Why we gave up potty training after two months

I had it in my head I would write a post about our potty training “journey” (sorry, I hate that phrase!) but I haven’t yet, because we’ve never really got there. I wanted to do a round-up post of “this is what we did” or “this is how we did it” like some other bloggers I know have. Turns out, we might not be doing it again for quite some time yet. We tried. We really, really tried! I had days where I thought we were nearly there. But we got ourselves in a right mess. So instead I’ve chosen to write about why giving up potty training is sometimes ok. In fact more than ok, sometimes it’s the right decision for your child.

Our story so far…

As I briefly mentioned in my recent weekly round-up post, we have given up potty training on the advice of our health visitor and GP. In fact we gave up at the start of October, after starting properly in August. That’s right, we gave it a crack for eight whole weeks. During that time we had three days where Miss Belle was dry. They were usually days where we were out and we had lots of loo breaks. We had days out where she used the travel potty perfectly, even at a birthday party and full day out at the Aylsham Show. We had days where she asked to go. She was ready, I thought.

The first fortnight was horrendous when she wore actual clothes and in hindsight I think I should have just given up then. But I persisted after she gradually had fewer and fewer accidents and was asking (albeit on and off) to use the potty. We had days where she just seemed far too busy playing to ask and we’d have constant accidents. She goes to Nursery just one day a week and she always had accidents there too. Again too distracted playing to ask. Even if she’d asked at home that morning or night.

The big problem

After about five weeks though Miss Belle developed a real poo problem. She kept holding them in and making herself chronically constipated. In terms of the exact details of what that means, I won’t go into the mechanics. But, give it a Google and you’ll see it’s a really horrible thing. She ended up with a really sore bottom twice. It was the worst nappy rash she’s ever had. She’d be in tears and scream in pain when I tried to clean her with cotton wool and water. In addition to the bad nappy rash she was so uncomfortable constantly straining or holding it in. It was so so stressful to watch. I felt completely helpless. We tried everything, prunes, prune juice, squash to get her to drink more. Nothing seemed to work.

For some unknown reason she suddenly just did not want to go on the potty. It’s weird because until that point she’d been ok either going in her pants (delightful!) or if she was nudey rudey (naked) going on the potty. Even in the middle of the living room in front of my friend and her two children! She’d be so proud and tell anyone who’d listen, even her teddies. She wasn’t scared of it for weeks, so what happened?

I don’t know why this fear started, but it started on a weekend in early September when my parents visited. Maybe she didn’t want to go in front of them. It then seemed to always get bad when she was at Nursery on a Wednesday. We’d then have an awful few days and turn a corner by the weekend, only for her to get in the same situation the following week. A rubbish never-ending cycle.

Over a three-week period we had several trips to the doctors and I called the health visitor twice. One was less helpful than the other. Likewise with the GPs of whom we saw three. It was only the last health visitor I spoke to who said absolutely to stop potty training for at least a month while she gets over this fear. The GP has given her medicine which the last one recommend she continues to take for a couple of months. So that’s what we’re doing as that’s what is clearly best for her.

Here’s the thing.

I feel like a failure.

I feel (awfully) like I have to defend Miss Belle’s capability too. Like she’s a failure! I know, what a shockingly awful thing to say about your child and of course I don’t really mean it. She hasn’t failed at anything. She’s just had some problems. But I feel like I have to apologise for her not being potty trained yet. Then I feel so guilty, because of course it’s not her fault at all. There’s that annoying phrase that well-meaning people say to me… “they’re all different”.

But she’s now 2 and 10 months.

I get a sort of silent internal rage when I hear of people with children under two saying their child is showing signs they’re ready. Why isn’t my child potty trained yet? She’s older.

But, (and I don’t know if this is completely unrelated and I’m looking for excuses), Miss Belle walked late at nearly 21 months. She is probably the least “physical” child of her peers. She will regularly ask to go in the pushchair as opposed to get out of the pushchair. And getting her to walk any great distance is like pulling blood from a stone. She is slowly getting more confident and able in her classes though, which is lovely to see. But maybe the potty training thing is kind of related to physical abilities?

She can’t pull her own trousers up or down which I’m sure is why she was pretty much always dry when she was naked, but when I put trousers on her, she would never take herself off to go on it in the same way. When I mentioned that to the health visitor she said that children should really be able to do that before you start potty training. So, I suppose it’s my fault again for starting too soon?! That’s something we’re now working on every day. I’m constantly asking her to put her own trousers on and pull them up. It’s a daily battle, but one that I hope I will win, especially as I’m going to have my hands full with a new baby come January.

She clearly knows what its all about

Of course, Miss Belle being Miss Belle, (or Mary Mary Quite Contrary as my mum calls her,) since we’ve stopped, she’s since asked to use the potty and used it a few times. In fact this morning, she asked to be nudey rudey and “do potty time”. She asks to sit on the loo when I go, even though she doesn’t do anything. She’s asked to wear pants. One time she even pulled her nappy off. It’s all this that makes me think yes she is ready. I went with it on both occasions, feeling I had to be led by her. The first time she wore pants she just wet herself within an hour. The second time, she needed a poo and had the look of fear she had previously and immediately asked for a nappy. So here we are, still in nappies.

I’m now 31 weeks pregnant. Getting bigger. More tired. I’m now very aware that if we do it before the baby arrives it’s gong to be hard on me (unless she does it in like a week, which I doubt). And more than this, I’m aware there’s a high probability even if she gets it, she might regress as soon as the baby arrives. For attention, or because she’s unsettled.

And with the baby due a week after her third birthday, this means that in all likelihood I’ll now be potty training her when she’s well over three. We will all need time to get used to being a family of four. I’ll need time to get used to looking after a newborn again. It could mean we have this break for several months. One lady I bumped into at playgroup a few weeks ago said she gave up and tried six months later. I think that’s where we’re heading.

Do I feel peer pressure?

Absolutely.

Am I slowly resigned to the fact that she’ll just be one of the ones who does it when she’s older? I guess so. But, I hope, for all the right reasons.

As one lady I used to work with said to me a few weeks ago, she’ll be all grown up before I know it. So what if she wears nappies for a bit longer? I’m pretty sure she won’t be in a nappy when she’s 32. Of course I want her to get it soon and my biggest worry is we won’t get over this poo fear she has. But I want her to be happy and not in any pain. She’s still my baby and I’m in no rush to do anything that is going to stress her out.

Or me, for that matter.

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28 Comments

  1. Hannah
    7th November 2017 / 9:57 pm

    Very interesting to read this! I have always worked with pre-school children and thought I had a bit of a clue when it came to potty training! Oh no totally different when it’s your own! My son now just turned 3yrs asked to wear big boy pants back in the summer so taking his lead we went with it, but in the end decided to stop as he wasn’t doing it and getting cross/anxious about it. I know he has the skills to potty train but emotionally something wasnt quite ready. I worry I have “missed the boat” as some people put it but like your friend said about them being in nappies a bit longer it won’t be forever and maybe we expect too much from them at such a young age?
    Good luck with everything
    xxx

  2. 8th November 2017 / 7:10 am

    Oh hun, don’t feel guilty. There is no right or wrong time/age you simply have to do what is right for Miss Belle (and yourself). You’ve absolutely done the right thing. Take the pressure of yourself and enjoy these last few weeks as a family of three and then get used to being a family four. It will happen when the time is right for her, not when anyone else says

  3. 9th November 2017 / 11:50 am

    No she won’t be happy in a nappy at 32 and nobody asks when did you walk, talk, potty train? It doesn’t matter. #CoolMumClub

  4. 9th November 2017 / 2:07 pm

    Exactly – you have to do what is best for your little one and try not to be influenced by pressure. I have started the potty training journey today and am so nervous about what’s to come. There’ll get there eventually 🙂 #coolmumclub

  5. 9th November 2017 / 7:47 pm

    I cannot tell you how much this resonates – our daughter was three last week and we started potty training about 6 months ago. She is totally dry day and night but also suffering with whitholding leading to chronic constipation. It’s been the most stressful thing and we are now referred under a hospital clinic to help manage it through without things getting worse. It’s something I expect I’ll write about at sometime soon, when it’s all over perhaps – but it’s been a very messy, distressing 6 months for all of us. I know exactly how you feel hun xxx
    Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub

    • thisismenow
      Author
      9th November 2017 / 8:43 pm

      Ah thanks lovely and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had it hard too. It really is so distressing. I’ve cried so much and with the pregnancy hormones I just had to give up. But I’m really worried it’ll just happen again when we re-try. The health visitor said to call when we start again to get a specific plan. Hoping it helps but we will see. Hope the hospital helps your daughter xx

  6. 10th November 2017 / 4:51 pm

    I didn’t start potty training until I was three! We got strange looks but used pull-ups like pants. I hit it off straight away, in fact we didn’t really even use the potty just went straight to the toilet stage and cracked it within a week and a bit. That’s because I was old enough to understand and communicate. All children are different and will do things in their own time. You shouldn’t feel pressurised to potty train at 2 years or below. Sorry to hear you’ve had so much trouble and hope it sorts itself out x Popping over from #SharingTheBlogLove

    • thisismenow
      Author
      10th November 2017 / 5:53 pm

      Ah thanks so much. I think maybe I put too much pressure on myself thinking she had to be trained whilst she was two, but next time I will definitely wait til later. In fact even waiting a couple of months seems to have helped as she will now go for a wee on the potty in the morning when we’re getting dressed and seems to be able to tell me straight the way. Working on the physical side of things with clothes which I’m sure is a big barrier for us. Thanks for reading xx

  7. 10th November 2017 / 11:33 pm

    It is such a difficult stage as a parent but I do hope that you don’t feel guilty. I feel like I got an easy ride with mine because they chose to do it when they were ready and were both 2 years and 4 months, but had they not been ready I would have definitely revisited it later, you are totally right that each child is different as will get there in their own time x #Sharingthebloglove

  8. 10th November 2017 / 11:40 pm

    We gave up after 7 days. Oddly N was dry at night from 2.5 years old, but wouldn’t entertain trying it in the summer then. then gradually started going before bath time on the toilet with no issues. So we tried after Christmas before he went back to nursery – just before 3yo. 5 days at home was ok but still having 3 wee accidents a day. He just didn’t care when he was wet or had pooed. But 1 day back at nursery and by 11am he’d been through 5 outfits and didn’t want to go near the toilets again. They said no more and he wasn’t ready, and to put him in pull ups. It really put him back – no more going on the toilet, and we gradually had to start him back in the evenings pre-bath and first thing in the mornings.

    He decided 2 days before Easter that he was wearing pants, age 3y3m. 1 accident and he was dry. So much easier letting them decide however much you think they’re ready. 2 y 10 months is still so early. I did a survey way back and a potty training infographic/post and the average age was well over 3yrs for potty training. It will happen.

    • thisismenow
      Author
      11th November 2017 / 8:02 am

      Ah that’s really interesting, thank you so much for your comment. I’m definitely doing to just only go with it when she asks. She has a few times asked to be nudey rudey this week after I’ve changed her and she’s sort of run off from me. So I’ve let her and we’ve had no accidents but it’s only been for an hour or so at a time. It’s funny that 2 yrs 10 months seems old to me, but that must be society/friends/family impressions on me! Definitely going for a more relaxed approach with my second child…we live and learn hey?! Xx

      • 16th November 2017 / 9:36 pm

        The first is always so worrying. Potty training is hard unless you have a magical child who just does it. And you have no way of knowing what’s best. Plus of course the pressure from others interfering. Good luck with it

  9. 11th November 2017 / 10:52 pm

    Please don’t feel like a failure. Children will do things in their own time. Reading your honest experience is really refreshing. We have the whole potty training journey still ahead of us xx

    • thisismenow
      Author
      12th November 2017 / 8:04 am

      Ah thanks. I think sometimes we are our own harshest critics. But I do feel bad she’s had so much pain because of it all. Just praying it doesn’t happen again when we give it another go!

  10. 13th November 2017 / 3:38 pm

    Please don’t feel like a failure, because you are not! The one thing that I have learnt with potty training is timing is everything. With my eldest she was potty trained at 2 years and 6 months old. When my youngest reached that age I tried to potty train her and it was clear after 2 days she was not ready, it was a nightmare. I waited and then she started to ask me about going on the toilet and after a few weeks of talking about it I tried again. She was potty trained both day and night within 5 days and she was 2 years and 11 months old. She will be ready in her own time and by waiting until she is, she will crack it quicker. Thank you for joining us at #sharingthebloglove

  11. 13th November 2017 / 7:21 pm

    Oh, please please don’t feel like a failure! My friend is having this exact same problem with her little boy and he’s 3 and a half. He’s pretty much potty trained now, but he got horrendously constipated when he was younger and he’s always struggled with the poo side of potty training, will hold onto it, and then poo his pants when he can’t hold on any longer. He has a pile from straining, which I’m guessing means it can sometimes be painful, so no wonder he doesn’t want to go really. But I know how stressful it is, I’ve seen my friend in tears about it so many times. But he is getting there, just slowly. I wouldn’t stress about it – you’ve got other things to worry about, and when it feels like the right time, I’m sure it will be. Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • thisismenow
      Author
      13th November 2017 / 8:46 pm

      Ah thank you. I do worry we will have this problem now even when we re try. But that’s kind of why I want to leave it as long as possible. I think I could have tried again the past few weeks but even this morning after being naked for a bit she then asked for a nappy just before she did a poo. I think it’s a security thing. Just hope it passes without too much drama! Xx

  12. 13th November 2017 / 9:54 pm

    Don’t feel bad – they do it when they’re ready! I wrote a post you may relate to – Potty Training Tales. #coolmumclub

    • thisismenow
      Author
      14th November 2017 / 7:49 am

      Oh thanks, I’ll check it out x

  13. 14th November 2017 / 2:48 pm

    Little B is three & we haven’t even started yet because I know he’s not ready…I’m hoping it will happen soon though! #coolmumclub

    • thisismenow
      Author
      14th November 2017 / 7:05 pm

      Would you believe it today she’s been 4 times on the potty, one of which was a poop. Not counting my chickens yet but for us that is mega progress! After she woke from her nap she didn’t want to do potty time any more so I left it. Just totally going with when she wants to now. Wish I had from the start xx

  14. 16th November 2017 / 7:47 am

    Oh poor Miss Belle. Potty training is so hard and you are definitely not a failure. It just wasn’t the right time. I think you are doing the right thing waiting and letting her just go when she asks. We had a couple of unsuccessful potty training attempts with my eldest and with my youngest I went for gentle encouragement and let her use the potty when she wanted for quite a while. My girls were well over 3 when we finally potty trained them – Jessica was almost 4 in the end. It’s hard not to feel peer pressure but Miss Belle will get there when she is ready. Good luck when you’re ready to try again! #sharingthebloglove

    • thisismenow
      Author
      16th November 2017 / 7:59 am

      Thanks so much. Yes I just need to ignore the peer pressure! Xx

  15. 16th November 2017 / 10:15 am

    Thank you SO much for sharing this post. My son is 2 years 7 months and I’m feeling a silent pressure from his nursery (he only goes 2 MORNINGS a week) to get him potty trained. There’s so much pressure from external sources across all elements of parenting, but it gets to me most about potty training, because as you’ve highlighted it can really impact on the health of a child. It’s like with breastfeeding, we’re constantly told that ‘breast is best’ and looked down upon if we’re not able to OR just simply don’t want to do it. It’s something I constantly have to remind myself, my husband and I are raising OUR children, OUR WAY. Anyone who wants to comment/judge/opine needs to shove off! Good luck with your next round of potty training, and if it doesn’t work again, don’t worry about it (classic easier-said-than-done comment just there – sorry!). Thanks for sharing #SharingtheBlogLove

  16. 16th November 2017 / 10:25 am

    Oh bless you, I know it’s hard but please try not to feel guilty. My eldest was 3 and 3 months before he would even entertain the idea of a potty but once he’d decided he was ready we didn’t really have any accidents at all (he has more now at nearly 4 and a half but that’s just because he’s lazy and leaves it to the last minute to go!). We had about a week in pants to begin with then he decided he wanted to wear a nappy again so I let him. For a few weeks he wore a nappy (we use cloth nappies so no pull ups) but actually did all his wees and poos on the potty. I think it was a security thing for him and eventually he was happy without a nappy on. I think you’re right to wait now, and try not to worry about it until after the baby is here. I had two in nappies for over a year and it really wasn’t that bad 🙂 Good luck #SharingTheBlogLove

  17. 16th November 2017 / 8:31 pm

    You are not a failure! My eldest was potty trained just after he turned two, but had bedwetting problems until he was 6. Even after he was trained he would continue to have little accidents. My middle child wasn’t trained until the week after his third birthday. We tried prior to that but he just wasn’t ready. He was dry day and night within the week and had very few accidents. My youngest is 2 and 9 months so a similar age to your little one. She’s still not ready. They all do it when they’re ready. Just take your time 🙂 #SharingTheBlogLove

    • thisismenow
      Author
      16th November 2017 / 8:34 pm

      Thank you. I think with mine is she’s interested but not ready if that makes sense! If she’s naked she gets it, with trousers, then not! Xx

  18. 18th November 2017 / 1:25 am

    Everyone told me I needed to toilet train my daughter earlier than I did, but I waited until she was ready and then it was really easy. Trying to force them to doesn’t always work! Don’t fret, it will happen when they are ready 🙂 #SharingtheBlogLove

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