Potty Training Resistance- Potty Breaks?

Help! My Son Won't Take a Potty Break!

  • Do you find yourself fighting with your child over potty breaks?
  • Are you cleaning up numerous "potty accidents" because your "trained" child refuses to take a break?
  • Or how about those emergency races to the bathroom?
  • Does your child suddenly have the urge to go when you've just asked him to take a break?
  • How can you get through to your little one that they need to be responsible for their bathroom breaks?

Here's some guidelines to teach your child to initiate bathroom breaks:

  1. Let them know it's time... without being punitive. Do not use threats. Use questions that remind such as "What haven't we done in a while?"
  2. Identify your child's currency, and keep in mind it can change frequently! For children it could be a particular activity, TV show, game, or snack. What makes your child really excited? Explain to your child they need to earn their currency by choosing the desired behavior (initiating a potty break).
  3. Give choices with consequences. Communicate the effect, limit, and consequences of your child's behavior. Let your child know you expect them to go to the potty before they feel the sudden urge. Let them know accidents are the result of choosing not to go to the potty on time, and they carry with them the consequence of losing a privilege.
  4. Ask for help, ask "what are we going to do about this?" Don't ask why? Ask what happens now? What do you need to do now? What will you choose to do next time?
  5. Give yourself a break. If your child is strongly rebelling, take a break and let the phase pass. A break may also be in order if your child is not ready for potty training, so consider this a possibility.
  6. Encourage big boy/big girl behavior. Kids that are ready to be trained are emotionally and socially in tune with their peers. They want to be like their friends and older family members. And they thrive on parental approval.
  7. Always be consistent!

Here are some specific ideas that have worked for other parents:

  • Keep making it fun! Throw in toilet targets for boys to aim at, and for girls to talk about.
  • Make sure you child knows they can come right back to playing when they are done going potty.
  • Give lots of praise!
  • Just set a potty watch - Set it and let your child be reminded throughout the day.


Kid's naturally think "I'll try harder next time" meaning they will hold it better next time, rather than going sooner. You have to help your child shift their way of thinking from "I'll try harder" to "I'll change my approach and go more often/sooner".


If potty accidents are frequent, consider your child may not be ready to potty train. Also be sure to rule out medical issues by talking to your child's pediatrician.

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