Dealing with Potty Training Frustrations

For parents there’s hardly a more frustrating rite of passage than potty training. While most of us hope that the transition from diapers to underpants will be instantaneous, the painful truth is that for most children, potty training is a process.


While frustration is usually a byproduct during any work in progress, when potty training, it can be significantly reduced if you’re aware of the process and are prepared to face the frustrations head on.

Don’t Start until Your Child is Ready

One of the most common reasons parents encounter frustration during the potty training process is that the process is started prior to the child and parents being ready. Most children are ready to be trained between 2 and 3 years of age, but age is the least important factor when determining potty training readiness. A child may be ready to potty train when he stays dry a few hours at a time, shows interest in using the potty, communicates when he has to go or has just gone, and can pull up and take down his pants independently.  For parents, readiness means you’re ready to commit to the process and willing to spend a few days at home to focus on potty training.

Set a Plan

Another reason frustration sets in is because there is no potty training plan. Potty training is stressful in and of itself, so potty training when anything else is going on in the family is a recipe for failure. To ensure success, choose a time when things are fairly quiet (no moves or new babies coming!) and set aside a few days to focus exclusively on potty training. At first, let your child go bare bottom so she can better feel the sensations. You’ll also need a few tools to help your child succeed at potty training. A potty, a training seat to go on the big potty, training pants, rubber pants, underwear and disposable training pants are all valuable tools in the potty training arsenal. While it’s true that using disposable training pants exclusively may hinder progress, if they’re used for naptime, bedtime and when you’re out and about while your child gets the hang of it, they’re less likely to cause confusion.

Have Realistic Expectations

Frustration often sets in during potty training because parents have unrealistic potty training expectations. When potty training your child expect accidents, be prepared to do lots of laundry and plan on putting in tons of effort. For children who are ready, potty training usually takes 3 to 5 days. During that time you’ll need to offer constant reminders to your child and insist she sit on the potty every 15 minutes to start. As she gets the hang of it, you can increase the time between sittings. When she’s playing, she’s less likely to want to go, so you’ll need to really be vigilant in reminding her to go. Since accidents are part of the process, a child should not be punished if she has an accident. Instead, she should be encouraged to help clean up, get fresh clothes and try again.


While potty training can be frustrating, having a better understanding of the process, a potty training plan and realistic expectations can help to limit the frustrations. While the process may feel like it’s taking forever, the good news is that the chances your child will go to kindergarten in diapers is virtually zero to none.