Skip to content

5 Reasons to stick with the Potty Training Plan (even if you want to quit!) and 5 Tips for getting through the hard parts

5 Reasons to stick with the Potty Training Plan (even if you want to quit!) and 5 Tips for getting through the hard parts

This is a guest post from Kate Falk, one of our certified coaches in Jackson, Wyoming and owner of Pottytunities. Enjoy! xx Andrea

I offer A LOT of elimination communication and potty training classes and consultations and I get A LOT of parents who are ready to give up on potty training.

I’d say that the number one reason clients schedule a consultation with me is that they’re frustrated by potty training and/or they can’t make sense of how to progress through the potty training process.

They want to quit potty training because yes, potty training can be super challenging, at least parts of it.

But somewhere deep down, the clients sense there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even if they currently don’t see it, and that potty independence is a possibility.

They contact me and request I guide them to the light. Below is what I’ve culled from many years of potty training coaching.

I’m going to share WHY you should stick with potty training (even when you want to quit) and exactly how to get through the most challenging parts of potty training.

(You may be reassured to know the majority of families who’ve done our Potty Training Plan had very similar questions and concerns. Parents got stuck on the same issues, and fortunately, the advice on how to proceed works for most families!)

5 Reasons to continue with potty training

1. Even though potty training makes sense to you, it may take your child some time so be patient.

You desperately want your child to know that the potty or toilet is where pee and poop go. It seems pretty straightforward. Eliminating in the toilet makes perfect sense to an adult. But you are training a small child, who has been taught to pee and poop in a diaper.

By initiating potty training, you are pulling the rug (or diaper, in this case) right out from under them. For many children, recognizing and accepting this drastic change will take some time. If your child has been in diapers for 20 or 30 months, it’s acceptable to spend 7 days (just a ballpark number) on just Step 1 of Phase 1 of the Potty Training Plan.

You’ve got to be realistic about the timeframe and the reconditioning of your child’s beliefs about elimination. Be patient.

2. Although potty training is nonlinear and a little elusive, trust the process.

Although potty training is nonlinear and a little elusive, trust the process

Most authentic real world learning is nonlinear. Sure, academic learning is often taught in a linear way, but real world learning has ups and downs, big picture learning intermingled with fine details, pauses and great surges of progress.

Potty training falls under the category of real world learning, and it will be nonlinear. Regressions, resistance, and pauses can be interpreted as “negatives” during potty training. It certainly feels that way.

But we cannot see what is going on inside the child during these lulls. Yes, there is learning going on.

Your child may be processing this profound transition. She may be assembling the tiny pieces of learning into the bigger picture. We don’t really know what’s going on in that little body and mind.

So, just like with any other major life skill, like learning to sleep through the night, tie shoelaces, or ride a bike, there are going to be ups and downs in the learning process.

The way to get through this imagined roadblock is to trust the process.

3. When all goes well and then things backslide, stay the course.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who nailed potty training in the first week or two. Lucky you! Your child was compliant and learned quickly. The accidents decreased day by day at a steady rate. Your child was at ease during the process.

Then, all of a sudden, there were accidents or resistance. You felt like you were pedaling backward.

Again, trust the process. The Potty Training Plan is not off the rails. Your child can’t unlearn what she has learned.

First, be okay with this. Stay calm. Present a facade of confidence. Let her have the space to move through this.

Take time to reflect on what the next step of learning may be. Try shifting something - the receptacle, the cues you use, the frequency that you offer pottytunities.

Be thankful for the initial days or weeks that potty training was easy, trust the process, and stay the course.

4. Despite doubts, most parents continue through and end up with a potty trained child and a renewed sense of confidence as a parent. Keep going.

Does your child seem to dislike (or outright despise) or not care about potty training? This is very common. Often parents read their child’s emotional response to potty training as a sign that the child is not “ready” to potty train.

Over several years of coaching, I have only had one parent ultimately decide that it was not the right time to potty train, after assessing her child’s response to potty training in the first few days.

Hundreds have continued with potty training, despite having doubts, and reported gratitude and a sense of strength and confidence for moving through the difficult parts to having a potty trained child.

One of the greatest aspects of potty training is that you’re offering your child the gift of independence. Deep down, we know we want our children to evolve and grow, but when it’s difficult during potty training, we often fall back to wanting to keep our babies babies. We think we’re pushing them too hard.

But consider this: Half of the world is out of diapers by the age of 12 months. Your child is biologically and emotionally ready to say goodbye to diapers. Aren’t you too?

5. Potty training almost always doesn’t get any easier when your child is older, so stick with what you’ve started.

Potty training almost always doesn’t get any easier when your child is older, so stick with what you’ve started

During my potty training or EC coaching sessions, I always stress the 3Cs from Andrea’s philosophy: commitment, confidence, and consistency.

With this in mind, you stick with potty training after you’ve started. You exude confidence (and it’s okay to fake it at times). You stick to the structure of the program, while making necessary accommodations to meet your child’s unique needs.

You have to potty train at some point. For almost all families, it doesn’t get easier to potty train when your child is older. The way you teach your child is to stick with what you’ve started.

If you decide to quit or pause potty training, you will have to start all over again. The issue doesn’t go away.

If you start and quit or half-heartedly commit to potty training, your child will perceive a mixed message about the importance of potty training. For them to believe in potty training, you have to show that you believe in potty training.

5 Tips to get through the hard parts and move toward potty independence

While the above five points are generally philosophical in nature, below I offer some tangible tips to get you closer to potty independence.

1. Acknowledge small successes.

If your child is consistently having accidents, keep a bowl or mini potty close by and try to get just a few drops of pee into the bowl.

Even if there’s a puddle of pee on the floor and only 3 measly drops of pee in the bowl, acknowledge the success: “Thank you for getting the pee in the bowl.” Baby steps, baby steps.

Try to find several small signs of progress throughout the day, even on an especially challenging and messy day, to acknowledge (and build your confidence).

2. Set a limit on how long a child can sit on the potty.

Some children say they need to potty (or you know they need to potty) and end up sitting on the potty for 20 minutes with no results. And during those 20 minutes, they are read countless stories or get to play with the special bin of toys next to the potty.

To cut the drama, set a limit and stick to it.

It’s okay to say, “I’ll read one book while you potty, but that’s it.”

You can also use a timer to set a reasonable time limit. I’d say a few minutes if you think she needs to pee and a bit more if she needs to poop. No reason to sit all day in the bathroom!

It’s good to set boundaries around pottying, even though we’d do just about anything for a pee or poop in the potty during the first few days of potty training.

Running the water from the faucet in the bathroom can also expedite the process.

Yes, some children will pee on the floor right after they run out of their allotted time in the bathroom. I encourage you “airlift” your child to the potty, mid-stream, in this instance with the reminder that “pee goes in the potty. Let’s finish on the potty.”

Stay consistent with your boundaries around potty time. It’s best to not give in to the push and pull of toddler drama over “I need to go. No, I do not need to go.”

3. If you’re on Step 2 of Phase 1 of the Potty Training Plan and doing brief, clothed outings, try to throw in a couple really exciting (albeit brief) outings each day.

try to throw in a couple really exciting (albeit brief) outings each day

Since you don’t have a lot of time, you will need to get creative: a new bow for the dog’s hair, a box of sidewalk chalk, a special snack hidden in the front yard, a tea party or racetrack for toy cars...something is waiting for your child outside (or very nearby in a park or something).

Then, you can remind your child, “After you go potty, we will get dressed and go outside to see your surprise.”

This is not bribery. This is teaching your child that it makes sense to take care of business before leaving the house. It is a natural transition that should be taught during the Potty Training Plan.

It’s okay to motivate the child to pee in order to see what’s in store outside.

4. Encourage your partner, another family member, babysitter or a close friend to join you in administering the Potty Training Plan.

The Plan will go better if you get the occasional break. It’s tiring to “ninja hover” all hours of the day.

Plus, it’s good for other caretakers to feel comfortable and confident pottying your child. Their approach may be a little different than yours, and that’s okay. It’s actually good for your child to develop a degree of flexibility and ease when pottying with others.

If you do all the training, it is likely she will always prefer your support when going potty.

5. See if a friend wants to potty train her child at the same time that you potty train your child for support.

You and your friend can read The Tiny Potty Training Book together; schedule your training together. Lean on each other on difficult days. Offer encouragement and bounce ideas off each other.

Make sure you acknowledge that your potty training experiences will probably look very different. No two children are alike. No two households are alike.

Try to go into it wishing your friend and her child so much success! In order for this to work, you will have to limit the comparisons and judgment. Attempt for a truly supportive relationship and both of you and your children will benefit. Celebrate together when you have potty trained children!

What got you through the most difficult aspects of potty training? Please share in the comments below.

Big thanks to Kate for this awesome guest post! Please see the show notes and hire her for a one-on-one phone or Zoom consultation...she is amazing.


PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)

Kate Falk

About Kate Falk

I am a mother and educator who has used Elimination Communication with my two sons. I was thrilled to have an alternative to full-time diapering. The process was different with both of my sons, partly because with my second son, I was more experienced and taking the Certified Coach program. Elimination Communication is accommodating. There is a way to incorporate it into every family structure.In addition to Go Diaper Free coaching, I am a certified Reading Specialist who works in private practice, mostly with children with reading disabilities.I enjoy traveling, climbing, cooking and recreating in nature with my kids. I have lived between Jackson, Wyoming and southwestern Colorado for the past 6 years and am happy to be settling full-time in Jackson.


  1. Avatar Emily on April 6, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Our girl is 15 months and we’ve been struggling for about 6 months now. Before she could walk we had lots of successful catches, but for quite a while now she doesn’t like being on the potty (books help now), she goes on the floor right after being on the potty, she rarely goes on the potty. We feel so stuck and like we haven’t gotten anywhere in ages. I’ve tried reducing pottytunities to give her a chance to signal, I’ve tried walking her over to the potty and letting her sit on it almost herself, I’ve tried involving her in the process as much as I can and still nothing! Definitely feeling very discouraged since we have been doing part time EC since she was born

    • Avatar Selene on April 7, 2021 at 5:55 am

      Omg Emily, your situation is so similar to mine! We had also tried training pants, and she would (most of the time) come to us when she wet it, but nothing more. I’ve been feeling quite discouraged too, and since she started day care a month ago, I almost stopped EC completely, because she’s in disposable diapers all day anyway now.
      Recently she started playing with the potty again, so I try to remind her that’s for peeing, and we started giving her naked time again, to get reacquainted with her timing (like, not peeing for hours, then 4 times within half an hour). Whenever she pees on the floor, I rarely have time to let her finish in the potty, but I try putting her on it afterwards and telling her that’s where it belongs. But to no effect yet. Not sure how to proceed either…

      • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 12, 2021 at 5:13 am

        Hi Selene,

        When you are doing naked observation time, try keeping the potty close so that you can just slide it under her while she is going.

        If she recognizes that she has gone, you can try putting her in pants commando to see if that helps. 💕

    • Avatar Jen on April 7, 2021 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Emily! I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling, I know first hand how hard, almost devastating, it can be, to put so much into it and feel like you’re never seeing results. But I hope I can shed some light; we went cold turkey on diapers at 11 months old, my son caught on to pooping on the potty quite quickly (within a month), but for the next YEAR we struggled with pee; regular pees on the floor or in his pants and we tried EVERY trouble shooting suggestion. When he turned two and was still regularly peeing his pants I nearly had a breakdown, it felt like a year of hard work for NOTHING. And then literally one day (around 25 months), something clicked, he started telling us when he had to pee almost every time, pretty much over night, and if he doesn’t tell us and an hour or more has passed, I remind him to “use the potty” and off he goes. Your little one is still very young and even if she’s having regular misses, the benefit of what you’re teaching her (even when it seems like she’s not learning), is NOT lost. As Andrea always says STAY the course, it will fall in to place one day. And in the meantime work on filling the gaps (ie: getting her pants down, walking to the potty herself), but I wouldn’t hope or expect her to start signalling just yet. Focus on the wins (even one pee or poop in the potty is success!). You aren’t failing and neither is she, the process is non-linear, so let her work through whatever is going on right now and stay confident. You’re doing the right thing, hang in there!!!

      • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 12, 2021 at 5:17 am

        Love this!! 😍

        Thank you for sharing Jen.

    • Avatar Jen on April 8, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Emily! I tried responding to this a few days ago but it doesn’t seem to have gone through (or maybe it did and you’ll be getting this a second time haha). Anyway, I just wanted to reach out to say, don’t despair! However hopeless it may seem right now, you are making progress and doing the right thing!

      I went cold turkey on diapers with my son at 11 months old. He caught on to pooping in the potty quite quickly (within a month or so), but pee was a WHOLE other story. He turned 2 last month and has JUST FINALLY started a) self-initiating and b) having several days in a row with zero misses. Before that, we spent a YEAR struggling with every kind of set-back, regression, refusal or challenge you could think of including days upon days of nothing but pee on the floor or in his pants and several months with not a single day of “full success”. We also tried EVERY SINGLE trouble shooting strategy in the book with little to no “visible” change in his habits/behavior.

      But something must have been working “behind the scenes” because all of a sudden one day he just stopped having misses and started self-initiating (ie: telling us he had to pee BEFORE he peed, or just taking himself straight to the potty). It felt like some kind of miracle, but really it was the result of all the efforts from the past year. So even when we thought there was no progress, or it seemed like he’d never get it, he WAS progressing and he WAS getting it. And what I learned was that sometimes peeing on the floor, even when they KNOW it goes in the potty, has nothing at all to do with the potty, sometimes it’s about an unrelated development or a new self-awareness or the realization they have control over their bodies.

      Your LO is still SO YOUNG and what you’re doing is a great stride toward potty independence so please don’t fee like it’s all a waste or that you’re doing it wrong. As Andrea always says, “Stay the Course!”, it will get better!

      Best of luck to you!

      • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 12, 2021 at 5:19 am

        Your post did appear a few days ago, but I do love this post as well. 💕

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 12, 2021 at 5:08 am

      Hi Emily,

      This might be a good time to try the Hybrid plan. I talk about it in my book and think this might be just what your little one needs.

      In the meantime, you can try offering more privacy to see if that helps. 💕

  2. Avatar Ak on April 7, 2021 at 12:30 am

    We’ve done EC since she was 8 months.

    Ive taught her the whole process. She knows where pee goes. She even brought her bear to potty, knows where the cats go. She only signals in the morning and for poop.

    But for some reason when it’s for pee, she doesnt initiate. Just pees on the floor and say uh oh. We did PT for one month because we didnt get any dry days. So she was in commandos for a month and one miss a day and now she resists completely, holds for hours too. She’s 21 mths old. I had all the 3Cs you mentioned but we still hit a wall. Lol.

    It’s frustrating for me cause I know she understands but just doesnt want to. I took a break and backed off completely and placed her back in training pants. Any ideas?

    • Avatar Kate Falk on April 7, 2021 at 10:24 am

      Aaah, the ups and downs of potty training. You’re right she does know the steps, but for some reasons unknown to us, she’s not connecting all the dots right now. Once you feel refreshed from taking a break, I’d go back to Step 1 (naked at home) to solidify her understanding. Strive to get some of each pee in the potty (even if it’s a few drops), and celebrate/acknowledge her success. Maybe she needs a little space, so you could challenge her to get pee in the potty when you’re not looking. If you see all the signs that she needs or go, or if it’s been hours, you could throw out the challenge: “Hmmm, sweetie, I’m going into the other room. Do you think you can put pee in the potty before I count to 20 (or finish singing Twinkle, Twinkle)?” I know potty is not a game, but try to find a way to make toileting her responsibility, on her terms, rather than something you desperately want her to do.

      And I just want to add: it’s great that she initiates for poop. Breathe in a sigh of relief that you’re not changing poopy diapers or cleaning up messes.

      Keep up the good work. You’re so close!

      • Avatar Ak on April 7, 2021 at 10:42 pm

        Yes, Im still very thankful that she finds poop uncomfortable enough to want to do it in the big toilet 😅

        Alright. I will try your suggestions. Thank you for your response and encouragement.

        • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 12, 2021 at 5:18 am

          Glad you are going to give the suggestion a try. ☺️

      • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 12, 2021 at 5:14 am

        Such great advice and encouragement! 😍🥰

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 12, 2021 at 5:10 am

      Some kiddos just take longer to initiate. Don’t be discouraged, instead celebrate the success you are having.

      Make sure you are telling your little one EVERY time you need to go. I would also start verbally acknowledging her signals so she can start to understand that means we start walking to the bathroom.

      Over time you will be able to prompt less and less.

  3. Avatar Leslie on April 12, 2021 at 6:00 am

    This really hits home, thank you for the podcast and thanks to all the moms who’ve shared! Had NO IDEA how “typical” missing pee was. We started EC around 10 months and going number 2 has not been a problem for a year or so. In contrast, Yesterday, after a year of ups and downs – in and out of pull ups, trainers, compostable diapers, naked time, commando, and everything else my 26 month old showed progress! He ran to the public restroom at the park, waited for help, then peed! Xoxo. Although “there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made” this was a real plus. We’ve had this routine of going at the park upon arrival, he’s never pre-emtively gone pee and lately resists the routine.

    he also was Mr. Cool at home yesterday. He DID stop play and run — somewhere — to pee. He ran to the outside patio, where he has seen my older child go (age 4, also boy). It was too thrilling that he had recognized he needed to, and then held it long enough to place it, to say anything .. but the time will come. Just the fact that he did that was a gift. Even though it was outside and not on the potty, it was a dream. I was too completely astounded to suggest he go in the house. It was so cute to see him push down his own pants and pee, and the fact is this is evidence he can put it where it belongs. Please let me know what you would do to emphasize the progress and keep it going while not necessarily approving of the peeing in the bushes thing.

    So after he did this twice we went on a brief walk and he had to poop mid walk, and alas went in his pants. He also peed on his bedroom carpet

    • Andrea Olson Andrea Olson on April 19, 2021 at 4:24 am

      It looks like he is showing you he can do it! Yay!!

  4. Avatar Stacey Friesen on April 19, 2021 at 11:56 am

    My husband and I are working on potty training our twin boys. They are 20 months we did 4 days at 18 months before reading your book, then started again a month later. They have been peeing and pooping on the potty when we take them. However our biggest couple frustrations is that they don’t tell us and they have an accident, or when we do take them they pee really fast which is great, but they usually don’t finish peeing and have an accident shortly after I take them off. They also have a very hard time sitting still for more than a second. How do we teach them to just sit still and relax and finish peeing. Once they are done they just want to get up really quick so they can dump the pee into the big toilet so they can flush the toilet.

    My other question is outings, they have been doing great when we go to the park. And can spend about an hour from home in the afternoon, however we live an hour from the city so what does everyone do for outings that are a minimum of 3 hours. They do try and hold it and will often have a really good pee when we get home. Right now they are in pull-ups when we go out, the sitter also has to put them into pull ups as they are on a farm and sometimes just can’t get them back to the house to use the potty when they are out doing chores. So we unfortunately are not able to be very consistent, and it does show after they have been in pull-ups again. Hoping with summer approaching we can encourage them to go outside if they can’t hold it.

    • Avatar Kate Falk on April 25, 2021 at 9:59 pm

      Hi Stacey, Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I know so many other families can relate to your questions.

      To encourage them to sit longer on the potty/toilet, I recommend turning on the faucet while they pee. The sound of running water will make it harder to hold back. Second, you could have a potty song. Pick a song that is about a minute long and play it each time your sons pee. The agreement is that they have to sit (and possibly sing along!) until the song finishes. Third, when you sense that they have a long, full pee, acknowledge it with “thank you for sitting and letting all the pee out. Now you’ll be able to keep your pants dry.”

      For outings, I would recommend bringing along a mini potty like the Potette Plus in the car. That way, you can offer a pottytunity when you first get to the city. Another option is to bring along a seat reducer and make your first priority upon arrival finding a public restroom.

      Yes! I was thinking that a farm is a perfect place to practice a “nature” pee. See if your sitter is up for it. That could eliminate the need for pull ups when with the sitter. Just watch out: kids typically LOVE the nature pee and then want to pee everywhere when they are outside. It took my son until about age 4 to understand that just because you’re outside, you can’t pee in front of the children’s museum!

      Again, thanks for posting such great questions. Kate

Leave a Comment

Scroll To Top