I need advice on how to get my 4yr old fully potty trained? Please help!

Christi - posted on 07/12/2010 ( 221 moms have responded )

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she will go pee in the potty no problem but poops in her pull ups

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Jennifer - posted on 07/12/2010

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My daughter was having issues with using the potty. She would hold it so long that it made her constipated. Our doctor recommended MiraLAX to make her more regular and help with the potty training. He told us to use it for two months and give it to her at the same time each day so when she did go to the potty it was on a regular schedule too. It helped with the constipation, but not potty training. I do think it helped her not be so afraid of using the potty because then she was not holding it and it did not hurt as much to use the potty. Call your doctor and get some advice from them also.



We did a mix between making her clean up her own mess because we just went straight to panties and bribing. We had a jar and my husband and her decorated it and they made a deal she would get a dime for every time she would pee and a quarter (because it is a big coin) for every time she would poop. She had a goal of getting fish. She still had accidents because she would just wait too long. She would be playing or someone would be over and throw a fit if you took her away from what she was doing. But eventually she realized her jar wan filling up with money and we would go and look at the fish every so often so she could see which fish she would want (she just really wanted the Dora fish tank) and it motivated her to use the potty to get the fish.



Find something she really wants and make her work for it! Oliviah had the money way before she got the fish but we wanted to make sure she would continue to use the potty! That’s the good thing about that age they can’t count money! Sorry it is so long but we had a lot of problems with Oliviah and had to try a little bit of everything.

Roz - posted on 07/21/2010

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I need to jump in here. I had the same issue with both my kids, both were a little over 4 before they would poop on the potty. Both peed for 1-2 years no problem on the potty, but pooping, forget it. They both would put the pull ups on and hide. It was so embarrassing to even tell people.(Especially my mother n law) What worked for my son and the Dr. suggested it was put 1-2 tablespoons of mineral oil in his drink. It has no taste. Let me tell you, he was running to the bathroom all night long within 30 minutes and was cured from that night on. My daughter was much more difficult. We took the pull ups away, she held it in for a week, which is worse. The Dr. told me not to take the pull ups away, holding it in will develop other issues more serious. He kept insisting when they are ready they do it on their time. I tried the mineral oil with her, no luck, pedialax, no luck, Miralax, no luck. Nothing worked! I thought for sure she would go to Kindergarten still pooping in a diaper. Until a friend suggested to me to wrap a paper towel around her and put her on the toilet. Most kids are afraid of that dropping into the toilet so now it goes through the paper towel. Wet it slightly. I had trouble taping the paper towel to her and ended up just taping it directly onto the toilet seat. She was so excited to try this and it WORKED!!!!!!! After that first time, she even said she did not need the paper towel and would just sit on the toilet. She then said it was time to give away all the pull ups. Been cured for the past 7 months! Good luck!

Janet - posted on 07/13/2010

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this is what my childs doctor told me to do.. He told me to buy a bell. When my child used the toilet he got to ring the bell & only when he used the tiolet. But u have to put the bell up high so they cant get it on there own. Kids love making noise! You can even have her ring the bell & do a celebration dance! The attention on her doing a good job pooping in the potty will get her to want to do it again!

[deleted account]

After 4 kids, I don't know of any kids in middle school who poop in their pants unless they're ill. ; )

First, I would bring it up to the doctor to make sure there are no medical reasons for her not to have control.

Then be patient.

When she uses the toilet (for any reason) give her some fresh cut veggies or fruit, as a treat. Even a little PB on a spoon or cheese.

If she poops in her pants, take her to the bathroom, Have her sit on the pot (for a little bit, 30 seconds to 1 min). Then have her help you clean it up. You don't need to say anything to her except how to clean it up. If you need to, shower her butt off & let her do it.

If your out & about, tell her how she smells & you will need to go home to clean up (or bring what you need along).

I would even have her load the washer, dry & fold her undies.

One of my kids needed to wear Good Nights until he was almost 7. He is fine now and no problem.

I also have an autistic grandson who seemed to take forever to get the idea. He's ok now too.

This too will pass. & she will grow up soon enough.

John - posted on 07/21/2010

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I'm almost afraid to say it now because it might start a witch hunt. But I have a 4 year old who is quite reluctant to use the toilet to poop. His 3 year old sister has had no problems for quite a while now. Everybody thinks they're an expert on the subject. I have spent a year and a half now reading articles, advice, and even the brutal abuse this site has to offer. I have come to one very simple conclusion. It will happen when it happens. There are so many women on this site who have the luxury of being at home all day with their kids to give 100% to the potty training effort. Personally, I don't have that luxury and I don't know if you do either. I work a job that has my kids with a sitter from Sun night til Tues morning, and from Wed night til Fri morning. So obviously my biggest obstical is trying to get into a steady routine. There are so many possible situations for a parent to be in that don't allow for that 100% focus on some things. And that just means it might take a bit longer. The best advice you will get here is to have patience and just keep trying new things until something works.

p.s. - I personally like my furniture a little too much to just toss the pull-ups. Not fun trying to get poo stains out of the couch cushions. :-)

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Debra - posted on 07/22/2010

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I told my little one she was useing up all the nappys for the little babys and they can't walk to the loo. She then desided to try and keep her nappys clean for as long as she could, and then give them up.

[deleted account]

You could give her some goals.
1 day clean = a spoonfull of ice cream
1 week clean = a trip to somewhere special, Library, special park, or even Lunch out.
1 month clean = Dinner out or a trip to the movies.
. . . If she has an accident, the clock restarts. Use the calendar to record her successes. Remember, don't punish a mistake. Use lots of positive reenforcement.

Bronwen - posted on 07/22/2010

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Sometimes children simply don't realise that they should poo in the toilet. Often parents let a child watch them when they themselves are having a wee in the toilet, but don't let them watch when they are having a poo (not really a spectator event!). My child would happily wee in the toilet, but refused to poo in it, until one day I poo'd in the toilet while she watched. Sounds disgusting, but I gave her a running commentary of what I was doing - she watched and learned and from then she always poo'd in the toilet.

Susan - posted on 07/21/2010

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Well, maybe you have a better chance of getting through this faster. My son at that point peed in the toilet, but didn't poop in the toilet. (The pee challenge was the year before.)

Still if there is an all-day or overnight trip she wants to do, it may be a good motivation. Or if you haven't tried taking the pull-ups away, try that first. Maybe she will be grossed out enough to choose the toilet over in her clothes.

Maralee - posted on 07/21/2010

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I am now a great-grandma and have a little advise. My mother told me I gave her problems with potty training and she bought me pretty panties with lace on the back; I didn't want her to take them away if I wet or pooped in them so I was potty trained quickly after that. I used the same idea with my son buying his underwear just like his dad's and wasn't long before he was doing very well. I don't know if your daughter will want lacy panties but there are a lot of character prints that might work; whatever character she likes the best.. Lots of luck and be firm with her.

Susan - posted on 07/21/2010

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My son did this. We tried taking away the pull-ups, but that didn't work. He would go in his underwear. Then we started taking his clothes when we knew he had to go, so he got into the habit of taking off all his clothes and standing next to the toilet and going on the floor. He did this for months and it didn't help to make him "help" clean up. Finally, one day we were supposed to travel for a month and we told him he had to at least try, because otherwise we couldn't go stay at people's houses and in hotels. So, he let me hold him while he sat. Once he was done, clean up was so easy (he used to have to stand in the tub and wash his whole lower body), that he went in the toilet every time after that. (Yes he was just as stubborn about peeing one year earlier.)

Maybe if your daughter is more reasonable than my son, you won't have to wait so long or go to such great lengths. We thought he would be grossed out going without a pull-up, but we were wrong. What finally worked was to tell him there was something he wanted that he couldn't do until he mastered the task, and it can't be a toy or something, at least for our son. It had to be something where he knew that he would miss out all the time if he couldn't go in the toilet.

Stacy - posted on 07/21/2010

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My son was born with alot of problems and he is 4 now. He just started to go potty. I put in big boy underwear didnt buy pull ups. Stupidest things to waste ur money on. It took us two days to get him to go potty in big boy underwear with a reward. Now everytime he goes potty he yells I went potty mommy and daddy. I know this sounds mean but the first two days we made him stay in his wet undies. Not long just til he got use to not liking it. But he loves going potty now. With my other boys I would just put them on the potty and read books to them while they were trying to learn. If u learn he BM times it would be easier for u to put on the potty b4 that time and sit with her. GIve her a reward for our son its hugs and kisses and his animal crackers.

Angela - posted on 07/21/2010

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I'm having the same problem with my daughter. My son was potty trained by the time he was 3. I don't know if my daughter thinks she's losing a part of her body when she sits on the toilet or if it's because she is my youngest and she wants to stay the baby. I'm really starting to feel like a failure though because all the kids in her pre-school class are completely trained. If you have any suggestions I'm all ears!

Lily - posted on 07/21/2010

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first advice is get rid of the pull ups!! waste of money and totally counter-productive! use training underwear, and if she poops in them, make her clean it up. When I was potty training my boys, when they pooped in their underwear, I stripped them from the waste down, put them in the tub and washed their coolie with cold water. I can tell you, that I only had to do it 2x with each boy and they never pooped in their underwear again.

Shelby - posted on 07/21/2010

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This will sound mean but it works. Tell him/her if she's going to choose to poop her pants then they get to clean it up. Heeding a mother of 8's advice, I put my daughter in the bathtub with a pack of wet wipes (warning her ahead of time what would happen if she chose to poop her pants again). She was horrified when I followed through. She refused to do it. After about 30 minutes I gave her the option of letting me clean her up under cold water. She quickly chose that option. Though it was not a fun experience, it worked. She decided to poop on the potty next time and every time after that. When I tell her the story, she thinks it's hilarious. So I'm comforted knowing she wasn't traumatized for life. :) Good luck.

Gwen - posted on 07/21/2010

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I had the same problem and my dr told me to do this process. She said to take as long as you need to on each step. Maker her stay in the bathroom to poop in her pull up, then make her sit on the toilet with her pull up on, then cut a hole in her pull up. Each time also make sure that she watches you put her poop in the toilet and flush it, even let her flush it. We didn't even have to go past the first step.

Mary - posted on 07/21/2010

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well I have no little kids but what I did when my kids were being potty trained I would tell them that they are still little babies and that other kids go pooh in the tolet not in their pull ups cause that is for big kids. It worked well with my son my daughter it took some time. I finely told her that everytime she poohed in her pull up she would have to go back wearing a dipper she didn't like that after a few times cause I would tell her she was still a baby and not a big girl. It worked for me. I hope it works for you... Mary Bridwell Fl

Sandra - posted on 07/21/2010

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You need to make her comforable while sitting on the potty give her a fav toy or book & stay there & talk to her, leaving her in messy underpants is mean!

Carisa - posted on 07/21/2010

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I have been there. It will probably sound awful, but what we did was refuse to put her in a diaper (we never used pull-ups) She held it for about five days before she pooped in her underwear during a nap. She was really upset about it, but that was the last time she refused to use the potty. That was a year ago, and she doesn't seem to have any permanent scares.

Lillian - posted on 07/21/2010

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I think that we take for granted, that going the toleit is a private and a personal thing,especially no.two We don't like anyone around when go,it takes time learning when its a poop are gas,and we are adults so how do we think small ones feel,maybe we need to be more sensitive to their feels.Potty training takes Love,patients and understanding,no shame.it will become just normal to the child,as soon as he become more comfortable.I never feel comfort around other when I have to go,do you .don't stress it.

Amy - posted on 07/21/2010

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sometimes when it hurts to go poop they do it where it is comfortale for them. My son had hard stools and would not go on the potty. we have ben giving him miralax and since then he is doing awesome. Have you noticed her stools being hard. Just an idea. good luck.

Susan - posted on 07/21/2010

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I have two boys and have potty trained numerous children at my daycare. First underwear not pull-ups. Second if there is an accident, make the child clean themselves up. Supervise but make them do the work. If the poop falls on the floor they have to pick it up and then clean the floor (wipies work well). Since it is your child make them clean the undies also. My other suggestion is get a reward and put it on a shelf where it can be seen. After the child goes without an accident for one week then they get the reward. I did the reward system with both my boys (both completely trained by 3) and several parents at my daycare have had success with it also. Good Luck!

Sandra - posted on 07/21/2010

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My daughter was the same way. I finally got her trained by having her sit on her potty chair with her diaper on when she had to go poopie. At first she didn't want to do this but I put her in front of the tv with her favorite dvd and told her she couldn't get up until she poopied. She finally did. We went through that routine until we removed her diaper and then eventually on the real potty. Good Luck!

Denise - posted on 07/21/2010

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used sugar free chocolate minature candies or sugar free lollipops, I usually watched him he had tell tale signs of needing to poop and rushed him on the potty

Pat - posted on 07/21/2010

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Have you tried the star chart yet? Every time she poos in the potty she gets a star... after like 5 stars she gets a prize.... keep it simple, inexpensive, but special...Kids love love love stickers

Brenda - posted on 07/21/2010

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I have the same problem with my oldest (3 year old), she is good with the wees but not the poos. I have set up a reward chart for the poos, I have only been doing this for a month, she gets a sad face on there when she poos in her undies (she is only in nappies at night) and a smiley face along with stickers and a reward when she does poos on the potty, so far she has done it in the potty 3 times lastest was just yesterday. When she does go in the potty she gets lots of attention, praise and yes a reward. I am finding at the moment that she is more likely to do poos after having cheese or fruit (especially kiwifruit), so after she has had either of these I wait for half an hour to an hour then tell her to go potty and do poos, seldom works but yeah yesterday it did.

I do not believe in letting them stay in it, they get very sore, it is also unhygenic, and pull ups - what a waste - do you want them trained or not!?!?!?!?!?!

I have 17 month old twins and with mine I think and believe at times that she is doing it because they do it, that is why I am going to start potty training them next month (once winter is over), in the hope that it will make her do poos on the potty and maybe she will even help train them thenby making her feel even more of a big girl than she is now.

THERESA SUSAN - posted on 07/21/2010

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my first did the same thing, then when the next one did a pee in the bag of pull ups i said oh no what you going to do, and my son said dont worry i will use the loo and has done ever since.

Melissa - posted on 07/21/2010

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Just give her time and it will happen. I learned the hard way that they are ready when they're ready and there isn't much you can do. I tried everything but it just happens when they are ready.

Katheryn - posted on 07/21/2010

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We did the Poop Jar for my niece. If she peed on her own she got a Nickle if she attempted she got a Penny if she Pooped on her own she got a Dollar If she attempted she got a Quarter. At the end of two weeks, we took her to the Dollar Store and she was able to purchase anything that she wanted on her own. It was a good lesson to teach her about money and being rewarded for doing good. She realized that if she did the "Deed" on her own she got more money to spend. We only had to do this for about 6 weeks before she was potty trained. She earned about $20 + and enjoyed spending her own money at the store. We waited until there was no one in line so the checker and I could help her count her money to pay for her items that she picked out. When the Poop Jar was over we all had a talk with her telling her how proud we were of her and that she was a BIG Girl now and no longer needed to have the Poop Jar. This helped to transition her to cleaning her messes and room. She is going to be 7 at the end of July and she is a very helpful lil girl. She sees a mess and cleans, puts her toys away without being told. Sees that the Cats or Dog needs food and takes care of it. She doesn't always get money or a "gift", and she does not expect it either. But I do as well as her Mother does, we get her toys that she requests every now and then. When we do, we tell her that it is because she is a good girl and is always helping and not having to be told to do things. I always throw in that she does not act like one of those kids who demands a toy. That I appreciate her for being a good girl and that Auntie might not always be able to get her something, but that I will try to do something special with her. Make her favorite shake or lunch...something. So I hope that this helps it worked great for us. I plan on doing the same thing with my baby when it comes time. Good Luck to you Kat BTW I don't agree with tough love on throwing out the pull ups, I have seen this to not be a good thing with a few children. It can cause emotional problems. There is nothing wrong with you or your child that they are wearing pull ups even at 5+. Some children just take longer. Love and Patience is Always the Best Way!

Kerri - posted on 07/21/2010

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I had the same prob with my 3 1/2 yr old boy. I made a sticker incentive chart for earning a sticker each time he sat on the potty to try. After 5 stickers he got a prize. If he pooped he earned the prize regardless of the amount of stickers. I also got him out of pull ups and stopped the lectures, only telling him that we have to poopy in the potty. I also would clean him, and let him dress himself after that. I think the difference was staying calm and really celebrating his success. It was very frustrating in the beginning but got better after 3 weeks. He also was very motivated to go to school. I told him he would have to poop on the potty to go to big boy school. One other thing, I went back to the potty chair and had him choose if he wanted to go on the toilet or potty chair. That was very helpful too.

Missie - posted on 07/21/2010

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LOL Every kid's different, but the desired result is the same and with other little ones in the house, I'm sure it's hard to be consistent. I'm not a big fan of bribery because by 4 it was backfiring for us and our 3 yr old - "I'll do it, but you have to give me candy..." We kinda used potty time as one on one time, we'd sit and read books and talk, it wasn't OK, we're in the bathroom, POOP. I also LOVE John Rosemond, check out his weekly columns/advice www.rosemond.com Good luck!

[deleted account]

This is what you have to do! Put her in panties and tell her NO more pull-ups, and mean it. When she poops, put her in the shower, clean her up, and make a fuss about having to clean her up. This is all about you Mom, you being firm and consistent, and letting your child know you expect her to be a big girl.

Gina - posted on 07/21/2010

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thanks for replying, but i still think that it is not right to give you kid a laxative at his age, goodness me, there is enough problems with abuse of such things for weight lose, etc. don't please set your son grow up for that kind of thing, you never know what could happen later on in his life.

Laura - posted on 07/21/2010

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The first day of Pre School, my daughter had an "accident", then I told her she wouldn't be able to come to school anymore because the teachers couldn't clean her up if she had accidents, and she quit having them THAT day and was fine from then on! She was 4 also. She loved school so much, she just bucked up and made sure she was a big girl.

Susan - posted on 07/21/2010

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Howclose to starting school is she? My middle sons was potty training and we walked my oldest to school every day. Well, my middle son always tried to go in the school. One day my oldest said that he couldn't go to school until he wore big kids underwear and kept them clean. We got home, he went in the bathroom, went potty and grabbed his underwear from the back of the toliet (I always kept exra there) and said he wanted to goback to school now. I told him he had to prove he could keep them clean for a couple weeks and that was it.

Lisa - posted on 07/21/2010

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Listen to the ladies, get rid of the pull ups and let her poop her pants a couple times. Also us the same tactic when at the pool, and tell her she will have to leave if she goes in the pool (that worked well with my 4 yo, last year).

Jodie - posted on 07/21/2010

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The doctor recommended it when he first started holding his poop. Mostly I use prune juice mixed with apple juice in the morning, but if there is a setback with his pooping then I will use the miralax to get back on track.

Gladys - posted on 07/21/2010

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Give her praise when she goes in the potty , but dont push her when shes ready she will go in the potty .

Jodie - posted on 07/21/2010

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I have the same problem with my 4yr old son. It is a control issue and I try not to make a big deal out of it. I use Miralax and I am very careful to make sure he is going regularly otherwise then he really has issues. I try not to make a big deal out of it but tell him he is a big boy and should go on the potty. I buy him something if he goes x amount of times on the potty. He just needs more time to adjust, I think. For peeing, he wouldn't go on the potty at all, but once he got it, he has never had an accident. I think it will just click and I try to be positive and supportive and patient. Every child is different.

Annamarie - posted on 07/21/2010

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You may let her pick out the panties she wants to buy. Buy new panties...so if she picks Dora say--now if you poop on Dora you have the throw her away...lets put our poop in the potty and not on your friend. This works with my kids. Now my 4yr old went through a stage where she didn't want to wipe, so I said if her princess panties got stinky she would have to throw them away. I agree with other posts that Pull Ups are not good at this age. Good luck.

Angela - posted on 07/21/2010

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A friend of mine had the same problem with her son, one day she opened up a nappy and put it across the toilet seat so that it was held open by the seat part.. and tried to get him to poop with that under him and it worked... after a week she was able to do away with the putting the nappy on the seat all together.. remember for some children it can be a scary feeling and as adults we can forget how it felt too be scared or overwhelmed at that age.. positive encouragement, keeping calm and patience work wanders... good luck!

April - posted on 07/21/2010

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Maybe she just doesn't like the poopy water to splash her butt... Not sure if there's a cure for that unless you give her a small potty chair to use.

Rachel - posted on 07/21/2010

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My son did the same thing. I also got rid of the pull ups and he hasn't had an accident yet. I told him that if he didn't want to go poopy in the potty, then he would have to wear a diper not a pull up.

Gina - posted on 07/21/2010

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i am not judging, passing blame on anyone. A child will learn when he /she is ready, don't push the kid, but at 4 and 5 and 6, give me a break here.

Deanna - posted on 07/21/2010

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To those who are saying she should be done by now, she's too old for that- you have had it good. Don't judge those of use who have trouble with potty training! Sometimes the child is so stubborn and won't do it for you. You can take them to the potty, but you can't make them go!
My 6 year old has finally gone about 2 weeks without soiling his pants (he's been holding it and leaking into his pants because he wouldn't let it go into the potty in full poops for well over a year)- it has been a struggle for 4 years to get him fully potty trained. His brother (younger) took only about 6 months and was done by 3 years, so it's not about me being a bad mother or not strict enough. some children are just way harder and less willing to be bossed around than others.
The thing I found that worked was to put him on a schedule (not a quick fix by the way- been working on it for about a year!) We send him to the potty when he gets up, after eating and before bed. I have tried everything- yes, even the cold showers (by the way, that didn't do anything except make him upset). he's been cleaning his own underwear for 2 1/2 years- I just wouldn't do it anymore for him because he's too old for me to do it for him ( I just make him rinse it out ready for the wash and he is perfectly capable of that, it's not a punishment, just a consequence- I don't even ask him anymore, he just does it because that's how it's done). And he is a child that still doesn't care if he's dirty or not. If I couldn't smell him, he would sit in it all day and not give a hoot! I still have to make him clean up if he soils himself.
Using a schedule, he started peeing in the potty at his 4th birthday and finally he's getting the pooping thing! It will come, just more frustrating for some than others!
All the best to you and I hope it works better for you than it has for me!

Karen - posted on 07/21/2010

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How about just act like you don't care if she uses the toilet or not. If this is a control issue, and you stop caring, then it is no longer a control issue. I have 4 children. With 3 of them, I have battled control issues. I have just said, "why don't you go poop in the potty", they of course say "no" and I say, "no, don't poop in the potty. i don't even want you too. kids shouldn't even use the potty" I say it with a smile and some sarcasm, so they are definately not learning to disobey and rebel. But as soon as I say No, don't do it; off they go.

[deleted account]

Pullups are GREAT for outings, car trips and bed time when you are in the process of potty learning. They are not a PLOY. They give the kids a sense of independenct so they can pull them up/down on their own. They catch accidents. Belive me, if you have had 1 too many accidents, especially with twins, you will use a pullup.

Carol - posted on 07/21/2010

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I don't mean to be a stickler, but isn't rewards what life is all about??? If you do a good deeds you are rewarded in some way even if it is just by making you feel good about yourself...You work you get paid, you do good in shcool you get A's on your report card......I was just trying to steer away from rewarding with food...

Cory - posted on 07/21/2010

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I would stop putting pull ups on her. I believe that children see pullups as a diaper and therefore it is ok to go in them. Put regular panties on her and she will stop.

Nancy - posted on 07/21/2010

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Set up a sticker chart. Every time she poops in the potty, give her a sticker. Or, have a "poop candy" jar with small treats in it, gummy bears, etc. Every time she poops in the potty give her one candy or whatever you choose to put in the jar.

Jaime - posted on 07/21/2010

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Buy some big girl panties (w/her fav character; dora, ect) and tell her that she's not to poopoo on dora's head. Just get rid of the pull up cold turkey. Also, try making a chart and for every time she goes poo in toilet like a big girl, she will get a star. after 5 stars, she can pick a toy out of the goodie box.

Toni - posted on 07/21/2010

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We did a sticker chart for Paris. I put her picture on it and allowed her to pick out the stickers. Every time she went pee pee or poo on the potty she got to put her own stickers on her chart. That made her feel like a big girl. Also, I would not let her wear her pullups and she knew that she didn't want to have an accident on herself. Don't get frustrated she will get it. :)

Gina - posted on 07/21/2010

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A child will learn in their own time, when they want to get out of diapers, this idea of pull ups is a ploy for parents to forget about the necessity of teaching their children. Never used them with my kids and I pray that my children don't use them with their kids, ( i DO NOT HAVE ANY GRANDBABIES YET, )

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