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


This is a pretty simple question.

With regards to potty training I keep reading that parents are to be very obliging when it comes to helping their tots potty train, and if the kids have to go it's a bad thing to discourage it or have anything happen that is negative whatsoever.  I understand completely, but keep running into this problem:

an example from real life: My two (almost 3) year old will go to the bathroom about 10 minutes before it's time to walk my older child to school. Before we put the snow pants on she says she has to go again, so we do. Then we get the snow pants on and, like the Robert Munch story she has to go again, so we disrobe and she tries, but of course can not. Then we put it all back on again and open the front door and she says she has to go again,so we go up again to pee but sh still can't go because she only just went not a half hour ago.  This will repeat until we're nearly late for school and it gets to a point I HAVE to just say, "No, you don't have to pee, we need to go."

Now I know she knows she doesn't have to go. I know she's playing me. and she knows she's playing me. But the professional books say we're not supposed to discourage her, so I always feel like my hands are tied.  The same thing happens if we have to catch a bus, or at bed time - she'll have to get out of bed to pee like 25 times; I put her to bed at 7:30 and 10:00 rolls around and she's still coming out of her room to pee until I finally tell her she is not allowed to keep trying.  

This is frustrating for me because I am not normally a push-over parent, and my kids are very well behaved awesome kids. In any other situation if I sense they're taking it too far I step in immediately (for example as babies if dinner started to turn into battle zone or playtime the meal ended, as simple as that. there was no arguing or begging or power struggle...)But now I'm in a situation where I have been dually warned that to tell her "no" could ruin mt chances at having her potty trained, so I go along as long as I can, but it seems to me that eventually "no" has to be said, does it not? How can I indulge her when we're running to catch a bus? The best i can do is to make sure she goes before we get ready to head out the door, but once she's gone it seems silly to keep being late for events because my toddler wants to keep practicing. I mean I am proud she's spear-heading this training on her own, but it's getting ridiculous. So my question is this: clearly I have to tell her "no you can't go" at some times, so for those times how should I word it?  How can I handle this so that telling her no doesn't jinx her training and make her "relapse"?

Hi, Firstly, I don't think saying 'no' to her is going to jinx things or lead to relapse. Relapse can occur at any time and for many different reasons.

Practically I think the best thing to do, as you mentioned, is to make sure she has at least made one wee before leaving the house then if she says she still needs to go say to her "we can do one when we get to the shop, the school etc" hopefully when she gets to the destination there will be enough to distract her to not need the toilet.
The problem is, at the moment, by encouraging her behaviour it is training her to need to go and will become a learned behaviour and may be a habit already.  So one wee or number two and you are out the door.
Unfortunately, you may get it wrong sometimes or she may really need it and has an accident, so worst case take a spare item with you the first few times until the habit is broken. She may also test you and possibly force something out just to prove she needed it so at that time be super obliging and say 'oh, we did not make it to school, ok, we will get you changed', this would only happen a few times but it will stop the current habit and can be dealt with if it does happen.
Hope this helps and look forward to hearing how you get on.
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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