Is your child refusing to toilet train? Here's how to actually potty train a strong-willed child in 3 days. This worked for us with successful results!

How to actually potty train a strong-willed child in 3 days

Ruthie Rearing 5 Comments

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The single most daunting task for a mother is trying to potty train a strong-willed child.  Mothers from all walks of life pull their hair out in search of the secret combination to make their strong-willed child obey, much less transition from diapers to undaroos.

Having been there myself a time or two, and coming off the heels of a successful potty training venture (channeling my strong-willed daughter’s experience with my even stronger-willed grandson aka The Tiny Tornado), as well as picking the brains of many a young mama on the subject, I’m here to offer an answer.

Yes, you really can successfully potty train a strong-willed child in 3 days and here’s how.


Is your child refusing to toilet train? Here's how to actually potty train a strong-willed child in 3 days. This worked for us with successful results!


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How to potty train a strong-willed child in 3 days


1.)  Wait till he’s ready

Moms across the board advise this over and over.  There’s a reason why – they’re MOMS, and they’ve all tried too soon and given up (myself included).  When your kid doesn’t know if he’s pooped or peed, then 9 months is probably too early.  Generally ages 2 to  3 ½ is ideal.


2.)  Talk it up

Once you see she recognizes when she poops, begin talking about the potty. Mention the function in everyday conversation and show her what to do (or what big sister does, etc).  Introduce a kiddie potty.  Keep the conversation going.  Also, Potty Training Without Tantrums is a great resource to dig into before you’re knee deep in…well, you know.


3.)  Recognize the signs

When a child can hold his pee for 3 hours, is dry after a night’s sleep, or tells you to “go away I need to poop”, he is physically ready.  NOTE:  Strong-willed children often disappear or even announce they’re going in the other room to poop.

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4.)  Continue enforcing non-negotiable rules (use link to swiller)

Strong willed children will take you down a road, around the turn, and up a steep hill if you choose to go along for the ride.  This is a subject better saved for another article – in fact, I addressed it here – just  know he or she will take you on that same ride when it comes to potty training if you’re not already practicing consistency in your discipline.


5.)  Determine when

Once you’ve witnessed the signs of physical and mental readiness, chatted about it, and worked on your discipline skills, it’s time to figure out when.  My suggestion is a time when you can maintain consistency for around ten days. Preferably when he can either stay home with you or in a controlled environment with a sitter you’ve clued in on the plan.


Is your child refusing to toilet train? Here's how to actually potty train a strong-willed child in 3 days. This worked for us with successful results!


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6.)  Stay home

This is my best recommendation to potty train a strong-willed child.  Don’t plan it during vacation, Christmas, or a get-away with your hubby.  Mentally prepare to lock yourself into staying home and maintaining a consistent schedule.  (If you’re a social bug or like shopping, you’ll have to especially psych yourself up for stepping away from TJ Maxx and the Rae Dunn plate wear.)


7.)  Let them go nakie

This is crucial for your child to recognize when he or she goes.  Especially when he’s not sold on using the potty.  Our swiller had never acknowledged when he peed, only pooped.  So the first time he had a #1 accident in his Mickey Mouse-a-roos, he was quite disturbed.  It gave him something tangible and he didn’t like making a mess in the kitchen floor.


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8.)  Set a timer

It’s kinda like Pavlov’s dog – when the timer went off, he knew what it meant. With the rule consistently reinforced, he gave up the fight.  By day 3 when the family was at my house for independence day festivities, the timer went off and his parents both acknowledged and reinforced the pattern.  He just grinned and went along with the program.


9.)  Let them go outside

One of the biggest sellers for boys is the ability to shoot a stream off the back deck.  Admittedly, they have the advantage over girls, but this tactic can be used if you’re willing.  Just keep diaper wipes and a trash can on hand, or place the potty wherever you are.


10.)  Give grace, yet firmness

There will be accidents.  Know this.  Expect them and when they happen, revisit the plan and even have them help clean the mess if possible.  Do it with grace, yet firmness.  Again, if your child is out of his element at the accidentally poops because he’s distracted, roll with it.


Is your child refusing to toilet train? Here's how to actually potty train a strong-willed child in 3 days. This worked for us with successful results!


A few more thoughts from a seasoned mama

Kids don’t like to give up their business.  Their poop is their precious.  It sounds crazy, but giving that up is like giving up a part of their bodies.  Also, some kids are scared of the potty.  The Tornado was worried he’d get sucked down the drain so his aunt (my youngest daughter) spun a yarn about how she got sucked down the toilet and went to Disney Land.  Hey, whatever works!

Also – bribery doesn’t generally work with the Swiller.  You can try – and you’ll find a few suggestions in my downloadable checklist of 25 successful tips and tricks for potty training, but don’t get too discouraged if that doesn’t work.

Also, it’s not worth it to scream and yell.  Don’t go down that road – for more help on the frustration of motherhood, read my book, Count to Nine; 9 Liberating Steps for Mom Frustration and Anger.  You’ll be glad you did.

welcome mama count to nine

After extensive research, I’ve gathered relevant information from mothers across the globe, called 29 successful tips and tricks for potty training you can access here.  These tips include the ones mentioned in this post, and are a helpful checklist to keep close at hand.

Checklist of these tips plus the full 29 tips for potty training:  Click Here!

How to potty train a strong willed child in 3 days

You can do this, mom.  Patiently lay the groundwork and when the time comes, you and your Swiller (Strong-willer) will be ready to roll!


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Comments 5

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  4. I have read and tried to apply all of the above my grandson just turned four and he is anti potty anti big boy under wear and def anti going naked! he will have a one-two hour tantrum about the whole situation I have raised and potty trained three children and also potty trained my grand daughter as well as a friend’s grandson I have tried throwing cherrios making a game a song sending him with his dad and granddad when they go and he isn’t having it! what advaice can you give?

    1. Post

      My best advice is to just wait. I thought my grandson would NEVER be trained because he is the KING of strong-willed souls LOL. He had already turned 4 before this finally worked for us. When it’s so frustrating, sometimes you just have to give it a bit more time. They know when they are ready. Hang in there!! <3

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