Potty Training a Stubborn Child

Potty training is not for the faint of heart.

Sure, there are all sorts of methods and some incredible stories online. (“We trained our one year old in 24 hours!!”)

We have tried many, many different things. The potty books we’ve been reading to her peaked her interest, but in the end, it was all to no avail. So how do you get through potty training a stubborn child?

**This post contains affiliate links which means I will make a commission if you purchase through the links. Thank you for supporting Mama By Fire!**

When we took Z in for her 3 year checkup (3 months ago) my husband and I practically begged her doctor for a solution. She merely shrugged and said, “Sorry, every kid is different.”This is the only tip that got my family through potty training a stubborn child.

Then she off handedly suggested a sticker chart (nothing new there), and a dance party every time my husband or I went pee on the potty.

Ah Ha! A sticker chart for EVERYBODY! Not just her. Duh!

Off to the dollar store I went to get charts and stickers.

This one simple tip is the only thing that worked to potty train our stubborn child.After about a week and a half of dancing and high fiving every time we peed, (and after I had filled at least two charts), our stubborn lady decided she wanted in on the action.

She really wanted to pick out a sticker. Every time we got to, she would tell us which color we should pick. So of course we purposely didn’t pick that one. It finally worked. I actually teared up the first time she went, (I blame it on the nursing hormones).

Fast forward to today. She’s doing awesome going pee on the potty. She holds it beautifully while we’re out and about, (never thought I would describe “holding it” as “beautiful.”) No accidents in public, (knock on wood), we’re still always prepared just in case.

But. She has yet to poop on the potty. So, yes, we are still changing giant toddler poops. She only wears a diaper for nap time and bedtime, so if she really has to poop, she says, “I want to go to sleeeeeeep!” Just so we’ll put on a stupid diaper. Ugh!

So, why do I have one of the coolest looking stickers of all time on my shirt you ask?

Because I pooped on the potty and I got a freaking awesome sticker. I put it on my shirt so Miss Z would be reminded of it all day long every time she looked at me.

The only tip that got my family through potty training a stubborn child.Either this is going to work “beautifully” and I can celebrate with a tear-filled dance party, or I just shared with my lovely readers that I had a BM, for no reason.

**Update-this is the ONLY potty training technique that ended up working for us. My girl just couldn’t stand that I was getting awesome stickers, and she wasn’t. 

What tips and tricks do you have for potty training? I would love to be able to train my son in under a year.

Thank you for stopping by! Please feel free to join the conversation and leave a comment. Also, if you’d like, you can follow Mama By Fire on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy:

The One Thing I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Having a BabyThis is the one thing I wish Someone had told me about having a baby. If you need to Prepare for baby, this is good advice!

Baby Led WeaningIntroducing foods to baby is such a fun phase! Why not skip the pureed foods and give Baby Led Weaning a try? It's so much fun!

Homemade Baby WipesThese Homemade baby wipes completely got rid of my eczema.

Previous Post Next Post


  • Reply threeboysandamom

    Haha!! I literally laughed out loud. So adorable and hilarious!! Love the sticker and I hope it works! If not, keep celebrating your bm’s with stickers because hey, adults don’t get celebrated for the little things like they should…and you deserve it! Pooping is hard work sometimes!

    September 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Thank you! And thanks for the support-hahaha!!!

      September 3, 2014 at 11:05 pm
  • Reply andthreetogo

    Good job mama! haha. I love this idea of getting the whole family in on it!

    September 4, 2014 at 8:19 am
  • Reply Valerie

    I literally laughed out loud about your BM “for no reason” – that is hilarious!! What a fantastic idea to have you and your husband getting stickers too! I’ve never heard that one before.
    Sam will be three next week and he will go in the potty on the days when I encourage him to, but otherwise he doesn’t really care either way. haha I may have to get the older kids in on doing a sticker chart – I bet he would love that! 😀

    September 4, 2014 at 5:02 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Haha-thanks! Potty training has been the most frustrating parenting endeavor so far. This has got to work, right? I’m hoping we have it down once Ronan is ready. Good luck with Sam.

      September 4, 2014 at 7:51 pm
  • Reply Rex

    This reminds me of our youngest. You, I mean she took forever to get potty trained. Didn’t know about the stickers then. I wonder if that would’ve worked with you, um …her? Love you, Dad

    September 5, 2014 at 5:29 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Haha! Sorry, dad! I don’t remember-treats probably would have worked for me.

      September 5, 2014 at 6:38 am
  • Reply Lifeblooming

    Haha! Fantastic! I’m now thinking of getting my own stickers and applying them liberally throughout the day for many awesome milestones. I tripped over your mess and didn’t yell – bam! Gold sticker.

    Loads of docs and psychs say until they’re ready, they’re not ready. That’s what I tell myself with my 3yo. My other kids took a while too. Thankfully it’s springtime now so we’ll be able to apply the sunshine, bare butt method.

    BTW – Rex’s comment is gorgeous!!

    September 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Haha-yeah, we should be getting more stickers! It’s so frustrating trying to potty train. Good luck with your little one! Hahaha!! Yes, he kind of threw me under the bus!

      September 8, 2014 at 5:06 pm
  • Reply Naomi

    I had to wait until my little one was mentally ready. I tricked her into using the potty a few times, and then she wouldn’t even sit on it. It took a lot of pee and poop panties for her to even realize what it felt like to go and need to go. She never noticed in diapers or pull-ups, so yes lovely cloth panties.

    September 17, 2014 at 8:18 am
    • Reply Naomi

      Oh, I almost forgot: letting her choose her own practice potty and panties went a long way to convincing her to be ready.

      September 17, 2014 at 8:18 am
      • Reply mamabyfire

        Yes! My daughter refused to wear panties-until she got to pick some out. Disney princesses of course! I wish we had let her pick her potty…

        September 17, 2014 at 8:36 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      I was very close to changing to cloth diapers with my daughter because she didn’t care when she was messy or wet. Thanks for stopping by!!

      September 17, 2014 at 8:34 am
      • Reply Lissette

        I’ve been cloth diapering my son since practically birth and he didn’t care if there was a mess there either until we started potty training, so the cloth wouldn’t have fixed the problem either. :\

        I am having the same issue as you. My very headstrong little boy will go #1 in the potty all day long with no problems, even when wearing a pull-up. He will even wake up in the middle of the night to go! It’s amazing! But doing a #2 in the potty is just NOT happening and I have no way of convincing him otherwise, except to show him every time I got poopie in the potty. If we could just get that *one thing* figured out, we’ll be completely trained.

        June 2, 2016 at 2:00 pm
  • Reply Sue Parke

    I love the potty training sticker idea. My cousin did the chart and her daughter was potty trained in a week! On a family vacation this past summer I bribed my nephew with $1 haha! My daughter is only 7 months old, but I’m saving all these ideas for when it’s time to get her trained!

    October 9, 2014 at 7:00 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Haha! I wish cash would work on my daughter. She understands the concept, but when she is set on something, she doesn’t care how cool her prize is. Until everyone else is getting stickers, apparently. Good luck for when the time comes for your little one!

      October 10, 2014 at 2:47 pm
  • Reply melissajane01

    I honestly never did anything special just encouraged them to go. My toddler is basically poop potty trained but still doesn’t care if he pees all over his underwear. Your ideas sound great! Love your sticker =)

    October 9, 2014 at 8:04 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      So we have opposite problems. Which is worse? Ha-j/k. Don’t answer that!

      October 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm
  • Reply CourtneyLynne

    Ahhhh potty training… My least favie topic….. But you def made me laugh with this post! Thanks for the good read 😉

    October 9, 2014 at 4:55 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Haha! Thank you! My least favorite too! I am so freaking done! LOL!

      October 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm
  • Reply Melissande

    GOOD FOR YOU!!! HIGH FIVE!!! 😉 That’s seriously hilarious. I died, well almost, laughing. 🙂 I hope it works soon! My daughter was the same way. Poop took a while – she’s a bit stubborn. Your idea is brilliant though. I might have to use it on the next one.

    October 9, 2014 at 5:36 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire

      LOL! Thanks! What is it with the stubborn little girls? Mine is VERY set in her ways and she’s only three! I’m hoping things move a bit faster with my second.

      October 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm
  • Reply Christine

    I really talked up a “prize purse” for my little one. I started this at about 18 months when she started to show signs of being interested but didn’t push her to use the potty. I basically told her if you pee on the potty, you get a prize from the purse which we left in the bathroom (and it was mostly just hershey kisses). She would even tell her 9-month older cousin about it so I thought this is an awesome idea! Well she did it a couple of times, but nothing habit forming. Well just 2 weeks ago we went to Disney and she was still in her diaper but was telling us every time she had to go. We actually ignored her and just said good job and went along with changing her diaper until we got home (because who is going to potty train at Disney?!) That Monday after we got home we started using the potty and you know what? She didn’t care about the prize from the purse. She loved using the potty and just wanted hugs, kisses and high-fives. I think it was just the right TIME! She made the decision that she was done with “baby diapers” and we have been having success since. Don’t worry – like your doctor said, they are all different and they WILL eventually do it, just on their own time. GOOD LUCK!

    October 10, 2014 at 5:57 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      That is so awesome! When my daughter first went on the potty, she was pretty excited at how big of a deal we made it. We’ll definitely be starting earlier with my son so we can really ease him into it. He’s already way different from his big sis!

      October 10, 2014 at 7:40 am
  • Reply displacedyinzer

    What a great idea, stickers for all! We had a tough time training our son, and now our daughter is not interested in potty training. Going to try giving everyone rewards!

    October 10, 2014 at 8:32 am
    • Reply mamabyfire

      Potty training has been the most frustrating thing as parents for my husband and me. Finally found something that worked-make the kid feel left out. Lol! Now she’s doing awesome! Good luck with your daughter!!

      October 10, 2014 at 8:42 am
  • Reply Rachael Boley

    Omg Tarynn, I love you so so so much!!!!!!!! This is AWESOME and so are you! Mom of the year is you! Love it! Here’s to toddlers who refuse to poop on potties and moms who call it beautiful when they do!

    May 7, 2015 at 11:00 am
    • Reply Rachael Boley

      I realize I Commented like as if I’ve never read or Commented on this before, but I love it just as much now as the first time!

      May 7, 2015 at 11:02 am
      • Reply mamabyfire@gmail.com

        Haha! No worries! Thanks!

        May 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire@gmail.com

      Haha! Thanks! Yes, it was such a wonderful, beautiful day! LOL!

      May 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm
  • Reply Crystal Bissonnette

    That’s awesome! You deserve 5 stickers!
    We used M & M’s with my first son. It was cake. Now the second cries when I tell him I am gonna put him on the potty. He is only 19 months but that was the exact time I started introducing it to my other son. My first was eager, my second, he just wants the M & M’s!

    May 7, 2015 at 6:03 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire@gmail.com

      Haha!! I wish my daughter was more food motivated with potty training. She chocolate motivated with everything else. Life would have been so much easier. Hopefully my son will be more into it!

      May 7, 2015 at 6:05 pm
  • Reply Rebekah @ Surviving Toddlerhood

    My oldest was the same way. It wasn’t until he got a stomach virus and was constantly in the bathroom that he figured out pooping on the potty was okay.

    Here are tips from our second experience: http://survivingtoddlerhood.com/2015/01/11/ten-tips-potty-training-your-toddler/

    October 9, 2015 at 1:21 pm
    • Reply mamabyfire@gmail.com

      Oh no!! Thanks for sharing!

      October 9, 2015 at 2:24 pm
  • Reply Potty Training Tips: 15 Moms Share Their Secrets - Healthy Happy Thrifty Family

    […] Potty Training a Stubborn Child […]

    June 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm
  • Reply Parenting Passage

    Awesome post and great tips, Tarynn :-). Loved this new way of using potty charts and stickers.

    July 25, 2017 at 7:20 am
  • Reply Nicole

    How did you get ur daughter to stop peeing in her bed 1st thing in the morning I’ve gotten my daughter ( will be 3 at the end of June) fully potty trained except bedtime. She makes it through nap time no problem I’ve tried cutting off all fluids an hour before bedtime and still she wakes up and pees in her bed but sleeps all the way through the night so I’m pretty sure she’s doing it on purpose cuz after she pees in her bed she still stays in bed playing with her stuffed animals until I tell her to get up and get her wet clothes off.

    April 12, 2019 at 8:40 am
  • Leave a Reply

    You may also like