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Help! My child won’t sit on the toilet or potty!

  • 3 minute read

You are ready to save money on nappies, you have done your research, brought your potty, and training pants, cleared your are rearing to go! But what happens when your stubborn toddler refuses to sit on the potty or toilet?

Don’t fear as you are not alone! There are thousands of mums wondering the same thing. Toddlers can be very headstrong, and it is usually at this age where everything becomes a power struggle.

So what can you do?


little girl stubbornly sitting on a potty in the bathroom


The first thing is to not start toilet training too early. 

Everything depends on the readiness of your child. All children are different. Usually, you start toilet training around 2 years of age.

If it is too early they will not cooperate, they will simply refuse. This is the time to back away and cut your losses as they are not ready. Postpone it for a few weeks or a few months.

Reasons they may refuse are:

  • They don’t have the understanding yet of what potty-training means.
  • They don’t want to miss out on play time and being in a nappy is easier.
  • There are too many changes at home, like a new baby, a separation or new childcare.
  • They may not be feeling well.


toddler crying holding toy car while parent is picking them up


    There are so many reasons why a toddler won’t start toilet training. The question you need to ask yourself is are they truly ready? or are they just trying to push their boundaries? Sometimes you may have to take the bull by the horns and push on through.

    Things that may help are:

    Try establishing a good toilet training routine. Every morning when they wake up, place them on the  potty or toilet, try again at morning tea, leaving the house, lunch and after a nap etc etc. Get them used to the day to day routine.

    Make an announcement when you go. This will help them learn that this is something that is apart of day to day life. It helps if you get everyone in the household to talk about going so that your child feels like it is normal part of life, and they may want to be like their older sibling or like Dad.

    Make a fuss of even the smallest achievement, if they sit on the toilet and try give them positive feedback and tell everyone. If they do go on the toilet,  celebrate with giving them a sticker or a trip to the park.


    girl on potty in lounge with her baby doll on another potty beside her


    Let them pick which underwear to wear. Let them own the process.

    Read books on toilet training with them.

    Ask them frequently if they need to go, even if they are in their nappy.

    Know that there are going to lots of accidents during the toilet training process. Try to stay calm and remember this won’t be forever.

    If it is becoming a battle and each day is a fight - take a step back, relax and try again in a few weeks. Keep being positive and asking them if they need to go and when they are ready try again.