Potty training a strong willed child

We never potty trained our first child. When the time came, she managed it all herself. She went cold turkey on diapers one day and never looked back.

I assumed with our second child that if we were patient enough, the same would happen. I should have known better. My second daughter loves to prove how different she is from our first and potty training was no different. For the first time I’ve found myself pulling out all the tricks I can find to help entice her to make this decision on her own.

Today I offer my advice from the potty training trenches. We’ve had successes and failures and we’re not quite there yet but we’re making progress. Do you have any additional advice to share? I’d really love to know!

1. Remember it’s on their timetable: This is one of the few things children have absolute control over. There is no “making them” potty train. If you’re really struggling, back off and try again after some time has passed.

2. Rewards Rewards Rewards!!: I had an excellent chat with our pediatrician this morning about our struggles. She said we need to have rewards with very strong incentive. She suggested we keep a jar of jelly beans at the ready for rewards for success. I was a little shocked the doctor suggested such regular sweet treats but she insisted it was a temporary solution until things became habit.

3. Rewarding habitual success: Once your child has made the connection on what is expected on the throne, you might want to back off the steady stream of sweet treats.  We’ve been using the Princess & Fairy Dress-up Stickers Roll as our incentive for several months. My daughter is thrilled to pick either a princess or a fairy to add to her growing collection permanently displayed on our fridge.


 4. Conquering the fear of public restrooms: I discovered one of the things holding my daughter back is that she is worried we won’t find potties out in public. Whether or not she has need for using them, I’ve started to make a habit to visit the public restroom at every store or restaurant we visit. I make it a point to show her where they are and use them myself so she sees that we will always find one when she needs.

5. Take the plunge!: Despite having her pick of character themed big girl pants, my little one would absolutely 100% rather have a Pull Up on at any given moment. Rather than ask her to switch over full time, I finally offered her the chance to experiment in small safe time chunks for wearing her big girl pants. At her preschool she knows where the potty is and the teachers are great about making time for potty breaks. It was the perfect scenario to finally send her without diapers for one session to see how it went. She was so proud to tell me at the end of the day that she stayed dry.

Looking for more advice on potty training? Check out these great ideas from the other blog ambassadors:

Stacy has an adorable idea for introducing the concept of potty training at the start.

Allison has a fantastic list of potty training books. It’s a great way to get that conversation kick started!

And be sure to check out the other awesome sticker collections for your own reward charts!


tiffanydahleprofileTiffany Dahle is the hostess behind Peanut Blossom where she shares her belief that strong families start with strong and happy mothers. She encourages you to develop everyday possibilities for stretching your creativity while doing what you do to keep that household running!

You can find Tiffany on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Pinterest.



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Potty training a strong-willed child






  1. This is a great post. We are in the middle of trying to potty train our son. Strong willed is a great descriptor for our son.

    We have found small success on many things when we read to him about the subject. We love Everyone Poops and The Potty Book for Boys. It helps us start a conversation about the topic without forcing the issue. He pulls out the book and we read it to him and then we talk about his potty usage.

    I’ve also found to my husband’s chagrin, that our son will go pee in the bathtub just before we run a bath. I allow it and justify it by saying that it’s giving him a sense of body awareness. Like most things in motherhood, I’m just winging it here. 🙂

    We also are trying the rewards system, though we have chosen to use Twizzlers. We then break it in half if he simply sits on the potty. He gets a full one if he pees or poops.

    Finally, I’ve found that my son will find a port-a-potty EVERYWHERE. He won’t use one, but he finds them. “Mommy! Mommy! A red/blue/green/etc potty!” I didn’t know my city had so many of them! Maybe try pointing those out to your daughter so that she can see that potties aren’t just in buildings.

    Best of luck to you on your potty training adventure.

  2. Taking a look a public restrooms is a great idea. Maybe instead of asking “Do you want to go the bathroom?” I will ask if wants to just check it out and look at the bathroom while we are at a store. I think this will help. Thanks!