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The definition of strong-willed you’ll find in the dictionary is “determined to do as one wants even if other people advise against it.” Synonyms of strong-willed are determined, willful, strong-minded, and resolute. These are also very valuable characteristics in a person. However, a strong-willed toddler is truly a challenge for parents!

I have a wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, funny, and strong-willed little girl that I am just crazy about. Some days she just makes me crazy. I’ve always known that the things about her that make her a challenge to me now are also the things I want teach her how to use to harness her full potential.

The girl was still living inside of me and I was already nervous about the potty training stage. I’m not sure why, but it just seemed like a huge challenge to me and one that I was unprepared to handle. Once she came out and I began to get to know her personality I started to downright dread potty training. This is not a child who is interested in doing something just because I suggest it to her. She doesn’t care if she makes a mess. She’s not concerned with any punishments that I may threaten. This girl will go without yummy candy treats before she gives in to my simple request that she put her pee in the potty instead of on the dog. Seriously. BUT if it’s her idea and I give some positive reinforcements, then she’s all about it!

When my girl was two and a half years old I decided it was time for potty training. The first week was an ever living nightmare! Seriously, pee EVERYWHERE. There was a lot of crying and screaming and yelling… almost all from me. WHY was this so hard for my brilliant little child to understand! As it turns out… it wasn’t hard. She did understand. She did not, however, CARE that I wanted her to learn to use the toilet. Peeing on the couch and then watching mama cry is just soooo much more entertaining!

Then it happened… at the end of week one this mama got smart. See, the kind and sanity-saving people over at Pull-Ups® invented these miraculous little disposable underpants. And God bless them for doing this! I bought a pack, drank a custom coffee drink to calm down, and let my strong-willed girl figure it out. Miracle of miracles, it worked!

http://www.pull-ups.com

Here are my favorite potty training tips that just might help a whole lot as you prepare to potty train your amazing little strong-willed CEO in the making:

The Pull-Ups® Magic
Here’s the thing: I hate pee on my carpet. Pee sinking in to my couch is likely to make me scream. I can’t help it. Call me weird, but pee on my stuff makes me nuts. When there is pee seeping in to the padding of my carpet, I get irrational. Maybe it’s just me (no… I know it’s not!). So Pull-Ups® training pants save my sanity and I get to be a calm, happy mama instead of a ranting lunatic pulling the couch apart to sop up my kids urine wherever it may be found. When I’m not freaking out about poop on my kitchen floor, I’m so much more free to be my girls cheerleader as she learns the all important skill of using a toilet.
My sweet, strong-willed little girl reacted very well to the “big girl Pull-Ups®” because it took the pressure off of her and allowed potty training to be a little more relaxed, fun process. She loved the Ariel, Minnie Mouse, and Doc McStuffins characters printed on them. She enjoyed the praise and little treats she was rewarded with when she used the potty. After one week of low stress potty training with Pull-Ups® I had a fully daytime potty trained child. Woo hoo!

http://www.pull-ups.com

Positive Reinforcement
Pushing, demanding, and mandating your strong-willed child to use the toilet is very likely to fail, or at least make your lives miserable in the process. They want to feel that they’re making the decision for themselves. They want to feel independent. I used positive words like “amazing!”, “big girl!”, “I’m so proud!” whenever she made a good decision and worked hard to minimize my reaction to accidents.
Excited and positive behavior reinforcements can include some of these:

  • A treat jar
  • A silly potty dance
  • A funny potty song
  • Mommy/daddy cheering for child
  • Stickers on a potty chart

What other positive reinforcements do you use to encourage your child in potty training? Let us know in the comments!

Big Rewards
My daughter really wanted to wear regular underwear, so I reminded her that once she was dry in her Pull-Ups® training pants all day then she could wear the “big girl underwear.” This was a fun reward that she looked forward to and caused her to be more motivated to use the toilet. I’ve heard other friends say they purchased a big toy that their child wanted and put it out of reach of the child and reminded him/her throughout the day that the present would be theirs once they were ready to only pee and poop on the toilet. This really seems to be helpful to some children.

Start at the Right Time
When is the right time to begin potty training? It really all depends on your child. I rarely hear of parents having great success when they begin potty training very early (unless the toddler initiates it). More often than not starting early prolongs the process. I had amazing results with potty training my daughter at two and a half years old. It seems that starting sometime after the child turns two and at least a few months before they turn three is a really good window.

Set a Timer
A simple kitchen timer can be a great tool in potty training. Set a timer for an hour and explain that when it goes off your child needs to sit on the potty and try to pee or poop. After your child uses the toilet, start the timer again. Also, there’s an app for that! Find the Pull-Ups® Time to Potty App by clicking here.

Doc McStuffins Uses the Toilet Too!
I love that there are so many great videos, TV shows, toys, books, and songs all about potty training! These are fantastic for helping little ones decide they want to be potty trained too.

Avoid the Power Struggle
If you come to a place where your child becomes upset whenever you ask him/her to use the toilet, you may need to back off a bit. It’s really clear to me that often when I push, my daughter pushes right back. The best thing for me to do is back off a little and then slowly work on ways to help her come up with the idea herself. It’s like a mommy ninja… sneakily planting ideas in my kids head! I might say things like “wow! Did you know Emily only goes potty on the toilet now? Isn’t she such a big girl!” (only works if “Emily” is my child’s BFF) or “Hmmm… look at these yummy treats in this jar! They look sooo good! It will be really nice when I can give you one…”

If at First You Don’t Succeed…
There are many things that can delay potty training for some children. It can be so difficult for parents to avoid becoming discouraged with the process. Especially if you’ve been working with your now three year old for some time with minimal results. There is a certain point where you may need to let your doctor know that your child isn’t potty trained.
Keep at it and it will happen eventually. I know, that’s little comfort. Some children just need a little more time to work it all out than others.

Other Awesome Tips:

  • Use Pull Ups for all ready potty trained toddlers and preschoolers when you fly. Little ones are often not able to hold their pee for very long. So imagine you’re on an airplane, seatbelt signs are on and no one can move around the cabin… then your three year old must pee. NOW. There is no mercy for the parent and child in this situation. A Pull-Up® is great insurance in case your little one just cannot hold it any longer.
  • Before beginning potty training, allow your little one to shop for their special Pull-Ups® training pants with you. When you get the Pull-Ups® home change your child into them and let them see themselves in the mirror. Express excitement by saying “what a big girl/boy I have!” “Pull-Ups® look awesome on you!”
  • Try kicking off potty training with a fun potty training party. This can be a fun little party for the family that can include special treats (pizza or spaghetti, cupcakes or cookies… whatever your child would enjoy), funny party hats, noise makers, and simple decorations. Mark the start of potty training with fun!

Pull-Ups® offers some awesome online tools to help you and your child in the potty training process. Visit the Pull-Ups® website to enroll your child in the Big Kids Academy. You can also find Pull-Ups on Pinterest, YouTube, and Facebook for more great tips and resources that you and your child will love!

Pull-Ups® training pants come in sizes 2T–3T (18- 34 lbs.);
3T–4T (32–40 lbs.) and 4T–5T (38+ lbs.). The new designs featuring Doc
McStuffins and Ariel for girls, and Jake and the Never Land Pirates and
Lightning McQueen for boys.

I found Pull-Ups® for my daughter at my local Kroger store:

http://www.pull-ups.com

Pull-Ups and GoodNites Potty Training Sweepstakes

Happy potty training!

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12 Comments on Potty Training My Strong-Willed Child

  1. Claire C.
    January 21, 2015 at 1:07 am (3 years ago)

    She is SO cute! We have a while until potty training (my baby is only 9 months) but I will definitely come back to this when we get there! So glad I came across your blog it's great!

    Reply
  2. touristmeetstraveler
    January 21, 2015 at 3:39 am (3 years ago)

    She is such a cutie, I remember potty training; it wasn't that bad but I have heard some stories that are really unbelievable!

    Reply
  3. Emily Stephens
    January 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm (3 years ago)

    So many great tips here! Having a strong willed child myself, I can appreciate what you're going through! Glad potty training was a success for you – and your daughter. #client

    Reply
  4. Kristy @ Rejoice and Repeat
    January 26, 2015 at 1:55 am (3 years ago)

    Stopping by from the link-up. This was great! We've been working our way in and out of potty training only because our gal seemed interested. These tips will come in handy when we dive in again.

    Reply
  5. Natasha Johnson
    January 26, 2015 at 3:29 am (3 years ago)

    I love the Time To Potty App. My little potty training Tot loves earning the reward of playing a game. She was going to the pot just to get the reward. Great tips.

    Reply
  6. Natasha Johnson
    January 26, 2015 at 3:29 am (3 years ago)

    I love the Time To Potty App. My little potty training Tot loves earning the reward of playing a game. She was going to the pot just to get the reward. Great tips.

    Reply
  7. Amy Will
    January 26, 2015 at 7:14 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing these potty training tips! We are thinking about potty training our toddler, though I'm not quite sure he is ready yet at 21 months. Waiting a little longer until I'm sure he's ready! There is so much pressure to train early it seems… I appreciate the tips from a potty-training experienced parent! I've heard boys can be difficult potty trainers and I'm just shooting for a positive experience whenever the time is right 🙂
    Amy @ http://www.livinglifetruth.com/

    Reply
  8. Kim Ruth
    January 28, 2015 at 3:21 am (3 years ago)

    All 3 of my older girls have been so different potty training, my youngest is now 3 and she is the pure definition of strong willed lol. I will have to pick up a pack of pullups this week and see if that helps, she has yet to do anything on the potty but sit there, mess around, wash hands, flush, etc. Thanks for the tips, I'm glad it worked for your little girl!

    Reply
  9. Jennifer Carwile
    September 28, 2015 at 12:54 am (2 years ago)

    I am struggling with my 3 yr old daughter, she wants nothing to do with it and battles me nothing keeps her there long enough to do anything, and if she gets upset she ends up vomiting. So it a huge battle. I know she gets it, and knows what she is supposed to do, but she will hold it for hours before she will go on the potty, and by that time it's too late and wets herself . Or she will wet herself then go upstairs and change her clothes. Now when we ask her if she wants to wear underwear today, it's a No, and then starts to cry. So it's going to be a long road, and not enough patients left.

    Reply
    • Wits End
      April 22, 2016 at 7:37 pm (1 year ago)

      My daughter is four and a half and I cannot get her interested in using the toilet. Have tried charts, rewards, games, apps, but no success. She says she is not ready. Her twin brother has been trained for ages, but she resists and resists. No physical problem, is very smart and has no social problems and is a sweet, good natured girl except when using the potty is concerned. She won’t even sit on the toilet or put on underwear. Her school lets her go to kindergarten half time in a pull up even though the rules say kids should be trained. Help. Any suggestions

      Reply
      • Kira | A Better Life Lived
        June 3, 2017 at 1:54 pm (4 months ago)

        I don’t know if you’ll see this, but if you do, I have a suggestion! I cannot for the life of me remember where I read it, maybe a blog or parents magazine, but it was an amazing trick the parents used in just this situation. They had a son who had started but then reverted and just refused. Didn’t care about being a big boy or if his friends or sibling were using the potty. So what they did was they bought the same diapers he used (since he knew what they looked like) in a way too small size. When they tried to change him, it didn’t fit, of course. So they told him he didn’t fit in diapers anymore and he would have to start wearing underwear and using the potty now. They really worked on it over the course of that weekend (I think it was a three day weekend) and by the end of it, it was exclusively using the toilet. They had to remove the diapers as being an option. He knew deep down he couldn’t sit in wet pants and just pee on himself, although he did a bit the first day or two, so he got with the program. Maybe it helped that he didn’t feel like they were forcing it. it was more of an “uh oh, I’m too big, now I have a reason to use the potty.” If you try it, best of luck!

        Reply

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