How to fail at toilet training. Repeatedly.

My daughter is wonderfully independent.

When we went to baby massage classes as all the other babies looked for their mothers reassurance my daughter tried to crawl to the other side of the room and stand up.

The first time I took her to playgroup she walked off and didn’t look back, her settling in period with the childminder took all of 5 minutes before she skipped off calling the childminder mummy.

I joked that she was desperate to get away from me.

Thank God for baby led weaning – no one managed to get a spoon anywhere near her mouth.

My daughter is clever, bright and funny, she will be 3 years old this month and I have absolutely no control over her whatsoever.

For a year now potty training has been a niggling thorn in my side. Friend’s children were ‘done’ at 2 but I was desperate to not be the competitive mum. To be happy whatever happened. To not put pressure on me or her.

Which you must admit is a lovely idea.

If only I had listened to myself. Every time I saw those huge soggy nappies dangling down my heart sank. And I learnt an important lesson: It’s easy to not be bothered about how your children are doing in comparison with others when your children are doing well.

How many times have I said to other parents ‘oh I wouldn’t worry about them not walking, they all do it in the end’ It’s easy to say when your own children just toddled off under their own steam within the prescribed ‘ normal’ time period.

When other children are doing something with no fuss and you are still struggling it is very disheartening.

This summer as the heat wave hit I decided it was time to potty train.

Unfortunately my daughter must have missed the email announcement and made a clear decision she was still going to wear nappies.

Like two knights about to joust we marched out under our banners: Me gaily waving Peppa Pig pants her clinging to her size 5+ Pampers.

Now I have read all the potty training guides and at no point does anyone say that getting into a daily battle with an angry two year old is a good way to go about it.  There can be only one victor and I am no match for someone who thinks bouncing on a trampoline with a baby and a fork is a good idea.

We started off with treats and sticker charts, reading stories while she sat on the loo. Toilet training is fun! We ended up with her pissing in the street shouting ‘I want to wear nappies. I want to be different’.

I deliberately ran out of nappies she took her brothers nappy off, sat on it and piddled.

I dragged her kicking and screaming into the loo.

I coaxed her onto the potty with chocolate frogs.

I talked endlessly about friends and cousins who wore big girls pants.

She happily told me she would not be getting a chocolate frog  everytime she pooed her pants.

She went to the toilet with my mum, my dad, Mr Eeh Bah but never me.

So we battled and I retreated again and again piss soaked and depressed.

I had hoped this would be a funny informative post about how to manage the challenge of potty training but I have literally no idea what works. One day she got up said ‘I think I’ll wear knickers today mummy’ and that, was that.

I have no idea what she is doing in the loo as she refuses to let me in, slamming the door in my face.

What I have learned is that sometimes you don’t want advice. You don’t want to know what worked for someone else. You simply want to hear that it doesn’t matter.

No pressure. No expectations.

The only problem is I have another child to potty train soon and I have learnt absolutely nothing about how to do it.

But there is someone in the family who knows what to do…..


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Coming soon ‘How to fail at being the perfect housewife’ and ‘Top 10 things a 2 year old should really not be playing with’.

25 thoughts on “How to fail at toilet training. Repeatedly.

  1. My daughter was the same. I had to invent a event to get her toilet trained. We had “wee-wee-story week”- a special week when you read lots of stories and play games and wear knickers.. She fell for it!

    Poo’s took a bit longer. She didn’t start using the toilet until nursery threw away some soiled Peppa Pig knickers. After that she began using the toilet in fear of other knickers being thrown away.

  2. You’re absolutely right. You cannot make them use the potty/big loo. I waited until my daughter told me she wanted to go nappy free, and we breezed it from there.
    Now, if only that were true for sleeping all night! Sigh – that’s a different story!

  3. My daughter was the same — but my son as the older child had been potty trained in a couple of days at the age of 2 and a bit and almost never had an accident after that. I thought I had cracked it. How wrong I was… Two years later I went through the ordeal with my daughter and it took almost a year on and off until she said — I want pants now… Oh, it’s all so far behind now (they’re 8 and 6)… :))

  4. I don’t know if this is much help, but my girl potty trained quite easy…as long as she was butt naked. If she had so much a vest on, it went out of the window. All well and good, until you need to leave the house. It all changed when Santa left some big girl pants in her stocking(happened to be training around Christmas time) and that was it! Who wants to wee in their special gift off Santa… Another tip from a friend an a healh visitor was when they wee in their pants, don’t rush to remove we pants, don’t be a god awful mum and leave them for hours, but allow a few moments to feel how uncomfortable it is. I don’t know if this makes a difference as by the time I was told Santa had left those little bits of magic! Now weeing in the car seat was a different story entirely….

  5. This made me laugh so hard, mainly because I went through similar ad one day that was it, no more nappies! I look at my 2nd child and I have no idea how to even begin with her. Do I just wait? Do I battle like I did with number 1? Is there another way? What happened? Why is he happily potty trained now?

    • ha ha funny post! I think basically toddlers know more than they let on and will not do anything until THEY are ready! The more you want it to happen, the less the little gits will do it!

  6. My son would probably still be in nappies now if he thought he could get away with it! He’s 8. My twin daughters (now 6) decided in their own time, when it was right for them. One of them was more than willing and was ‘done’ in no time. The other tried it on for a while until I told her I knew that she knew what she needed to do. Once she knew she was rumbled, she just did it one day!

  7. Child Number One was toilet trained in two weeks. I felt in control and a little bit smug. With Child Number Two it was a battle of wills that dragged on for months. It seemed like he was being deliberately awkward. I would sit him on the toilet, he would refuse to go then pee all over soft play/ restaurant/ car. In the end I gave up and he decided himself when he wanted to do it. I was so traumatised by the experience that I put off training Child Number Three until he was three and he did it no problems in a few days. So I would say it’s got absolutely nothing to do with the parent and everything to do with the personality of the child. Stubborn children just don’t like being dictated to. Child number two will be a piece of cake, you’ll see…

    • Just as I’ve sorted one of them out number two keeps taking his nappy off and flinging it about! The house will just have to smell of toilets for a while longer…

  8. I feel your pain. My daughter now five was three and a half and refused point blank. Husband took it into own hands one day. They had standoff until half five and she didn’t wee all day. Then did massive horse wee in potty. Never looked back that. Thankfully I was in work. Stubborn girls. Xx

  9. Found your post through love all blogs and I’m so relieved to read this I struggle with my girly and went back on it once! But with my little man who will be 4 in December still refuses to tell me when he needs the toilet and will tell me when he is peeing on the carpet and not before so he’s back in nappies cause he doesn’t want to tell me it seems! I have a year to sort it otherwise they take kids in nappies at school right?! lol

  10. Ahh Thank you so much! Lol. Made me feel much better! Im glad Im not the only one. My son is nearly 3 and has just started potty training. Through sheer embaressment on my part. It is not going well and Ive just about given up as in 3 days we have had one tiny wee on a borowed potty and the rest has been all over the floor. We have been reading potty books for a year and had all the potty and other parefenalia around but no interest. I would have done it sooner but in the last 6mths Ive had another baby boy and moved house been homeless for a month then moved into new house then got married and then moved to another country and still havent got our stuff thats been shipped. And my husband was away for most of said 6 mths. (not very helpfull)
    Im just asking him what he wants to wear in the morning nappy or pants?
    Doesnt matter which he chooses as he is just doing it in his pants anyway!
    Im a qualified nanny ! I never had any trouble with anyone elses children!
    Why mine ! Oh and also he didnt speak until 5 mths ago! What am I doing wrong!

    • I think the general consensus is you’re not doing anything wrong.
      It’s the embarrassment that was my biggest problem too I felt I should have done it earlier but it never seemed like the right time – we had a baby/ moved/ went away for ages/ moved again/ moved again.
      Basically just keep moving so no one has time to judge you for not nappy training!

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  12. This touches a very sore nerve as it is exactly what we’re going through at the moment. My daughter is 2 years 4 months and on every other level, is very clever and independent. She walked early etc and her speech is excellent (aspects I really had little imput in – she just did it), and I’ve never had a clingy child what so ever (NEVER a problem leaving her at nursery or anyone else for that matter – runs off without looking back). But potty training, for which I suppose I am the teacher and very much involved in the process – is a complete and utter FAIL. “I want to wear nappies” and “I don’t like the potty” and “change my bum mummy” are everyday things to us. And I feel just awful throwing in the towel and letting her win – like a complete failure as a mum. Did I mention my 18 year old niece has potty trained her 18 month old daughter with no problems? My daughter was an advanced crawler when she was born… what happened??

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  14. Oh yes we had this – my usually compliant boy would not go to the loo. After he was 3 I bribed him with a large dora toy bought off eBay and on a high shelf – after a week he caved and now goes to the loo fine! My youngest is the most independent non-compliant bitey wee thing (boy, nr 12months) and I dread to think how it will go down with him!!

  15. My son is 4… he’s still in nappies and he is starting school in almost a month. He potty trained himself, for two weeks, ages back but then just stopped. No progress constant wet stuff and no chance of pants. I’m trying not to care and trying to just let him get on with it but he’s starting a school where Everyone buys the correct uniform and they all have the logoed boo bag. And I’m the Mum whose child still poos whenever and wherever he is, woooo

  16. When my third son whipped off his nappy at 2.5 years old announcing he didn’t want to wear them anymore, I was thrilled thinking my fourth son would also self train at 18 months. You know, from watching the older three. He is now three and a half and I do believe I will finally have one going to school in another two years still wearing nappies.

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