The One Big Reason Your Toddler Refuses To Sit On The Potty!

Starting to potty train your child can be very daunting for most parents. Even after mastering potty training with an older child, you realize your toddler refuses to sit on the potty! Everything you thought you knew about potty training goes out of the window as you struggle to get your 3-year-old to sit on the throne!

In this post, we will be giving you some simple potty training tips to help you get past the exhausting stage where your toddler refuses to potty train.

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Girls pink potty chair

The One Big Reason Your Toddler Refuses To Sit On The Potty.

Kids are fickle, and that’s a fact, all kids are different, and there could be many reasons your toddler refuses to sit on the potty.

Potty training is a really scary time for any toddler. They’ve gone from the comfort of being able to poop and wee where ever and whenever they need to, to being told to sit on a potty and wee!

Suddenly everything they’ve ever known has been turned upside down, and they can’t handle it! For most kids, the main reason they refuse to use the potty is due to fear.

  • Fear of the unknown. You’ve known your plans to potty train your child, but did he know what would happen? Did you sit down and tell him what to expect? Did you prepare him for how he would feel without a diaper? Preparation is the key to successful potty training, and the earlier you start talking about it, the better your child will respond!
  • Fear of new sensations. Your child’s diaper has been his security blanket for all of his life. Suddenly feeling naked or wearing thin pants is a huge change for him to master and can feel very scary.
  • Fear of loss of control. Suddenly your child is experiencing a lack of control of his poos and wees. When he was in a diaper, he didn’t need to think about going to the toilet, now, all of a sudden, he is aware of what’s happening, and it’s scary to him. Remember, he’s never seen a wee or poo before!
  • Fear of having an accident just like you and me, Your toddler is terrified of missing the potty and the sensation of having an accident. The first time this happens to your child can be particularly distressing and leave him feeling confused and wanting his diaper.

Some kids may act slightly defiant or stubborn, my child has been diagnosed with ADHD, and there was definitely some resistance to comply with potty training and stubbornness. However, I tried to look past that and understand exactly how he felt. My child is a fiercely independent child and very stubborn. However, his independence took over during potty training as he was determined to do everything himself. Every child is different, but with a bit of preparation and encouragement in the weeks leading up to potty training, you can certainly make the transition from diapers to the toilet smoother for your child.

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What To Do If Your Toddler Refuses To Sit On The Potty.

  1. Prepare your child

    It might be a good idea to take a break from potty training until you can follow these steps, especially if you and your child are already feeling overwhelmed.
    Just as you would prepare your child for his first day at school, you should prepare your child for potty training. Start talking about how great it will be when he starts to learn how to use the potty. How amazing it will be to have his own potty. What a big boy he will be in his new underpants. Set time aside to potty train and let him know when it will be, remind him that soon he will be able to use his potty, and get him excited about starting to potty train.

  2. Make it fun

    Make a day of pimping up the potty! Explain to your child that you are going out to buy a potty, and he can choose his design. Let him look online to see all the different types of potty available like this car one. If you’ve already got a potty, tell him you’re going to buy some stickers so he can decorate his very own potty. Let him cover it in stickers like these of his favourite character. Let him go to town at this stage. The more he has to do with the potty preparation, and the more fun he has at this stage, the less daunting and alien the whole potty training process will be for him.

  3. Let your child choose their big pants!

    Before you start potty training, it’s good to explain to your toddler that they will be wearing big girl/boy pants like these and let your child pick them out. The fancier, the better! Over the next few days, let your toddler try the pants on and practice pulling them up and down! Make sure you have lots and lots of pants as your child will go through more pairs than you can care to mention during this time as they will have many accidents!

  4. Prepare to stay at home!

    I took a few days off work (it’s easier in the winter), buttoned down the hatches, and just concentrated on potty training until my kids cracked it. It’s easier if you’ve not got to go out anywhere. If your child can follow a routine for a few days, it speeds up the whole process.

  5. Get prepared! Buy everything you will need to help you potty train!

    Decide what reward your child will receive each time he tries to make it to the potty. Stickers are great, and you can also get special potty reward charts like this one to help your child with potty time!
    Having a small treasure chest for your child to choose a reward from each time they use the potty is a great way to get your child excited about starting the potty train. It is also an excellent way to encourage them if your toddler won’t sit on the potty or toilet.
    You could keep a box of fun games like this one to play each time your child uses the bathroom to make everything more relaxed and fun.
    There are many great ways to help a 3-year-old who won’t sit on the potty to forget about why he’s potty training!

  6. Strip your child down for the first few days of potty training.

    If you plan to be in the house for the first few days of potty training, let your child walk about with nothing on their bottom half. This was a lot less stressful than seeing my child struggling to get his pants down when he’s ready to wee. When young kids need to wee, they need to go straight away, and pulling pants down can be time-consuming! Once my little one felt the wee running down his leg, he made sure he dashed to his potty as quick as he could each time. Keep things as simple as possible at this stage, and give your child one less thing to think about!

  7. Distract your child!

    There’s nothing like a bit of distraction when your 3-year-old won’t potty train! With both my kids, I stripped them off, sat them on the potty in front of the TV and switched on their favourite programme on a loop! If they sit there for long enough without realizing it, they’re going to wee eventually! That’s when you make a big song and dance about it and give them their reward! My kids didn’t watch much TV when they were toddlers so this was a big treat!
    Watching TV on the potty helps them relax about the whole situation and allows you to relax too!

  8. Be prepared to hover!

    Be prepared to be stuck like glue to your toddler over the next few days. Forget the housework, forget doing any laundry.
    You’re going to be the wee and poop police for the foreseeable future.
    After the first time your child misses the potty, you will start to notice the warning signs that he needs to wee, and next time you can gently encourage him to sit down for a sticker placing the potty behind him.
    You will also need to be close to hand to bring the potty to your child each time you notice they need to go, as quite often, your child will freeze rather than run to the potty for the first few times.

  9. Don’t nag!

    Your child knows the potty is there, he knows he should be using it, don’t nag him or this might make him dig his heels in even more.
    Don’t get frustrated or cross if he refuses to use the potty. It’s a very stressful time for little ones who are potty training, and getting frustrated with them will make the situation harder for your child. After every accident remind him how well he’s doing to be out of diapers and remind him about the rewards he can have if he can get it in the potty next time.

  10. Don’t be afraid of bribery!

    Now, I know that I will be leaving myself open to a barrage of abuse about why we shouldn’t give our kids chocolate if they’ve gone on the potty, but desperate times can mean desperate measures!
    If my four-year-old won’t potty train and I’ve tried everything else you’re damn right I’m going to bribe him with a small reward when he does use the potty! I’m not talking a huge big chunk of chocolate each time they pee or poop, just a tiny smartie or something of that size. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not going to worry about giving my children a reward to help conquer potty training refusal and you shouldn’t either!

  11. Be your child’s biggest fan.

    Tell them constantly how proud you are of them now they are trying so hard to learn how to go to the bathroom, even if your child refuses to sit on the potty.

  12. Let your child flush!

    Let your child empty their potty down the toilet! My kids loved flushing their business down the toilet. We used to say we were going to feed the toilet fairies! When your child empties their potty, it helps them learn how to flush the loo and wash their hands simultaneously. All this is good practice for learning how to sit on a toilet.

  13. Relax

    Your child will not be in diapers in high school! Every single adult in the world was once a child in diapers. Your child will be potty trained eventually, you’ve just got to learn to unlock the key to what makes your child tick. If you’ve got a 3-year-old who refuses to potty train, it’s not your fault, it’s nothing to do with your parenting skills. Toddlers are a nightmare, fact! Toddlers are unreasonable and potty training a stubborn boy or girl can test the patience of most parents! Nearly every parent I know has had a toddler who refuses to sit on the potty at some time.

  14. Don’t be tempted to go back to nappies.

    If your toddler refuses to sit on the potty, as much as the temptation is great, don’t be tempted to put a nappy back on your child. Weather the storm, and you’ll soon come out the other end. It’s going to be hard work, your child will get distressed at times, but it’s something all kids go through and come out unscathed. Your child will, too, with patience, hard work, and determination from you!

  15. Remember, it will soon be over!

    This, too, shall pass! Soon your child will be diaper free and using the loo all by himself, it’s hard to imagine while you’re going through it, but you’ll get there!

Potty training watch

What To Do When Your Toddler Won’t Poop On The Potty.

Many children refuse to poop on the potty and may demand a diaper. Don’t be tempted to give in! If they poop on the floor, let them know that you’re pleased they’ve done a poo and reward them. Put the poo in the potty, get them to flush it down the toilet, and give them their reward! Move the potty to the place they pooped! If you persevere, they will eventually poop in the potty!

How To Get A Toddler To Use The Toilet Instead Of The Potty.

Once your child is potty trained and out of diapers, you will want to be able to get your child to use the toilet, especially if they are starting school soon. The transition to using the toilet is usually easy, as it’s not such a massive jump from potty to the toilet as it is from diapers to a potty! I used a special potty training seat that goes over the toilet seat like this one which helps the child feel more secure on the toilet. I followed the same reward principle as I did with the potty training, and it seemed to work well.

toddler refuses to sit on the potty , training tools

Read how to remove wee from a mattress in this post.


My 2-year-old doesn’t want to potty train. What should do?

Children as young as 2 years of age may not be ready for potty training. It may be better to wait a little while rather than forcing your child to start potty training if they are refusing to sit on the potty. It’s better to take a step back and leave it till later than push your child before they are comfortable.

I need help with toilet training my 3-year-old before having a new baby. What do I do?

Tell your 3-year old that he is such a big boy, and wouldn’t it be good if he was in his big boy pants and out of his diaper before the baby comes. Show him how to sit on the toilet and explain that as soon as he is potty trained, he will be able to use the bathroom like a big boy. Then follow the steps above when you are ready.

My 4-year-old won’t poop on the potty but does it in the corner of the room instead.

That’s no problem, stay calm and tell her well done for doing a poop, clear it up, put it straight into the potty, and tell her that’s where poops go. Then show her how to flush the poop down the toilet and give her a sicker or reward (whichever you’ve chosen it to be). Get her to put the potty where she pooped and tell her to try to get it in the potty next time. Repeat this until she eventually poops in the potty.

How do I get a toddler to tell when he needs the toilet?

This is a tricky one and often comes from the not very nice experience of having a few accidents! Usually, your child will become quite distressed at having an accident and will try harder to make it to the potty or toilet next time.
Kids can be engrossed in playtime and not realize that they need to go before it’s too late. It’s helpful for parents and grandparents to keep asking the child if they need to go to the toilet every few minutes until they recognize that they need to go. The signs that your toddler may need the toilet and to look out for are:

1) A child fidgeting or hopping from one foot to another
2) A child looking anxious, distressed, or crying
3) A child holding himself or messing about with themselves.
4) A child squatting as if ready to wee or poop.

Potty training boys.

If you’re a parent of boys, this amazing urinal for toddlers will help your little boy perfect his aim! This is excellent practice for little boys starting primary school and especially good for a toddler who refuses to sit on the potty.

How do you cope when your toddler refuses to sit on the potty? Let us know your tips in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “The One Big Reason Your Toddler Refuses To Sit On The Potty!

  1. Jodie says:

    My 2year 10 month old will not even sit down on the potty. She won’t be without a nappy either as she holds the wee in until she is screaming in discomfort. When she has had an accident she goes hysterical and we can’t get her to sit even when she is weeing

    • Clare Davison says:

      Awww, bless her Jodie, I would think about taking a break from potty training for a while. You could always read books about potty training to her in the meantime, I know there were tons in our local library. Some people like to skip the potty stage and just go for an extension on the toilet seat, she may want to copy you when the time feels right. She’s still quite little so you’ve plenty of time to have a break, she will eventually do it in her own time.
      My son used to go hysterical every time he missed the potty but he eventually learnt to hold it back until he got there, but it took a while! Good luck with your little one ❤️

  2. Daniel says:

    My 2y 8m is too impatient, he won’t sit down for longer than 5 seconds and if nothing comes out then he’s done. This has worked well for peeing, but when it comes to pooping, I think he’s a little constipated now because of this. There are times when I know for a fact he has to go poop (and he knows too), but if it doesn’t come out in -5 seconds, then we’re done. No way to convince him to remain seated for a longer time. I don’t know if I should be forcing him to sit as this will obviosly cause a lot of stress which is probably not a good idea to have him associate the potty to a really stressful time… Any advice is very much appreciated!!

    • Clare Davison says:

      Hi Daniel, This is a common problem among toddlers as their attention span is so short. You could try distracting him by either reading a story to him or giving him the iPad in the hope that he will sit until it comes out. If that is unsuccessful and he’s holding it in and becoming constipated I would allow him to poop in his nappy or pull up until he’s ready to sit for longer. I know it seems like a step backward and is frustrating, but it’s a big change and he’s only just getting used to weeing on the potty, he will get there in his own time. I used a lot of bribery at this stage too. My son was horrified the first time he did it in the potty and screamed the house down but eventually learned to do it. he got extra chocolate buttons for a poo!☺️ Good luck!

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