As any parent knows, potty training can be the most challenging thing you'll face in the early years of your children's lives. Some kids take to it without a problem, others take some time to get the hang of it. Many factors play into the ease with which children learn to use the potty – age, gender, only child vs. not, etc. Regardless, it's all a challenge when we first start out.
My son was very resistant to potty training and did not take to it quickly. His preschool was very good about potty training and maintaining the consistency necessary to help ease children through the process.
Potty Training at Preschool and at Home
My son's preschool starts actively working on potty training when the kids are in K2 (2 year old class). They work with the parents to ensure that what they are doing at school meshes with how parents are managing potty training at home. At school they get in a routine and gradually learn how. Some kids pick it up right away, others (like my son) take a little longer. My son was initially very resistant to potty training. It took him a long time to consistently pee in the potty.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. I may receive a small fee (at no cost to you) if you purchase something through the links provided. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
At home we tried everything – we got him a BabyBjorn potty chair, found a little urinal shaped like an animal character to hang on the wall, installed a potty training toilet seat for the regular potty with a built in kid-sized seat, and bought step-stools for every bathroom in the house so he could reach all of the potties. We also found some books for his age group that talked about learning to go potty: Potty, by Leslie Patricelli (a great young kid's book author) and The Potty Book for Boys, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (there is also The Potty Book for Girls available from the same author). While he loved the books, he wouldn't use any of the potty-related add-ons until he was ready.
Successfully Peeing on the Potty
When he moved to the K3 (three-year-old class) level in preschool (his preschool runs on a typical school calendar year and the kids “move up” at the beginning of each year), he decided on day one he was ready to pee in the potty. He set that milestone on his own and held himself to it. From that point on he went to the potty when he needed to pee.
Pooping was an entirely different story.
Challenges with Constipation and Pooping on the Potty
When my son was a year or so old, he had bad constipation. We tried many different natural remedies like prunes, pear juice, and warm baths but we had no luck. He would hold in his poops because they hurt, but then they would just get larger and more solid making them hurt even more. We talked to his doctor and came up with a plan to make his poops easier and more regular.
To get things moving initially, we had to use Pedialax suppositories and have him sit on his own potty to help him get through the constipation. We had to do this a few times and we think it scared him for ever pooping on the real potty. Once we got rid of the constipation, we got him on a regular plan of Miralax as prescribed by the doctor. That seemed to do the trick and he was regular from that point forward, although still not pooping on the potty.
Having conquered the constipation, he still wouldn't poop on the potty. While he was a champ at peeing on the potty, pooping on the potty just wasn't happening. He insisted on only wearing Pull-ups to poop but would wear underwear the rest of the time. We encouraged him to try the potty but he refused. He managed to do it a few times but only because there was no other option available and he cried the entire time. I was worried I'd have my son in Pull-ups or Goodnites until he was 16!
The no-pooping-on-the-potty thing went on for the entirety of the K3 school year. We tried everything to get him to use the potty to no avail. He was 4-1/2 years old and still not pooping on the potty. I talked to him about why he didn't like the potty. First it was fear, then he said it hurt too much, finally he told us the seat wasn't comfortable to sit on. I decided I would approach this with a two part plan. I would not only find him comfy seats, but I'd also take it a step further and offer him surprises if he could successfully poop on the potty.
Two Part Plan for Successfully Pooping on the Potty
For part one of my plan, I did a lot of research on comfortable potty seats. There are quite a few options out there. I narrowed it down to two cushioned potty seats and ended up ordering both. The first one is a cushioned seat with an attached stool called the Mommy's Helper Contoured Cushie Step-up (shown in picture). It sits snugly on the toilet (with the seat up) and provides kids with handles to hold on to when getting on or off the potty.
The second is called the Mommy's Helper Contoured Cushie Tushie Potty Seat. It sits directly on the potty (again with the seat up). It does not have steps but it comes with an attached handle that makes taking the seat off the potty a lot cleaner. Buying two may have been overkill but I was desperate (plus I had Discover Card points to use on Amazon to pay for them so that helped).
Part two of my plan was to have surprises for him in the event he actually pooped in the potty. My son is a HUGE Minecraft fan and loves the Minecraft stuffed animals. Back to Amazon I went and bought a laundry list of mini Minecraft toys to entice him. Some may say that's going overboard but at that point I was ready to try anything. In case you want to stock your own surprise toy box, I bought the following Minecraft stuffed toys/animals: Minecraft Snow Golem, Baby Polar Bear, Baby Blue Sheep, Sheep, Ocelot, Squid, Baby Cow, Enderman, Chicken, Baby Wolf, and Baby Pig.
The cushioned seats arrived and we put them on the potties. The stuffed toys also arrived but I didn't tell my son about them. The first time he went to poop on the potty using the new seats, I mentioned I had surprises for him if he successfully pooped on the potty. He was very excited and wanted to know all about the surprises. I told him he'd find out when he pooped.
Potty Training Accessories and Add Ons
- BabyBjorn Potty Chair – This child-sized potty has a seat with a high back and arm rests. It also has an inner potty bowl that lifts out for easy cleaning.
- Potty Toilet Training Urinal– This is a small kid-sized urinal that attaches to the wall. It has an inner potty bowl that lifts out for easy cleaning, as well as a spinning windmill that kids came aim at and make spin.
- Slow Close Toilet Seat with Built-In Removable Child Potty Training Seat– The seat attaches directly to the toilet in place of your regular toilet seat. It has a built-in child-sized seat that can be put down for kids and put up against the toilet seat when not in use.
- Step Stools– These step stools are perfect for potty training. They are lightweight and easily cleaned in case of accidents. They have non-skid pads on the bottom of the stool to prevent skidding.
- Mommy's Helper Contoured Cushie Step-up– This seat has an attached adjustable ladder with one step and handles at the top. It fits directly on the toilet with the seat up.
- Mommy's Helper Contoured Cushie Tushie Potty Seat – This is the same as above but it's just the seat without the ladder and handles. It does have an attached handle to easily lift the seat on and off the toilet. It fits directly on the toilet with the seat up.
- Potty, by Leslie Patricelli– Leslie Patricelli has a wide variety of kids books that focus on kid-specific topics. They are easy readers with a lot of colorful illustrations and short words/phrases that appeal to small children.
- The Potty Book for Boys, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli-This is a great book that focuses on the specific potty training needs of boys. It provides a little more content than the Leslie Patricelli book but does provide good graphics and a nice story. The same author has a similar book for girls called The Potty Book for Girls
- The surprises I used were all Minecraft themed as I know my son absolutely loves anything Minecraft. I got the following mini plush toys: Snow Golem, Baby Polar Bear, Baby Blue Sheep, Sheep, Ocelot, Squid, Baby Cow, Enderman, Chicken, Baby Wolf, and Baby Pig
- Matchbox cars – I find these at the grocery store for $1
- Coloring books and crayons
- Small figures of favorite characters
The first few times he sat on the potty nothing happened. We set up camp in the bathroom. He sat on the potty with his iPad and I sat on the edge of the tub. The first few times nothing happened. He tried to talk me into giving him the surprises since he was sitting on the potty. I didn't give in. We repeated this a few more times. Finally one night he was sitting on the potty and all of a sudden got a big smile on his face. He jumped up, looked in the potty, and yelled, “I did it!”
We high-fived and whooped for joy. He told me we had to go tell Daddy he had done it! I went and got the best of the stuffed toys for his surprise, the Minecraft Snow Golem (I figured I'd better put my best foot forward out of the gate to make him want to do it again). He was so excited and so very proud of himself. We provided effusive praise, high fives, and dancing. He had finally done it!
Just Keep Trying
Potty training can be frustrating, especially when you have a little one who resists it. Just keep trying. With the right encouragement and the right circumstances you will get there. Sometimes it just takes time for your child to be ready and willing. When s/he is ready, they will do it!