Why I Don’t Potty Train

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potty training text

Life has been pretty exciting around our house lately.

In the kitchen I’ve had an exciting week of brewing my first batch of kombucha. I know pretty exciting stuff!

Something else has been “brewing” around our house too!

News I have been excited to share!

A few weeks ago our family enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing week on vacation. It was a time well spent soaking up the sun and making family memories. After a week of glorious vacation we not only brought home lots of memories and fresh tans, but also a preschooler no longer in diapers and pull-ups.

An exciting new change!

Piper turned three the first week of March. Three and still in pull-ups with no interest in the toilet! I’m talking absolutely zero interest!

By three it is largely assumed a child  must be either well established with using the toilet or in the process of being trained.  Three came for Piper, however, it didn’t bring any sign of potty time happening in the big toilet anytime soon.  Neither did we choose to head down the road of training.

I truly believe sometimes we, as loving parents, push our young children to “age appropriate” activities before they are truly ready! Often I find myself tempted to push. Whether it’s potty training by three, sleeping through the night at six weeks, or going in a class alone.  So often this push comes with complaints about battles. Our children simply don’t fit into our time frame for life and so we struggle and fight and complain until they do. Parenting becomes an all out battle. A battle which parents are set on winning.  Creating a power struggle between parent and child. A struggle that only leads to frustration for both.

No potty training?

No battles? 

What’s the alternative?

Pull-ups till high school?

What would happen if instead of constantly pushing and desiring children to fit into our perfect timeline and mold for life we allowed new milestones and growth, like using the toilet, to come naturally when a child is naturally ready?

In their own time and own way.

Young children when given proper examples in their parents want in time to mature assuming more grown-up behaviors.  Allowing a child to feel trust, encouragement, and a place of support and the parent the ability to lead by example and experience the joy in watching a child grow.

I’m new to this parenting stuff, a mere rookie of only three years. Despite my “newness” to this parenting journey, this natural approach to parenting makes so much sense to me, one I have become very passionate about. One I have seen beautifully work with sleeping, as well as weaning from nursing, and other young milestones. Why not approach potty training in such a natural way?

The last of couple weeks have been a true testament that learning to say “goodbye” to diapers truly can come successfully from such a natural approach. Without any “training” or bribery or struggles Piper went from saturated pull-ups to full-time peeing and you know what else in the big toilet. No accidents, no tears, no battles, nothing but sweet potty success. In fact, he even started waking up dry, a huge change!

100% day and night potty success.

No training.

Just his own time, in his own way.

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How to Encourage the Potty without Training:

1. Be an Example. Yes, this means you are going to have to be “open” with your potty business. Leave the door open, talk about it, “Mommy is going pee pee in the toilet now.” I know this is getting a bit personal. Without an example to follow children won’t know what the expected behavior is and how they are to go about accomplishing it.

2. Be patient. Whether your child expresses a desire to use the toilet at 18 months or 4 years old, be patient. Advice and questions may come, “Oh is he potty trained yet?” “He isn’t still wearing pull-ups?” You can graciously dismiss such concerns knowing when your child is ready they will express their new desire.

3. Encourage, but don’t push. Offer genuine praise for even the smallest toilet success. Even if it’s only a one time occurrence.

On a different note of excitement, my first week of kombucha brewing is almost complete and ready to share! So much to share, so little time! Till the next adventure…

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43 Comments

  • I didn’t have a well-formed natural parenting philosophy, but I started training my daughter at two and it was a miserable few months without success. I went back to diapers and started again at three and it was no sweat. Now at 18 she’s been going to the potty very well without any problems for quite a while now! 😉

  • So glad you posted this. Nathan turns 3 next month and Im already getting the comments and questions. He just isnt interested. I think we are close though because he takes off his wet diaper or pull up. Just cant bring myself to push him into it….

  • Great article! This reminds me about how Amora naturally started sleeping through the night and then went to her own crib in her own room one night after we bed shared her whole life, with no issues. She never cried or screamed once. Now I put her down to bed and she either goes to sleep or happily plays in her crib until she wants to go to sleep. I truly am so thankful for being able to learn about natural parenting 🙂

  • Completely agree Kristin..we are not all made cookie cutter. It makes sense we all learn differently and at different paces. Thank God he made us each unique. also greatful there isnt a book out there telling all us 20 30 and 40 somethings what milestone we should have reached..boy that would be quite the book eh?!

  • I did train my first son. When he was two, I pulled out the trainer potty and a doll that peed. The doll peed in the potty, and we had a celebration. Then I asked my son if he could do what the doll did. He sat on the potty and peed in it, and we had another celebration. After a few more celebrations, he was pretty reliably trained. When he went #2, I dumped the contents of his diaper in the potty, and said, “This poop goes in the potty, too.” Done. I think my son’s super even temperament played a huge part in it, but this method worked so well for us. There was zero struggle. Then, when little brother was about two, he watched his brother use the toilet, and he did the same. What didn’t happen was scolding for an accident (even when my first son had an accident while riding on his Dad’s shoulders *giggle*). That being said, I like the notion of not training. Parenting is already full of struggles, and I admire your commitment to not creating even more. Congratulations on saying good bye to diapers.

  • It is great that you waited until your child is ready but not everyone can afford to still be buying diapers past age 1 or so. In some cultures, children are naturally potty-trained much younger. I came from a third world country and disposable diapers are sometimes a luxury. My nieces and nephews are potty-trained or naturally potty-trained before they are 2, sometimes younger. I noticed that it is different in a more industrialized/wealthier country. I will have to look into what my parents and sisters did because I remember one of my nephews stopped wearing diapers by 14 months. He’s the one who refused to wear diaper and I thought it was normal until I lived in North America. Parents have many struggles including financial so diapers for 3 years for a child is just out of the question for some.

    • I understand. We are a single income family and watch every dime. Cloth diapering is very inexpensive and can be used as well. No need for costly disposables if you don’t have the money or desire to go down that road. I lived in Africa (Ghana) during my teen years and children ran around naked from a very young age. That was kind of like “natural potty training” although family’s used cloth diapers when they went out 🙂 Thank you for commenting. Certainly something to think about. Every culture is very different.

      • We have found that leaving our youngest naked translates into using the potty for him; hen he wears anything (disposable, underwear, whatever) he will going what he’s wearing. I wonder if there is a correlation to be found there? Simple curiosity. We’re trying to let him do his own thing in his own time.

  • Totally did the same with mine, even after the comments…….” When are you working on potty?”
    My two trained themselves in just a few days!

  • That”s what parents aught to do… prepare their children for the future in any way that will not harm them. And potty training is part of it even as ridiculous as it seems. You need to foster confidence and independence in some form. The hassle comes when having to clean a grown toddler which is a three year old. I rather hassle in teaching my children how to use the toilet in the most efficient, softest manner. You make it appear as if its a life trial to potty train.

    This proved to be a disaster for my niece who still at 12 would wet the bed! Her mother had the same odd philosophy.Anyways, thanks for the post.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your niece. It sounds like there may be a bigger issue happening than the type of potty-training or lack of used. I know children who also do that and were “trained”.

    • Yes, I believe many do. I am not sure how I would approach the daycare setting. I might talk with the director to see if you could work something out with them to allow the child to wear a pull-up until they express more desire to go on the toilet. Seeing the other children go, those who are potty trained may also encourage them.

  • Our potty learning experience lasted from about 18 months to 2.5…. we just slowly introduced the potty (bc she wanted to use it)…. then she would use the potty occasionally when she wanted…. then I started letting her go naked at home and she learned to go on her own…. then we worked on wearing panties….then pants…she was potty trained at home….. then now at 2.5 we’ve finally kicked the diapers completely…..and I seriously didnt work at it one bit…. just encouraged her and cheered when she went potty.

  • What about mommies with children in daycare centeres? Often, I’ve heard, they have “rules” for advancing through the different levels of classrooms. Ex: to move from the toddler to kiddie room, you must be potty trained. (or something like that) Would you suggest a little “push” to train when nearing the time that “most kids their age” are advancing or do you carry on with letting them do it “their own way — in their own time” and be okay if they’re the oldest “toddler” in their class?

    • That is a great question. I am not sure how I would approach the daycare setting. I might talk with the director to see if you could work something out with them to allow the child to wear a pull-up until they express more desire to go on the toilet. Seeing the other children go, those who are potty trained may also encourage them.

  • THANK YOU! My daughter was nearly 3 1/2 and all her little friends were already potty trained. I felt so inadequate. Every time I tried, it was a struggle and stressful, so I decided I would try when she was ready. When she was ready, it was fast and EASY! I now have a 2 1/2 year old who shows very little interest, so I’m not even gonna try. I ask occasionally and let her decide. We’ve had a couple of accidents here and there when I left the diaper off for too long, hoping she’d “get it”, but no big deal! If she’s 3 1/2, at least I know it’s in the genes :o)

    • You are welcome. So glad to hear it blessed you. Can’t wait to hear her success story in the future 🙂 It will happen when she is ready.

  • Our little one is going to be 4 in November and has only recently become really interested, much like her older sister. Each child is different so we’re just letting it happen and not stressing about it. I’m sure she won’t be wearing pull ups when she’s getting her driver’s license! LOL 🙂

  • Thank you for this. My son is 4 1/2 and fully day time trained but wears a pull up at night. It sometimes worries me that he’s the only 4 yr old not nighttime trained but at the same time I just try to be patient and figure it will happen when he’s ready 🙂

      • My 4yr old, who will be 5 in December, also wears a pull up at night. He tends to wake up dry more often than not, but he’s a heavy sleeper and will sleep in a soaking wet bed if it happens. You’re certainly not alone in this Kelly!

  • i dont agree, its all about self-esteem and hygiene too, my child was pampers free at 1,5 years, about 20 years ago all chidren were pampers free by age 1(my mom said :D), because there were no pampers, its alll about moms being too busy and too lazy to be there for kids. its not normal when 3 years old have pampers. its easy to say oo we dont want to push children bla bla. they control already by age 1.5 bladder, you are all brainwashed by pampers adds and paid doctors.FIRST YOU TEACH YOUR CHILD TO PEE IN PAMPERS AND THEN YOU RETRAIN TO PEE IN TOILET???? have time for your child and use clothdiapers and you see that by age 2 surely they realize that its not good when pee or poo is in diaper. and pampers is bad for your child-all the chemicals+for enviroment too. i have seen children who are 3 and have pampers-they are shamed when they do it in pampers-beacuse its not normal!

    • We were a cloth family with occasional disposable while out. I am a stay-at-home mom with all the time in the world for my children. Glad you were able to meet your children’s needs in the way you saw fit and what worked for you :).

    • So glad someone is speaking up for setting some limits on the ridiculous “let the child rule the world” approach we are living in. A three/four year old still pooping in their pants? Give me a break. Not good for anyone (including the child). I have had it with the “set no limits or rules” parenting style. Love your children, train them, and yes, discipline them. It’s called raising a responsible, independent, mature, self-sufficient, adult.

      • There are many blogs and posts regarding your style of parenting and potty training. This blog is about natural Christian Parenting. We discipline and train for sin issues of the heart not for issues of our convenience (like when a child uses the bathroom). I encourage you to find one of these blogs if this aligns more with your way of parenting.

  • Millions of parents provide excellent care for their children both cloth diapering and using disposables..what a parent chooses to use is moot. Many parents have struggles and successes potty training at all early ages. I had two amazingly successful potty trainers and two very difficult potty trainers. All treated with the same respect and all had my full attention. Being a SAHM is not every moms cup of tea, listening to and allowing your child to have a say over their own body is important. I believe kristin is trying to convey that listening to yours child’s ques allows them to listen to their bodies and allows them a voice. Personality, daily routine etc has a huge impact on when a child is emotionally prepared. Force training to early can lead to many unpleasant issues for both child and parent..I.e. bed wetting, confusion, frustration and guilt. In my humble opinion its best to go with the flow ( no pun) then try to swim up stream. But to each his own. 🙂

  • I could not agree more with every word you wrote. I suffered (and so did my son) with our first round of potty training. I began at about 2.5 yrs old and my son just didn’t want to “go” in the big potty. I kept at him for just a little over a year and a half and only then it was just getting him to do “#1”. When I had my second son, I swore I would take a new approach with him when it came to potty training (and by a new approach I mean NO APPROACH). I decided I would let my son tell me when he was ready. For him it was age 4. He wore underwear during the day and training pants while he slept. There were MANY accidents along the way (mostly the “#2” messy kind), but I made a point of not pressuring him as I had done with his brother. Just as he was about to begin kindergarten, he began sleeping through the entire night without any accidents. He also had ZERO #2 accidents in his underwear. He began going consistently everyday without any prompting whatsoever. I praised him and he was thrilled he was FINALLY a BIG BOY as he put it. He is now ready for school and fully potty trained without one single meltdown from either of us. I only wish I had figured this out with my first son and not listened to EVERYONE who told me there was something wrong with him (and me) for not being potty trained by age 3. You are a very thoughtful mom for having followed your gut instinct and allowed nature to dictate when your child was ready for the potty. Thanks for this post. I’m sure many moms will benefit from it.

  • I did not “potty trained” either. Sebastián was 1 and 4 months years old when we decided to say “good bye diapers” we use only ONE single package of night pull ups for 1 week and he Lear how to use the big toilet. Of course it was a challenge, but was gooooooood for us and for him, thank God for the patience and love. Go ahead big mom! You are so right as lots of moms are. Bless you!

  • I’m so glad you posted this. I have twins, one of which has been using the toilet for a year now, the other kept telling me he wasn’t ready. A week away from his 4th bday, I found him in the bathroom pooping- all by himself without a word to anyone. After his success, I asked him what made him decide to finally poop on the potty & his response was, “I was just ready to poop, Mom.” Well, okay then. I had tried a few times over the last year bribing, sitting on the potty all day, etc. -usually at the urging of an old-fashioned mother-in-law. I’m so glad I finally left him to make up his own mind. I don’t think we give kids enough respect when it comes to knowing their bodies.

  • I have a 15 year old and a 26 year old. Just before her second birthday, my daughter told me that she wanted to go on the big potty. So, I took her diaper off and she went in the big potty. We were on a trip at the time, so when we got home a few days later, I bought panties for her and that was that. She was ready. My son was not ready at age 2. He was uninterested even at age 3. Shortly after he turned 4, he was ready and within days he was out of pull-ups. No hassle, no tears. Yes, I did get comments from people, but I ignored them. I also nursed both of them until they weaned themselves. I read some of the comments about “training” and “discipline.” Yes, children need discipline, but that does not relate to learning to use the toilet, in my opinion. I loved your post.

  • I also found this to be the case with our little ones. After lots of “training” and accidents with our first when she was 2, I let the next 2 decide when they were ready. They both started using the potty at 3 with virtually no accidents even through the night. I am a firm believer in child led potty training.

  • Wow! I love the he got the hang of it on his own accord. I bet this method would be hard though for moms with little ones in daycare as the rush your children to be potty trained. Mine started at 16 months, they wanted to be big girls and hated have spoiled diapers on them for one millisecond. Thx for sharing you journey.

    • Daycare would certainly make such a decision difficult. I have been blessed to be home with my kids during these years. Each kid really is so different. My youngest has shown interest at a much earlier age.

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