nap with a dry nappy?
  • Are they becoming aware that they're urinating or pooping by going still when they do so?
  • Does your toddler take an interest in others using the toilet?
  • Are they showing a dislike of having a dirty nappy and pulling at it or asking for it to be changed?
  • Does your toddler want to wear big boy/girl underwear?

They also need to be able to do the following consistently before you start potty training:

  • Can they pull their bottoms up and down?
  • Can they run and walk properly?
  • Is your toddler starting to show signs of independence?
  • Is your toddler able to sit still for a length of time?
  • Are they able to follow simple instructions consistently?
  • Can your toddler communicate that they need to use the bathroom with the appropriate vocabulary?

Here's a handy link to download my potty training questionnaire so you have it on hand for when the time come!

If you are saying 'yes' to 9 or more of the above, then most likely your little one is ready to begin potty training. 

But here's the real question...

Are YOU Ready?

The final thing to take into consideration is are you, as a parent, ready for potty training? 

You need to be focused and have the time to devote to this milestone as otherwise it is likely to fail.

So ensure that you pick a time when you can dedicate the attention, patience and time that is required to get potty training done. Usually 2-3 weeks of FOCUSED dedication.

Many parents choose to start potty training in summer when clothes can be washed and dried quicker than in winter. And your child can spend time outside in the garden to reduce the number of indoor accidents!

toddler refuses to sit on potty Featured Image

8 Common problems that can occur when potty training

I am not going to pretend that potty training is easy. 

While some toddlers sail through most will hit a bump in the road at some point. Some common potty training problems are:

  1. Toddler refuses to sit on potty - which is what most parents encounter!
  2. Your child has frequent accidents and gets put off.
  3. Toddler puts hands in their potty and plays with faeces.
  4. Your child does not realise when they need to go to the toilet.
  5. Toddler is scared of falling or being sucked down the toilet.
  6. Your child asks to have their nappy back on in order to urinate or poop.
  7. Toddler urinates or poops immediately after having nappy put back on despite having just sat on the potty.
  8. Your child appeared to be making progress but then suddenly regresses to going to the toilet in their nappy again.

So why do these problems occur? Are our toddlers simply being difficult and stubborn? Or is there something else going on inside their heads?

A stubborn toddler or something else?

So is your toddler just being naturally stubborn about sitting on the potty (as lots of toddlers are) or is something else going on?

Potty training coincides with your toddler's new found independence so there is a careful balancing act when getting your little one to start potty training without falling into the ‘I’m not going to do it because you want me to’ situation! 

Like mealtimes and bedtimes, potty training needs to be handled carefully.

For a lot of toddlers, as soon as they feel pressure from you to do something, they are very likely to dig their heels in and reject the whole process. 

Toddler’s do not have the vocabulary to explain how they are feeling just yet, so they only know that if they don’t like something, the simplest thing for them to do is to refuse to do it.

This is perfectly normal toddler behaviour and why you need to be flexible, patient and have plenty of time to dedicate to potty training.

What else is happening in your toddler's life?

If your toddler is resisting potty training also consider what else is going on in their life. 

Potty training needs to take place when life is generally going smoothly, with no big events on the horizon such as, starting day care, the impending arrival of a new sibling or moving house. 

Both you and your toddler will need time and space to dedicate to potty training, so having too many distractions around can easily disrupt your progress. 

Try to keep visitors and going out to a minimum when you are potty training. Potty training can easily be derailed if your toddler feels rushed because you need to get out of the house or do another task soon.

Is Your Toddler Comfortable?

Another reason your toddler refuses to sit on potty is that they are uncomfortable on it.

Make sure you have a potty that they feel secure and safe sitting on. 

It’s quite a good idea (if you can) to go to a shop that sells potties, choose 2-4 that you like and are comfortable paying the price for, and then let your toddler sit on them and see which one they like the most!

The final reason why your toddler refuses to sit on potty, may simply be they are just not ready or that they don’t want to carry on potty training for now. 

Whatever the reason, if your toddler refuses to sit on potty you cannot force them to do it!

Top Tip

It is a lot easier to potty train in warm weather than in the winter so try to time your potty training to the summer, around or after their second birthday.

What do you do when your toddler refuses to sit on potty?

Firstly, you need to work out WHY. It may be due to a number of reasons or just one big one, but in my experience there are usually a few things going on that can cause a toddler to refuse to sit on a potty.

Go back to my Questionnaires above and make sure your toddler is ready for training. 

The reason for their resistance may be obvious... but if it’s not, pause potty training for a while and come back to it later, so that everyone can have a reset and start again.

Come back to potty training and implement my 13 Ingenious Tactics to help train a toddler who has refused to sit on their potty!

So how do you potty train an older toddler who refuses to sit on a potty?

If it’s REALLY important that your child MUST be potty trained right now, then there are ways to help train them to use a potty.

Here are my top 13 creative solutions to help train a toddler who refuses to sit on a potty!

13 Ingenious Ways to help train a toddler who refuses to sit on a potty!

  1. Make potty training fun!
  2. Let your toddler choose new exciting underwear.
  3. Read fun children’s books about potty training.
  4. Let them choose a potty or toilet seat that they like.
  5. Don’t ask them if they want to use the potty just take them to it.
  6. Create an imaginative scene and potty train their teddy or doll too.
  7. Put food colouring in the potty and say if they pee it will change colour.
  8. Use a timer for announcing when they need to sit on the potty again.
  9. Praise a lot!
  10. Don’t get upset or cross over accidents.
  11. Make sure they wear clothing and underwear that is easy to pull up and down.
  12. Continue to put them in a diaper at nap and bedtime.
  13. Let them watch other family members going to the bathroom and talk about it.
  14. Watch videos about potty training together. Here are 2 to get you going!

In conclusion, have faith in the fact that your toddler will become potty trained as we all eventually are. 

So if you hit a bump in the road, pause for a while and try again a few weeks later. 

Trust me, it will all fall into place eventually!

Remember that being dry in the day is very different from being dry at night and does not automatically follow on at the same time. 

If your toddler is waking regularly in the morning with a dry nappy then this is a sign that they may be ready for night time training, which in some cases can be up to 2 years AFTER they have mastered day time potty training.

Top Tip

Being potty trained does not mean that your toddler won't have accidents...

Accidents are very common in children up to the age of 4 and many toddlers will still need night nappies up to the age of 5 or 6.

If you enjoyed this post about 'toddler refuses to sit on potty' and you know other parents who may find it helpful, be sure to give it a share!

Do you have any blog post ideas that you'd like me to write about? Or have any questions about parenting (doesn't have to be anything specific, just your worries, concerns or advice) be sure to send me an email at [email protected] and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you for your continued support, and until next time, Happy Parenting!

Teething to Tantrums Author

Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be. And each year, she continues to help more families understand their child's development, the trials and joys of parenting and of course, how to care for their little ones.

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