How do you potty train a stubborn 3 year old girl?

[deleted account] ( 4 moms have responded )

My Ebony won't go to the toilet or potty. We have tried rewards. It's been sitting above the toilet for over 2 weeks now. We've tried - goody snack rewards; stars on the calendar; toy rewards; no milk (she's a milkaholic) all to no avail. She simply refuses. If you physically take her its with her kicking and screaming, she does nothing and both are unhappy campers by the end of it. Please help?


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Maria - posted on 02/13/2010




You can't force her to do it. I recommend that you forget about actual potty training for at least two or three weeks, based on your current interactions with each other over it.

Get her some books and a DVD on the subject. We have "Elmo's Potty Time" DVD, which is inspiring to her and works well. Watch it with her! You'll learn a thing or two, too, and can use some of the material in the video with her, during the process of training.

We also have a cute book about a little girl potty-training that we read to her. It's also great if she can hang around another kid close to her age who is ahead of her in potty-training, and is willing to let her observe.

If you don't have another kid around to show her, then let your daughter watch you go to the bathroom. Forget modesty if you want results. She's too young to care. Include her in the process. Encourage her curiosity about this. She'll only need to observe for a little while, or every now and then, until she's nearly trained.

Use a lot of positive reinforcement. Again, don't force her to do it. She is naturally defiant to your commands at this age (asserting her independence), so dragging her kicking and screaming into the bathroom is counter-productive. She *definitely* won't want to do it, now. For a while, anyway.

So take a step back about her potty training right now, and instead talk to her daily about how great it is to be potty trained. You need to prime her for it.

I've been telling my daughter how she'll get to wear pretty underwear instead of the ugly old diapers when she's potty-trained. We remind her that we won't have to wash her bottom in the shower when she poops, anymore, and that pooping in the potty is a lot easier and faster to clean up after. She also wants to be independent, so we emphasize that using the potty is something she'll eventually get to do by herself, instead of us interfering with her and having to change her diapers.

Candy didn't work with my daughter, either, though it has worked with some friends' kids. But I discovered that she thought it was great to be able to wear pull-ups. So I told her she only got to wear pull-ups if she pooped or peed in the potty, and then she could wear pull-ups the rest of the day. After a while, we changed this rule to having to go back to wearing diapers for the rest of the day if she pooped or peed in her pull-ups. She doesn't usually want to wear diapers, so she made an effort to listen to her body's signals and run to the potty, to ensure she got to wear pull-ups more.

I also really try to give her a sense that *she* will be proud of *herself* if she learns to use the potty. By no means is she learning to use the potty to please me or her papa, but to feel good about her accomplishment.

And remember that it's a process. She'll become progressively interested and better at it as time goes on. And there will be weeks she'll regress, but then she'll bounce right back and do a great job at it. Don't punish her for not doing the potty thing. But when she does something right, be enthusiastic, clap, and say "Wonderful job! You must feel great for using the potty! You get to wear clean underpants! Yaaaaay!!"

Good luck. It can be frustrating. But you have a choice in how you react to her, and how you feel about it. Choose to be calm and patient with her, and she will respond in positive ways!

Mel - posted on 02/13/2010




my 3 year old was trained by two, if they not ready than fair enough but keep encouraging it and make it fun!

Tanith - posted on 02/13/2010




My midwife told me to not make a big issue out of potty training. If she senses you trying to rush her when she's not ready it will only make things worse (kicking and screaming). She will use the toilet or potty when she's ready. Really don't stress. All children reach milestones at their own pace.

[deleted account]

If she's not ready, she's not ready. Forcing her just becomes a fight between you. Forcing her could also cause some psychological damage, so it's probably not a good idea. Perhaps playing with other kids who are already potty trained will help her see that this is a good thing to be doing. I had one completely trained at 2, one was almost 5 before she was completely trained and the other was somewhere in the middle. It will happen, when she is ready. I hate to tell you this, but she may be refusing because you want it so much! Our children are smart creatures. Perhaps when you relax, she will too.

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