Skip to content

Stuck In a Potty Training Tug of War?

Potty training started with such good intentions. You put up a sticker chart. Stuffed a reward jar with ideas. Bought all the potty training books you could find and got a toddler seat.

Your toddler was responding as well as could be expected. Sure, he experienced the occasional accident, but he was getting the hang of letting you know when he had to go poo. If you weren’t out of the woods yet, it at least seemed like there was a light flickering through the leaves.

And just like that, your toddler balked. Pitched a tantrum and told you he wanted to wear diapers again.

It can seem like all your efforts were for naught, all your progress flushed down the drain. Trust us, it’s not. But it is time to step back and patiently reassess what’s going on.

First of all, it’s normal for potty training progress to resemble a series of bunny hills – up and down – rather than a relaxing gondola ride up the slope.

Assuming there isn’t a medical reason that your toddler is regressing, consider these tips to help get the potty training bandwagon back on track:


Make sure your toddler was really ready for potty training. It’s tempting to notice a few readiness signs and buy “big kid” undies and books. But if it turns out your toddler wasn’t truly ready, simply take a break and try again when she is – no big deal. Learn the signs here.

What’s Changed?

Toddlers are very in tune with changes in their environment. Things like a new babysitter, the birth of a sibling, or an impending move can cause stress, which can cause potty training regression. Talk to your toddler about how you’ve noticed they’ve been having a few more accidents. Work together to find a solution that gives her ownership of the outcome.

Dial Down the Praise

 Toddlers don’t have a lot of control over their world. It’s time for your nap. Let’s go to the kitchen for lunch. Please put your toys away. All of this is necessary, but some toddlers naturally crave a need for control. If they sense that using the potty seat means something to you, it might become a source of struggle. Try toning down the high-fives and stickers. Instead, just wipe, flush, wash hands and move on. Once your toddler realizes you’re not attached to the outcome, the power struggle might evaporate.

After you’ve considered all the options and have taken a break, what happens next?


Set Up a Schedule

If you had one in place before, return to it. Simple things like having your child sit on the potty seat for a few minutes after they wake and after meals will help. Offer encouragement for trying, keeping in mind that hovering and prompting usually backfire. For more ideas, read here.

Accidents Will Happen

Expect them as a normal occurrence and when they do, stay calm. Clean them up without inferring any kind of negativity. If you and your toddler have experienced a power struggle in the past, seeing you calm will reinforce to her the message that potty training is nothing to fight over.

Monitor the Process

Watch your child to see how potty training is going. If she still resists, put the potty seat away for a while and try again. Potty training is a developmental process, and no amount of effort will “make” your child be potty trained before she’s ready.

Our NextStep2™ Adult/Child Potty Seat is the ideal companion for the potty training process. It’s sized just right for toddlers, eliminating the mess and clutter of a traditional potty chair. When the process is finished, the plastic child ring removes easily, leaving the toilet seat fully useable.

Check out The Reading Room, where you'll find other helpful articles, including:

Five Effective Rewards for Potty Training

Why is My Toddler Still Wetting the Bed?

Start Potty Training With a Routine

Is My Child Ready for Potty Training?

Help Your Child Learn Potty Training Words

Help! My Child Still Isn't Potty Trained