Why I Stopped Potty Training

Please welcome Matt to Lil-Kid-Things! This story rings all too true my friends. ALL too true.

As an at-home dad to a two-year old little girl, I was really not looking forward to potty training. I’m not weirded out by girls, as you can clearly tell because of my ability to produce offspring, but they’re just different. If I had a boy, I could just show him what do do. But with a daughter, I have to try to think like a woman, and teach her the way a woman would, recognizing all the while that I’m probably doing it wrong.  But being the man that I am, and with my wife encouraging me to be ahead of the curve with our little girl, we tried potty training at 18 months. I know, I know, that’s early. But apparently some kids can do it!

The first time we tried potty training – oh yeah, I said first – we tried to use the bare bottom method. The theory is that the child will feel herself peeing and realize, “Hey, that’s not right!” and will somehow communicate this to you before they are done.  This doesn’t work for children that don’t think peeing on themselves is a problem.  She peed on the couch. She peed on the floor. She peed on the stairs. She peed in her high chair. Apparently, my kid just loves to pee on herself.  So we went back to diapers for a while.

My second attempt to potty train my daughter was right after she turned two. Mommy wanted to try the training underwear. They are basically panties made out of wool socks. They are thick and absorbent.  I exhausted my supply of eight pairs, even with my repeated questioning of “Do you have to go potty?” all day long. Training underwear must feel a lot like a diaper because my daughter would sit on the potty and do nothing.  As soon as the next pair was on, BAM! Pee pee.  So much for that method.  At least she didn’t poop in them.

A few weeks ago, we took a vacation with my wife’s family, and we decided that when we returned, it would be hard core potty training time. We tried the bare bottom method again. We thought that we would have more success this time since my daughter is a few months older and has asked more questions related to bathroom activities and toiletry. She did very well with mommy on Sunday, hitting the potty two out of four peeing episodes. I think this was because my wife would sit her down on the potty every few minutes whether she said she had to go or not. Even a blind squirrel can find a nut with that kind of help. The point of potty training is for my daughter to recognize that she has to pee, and then tell me she has to go. She does not seem to realize this yet. She tells me after she pees, if she tells me at all. When I asked her at least a dozen times before her first accident on Monday, she always said, “No.” While she was watching Sesame Street, I left the room to do some dishes. I kept checking in to ask her if she had to go and “No” was the answer every time. Then she peed on the floor. “Daddy, I pee peed!” Awesomesauce.

I changed my strategy a little bit after the first accident. I put her on the potty every fifteen minutes whether she said she had to go or not. It worked for my wife, right? Not for me. She would just sit there and do nothing. Three accidents later – before nap time, mind you – I called it quits again.  She had peed on the rug.  She peed on the floor.  When we went up to her room to play, she even peed on some books after I just asked her if she had to go!  I had to stop before she ruined all of her toys!

I had tried everything, motivation with stickers and marshmallows, big girl underwear, bare bottom method, even just leaving her on the potty for extended periods of time. Nothing was working. After doing a little research, I discovered that she’s probably just not ready.  Not ready?  This was unacceptable!  She is a really smart kid.  She can recognize all of the capital letters of the alphabet.  She speaks in full sentences.  She has various songs memorized, and can sing them verbatim.  She knows what an octagon is!  There’s no way my kid isn’t ready for this! Right?

I suppose it’s possible that we were selfishly trying to get her to act beyond her capabilities for our own peace of mind (And budget! Have you seen the price of diapers?!). My wife was particularly disappointed that she will not potty train early. I tried to assure her that our daughter will be potty trained before Kindergarten. That didn’t seem to alleviate her concern, but I quickly pointed to several articles by respected experts in the narrow field of potty training, and we agreed to stop until my daughter shows more signs of readiness.  I really hope it happens before Kindergarten.  I have heard that wearing diapers at age five can really make it difficult to make friends.  At least she didn’t poop anywhere.

Matt Peregoy is TheRealMattDaddy.  He lives with his wife and daughter in Gettysburg, PA. Click here to read more about our contributors!

***photo credit


  1. says

    Man o man. This brings back memories. Potty training the twins was quite the adventure. Well it was an adventure with one (because she wasn’t ready – surprise!) and the other took too it right away (because she was ready!). Just going to leave my little comment about how we did it because it worked oh so well with the one that was ready (Names withheld to protect.. well me when they are teenagers!). We did the whole boot camp thing. You put them in a a t-shirt and PANTIES. No bare bottoms. Then you pump them full of juice or whatever else they will drink. The theory is to catch them in the act of peeing. When they start to pee – you grab them up and run them to the potty and hopefully they finish there. Again the idea being that they start to associate that feeling of peeing with needing to head to the potty – fast! Yes there was pee on the floor.. you have to expect that. But having the panties on makes it uncomfortable.. they can feel that cold wet ick when they have an accident. After 3 accidents the twin who was ready had it down and she was running to the potty herself or telling us she needed to go. One weekend and we had it. Her sister took another 7 months or so.. being ready is the name of the game I guess. Lecture over.
    Sarah Shingler´s last blog post ..Rain and Shine

  2. Jessie H says

    I love this!! Our now 3 year old son is STILL not interested. It’s killing me, but I know that pushing them into it before they want to just makes them regress more easily and it’s not worth it.

    Plus, we use cloth diapers for both our kids so it’s not a cost issue for us. Would I like to have half the diaper laundry that I currently have? Sure! But it’s really not hard & I would be washing diapers for our 14 month old anyway.

  3. Andrea says

    I totally feel this post! Every time we ask Oscar if he wants to use the potty he says, No thank you! Tomorrow I will….one day, tomorrow will come…right?

  4. says

    I think most people make the mistake of trying to PT when they are ready, rather than when their child is ready. Having trained a pack thus far I know that’s just asking for frustration, puddles, and tears. And, the child gets upset, too.
    Kids are ready at different ages. One of mine got it right everytime all by herself from 17 months on. I had another who struggled well past 3. They have to have the physical development, the bodily awareness, AND the desire to do it. Until then, the smartest thing is to wait. If they haven’t got it down by college, they’ll figure it out at the dorm!
    Great post!
    gina valley´s last blog post ..Drills We Actually NEED To Have

  5. says

    Man, we’re having the same problem. And I’ve got a boy. I’ve showed him “what to do” enough times that it started to feel like I was just giving him a show. He even got so close once that I dribbled on his head. He knows he’s got to go and just won’t. Or, he doesn’t know, and goes. I know some of it is spite because he’ll tell us he has to go, so we’ll walk him in, he’ll stand there (or sit there) for a second, then tell us he doesn’t have to go. Then, we walk back out into the living room and he’s gone. Oh. Hell. No.
    Zach Rosenberg´s last blog post ..Episode 034: We’re All Out Of Bubblegum

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