A child who is stubborn about potty training can cause frustration for mom and dad. As frustrating as it is, it’s not always possible to understand a child’s resistance to using the toilet. The toilet could be scary to the child, or the child may simply be testing boundaries and limits with mom and dad. Forcing a child to use the toilet when he is being stubborn about it will only result in tears, more refusal and a prolonged potty training period. Children under three are still learning, but for older children, including preschoolers, being stubborn about the potty can turn into full-fledged toilet training resistance. It may seem counter-intuitive to parental instincts, but sometimes the best way to handle a stubborn child who is potty training is to help the child less, not more.
Stop punishing or chastising a stubborn child for not using the toilet. For some children this creates a power struggle and can cause the child to become even more stubborn and resistant. As frustrating as it is, a child who will not use the potty should not be yelled at, spanked or sent to her room. When a child becomes increasingly stubborn, they may actually become constipated. Criticizing the child for not using the potty and not trying to use the potty can be emotionally damaging to the child.
Make it Convenient
Check the bathroom, with your child, to ensure that the child can reach everything they need to reach. Consider purchasing a child-sized training toilet if you have only one bathroom and two stories in the house. If the child is stubborn because they are fearful of the big toilet, a child-sized potty may help him ease into potty training. Use a small step stool and a potty training seat which fits onto your regular toilet. Keep wipes in the bathroom and make it easy for the child to access their own seat, or the step stool and training seat.
Add rewards when the child uses the toilet as well as when they try to use the toilet. A child who soils themselves on the way to the potty should still be rewarded for trying. The reward can be something as simple as a reward or trophy sticker which the child can wear. Or make a chart and give the child a star each time they use the toilet. Find an incentive that will encourage the child to use the toilet when they have to pee or poop. Positive feedback in the form of hugs and verbal praise will further encourage the child.
Go with the flow. For an adamant and stubborn child, sometimes the best thing a mom or dad can do is to try less. The child needs to take on the full responsibility of using the toilet, without constant reminders and prompting. Do not talk about the potty or diapers or the bathroom. Let the child bring up the subject, and independently go into the bathroom to use the toilet. Only go in the bathroom with the child if she asks for help. The child will still need help wiping when they are done. Removing diapers including pull ups and replacing them with underwear is one way to transfer responsibility to the child.