Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Potty Training

Question: My daughter is 27 months now and is very intelligent. I have had no problem getting her to pee in the potty & she even has gone poop twice. She now is refusing to tell me if she even has to go pee. I ask her about every 10 minutes if she has to go, but she will never admit if she really does.

Help!! I thought that she was doing so good and I don't understand why she won't go anymore. I have tried everything that I can think of as well as taken advise from magazines and books. Not even for a sticker book or a treat will she do it anymore. I am starting to get so frustrated that I have said some things to her which I'm worried that will affect her wanting to go even more now because I put too much pressure on her. <>p> I understand that some kids aren't ready until they are 3 but my babysitter is really pushing to get her trained & she won't go for her either. Any advise would be really appreciated. - Melody

Answer: It sounds like you've hit a roadblock in potty training. Your daughter was doing very well until? Is there something that happened to cause your daughter to take some steps back?

As I listen to you, I hear some frustration (been there, done that)! As with all milestones in a child's development, it's best if he or she go at their own pace. If a child (or adult for that matter) feels pressured to perform, they might just refuse to or even regress.

Rewards would be a nice treat, but the strong desire for autonomy and independence in a toddler will supersede any reward. If your toddler feels too overwhelmed by having to be out of diapers (pressured), one thing he or she will do is completely refuse to use the potty or have lots of accidents. If a situation such as this arises, please look at it as if both of you need a break. Anger and frustration can result, leading to the battle of the bowels! Control is a major issue in toilet training as well as most other milestones.

As parents and role models to our children, we must be confident and consistent in a gentle way. By virtue of the toddler's stage of development, it appears as if "The world revolves around me." Being naturally self centered, it may be difficult to reason with your toddler.

Picking up cues such as your daughter has displayed, and continuing to encourage or force training, will eventually lead to rebellion on her part. She may already be doing so by resisting all efforts on your part or anyone involved in her care (including the baby-sitter)! The best thing at this point would be to sit back and see what it is that may be causing this setback.

It may be best to not pursue potty training for a week or two. There may be renewed interest and your daughter may be receptive to trying again. It will allow a brief period of "time out." (For everyone.)

If you feel yourself becoming too frustrated, please try and remember that your daughter looks to you and responds to your actions. Speak to your child's pediatrician. Find out where parenting classes are given. These classes are a wonderful source of support. There are also books and videos available on the topic.

Good luck with potty training!
Dr. Betti

Also see:

  • More about potty training
  • Are vaccines safe?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.