The worst advice for solving potty training problems

When your child has a potty training problem, it often manifests as a particular behaviour. This can look like refusing to sit on the potty or toilet, having tantrums or meltdowns, hiding to pee or poop, insisting on pooping in a nappy rather than the potty,  insisting they don’t need to go when you know that they do or suddenly having multiple accidents despite seeming to understand a week ago.

This behaviour almost always has an underlying problem and the key to resolving the behaviour is to address what’s happening underneath. It’s very common for parents to tell me that resolving an issue that manifested during potty learning also helped resolve another behavioural issue with eating or bedtime etc.

Here are 3 of the worst pieces of advice parents are given when it comes to potty training

1. They aren’t ready! Try again when they are older!

How often have you heard: “I had this problem when I was potty training so we went back to nappies and the next time we tried it, it clicked right into place!”

It’s SO easy to be seduced into believing that it’s about readiness.  But if there is an underlying issue causing your child to resist potty training, you might resolve that issue whilst tackling another milestone (such as eating or bedtime) and it then has a positive impact on potty learning. It isn’t that your child wasn’t ready before, it’s just that you resolved the issue that was really causing their resistance. Correlation does not imply causation.

Believing that your child isn’t ready just gives you permission to put off dealing with the problem instead of actually resolving it. Which is tempting so we try to make the facts fit the fiction. Waiting for your child to “be ready” is doing nothing and expecting a different result. But there is always something you can do! (See our previous post The best advice for solving potty training problems)

2. A method that worked for one child will work for all children

There are lots of well-meaning bloggers, childcare workers and even paediatricians and therapists that believe that it is helpful to share what worked for one child exhibiting similar behaviour. But because the behaviour that the child is displaying is only the symptom, not the cause, treating the symptom isn’t enough. Therefore, telling a parent to do what worked for your unique child when they have their own unique child with perhaps a different underlying issue that is merely manifesting in the same behaviour isn’t the good advice that you mean it to be.

This is why many popular books written about potty training are very hit and miss. Little Bunny Bear’s Advanced potty training course allows parents to tailor the process to their unique child’s temperament and explains how to troubleshoot any behavioural issues that may manifest along the way.






3. Try this gimmick!

Use a sticker chart, buy a musical potty, try a potty watch/app, read this book, sing this potty song. There are so many seemingly “helpful” solutions available when you look, or that other parents may have tried and recommended to you.

But downloading an app to prompt your child to go will not resolve a fear issue, watching a YouTube video with a cute song won’t give them the privacy they might be craving and a sticker chart won’t work if external motivators are not the answer to the problem (which, by the way, they never are! You can learn more about why we never recommend rewards-based learning in our blog Potty Training Without The Sticker Charts.)

What’s the worst advice you’ve been given when potty learning?

4 thoughts on “The worst advice for solving potty training problems

  1. Joanne Baldwin says:

    The worst piece of information we were given by a ‘potty training expert’ was that you have to potty trained your child before they are 3. We were told this when our child was just over 3!
    Our child had no issues potty training but it did cause us a lot of stress and worry that we had ‘let down’ our child.

    • littlebunnybear says:

      HI Joanne,
      Research shows it is best to potty train before age 3, as this reduces the risks associated with later potty training. however, this isn’t much help if your chid is already 3! Whenever you decide to potty train it is important to do it in a way that respects your child’s age and stage, and allows you to work in partnership with your child. I am glad to hear you didn’t have any problems, but sorry that you felt you had let your child down. These days, there is so much misinformation out there that makes parents nervous about potty training and this is such a shame.

  2. Clare says:

    My nearly 4 year old understands everything. She knows what is supposed to happen and how to do it. But there is something stopping her. Where it is physical or mental or a bit of both I don’t know. She fits in all the information I have read about stool withholding. But the number of people who have told me (doctors, health visitors etc.) to look at a book with her or reward her for going is driving me mad.

    She knows that poos go in the toilet. That doesn’t stop her from squeezing her bum cheeks together crossing her legs and trying to hold it in. She can tell me that when she drinks water goes into her tummy then her blood then waste water goes to her bladder. When it’s full she gets the feeling she needs to wee. But that doesn’t reliably translate into her wanting to wee in the toilet. At this rate I’ll be going into the depth of how the kidneys concentrate using in the loop of Henley and that the pressure she feels is in the detrusor muscle before she gets it (former ICU nurse who knows a lot more about anatomy and physiology than child psychology).

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