Potty Training Q&A: Refusal, Language Delays, & More

You have potty training questions, and we got an expert to answer them! Dr. Heather Wittenberg is a licensed psychologist with a PsyD degree whose specialty is in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers and parents.

Question: My daughter is 2 and although she will put the step on the potty, knows about the wiping and flushing, when I put her on the potty seat, she screams like a banshee and arches her back.  She doesn't seem as though she is scared of it and we have the little seat with handles that fits over it and will wipe herself and put it in the toilet when I am going, so I am at a loss.  I have tried praise, distraction, books, warm water on the area, etc.  Please help!


Dr. Heather:  When it comes to potty training, some children fiercely hold on to old habits. This is the time to take off all the pressure for 2 or 3 weeks, which will allow time for your child’s own, natural desire to learn the potty to emerge again. You want this to feel like you’re accomplishing something as a team, not dragging your child forward. Have some patience and don’t forget to enjoy the journey – there’s important learning going on here! Visit Pull-Ups.com for more information on overcoming potty training setbacks.

Question: What do you do when a 3yo is not ready to potty train, the language isn't quite there yet?

Dr. Heather:  If there are still no signs of potty training readiness by age 3, check with your child’s pediatrician, who is a crucial partner in your potty training journey. Discuss the language delays you’re experiencing, which can slow down the process of potty training. In the meantime, “show and tell” in the bathroom can help show your child how the potty works.

Question: What are some signs to know when to start potty training and is best to use a potty chair or a seat on the regular toilet?

Dr. Heather:  Common readiness signs include pulling at a wet or dirty diaper, hiding to pee or poop, interest in others’ use of the potty or copying their behavior, having a dry diaper for a longer-than-usual time, awakening dry from a nap or telling you that they’re about to go, going or have just gone in their diaper. There are many different types of potty seats, and it doesn’t really matter what type of seat you choose as long as it interests your child – and works well for your home and family. For more information on readiness signs, visit Pull-Ups.com.

Question: Is it better to start early around 2 or later between 3 and 5years with potty training?

Dr. Heather:  A small percentage of children will be fully trained before they are 24 months old. What’s important is to look for are potty training readiness behaviors, which you can determine by taking this Pull-Ups potty training readiness quiz. This quiz will help you recognize some of these signs of readiness and determine when it’s time to move forward with your family’s potty training adventure!

For more expert answers to your potty-training questions, check out Dr. Heather’s other tips!


Read More >