Why Won’t My Child Potty Train?

I am beginning to feel very anxious and more than a little stressed about the fact that my younger daughter refuses to potty train. I have been trying to persuade her for around eighteen months now, to no avail. She will be four in August and starts primary school in September, so I really need to get this sorted. Help!

There might be a psychological block with her. When she was a baby, she struggled to empty her bowels. I even had her sitting on a potty at less than a year old, simply to try and ease the pressure because she became so distraught and it was so painful for her. We visited the doctor, did some tests, but they put it down to growing pains. There is no official diagnosis for her problem, but now it is impacting on her development.


2 potties and 2 toilet seats later… no progress on potty training!

She knows what to do. She watches her friends use the toilet and the potty quite happily. She wears knickers, training pants and pull-ups (which I really detest because of the waste factor), but nothing works. I try leaving her half naked in the house, but if I try and put her anywhere near a toilet or potty, she screams and contorts her body. She has done her business on the potty before now, and she has sat willingly on the toilet, but it is sporadic and I cannot seem to take that step forward.

What am I doing wrong? Does anyone have advice or a story to share about potty training their older child?

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4 Responses to Why Won’t My Child Potty Train?

  1. scskillman says:

    I feel for you, Catherine – I too had trouble toilet training my children and it all happened much later than seems to be usually the case. I put both nursery assistants and child-minders through some challenging situations! I hope that won’t happen to you though. The important thing is try not to compare yourself and your children’s development with others, and also try not to get anxious or stressed about it. I would recommend you ask a doctor’s advice too.

    • Thanks Sheila. I have asked for advice from the health professionals and they all say the same thing: she’ll do it when she is ready. I think my biggest stress factor is that she is now too big for her cloth nappies and they simply leak through her clothes, and my husband and I really do not like using disposable pull-ups. I will try again with the training pants and see how far I get.

  2. Caron Allan says:

    I know everyone says this but try not to worry. Eventually it will just click into place and she will want to be like all the other little girls. I think you might have to consider going over to the pull ups so that she can be in control of that side of things – if it is she who pulls them up, she might feel ready to go over to regular undies. Maybe splash out on some new, special undies with her favourite TV cartoon character or something like that, so they feel too nice to spoil! I had problems with my son but not with my daughter, so this is all I can suggest. Maybe more than anything is to get rid of the sense of ‘its got to happen now’. She will not be the only kid in infant school who isn’t quite ready with potty training. Ditch all the ‘aids’, act as if it was already accomplished. If you have friends with daughters, send them all off to the loo together, she will soon figure it out.

    • I know, Caron, thank you for commenting. I am trying to ease off a little bit. She refuses to accompany her friends to the toilet, even though she watches them at preschool, in the library, in other social gatherings etc. Her Grandma bought some special knickers in the hopes that might encourage her, but it didn’t work. I’m resorting to bribery and deal making – still no joy! 😉

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