3 Simple Steps to Potty Training Stubborn Toddlers!


3 Simple Steps to Potty Training Stubborn Toddlers!


Have you decided to potty train? Loaded up on all the potty training equipment? Talked it up until you’re blue in the face?

You feel like you have an idea how you’re going to do it but not 100% confident about what to do and what to expect?

Here is the biggest truth about potty training…

We have ZERO control. It’s all up to them. Scary I know.

All we can do is set them up for success.

As a potty-training consultant, oh crap potty training specialist and mom of two, I can tell you that you WILL likely face roadblocks and resistance.

But what if I told you that resistance does NOT mean they are not ready. We actually expect resistance.

Holding, accidents, refusing to sit, fears, daycare accidents, tantrums, power struggles…I’ve seen it all and all of these are normal parts of learning.

So how do you handle them? what do you do?

Step 1: Adjust and set expectations

Setting realistic expectations and following age-specific strategies, is the key to success.

Toddlers (18 months) can absolutely learn to potty training; however, the learning curve is longer and there is more parental guidance needed – The learning part will require more time. Children (3+) however, face the obstacle of not necessarily learning but of power struggles and independence.

If we understand the learning process, how toddlers connect each of these steps cognitively and how to get them participating in learning, we will have success and avoid the stress that parents feel when “they are just not getting it, as fast as we expect”.


Step 2: Get your child involved

Get your child involved as much as possible. Talk to them about it and help them understand what to expect. Setting expectations not only for yourself but for your toddlers is an important part of the process.

Role playing is a great tool that will help them “play out” what to expect. This not only gives them ownership over the process but gives them a feeling of control.

They can help pick out the colour of the potty, some books to read while on the potty and a date when to get started (under your guidance of course).

Keep it light and fun! Too much pressure will cause push back so let them take the lead as much as possible.

Step 3: Know when to back off

Pressure, forcing them to sit or tears during potty training don’t help create space for learning.

It’s important for us as parents to know when it’s a good time to prompt and when it’s appropriate to provide space.

If you feel potty training has become a tug of war, the best thing to do is to let go of your end of the rope.

Directing and then providing opportunities for self-initiation is key. Toddlers need to do this on their own or they will develop fears and aversions to potty training.

Instead of asking often, try reminding and then backing off. If you ask a toddler if they have to go every minute the answer will likely be no. If you remind and trust them to go on their own, they will feel safe and able to relax.

In the end, potty training toddlers takes some preparation and guidance, it’s not without its bumps in the road. It’s a BIG milestone and takes some patience, however learning this life-long skill is a huge milestone that you can overcome!

Reach out if you have any questions!


Written by Lily Horbatiuk, Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Potty Training Consultant and “Oh Crap” Potty Training Specialist.

Lily is the mama behind Lil Baby Sleep with two little one’s herself. She provides customized support to help parents conquer developmental milestones with ease.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lilbabysleep

Free Potty Training Readiness quiz: https://www.lilbabysleep.ca/pottytrainingdownload

Lil Potty Plan: https://www.lilbabysleep.ca/lilpottyplan

Website: www.lilbabysleep.com

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