I have been potty training my daughter over the past few days and its not going to well. How can I figure out if she is just not ready for it or I should try other techniques. We came up with a sticker chart to give her motivation and prizes for going but no luck so far.

She is 2 1/2 years old and she seems to comprehend what we are saying but its not triggering when she has to go. Any advice would be great.

What is interesting, she seems to have the pooping part down but for some reason doesn't recognize peeing.

  • In addition to the detailed answers below, I would just like to say: keep at it! Seriously, never give up no matter how bad it seems to get. I went through similar issues with my daughter, and it sometimes quite literally happens overnight. The child suddenly gets it, and everything goes much more smoothly.
    – TheBuzzSaw
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 20:05

7 Answers 7


Few days is just too short to draw the conclusions.

I would say — continue to do what your were doing, and:

  1. Make sure she is not wearing a nappy any time she is awake.
  2. Watch for the signs that she is about to pee and help her to sit down on the potty. Initially she wont be willing to sit for longer than a minute - but try to keep her sitting by distracting or entertaining her while she seated.
  3. Even if she did pee already, get her on the potty after that - idea is to establish a mental link between peeing and sitting on her potty ("going to the toilet").

We have been using a clothes free method when we are home. Even underwear are tight around the legs like a diaper, so they don't quite recognize the difference. If you are concerned about your home, like I am, send her outside. Our son loves to run around the backyard and when he wets he looks down and tells us. It might take a couple of intensive days and even then some kiddos just won't do it if Mom and Dad want it too badly because it is something they have power over.

Day 1- Totally clothes free at home. Focus on pottying and nothing else.

Day 2- Totally clothes free at home. Be out of the house with no diaper or underwear- just loose pants. Maybe go for a walk to the park. Try to avoid the car or anything tight around the legs.

Day 3- Totally clothes free at home. Maybe she can wear a t-shirt or some loose pants, but try to let her have as much freedom as possible. Try being out of the house for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Still loose clothing, but no underwear or diaper and try to avoid a car seat.

As the days progress, try to give her as much clothes free time until she really gets the hang of it. It saves on laundry, but it also eliminates the subconscious feeling of having something to catch the "stuff". When she has an "accident" try not to use negative language- just reinforce what you want her to do. "Our pee pee goes in the potty".

Our son is almost 2 1/2 and we have used a sticker chart to set goals and earn rewards. He does really well with that, but given that generally boys take longer to potty train, we are still working on it. We use this method and sometimes he does really well and sometimes he is just too busy. The good news is that kids rarely go to kindergarten still making messes in their pants. They all get it eventually. Good Luck!

  • You must live someplace pretty warm -- around here, unless your child happens to be ready for potty training during exactly the right 3 months of the year, going unclothed outside is just Not An Option.
    – JPmiaou
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 23:19

As every single child will be different in their approach to potty training, I am not even sure there is a "right" answer to your question.

A few tips we've used.

  • Just wait. If it's not working, it's not working. There's no golden rule about what age a kid should be trained (if of course it doesn't go above a certain age where other problems might be involved). When we "started", it just didn't work so we let it be for a while, and came back to it every other week or so.
  • Be consistent. Put the potty in a place easy to access, easy for her to remember and to see, so she is reminded. We put the potty in the bathroom at the beginning (near the bathtub) and she ended up using it. When she was trained enough and we went on to nights, we put it by the side of the bed every night for a while, and after some time, checking it in the evening when she had fallen asleep, we found it full.
  • Give her options. We found the "underwear"-type diapers are great for the transition, as they give a sense of security and at the same time work like underwear. The nights were the hardest to get straight and "underwear"-type diapers helped a lot.
  • Ask early, ask often. Without being a bully about it, of course, just ask her if she wants to go. Sometimes, I've found that my going to the toilet and telling her actually triggered her wanting to go as well.
  • Make sure she's comfortable on the potty. Some kids don't like to have people around when they go (my daughter was like that and would ask me to leave) for example. Others on the contrary may want to be entertained. Make sure it's not too low, or too high, or too tight, or too whatever... It should be a relief, not anything distressing.
  • Play it down when it does not work and she does in her pants. Sh** happens, she shouldn't feel like it's the end of the world. However, do give her a sense of responsibility when it happens (like asking her to put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket or something). Rewards (your sticker thing) can work well, I've found sweets (yes, shame on me) to be the best working rewards.
  • Play it by ear. That should actually be my only advice. Just listen to the parent in you and don't worry, it will happen in due time.

At 6 months they pee every 20 - 30min, almost always after eating / nursing / drinking or after waking up and they usually have to poo after eating / nursing because the new food puts pressure on the intestines. If you start holding them and not sitting them down, the additional pressure of bend knees makes it easier to relax. However, this is for the young ones. At about 10 months, the between pee period begins to lengthen and they can hold on for an hour or more. If you carry a baby, they usually do not soil themselves or their mother unless they absolutely have to.

The below tips worked with our 1 year old. Try to start potty training before they get into the phase of defiance.

  • Start with a two to three days journal and write down the time they pee. Leave them without clothes / simple cotton pants on a blanket and keep a huge stash of paper towels beside you. Bring them to the potty every 30 min but only for 2min sitting (after eating can be a bit longer like 5min).

  • Use a key word. Nothing complex. Only one or two words to say when they pee or when you put them onto the potty. Be sure to not use the keyword in any other circumstance (also not when telling them that you are almost home and they should not keyword until you are there).

  • Do not interrupt very intense playing or eating to bring them to the potty. They could consider it a punishment.

  • Always bring them to the potty when you come home, before you leave home, before you sit them on the table to eat, when they leave the table after a meal, when they get up from bed, before they go to bed, before taking a bath.

  • Do not ask if they have to pee. At a young age they do not understand the question and later, they answer what they want despite the real need to pee. Just tell them you go to the potty and do it.

  • If they protest bodily to be put on a potty, do not force it. They might try to signal that they do not have to pee. Respect that (even if you know it is not true and they pee in their pants two minutes later). They usually know if they have to or not.

  • Maybe bring some entertainment. A small book for example. Very popular even with grown men.

  • Do not work with candy. Praise them in case of success and if you want to give a reward, give them toilet paper afterwards or allow them to flush the toilet.

  • Be a good example and let them see you using the toilet.

  • Do not get frustrated with drawbacks. If an accident occurs, tell them they should use the potty but do not shame them and do not yell at them. Sometimes, they use it as protest. Our toddler can play alone but when he pleads for attention and nothing happens, he will wet his pants.

  • Be prepared for experiments. They will try to take something out of the potty (yuck) or put something in which is not meant for it (like socks).

  • If you can not manage to bring them to the potty every 30min (at 14 months, we are at 90min intervals), maybe start with a few hours of diaper-free time every day (their skin will thank you for it). Do this in the afternoon since they can hold on longer then.

Do not expect a miracle but put trust in them. At 14 months, our toddler is still wearing diapers at night or when we are in town for longer than 1 hour. But he hasn't pooped in his diapers since he was 8 months and most of the time, the diapers he wears at daytime stay dry. There is no need to be done with potty training in one week but there is also no need to wait until a certain age. A one year old will not get psychic problems when being put on a potty (as long as you do not force it). View it like this: Being dry and in proper clothes is a basic right for children too. Do not force them to soil themselves by putting diapers on their bottom. Small birds, cats, dogs and other animals do not want to soil their nest/layer. It is the same for small humans. In addition, not having access to parts of their own body (their nether regions) for two years and longer due to a plastic package on their bottom is not very nice.

Read some books / blogs / forums on elimination communication / diaper-free to get some inspiration / alternative insights even if you do not practice this method.


We used the "boot camp" method with our daughter. When she started to show interest in the potty and awareness of when she had to use the bathroom (around 18 months) we took a long weekend and spent 3 days focusing on just this.

We set piddle pads all around our living room, put all of her favorite toys in a large but confined area (about 15 feet x 15 feet), had 2 training pottys, and camped out there all weekend. She wore no pants/diaper/pullup at all during the time.

Day 1 was a disaster. Pee and poop everywhere.

Day 2 was much better, she began to regularly make it to the potty in time.

Day 3 most of the hard work was done. We took her to church in the morning and put a pull up on her, which she soiled, but things went quite well.

She's now 26 months old and is pretty well potty trained. Every once in a while she has an accident, but they're becoming fewer and farer between. She wears regular underwear except when she sleeps, but even then 60-80% of the time the pullup is dry in the morning. We just got tired of having to wash her sheets every other day


My husband potty trained our son in a single weekend with only occasional accidents following the next few weeks using this strategy. It was time consuming but well worth the extra effort since I had been trying for several weeks with little progress.

Push liquids all day offering them continuously throughout the day. No diaper or pull ups. Take to the potty every hour. Sit on the potty and read or tell a brief low key story while turning on the faucet to create a relaxing environment. Speak in a soft soothing voice to encourage relaxation of the body and bladder.

Reward child for sitting on potty - not just for peeing in it. The combination of a full bladder, frequent opportunity, relaxation and reward led to success.

Of course, we waited to begin this process until he exhibited signs that he was ready. These included being dry when awake in mornings, alerting us as soon as he wet his diaper and requesting a change.

No matter the outcome, remember, this too shall pass!


Use a timer and go every 30 minutes, take your child to the bathroom and sit then on the toilet. It helps them. Also encouragement! Don't focus on the times that there was an accident, focus on the times they used the toilet. Stickers or something special as a reward.

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