Coffee Talks: Potty Training Positivity

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With two toddlers running around, potty training and positivity are not two words that I have felt meshed together lately. However, it’s a new year, and I have a new and more positive mindset. Potty training both toddlers is a goal for this year, even though it feels like it’s been a goal for the last two years.

Our son is 4, and our daughter will be 3 in February. Having a 4 year old who isn’t quite potty trained weighs on me. There’s mom guilt, judgement from others, and the stress of hoping he doesn’t wear pull-ups to bed when he leaves for college.

The Guilt

Since right before our son turned two, we’ve been potty training. He has gone back and forth with having an interest in the potty, but mostly, we’ve been met with frustration and guilt. Spare me the “have you tried this” lecture. We have tried every single method.

From being naked to potty sticker charts and games, we came to the conclusion that when he’s ready, he’s ready. Even the pediatrician urged me to let go of my mom guilt. However, I’ve had a harder time dismissing those feelings lately.

Our daughter has been training for about 3 months, and on average, she has about 2 accidents a day. She even poops in the potty without hesitation. If you mention pooping in the potty to my son, he looks mortified, and trust me, again, we have tried it all. Alas, it feels like I’m still doing something wrong.

Good and Bad Days

There are days where he goes most of the day. Then, there’s a few days where he doesn’t go at all and asking about it turns into frustration on his end. As a mom, this is the biggest area where I feel like I’ve failed.

The good days give me hope, and the pediatrician, as well as some of my mom friends, assure me that he will get it when he’s ready. Initially, I thought his little sister’s interest and enjoyment with potty training would positively influence him, but he just rolls his eyes at her and goes about his day.

The Judgement

I think the hardest part and why I feel so much guilt is some family members say things like, “give him to me for a few days, and he’ll be trained in no time.” It’s an instant colossal slap to the face. It makes me cringe every time someone suggests I’m doing something wrong. Trust me, I’ve considered it thousands of times and still haven’t ruled it out.

I feel judged every holiday or outing where someone notices his pull-up. Regardless of how many trips we take to bathrooms during errands or visits with family, I bring a few spare pull-ups in case of accidents. I’ve tried just putting him in boxers or underwear, but time and time again, he just pees straight through. Most times, he isn’t even fazed by the wetness.

Concerns and Considerations

We’ve considered development issues, because he was a bit late with certain milestones. My husband has a history and a family history with ADHD, so we’ve also been considering that. A few members of both sides of our family are also on the autism spectrum. All of these things have been considerations with his development.

I’m not one to self-diagnose things, and I also don’t want to drag my 4 year old to every doctor and specialist searching for answers- yet. Yes, we have noticed anxiety. He seems to have moderate anxiety, which almost mirrors mine as a child and even now. This adds to my guilt, because I’ve tried to hide my anxiety from my little ones.

I’ve spent the majority of my anxiety attacks and rough moments hiding in a bathroom with running water. I do my best to hold it together in front of them, because I don’t want them to copy me. When there’s no where to hide, I breathe through those moments, and that’s something we’ve also had to teach my son to do.

My biggest concern is that I don’t want to assume there’s something wrong just because he isn’t trained yet. All kids learn at different speeds, and I genuinely understand that. I think having a ton of birds in my ear suggesting this or that aids in my worry and overthinking.

School is Approaching

In June, our son will be 5, and kindergarten will be this coming fall. He didn’t go to a pre-school. I had mixed feelings, and when I did research for some pre-schools in our area, most of them wouldn’t work with an untrained child of his age. Again, feeling like a bad mom.

Honestly, I think we push our children to go to school too early. I don’t think it’s necessary to have little ones go to school before kindergarten. At the same time, I completely understand why many do it, and I understand that there are social and learning benefits. I just think a child should have more time to learn, play, develop, and just be a kid at home.

Whether I completely agree with sending little ones to school before kindergarten or not, it’s the norm, especially in our area. So now, I feel as though I held him back, because he didn’t have those same experiences as most of the kids in our area do. See my constant push and pull struggle?

Chugging Along

At this point, we are chugging along and hoping that something clicks with the potty training. We’ve also been trying to get him excited for school in hopes that that will motivate him as well. It’s been a whirlwind, and positivity felt like it left a long time ago.

Hopefully, that positivity swoops back in and kicks the shit out of my mom guilt and worries. Some days, I felt like super mom, and other days, I feel like I already messed up beyond repair. Being a mom is hard, y’all. It’s the greatest yet most complicated thing. I love being a mom more than anything, so I’m hoping that a positive mindset can click into place for me too.

Tips for Staying Positive

Regardless of the mom guilt and frustration, staying positive is my goal. Potty training isn’t just hard on the parents. It’s also hard on the little ones. These are the tips and reminders that I try to remember when I need to be more positive when it comes to potty training.

  • Don’t compare yourself or your child to others. We all parent differently, and all kids learn and grow at different paces.
  • It will just click one day for your little one, and these moments will be just a blip.
  • When you stay positive through the process and don’t show your frustration to your toddler, they are more likely to stay positive too. Positivity can lead to progress.
  • When moms worry and feel guilt, they are often already amazing moms who just happen to overthink. It’s okay and more than normal to not always have total confidence as a mom.
  • When they are ready, they are ready. You can’t change that, so let of the negative feelings, have faith, and keep momming.

What struggles did you have as a mom of toddlers? How was your potty training and early education experiences? Let’s chat! Remember, this is a judgement free zone.

-With Love,


16 thoughts on “Coffee Talks: Potty Training Positivity”

  1. Same thing for us. My 4 years old son refuses to use the potty.
    My daughter had needed some time too. She first refused to use the potty too. Then, when she was 3 1/2 years old, there was a very very hot day and I let her go through the house naked because it was so hot. I was sure I would have to follow her everywhere to clean after her but actually she suddenly began to use the potty.
    I tried this method for my son but it did not work.
    As for the issue of judgement, this is also a cultural issue. I first tried to send my son to the French pre-school and they would not take him because he was not potty trained.
    Then I sent him to the German pre-school and it was no problem at all for them. Generally, German parents begin potty training their children a little later than in other countries so it is not rare that 3 or 4 years old are not ready yet. The teacher in the German pre-school even told me that her daughter was finally potty trained when she was 5.

  2. It took a while longer for our son too. One thing that helped was introducing Culturelle fiber packets into his drinks. It’s a probiotic with added fiber. This helped him go easier and no longer hold it out of the fear of it hurting. It’s something I hadn’t considered but our pediatrician suggested. Give yourself grace, you are doing awesome.

  3. This was really well written. As a to be mum, in just 7 weeks, this has made me nervous but you have to much care and thought written here. Really inspiring!

  4. Awe Jenni, my heart was breaking for you while reading this, not because your son isn’t potty trained, but because of your mom guilt. One of the best things that helped me with this when my kids were little was fully embracing my “bad mom of the year” philosophy. It sounds like your son marches to the beat of his own drum and as long as his pediatrician isn’t concerned with this situation being health-related then it sounds like your boy is just fine. And take it from one who’s youngest just turned 30 in December, if you think the mom guilt is bad now you’re in for fun times when your kiddos get older (I’m constantly reminded of everything I’ve done wrong, and some of it I agree with but some I don’t). You’re a good person Jenni and a good mom who is doing the best with what she has. Try not to let others, especially family, get inside your head because your inner critic doesn’t need this additional noise. 🤗

  5. I’m so sorry it’s been so difficult! I dont have a toddler; but my youngest is 8 and severely Autistic. We are still trying to potty train him! So I understand the frustration❤! My only advice is to keep hanging in there…as you said, it will happen when he’s ready.

  6. Do not let get you down. As my pediatrician explained to me when my son was young, your babies age, each child is different and for #2 until the spine closes up naturally, they will not get the instinct. Once I let go of the fear, life was ok and my son got potty trained with no issues. We also had a great teacher that helped to not to pressure the children. You are doing great and do not let the outside mommy competition get to you. xoxo

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