How to Help a Toddler Who Refuses to Use the Potty: 5 Steps
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Potty training might be a no-go for younger toddlers.

As a parent, you're probably more than ready to ditch the diapers, which is why it's a complete bummer -- pun intended! -- when your little one doesn't seem to be on board. Toddlers shun the potty for a number of reasons, and it's your job to understand what's blocking you from the bliss of diaper-freedom. If you're lucky, a change in circumstances and a little praise will be all that's needed to help your child discover that the potty's not so bad after all.


  1. 1
    Brainstorm reasons why your toddler might be resisting the potty. In some cases, fear of the noise that the toilet makes, the sensation of not wearing undies, or the general atmosphere or smell of the bathroom could upset your little one. Work to remedy the issue by making the bathroom safe and comfortable for him to use -- by installing a potty seat, using air fresheners or flushing after he leaves the room.
  2. 2
    Make the potty more appealing by choosing a potty chair or seat with a favorite character depicted. You could allow your little one to choose his own, or get a plain one that he can decorate with his own stickers and designs. That way, the potty is familiar and fun, not scary and sterile.
  3. 3
    Introduce a rewards program based on your child's successful potty trips. There's no harm in keeping a small candy bowl on your desk to offer a few small treats to entice your little one to go. It might also be helpful to introduce long-term goals and bigger rewards; a trip to the community pool after one week of using the potty, for example, might be enough to keep your little one on track.
  4. 4
    Check the seat for problems that might be stressing out your toddler. Feeling unbalanced or like a fall is imminent can discourage even the most confident potty-user from sitting on the throne. With a step stool and a seat that's well-secured, your little one might be able to master his fears and feel more stable.
  5. 5
    Stop potty training and take a break if the wars rage on. Sometimes, a toddler "refusing" to use the potty is actually a toddler who simply isn't ready to potty train. Chances are that if you go back to diapers or training pants and take a monthlong potty break, your child will mature to the point that using the potty is no big deal. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that some children may not show signs of readiness until 30 months of age or older, so be patient and follow your child's cues.

Things You'll Need

  • Potty chair or seat
  • Stickers
  • Small reward items
  • Step stool

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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