Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/potty training


My daughter is almost 28 months old and we have hit a wall with potty training.  We started when she was about 21 months old and she did well with peeing in her little toilet but not telling us she had to go.  Then she started telling us and it was going great.  At daycare she is only wet right after nap, unsure if she tells staff when she had to go or if they make all the kids try every so often.  Lately though we can't get her to even sit on the potty without a battle and tears.  She is very smart (not a proud parent, her teachers tell us often how smart she is for her age) and she refuses to try to potty if she thinks her pull up is wet.  We have never punished her for having a wet pull up, we might occasionally ask her why she didn't say she had to potty.  When my mother in law comes to visit she makes a huge deal out of it, telling my daughter that "Grammy is sad" if she is wet.  We don't do that though.  If she thinks she is wet, she will go stand in the corner and cry if we tell her to go potty.  But when she is dry and she uses the potty and we praise her, she tells us she was wet and won't let us out back on her dry pull up.  When it comes to pooping in the potty, she flat out refuses, going to a different room to hide in the corner to poop, then finding us and telling us she needs changed.  She had pooped in the potty before and she does get rewarded for that, but if we can tell that she needs to poop and try to convince her to use the potty she throws a huge tantrum.  I know she knows what to do as she puts her dolls on the little potty and tells me "baby needs to poop" then she tells me "baby was good and pooped on the potty so she gets 2 m&ms", then she goes and gets the candy out of the fridge to give to get doll (2 m&'s is what we give her).  My mom keeps telling me that she is still young and it will happen, but she was the first in her daycare class to use the potty and now 2 girls are wearing panties instead of diapers.  We tried wearing panties at home one day and our daughter told us she had to potty as she was peeing through her clothes.  I don't know what else to try.  Any advice?

Hi Erin, It is not uncommon for some children to go backwards in their toilet training even if they have been doing it for a while.
Your daughter is quite young so the reason she wakes up wet is simply due to not being able to control her bladder during sleep. This is developmental and age related, by 6 years of age most children should be dry through the night. Does the daycare make her go to the toilet before sleep time?
Also, do they do toilet timing ie, they remind kids when to go or do they wait for her to say.  She may also be copying others now and there may be little incentive to go to the toilet at daycare which may have caused this problem.  I don't know if she is driven or competitive as this would have helped if she knew other girls were in panties already but if she is not interested it only makes the issue more frustrating by pushing it.  
It doesn't matter what your Mother in law is saying - if your daughter is motivated by the words 'sad' or trying to please others this strategy may work, however, it also won't be damaging to her self esteem etc so don't let that worry you too much and it is not worth getting into a family argument about.
I also agree with you that toilet training is not something to be punished for so it just takes some gentle encouragement and patience to get her back on track. Perhaps if she wants to wear a special outfit ask if she will go to the toilet so it doesn't get ruined. Pooping takes a long time so just concentrate on wees at the moment.
Kind regards, Eleanor  


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Eleanor Formaggio


I can answer questions where practical advice is sought in relation to behaviour issues of 2-10 year olds. I specifically look at the influence of personality in a child's behaviour and tailor advice to suit the individual child and parent. This is useful since not all children are the same. I can suggest techniques for tantrums, child aggression and sibling rivalry and adapting to change.


I am a counsellor and child behaviour consultant based in Sydney, Australia and mum to three boys ages 12,10 and 6. I have been involved in setting up and facilitating community support groups for new mothers and run parenting workshops so parents can better understand their children's behaviour. I have spent alot of time observing personality differences in children and understanding how these differences can be used to make parenting easier. I developed the Early Childhood Personality Rating Scale for identifying child personality types in children as young as two. I am the founder of Parent with Potential and developed the Prechooler Personality Kit and READ personality system for primary aged children. More info can be found at

Book: In this Present Moment: Quality Time Ideas for busy parents.

I have a Bachelors Degree in Applied Social Science (Counselling).

Past/Present Clients
Parents of 2-8 year olds. Mothers with Postnatal Depression or anxiety attending a support group or seeking individual counselling or advice in relation to their child's behaviour.

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