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Potty Training Resistance - Details

Why do Children Resist Potty Training

  1. Confusion
  2. Not Curious
  3. Fear
  4. Independence
  5. Too much pressure
  6. Inappropriate Potty Training Technique
  7. Physical Pain (Medical Reasons or Constipation)

1. Confusion: Confusion about the toilet training process or about what is expected from the child.

Confusion around the toilet training process could be as simple as the child is not connecting all the dots that are required to successfully go on the potty, so since s/he does not understand, s/he does not want to try and will therefore resist.

Confusion around the expectations occur when the child is getting mixed messages from the parent. Consistency is the key. Create reasonable expectations according to your child's abilities, then express them clearly and frequently and follow through on what you say.

Sometimes, as parents we don't always think about or know all the things that could occur and therefore when unexpected things occur, the child could be confused as well. It could be things such a painful BM because of constipation on the potty and now the child associates the pain with the potty and will resist doing bowel movements in the potty.

Take a minute and read How to Potty Train a Toddler. It contains good tips and information on how to get started potty training, and what some of the Signs of Readiness are.

2. Not Curious: Some children just aren't interested or curious about potty training. What to do?

When children aren't curious or interested in learning potty training, sometimes peer pressure works. "You can take advantage of this natural tendency to conform by pointing out, in non shaming, nonjudgmental ways, which of the children your child knows have learned to use the potty. Keep in mind the fact that preschoolers are more likely to imitate people they most like or admire. This is a time to keep an open mind about the many aspects of toilet use that captivate young children. While we may not quite understand the thrill of sharing a bathroom stall with a friend, communal voiding has helped many a preschooler succeed at and enjoy toilet training. " (This quote can be found at www.healthychildren.org)

If you don't have a child close in age or your child doesn't go to daycare/school yet, you can always enlist help from your child's favorite characters or older siblings.

3. Anxiety or Fear:

Fear and Anxiety can stop not just children but adults from doing things they know they need to do. Toilet Training Fears are no different, your child can be afraid of the toilet or potty chair.

A child could also develop fear or anxiety about the process of elimination if for some reason the experience has been negative in some way. This could be from having a pain while urinating because of skin irritation or a painful bowel movements from being constipated. (If your child is having constipation issues or fears, please see Bowel Movement Resistance article.)

If the child has had a negative experience with a potty chair or potty seat, s/he could become afraid of using that. Try to purchase a different potty chair, this one doesn't need to be fancy, just a plain, simple design that the child can independently reach.

4. Independence and Control Issues: Independence and control issues that make it hard for him/her to satisfy your wishes at this time

One of the child development stages that a toddler goes through is the desire to master one's own body and environment. You will hear toddlers say "I can do it" and "I am a big boy/girl now" are indications of the desire towards independence.

So, if your toddler happens to be in this stage, s/he may not want to satisfy your wishes at this time and will want to demonstrate to you that indeed s/he is an independent human being and in control of him/herself!

You can use this to your advantage, start explaining to your child that big boys and girls go pee-pee and poop in the potty. Explain that mommy, daddy, grandpa, and grandma (try to use people who they admire and respect to reference) all use the potty because they are big boys/girls. Encourage them at other times, "wow! isn't that cool, they are a big boy/girl that is why they can do that" and so on. Think about getting them "big boy/girl" underwear.

5. Too Much Pressure: Too much pressure to perform

A parent who constantly ask the toddler is s/he need to go potty may spark resistance in the toddler, especially if s/he happens to be in an independent phase.

If the potty training method you are using is pushing your child too hard, think about switching your technique. Here is an article with a full list of recognized Potty Training Methods.

6. Inappropriate Potty Training or Toilet Training Technique: Potty Training Method that does not suit the child personality or learning style

Your potty training technique has to suit your child's personality and learning style. For example if you select the "Practice until you get it right method" where you have defined a potty schedule for your child who is extremely independent and a self starter, you may find yourself in a power struggle.

If you have a child that tends to day dream and is easily distracted, s/he may need you to set up a schedule and remind him/her to go and use the potty.

Other examples include - asking a shy child to use potty in the kitchen or family room - around a lot of people. Shutting the bathroom door on a sociable toddler. Asking a physically active child to sit on the potty for more than 3-5 minutes at a time.

Here is an article with a full list of recognized Potty Training Methods for you to review and see if you can change and find a method better suited for you child.

7. Physical Pain: This can be cause by an infection, medical issues or constipation.

It is human nature to avoid pain, so if your toddler is experience pain when urinating because of an infection or experiencing painful bowel movement because of constipation, you child will avoid going potty until s/he can no longer hold it and ends up having accidents. There is a really good article by Dr. Greene about constipation causing bowel movement resistance. He referred to this resistance as D3: discomfort - dread - delay. For more on this subject, check out the entire article: Bowel Movement Resistance.

Parents may overlook physical or medical reasons for resisting potty training. Observe you child behavior and if you see any signs of skin irritation or urinary tract infection, consult with your child's pediatrician.

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