How to Potty Train a Stubborn Child

My three-year-old is still not potty trained. Some days, I wonder if she’ll ever get there…and then, I wonder if I’m doing something wrong. After all, we cloth diapered….and she’s a girl! All the research I did states the same thing–girls potty train faster and babies in cloth diapers potty train faster.

Apparently, my stubborn three-year-old didn’t get the memo.

All the research in the world doesn’t mean that my cloth diapered baby girl would be potty trained early because when it comes down to it, she is her own person.

My husband works in clinical research. You can conduct studies on diapers, creams, and medications, but in the long run, each person can have a different reaction. That doesn’t mean you throw out the study, but just that you have to re-adjust your thinking. This is what is called an outlier. Someone or something that stands out of the norm.

So, here I am. An overtired mom praying for the day that I only have one child in diapers…and I am re-adjusting my thinking.

Here are five tips for potty training a stubborn child (because I can’t be the only one!)

Stop thinking your child is just being stubborn. Ha, as I’ve referred to potty training a stubborn child, I realized that I’m looking at it wrong. As parents, we have this timeline that we expect our children to just get behind and follow. They walk at one, talk at two. They stop breastfeeding at twelve months or twenty-four months or thirty-six months…or they never breastfeed. We have this idea in our heads that they’ll follow our timeline…but that’s not always the case. If you had told me when Brookie was a baby that she would still be in diapers, I would’ve laughed.

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Here’s the bottom line. Potty training is a skill to be learned. Just like walking, counting to ten, reading, and riding a bike, it is a skill. A skill that each child reaches when they’re ready. If they’re not ready, you’re going to be banging your head against a wall while your child is in tears. It will be a long, drawn out process that will fail. I say this–because I’ve been there. We threw in the towel on potty training and I don’t regret it.

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Don’t compare your child to the eighteen-month-old who was potty trained. In fact, don’t compare your child. Your child is an individual with separate needs. When you try to compare them to another child (who might have been ready earlier) you leave yourself feeling inferior and that will make your child more vulnerable and less willing. Now, if your child was potty trained at a young age, know that I’m not saying anything against you. Every child potty trains when they are ready.

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Talk it up. We borrowed a DVD from the library called Potty Power. It was great. Brookie couldn’t stop talking about the potty. For the first time in her life, it seemed to click. Not enough to get her on the potty full-time, but enough that the potty wasn’t this big and scary thing. Let your child see you go and talk about what you’re doing. It can be awkward, but it really helps if you can get the conversation going. Have terms so that they know what to say when they have to go. Make it to be a normal, healthy part of life. Remember, they will eventually forget any awkward bathroom conversation from two or three years old.Potty Power - For Boys & Girls

 

Do not discipline. A child who has never been potty trained should not be disciplined for it. Like I said, earlier, it is a skill. Treat it as such. If you feel like you’re not making progress and your child is too old to still be in diapers, talk to your doctor to rule out medical conditions. Most children will reach a point where they are embarrassed to be in diapers before it can be a discipline issue.

Use rewards. Find something that works for you and for your child. My daughter loves stickers and chocolate. We utilize both. Stickers if she asks to sit on the potty and does so. M & M’s if she goes. Then, celebrate the success. Make the experience a positive one. Treat yourself too, parent. One M & M for the child, five M & M’s for the parent. This process can be hard on the parent too.

And finally, don’t push too hard. If your child is resisting every effort, then take a break. Remember, your child won’t go to college in diapers. It will happen, eventually. Honestly, it’ll happen sooner if you aren’t pushing too hard. One day, it will just click.


I’ve heard the stories of children who wake up one morning and just start going, all on their own. Hey, if you can potty train that way, why put pressure on them earlier? That’s where we’re at. I am hoping one day she’ll do just that.

Until then, this is what I’m doing to encourage us in that direction.

A reward system in place. Like I said, stickers for sitting on the potty and m&m’s for going. Lots and lots of praise.

Cloth trainers. I ordered them from Fluffy Penguin where I order most of our diapers. They’re cheaper than pull-ups and she actually feels the wetness. For the first time, she asks for diaper changes and she’s even gone on the potty instead a few times.

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Talk it up. We talk about the fact that mommy and daddy use the potty. We watch potty training videos on YouTube or from the library. When she points out the “diaper” on her Princess Belle doll, I gently correct her and say something like, “she’s a big girl princess wearing big girl underwear.”

Sit her on the potty. I try to get her to sit on the potty twice a day. She rarely goes, but she’s getting there. I’m also trying to get her more comfortable with public bathrooms because right now she’s terrified of those.

Pray for patience. I’ll admit it. I am so over waiting, but I’m  waiting her out, anyway. She’ll get there. In fact, I’ve seen signs that we’re almost there. I can’t wait to share what worked and what didn’t.
In the comments, share what your biggest pitfalls were when it came to potty training. Let us encourage one another. We’re not in it alone!

How to Road-Trip with Cloth Diapers

In the cloth diapering world, diapers are referred to as fluff because of the cute little fluffy bum hiding underneath the onesie…or not, like in this picture.

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Cloth diapering isn’t just something one does. At least not for many of us cloth diapering moms. In many ways, it is an obsession. But what do you do when you are going on a long trip? Do you bring on the fluff or do you buy the ‘sposies?  

I’m not going to lie. Disposables are convenient. Children stay dryer longer so they’re a little happier on the long car ride and you can just toss when you’re done. No laundry required. But cloth diapers are wonderful. So, the idea of using disposables for four days…. I just didn’t want to do it!

We’ve done both–and truthfully, it really depends on the circumstances.  If you’re planning to cloth, here are some tips for traveling on the road. 

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Your kids might just “help” pack while you’re at it!

Bring plenty of fluff. No matter where you’re going, you don’t want to spend the whole trip doing laundry. For this last trip, I calculated how many diapers I wanted to bring and then started to pack them. Well, as I packed, I realized the truth. I needed all the diapers. We filled a big gym bag full of our fluff. It worked really well for us because we only had to wash once during our five day trip.

Use fleece liners. These are the most amazing inventions in cloth diapering… ever! Buy a $2 fleece blanket and cut to the size of an insert. 

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On left, is a fleece liner. On right, is a fleece liner. In the middle is the insert we used to trace a liner from an insert.

Then, place them inside the diaper.

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The best part about these is that they help your child feel dry longer. The fleece liners pull away the moisture from skin and into the diaper. These are great when your child is going to be in a diaper for longer periods of time or has a rash, but on a road trip, these are a necessity.

Not to mention, when you have to deal with icky, stinky diapers. Most of the time, the liner retains the poo, so then you can just toss that (since it barely cost anything anyway) and you don’t have to mess with the poo (other than dumping the majority of the it into the toilet as you’re supposed to do no matter what). Now, when we’re home, we just spray down the fleece liner, but when we’re out, we toss.

In the car, choose the diapers that have the best absorbency. In my opinion, that would be fitteds or prefolds. Pockets and all-in-ones are easy diapers for other people  to change because they don’t require covers or folding. However, they don’t absorb as much and need changing more often. For Brookie, we normally use trainers, but those are designed for potty training so they feel every bit of wetness,…definitely not a good choice for the car.

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Thirsties fitted diaper (top left), Thirsties cover (bottom left), GMD prefold (on top right), snappi (bottom right)
Consider using all-in-one’s and pockets when with family or friends. These diapers are the most like disposable so when others want to assist you by changing a child’s diaper, they can.

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bumGenius AIO (on left) ; Alva pocket (on right)
Make sure you have a place to wash and dry. If you are staying with someone, check with them first. Not everyone is comfortable with washing cloth in their machines. So, you’d have to consider a laundromat (which takes time away from your vacation) or see if your hotel has machines. You don’t want to be left with a bunch of dirty diapers and no time,or a place, to wash. That would be a nightmare!

We had a great experience using cloth this last trip! While we did have to stop the car a few more times, our children really enjoyed the extra breaks anyway. Washing was a breeze and the liners made clean-up hassle free.

Now, I wrote this post mostly for those going on road trips, although the tips would apply to plane or train rides as well. Even a the plane or train, you want to change as little as possible because…well, it’s kind of a pain. The last time we chose to fly, we opted to use disposables for several reasons. It really comes down to what is best for you.

If you are interested in cloth diapering, stay tuned. I am working on a series of posts explaining in more detail about cloth diapers, and the learning curve it takes to jump in. There is a ton of misinformation…and I’d love the opportunity to clear it up for my readers. The best way to keep in the know, is to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

So, cloth diapering moms, have you ever traveled in cloth? Do you have any tips to add?

Those who are considering cloth diapers, do you have any questions I can answer in my series? What makes you the most nervous about taking the plunge?

Family Christmas Traditions

Christmas is our favorite time of year. Especially Jared’s. In fact, if I let him, Jared would listen to Christmas music all year round and we’d never take down the Christmas tree. When Christmas comes, so do our traditions. Now, our family is still on the new side. We’ve been married five years and our children’s ages are three years and fourteen months. So, while we have traditions, we’re also still trying out new traditions each year to see what we like best.

Which is why I’m here to share some of our established traditions, but also some things we plan to do a little differently this year.

Christmas lights. This is always so much fun. At a park nearby, there is a beautiful display of Christmas lights that Brookie loves. Last year, she even got to take a picture with Anna and Elsa and see an owl up close. The beautiful lights sparkling on the palm trees, nativity scene decorations, and more really sets the tone for Christmas, no matter where you live. You may need to look up local display areas near you. 

Buy one piece of decor to add to our Christmas collection. When it comes to decorating for Christmas, it is so easy to go all out. Unluckily, when you have a tight budget, your options are limited. So, our first year of marriage, we decided to make this a tradition. Each year, we purchase on piece of decor. Last year, we actually waited until after the Christmas season to buy a new tree because we knew it was time. So, this year will be our first year with the new tree. This year, we need to buy Little Man his own stocking because he didn’t have one last year, but since we’re moving in January that will probably be it.

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The centerpiece I put together last Christmas

Black Friday rings in the Christmas season. Since we were out of town, we’re a little behind, but for the most part we spend Black Friday decorating and start blasting our Christmas music. We aren’t big Black Friday shoppers so this is what we do instead.

We read the story of Christ’s birth each day. Our goal each is Christmas is to teach our children the reason for the season. We strive to keep His birth at the forefront of our holiday as well as teach our children the truth of his birth. That He was born to die that we might live. From Brookie’s first Christmas, we started this by reading the story from various Children’s Bibles. And on Christmas Eve, we read directly from the Bible together as a family.  

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Christmas movies! The only kind of white Christmas we get here in Florida is the kind in Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. While neither my husband nor I have a huge liking for snow (way too cold!), it’s nice to set the mood with Christmas movies. So starting on December 1st, the Christmas movies commence!

Now for the new traditions!

Birthday cake. Since we’re celebrating the birth of baby Jesus it only makes sense to enjoy some cake. Brookie is our little choco-holic so she’ll love this tradiiton. We actually always planned to do this, but since my birthday is three days after Christmas, we decided to hold off until she was old enough to understand. After all, you can only have so much cake before getting tired of it. (Okay, Jared’s shaking his head at me as I type this sentence. Apparently, there’s no such thing as too much cake…)

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Goals. I’ve yet to make a cake that looks as beautiful as this, but someday.

Four Christmas Presents. Last year, we were overwhelmed by the amount of toys we had for Brookie and Little Man. I felt like toys were spilling out of our ears. That’s when I heard of a new tradition. Four gifts in four different categories.

Something you want.

Something you need.

Something to wear.

Something to read.

This kind of goes against my grain as I’m the one who just wants to spoil my kids…but we don’t want to accumulate too many toys. So each child will get four gifts each fitting into the above categories.

Baking Christmas cookies. Don’t laugh. Each year, I say we’re going to do this. And each year, we don’t. I’m not much of a baker, but I really want Brookie to have this opportunity. Okay, okay. This is how it’ll go. Jared will help Brookie bake cookies while I snap the pictures and then I’ll post them on here.

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Goals: haha, doesn’t this just make you want to bake cookies!

Lego Christmas Activity. I can’t wait to do this activity with Brookie and Little Man. I’m sure Brookie will get more out of it, but it’ll be an introduction for Little Man. If you’ve followed my blog for much time you know I love Heidi Franz’s curriculum ABC Jesus Loves Me. You can even see my review here. If you subscribe to her newsletter on her blog, then you’ll receive the worksheets and you can do this too.

I don’t know if we’ll do this exact activity each year, but the idea is to do something extra to really teach our children about Christ.

Now your turn:

What are some traditions that you have this time of year?

Are you doing anything new?