Easy Solutions to Common Potty Training Problems

When you’re ready to potty train your toddler, making the move from diapers to big kid underwear isn’t always easy.

That means your toddler is sure to hit some snags along the way.

Running into potty training problems is a common occurrence among parents, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re up against before you start!

Here are some of the most common issues you may face when you’re on the road to ditching the diaper for good and the solutions to get you back on track so you know exactly what to do if your toddler is facing a problem while toilet training.

Toddler girl crying while sitting on a toilet as her mother consoles her

Common Potty Training Problems

Before you get started, it’s important to remember that these issues are called “common” for a reason.

No two kids are alike, but there is a lot of overlap when it comes to potty training struggles.

Most kids will encounter at least one of these problems before they’re completely potty trained, and that’s alright!

Knowing that these things will more than like take place will help you be more prepared with the tools you need to get through them.

Resistance to Potty Training

The beginning stages of potty training can be difficult on both you and your child. So, if your toddler is resisting the process, it’s completely normal.


You’ll typically see resistance to using the potty during the first stage of the training process. And usually, it means that your child isn’t ready.

Resistance can come about in a variety of different ways, like:

  • Crying or saying “no” when asked to use the toilet
  • Resistance to go into the bathroom
  • Fear of falling in the toilet
  • Fear of the flush
  • Asking to wear diapers
  • Refusing to wear underwear
  • Disinterest in discussing potty training

Solution: Since resistance is often a sign that your child isn’t quite ready to start learning how to use the toilet, the best solution is to take a break.

Waiting a week or two, then trying again could be all that your child needs to get used to the idea of using the potty.

While you’re waiting for your child to prepare themselves, start incorporating the idea of potty training into their daily routine.

Read books about the process, watch educational videos, and let them come into the bathroom with you to help pique their interest.


Potty Training Accidents

One of the biggest issues parents face when potty training their toddler is accidents.

Whether your child pees on the floor or poops in their underwear, accidents are bound to happen.

During the first few days of potty training, your child will likely have several accidents as they start to understand their body’s cues that they need to go.

Continued accidents may be a sign that your child isn’t ready (either physically or mentally) for potty training just yet.

Solution: Since accidents are a common occurrence during the first few days of potty training, it’s important to take them in stride.

Avoid punishing your child for an accident because scolding could backfire and cause your child to regress later on.

Instead, calmly clean up your child and the mess, then remind them that they need to use the potty next time they feel the urge to go.

To help your child avoid accidents in the future, start by setting a timer and bringing your child to the bathroom at regular intervals during the day.

A potty training schedule is another great option to help prevent accidents for some children.

If your child continues having frequent accidents after potty training for several weeks, stop and take a break.

Frequent accidents are often a sign that your child isn’t ready to potty train. Wait a few weeks or even a month, then try the process again.

Peeing or Pooping Right After They Get off the Toilet

Encouraging frequent trips to the bathroom is a great way to get your toddler used to the idea of using the potty.

But if your toddler has an accident right after being taken off the toilet, it’s easy to get frustrated (trust me, I’ve been there, done that).

During the early stages of potty training, it can be difficult for some children to relax enough to go in the toilet.

Whether they’re feeling pressure to go or are afraid to sit on the toilet, when your child is tense, it can be difficult for them to relax the muscles that control their bladder and bowels.

This is a potty training problem that is common to almost all kids when they first start the training process.

Solution: Help your child relax.

Potty training can be a stressful experience for both you and your child. So, if you’re feeling the pressure, your toddler is probably feeling it, too.

To help your child relax while they’re sitting on the toilet, try distracting them with a book, song, or video.

Taking their mind off the act of peeing or pooping could be all they need to relax enough for the process to work on its own.

But if stress or pressure isn’t the issue, the problem could stem from the fact that your child isn’t physically ready to start training yet.

If your child isn’t able to fully control their bladder and bowels, they’ll have a hard time using the potty.


When this is the case, it’s best to hold off for a few weeks to help your child fully develop the skills they need for potty training.

Fear of the Toilet

Another one of the most common potty training problems is having a fear of the toilet, especially if they’ve only used a potty chair up until this point.

Using the toilet can be a scary event for a little child.

In addition to sitting high off the ground, the sound of the toilet flushing and watching the water whoosh down the drain could be disturbing to them.

So, if your child is demonstrating a fear of the toilet, you might be wondering what to do. Luckily, helping your toddler overcome their fear can be a pretty simple process.

The key is letting your child take control.

Solution: The first step in coming to a solution to this potty training problem is to acknowledge your child’s fear.

Let them know that you understand that they’re afraid and that you’re going to help them through it.

You can help your child overcome their fear by getting to the root of the issue.

Is your child afraid of falling off the toilet because they’re sitting up so high?

Using a toddler-sized potty seat may be a good solution.

Since these seats sit much lower to the ground, your child probably won’t be afraid of sitting on it.


As they grow and become more comfortable in the bathroom, you can help them transition to a toilet-seat insert later on.

Or are they afraid of getting sucked down the drain while the toilet is being flushed?

Helping your child understand how a toilet works can help remedy this fear.

Start by letting your toddler flush pieces of toilet paper down the drain on their own. Then, let them use the toilet and flush it when they’re finished.

Refusing to Use Strange Bathrooms

Once your child starts getting more consistent with their potty training, you’ll be ready to leave the house without diapers.

Not so fast!

Just because they’re comfortable using the toilet at home doesn’t mean they’ll happily use a strange bathroom.

Public bathrooms can be difficult for children to use – especially in the beginning stages of potty training.

Between the strange people in the bathroom, the loud noises, and the large toilets, the idea of using a public restroom could be downright scary.

Solution: Ease your child into the idea of going potty in a new place.

Start by bringing your child into the bathroom with you and showing them all the parts of the bathroom that are similar to your bathroom at home.

Then, walk them through the process of using the bathroom in a new place.

Once your child becomes a little more comfortable in their surroundings, let them try to go to the bathroom on the toilet.

It may take a few tries before they finally relax enough to go, so make sure you have extra clothes and underwear with you in case of an accident.

Crying When They Flush Their Poop

Although it may seem silly to us, some children feel a connection to their poop.

Typically, it stems from their own idea that their poop is a part of their body. So, watching it being flushed down the toilet can be a pretty traumatic event!

Solution: Explain to your child how their body produces poop and let them know that their bowel movements aren’t a part of them.

Helping them understand their bodily processes can make the idea of flushing their poop a little easier to deal with.

Hiding While Pooping

Even if your child has mastered peeing in the toilet, pooping can take more time.

You might notice that your child goes to a different room or tries to hide when they need to poop.

Other children might ask for a diaper when they need to have a bowel movement.

While these requests might be frustrating to you, it’s a good sign that your child is physically ready to poop in the potty.

They’re just not emotionally ready for the task. That’s often because they find the sensation of pooping on the toilet uncomfortable or strange.


Solution: If your child lets you know they need to poop but won’t go on the potty, suggest they have their bowel movement while wearing a diaper in the bathroom.

This will help them get used to the idea of going to the bathroom when they feel the need to poop. And continue encouraging your child to sit on the toilet for their bowel movements.


Wetting the Bed

Even if your toddler is fully trained during the day, wetting the bed at night or during naptime is one of the potty training problems that could continue for months.

Nighttime potty training often takes more time than potty training during the day, so it’s important to stay calm when you notice nighttime accidents.

Solution: Make sure your child uses the bathroom right before they go to bed and try to limit liquids during the evening and nighttime hours.

It’s also a good idea to encourage your child to get up use the bathroom in the middle of the night if they feel the urge to go.


The bottom line is that there are many potty training problems that can hinder your child from being successful during the process.

But remembering that these are common roadblocks, your child isn’t the only one and they can be overcome is the key to navigating them successfully.

Take your time, don’t get frustrated and work with your toddler and you’ll find potty training success soon!

Need a step-by-step guide to potty training? Go to The Complete Guide to Potty Training a Toddler.

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