First I would like to share my story and let you know that I have been there and only very recently come out the other end. I am here to affirm for you that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you are not to blame – in fact no one is to blame for the fact that you child didn’t become toilet trained until they were much older than ‘normal’.

I gave birth to my eldest in 2012, I was only 19 at the time. I had no idea how to be a parent and for the most part made it up as I went for the first part of his life.

With some help from my partner and my mum I quickly took to parenting like a duck to water. The baby stage was easy for me, so was the young toddler phase. But then came the age that we are told as parents our child has to be using the toilet. This was the one thing that I felt I failed at as his mother.

Jayden was 2 when we first started trying to toilet train him.

We used every technique, method or practise under the sun. I researched until my eyes were falling out of my head, I swear I read every manual, book, blog post, website etc. that guaranteed to toilet train your child. We tried Pull-Up’s, pottys, toilet seats, reward charts, bribery (yes, we went there), stickers, stamps. You name it, we tried it. I was driving myself crazy trying to work out a) what was wrong with me as a parent that I couldn’t help my child to use the toilet and b) was there something wrong my beautiful baby boy.

I remember feeling like the biggest failure as a parent. I felt like I had let myself down but more importantly let my little boy down. As I mentioned, I read everything I could find about helping my child toilet train and all it did was make me feel worse. SO many posts would take about laziness of the parent, bordering on child abuse by forcing my child to wear nappies beyond the ‘normal’ age and blatantly saying it was my fault because I wasn’t pushing the subject on him hard enough.

As if that wasn’t enough, then comes the stares when out in public, even at close friend’s houses. If my son needed a nappy change of course I did it straight away and out of view of others but whenever I would come back I would always hear the same old questions – isn’t he toilet trained yet? How old is he? Isn’t he too old for nappies? And the good old mummy shaming sideways glance. I received this in family rooms at shopping centres, friends’ houses, parties. You name the place and I am sure I received some form of judgement because my child was still wearing nappies.

Eventually, I just gave up and stopped trying so persistently to force toilet training on my son. It wasn’t doing any good for him or for me. This lasted 9 months. Until one weekend only 2 weeks ago just before Christmas 2015, my partner asked if he would like to run around naked and use the toilet today. His response was so excitable, and immediately jumped up and said ‘Yes Dad!’ A week later and he was totally toilet trained, taking himself to the bathroom and doing all the steps by himself and he could not be prouder of himself.

My son Jayden was 2 weeks off of his 4th birthday before he would even sit on a toilet let alone use it and within a week he is now totally toilet trained (except for nights) and hasn’t had an accident since day 1. He is so proud of himself every time he uses the toilet and I am as equally excited for him and equally as proud of him for being such an amazing little boy.

Sometimes kids just aren’t ready for things when you as a parent want them to be. Some kids walk late, some talk late, some don’t sleep through until school age and guess what….some don’t toilet train until much later than we are told is “the right age”. Giving up the battle of toilet training was the best thing I have ever done for my little boy and for my family.

So if you are in the same boat I found myself let me let you in on a secret: it is not your fault that your child isn’t toilet trained early, it is not your child’s fault either, you are not a bad parent, you are not going to ruin them for life and most importantly you will get there! I promise. I am a huge advocate that children will do things when they are ready no matter how much we encourage and prompt them to do things on our schedule.

I will never pretend that my life or children are perfect because they just aren’t. I wish I had realised this sooner because I would have been a happier more relaxed mum than I was.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I just hope that it helps someone who is struggling like I was. You will get there, I promise.

Have you ever experienced delayed toilet training in your children? Please share any words of encouragement below.

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  • We wait until our children are ready!
    Both of my older two were in night time pull ups until they were 6! No shame in that! I have a child with a global developmental delay and I believe she may be in nappies full time for quite some time, who knows.
    When my eldest was two and a half someone questioned why she was still in a nappy, we said she’s not ready yet. No further discussion necessary!
    I’ve had to do a few wee tests on my global delayed child and doctors assumed that as she was over one she should be trained! They ask questions like when did she last wee! Damned if I know, she’s not even two yet. I do sit her on the potty until she does a wee (in order to get the samples) and she is quite happy there also, but it’s not her choice to be there so I won’t force it.


  • I really don’t understand how everyone can judge when it’s the toddler deciding what is right for them; I’ll never understand this at akl


  • I’m a solo parent for the most part. I have many battles every day. I have to chose them wisely. I also have to respect my child and his wants and needs. The toileting issue is not a battle I want to have. For about 12 months my recently turned 3yo has been learning about toileting. He’s at the stage where he can do it all (from put his seat on to wash his hands) but he doesn’t want to do this every day or even all of one day sometimes. I roll with that. I give him super praise when he does though because it is a big deal. It’s the last of the baby things I think.


  • I really needed to read this. Not only do i suffer constant anxiety about my 3 &1/2 yr old not being fully toilet trained but he refuses to give up the bottle( which is filled with a nutritionally complete formula) i have tried to hide the bottles but you can see the anxiety build up and just escalates when i give his 1yr old sister a bottle, to the point where he becomes violent. I’m not expecting a solution, just needing a vent and hopefully another mum to share my despair.


  • Children will use the toilet when they are ready. They all take different time frames.


  • I had issues with my youngest. Turns out she hated the potty and that was the problem. Once we got steps for the toilet she was fine.


  • I had both ends of the toilet training. My first refused to use the toilet but you’d catch him outside with his pants down and peeing on the lawn (only at home thank goodness). We couldn’t get him to use a potty till he was 3 1/2. My 2nd was potty trained by the time he was 18 months because he would open the toilet door when his Dad was in there and just copied him. All children are different and there is no “normal age” for them to be toilet trained.


  • THANK YOU so much for this. My twins are 4. One was keen and ready to toilet train at 3, the other has zero interest in it. I wasnt concerned but then at the 4 years vaccination and check up apt with a gp, the doctor made a HUGE deal about it….why wasnt i concerned/did he want me to send him off for investigations to check there wasnt a bigger problem/ what was my plan for managing this. I walked out feeling like I had been scolded. He isnt ready, that’s all there is to it.


  • We were lucky our son took to it easily — one of the only things that was easy enough for us in all honesty. We had a determined and concerted effort over a week where our lives revolved around it. Our son had to be toilet trained to attend 3 year old kinder, so we had worked towards making that happen. However, I really appreciate that kids work at their own rate. Your child was ready, when he was ready.


  • This article was so motivations for other mums like me who are having a tough time getting their child toilet trained. Thanks for sharing, I will surely take it a lil easy on me and my family now!


  • Same thing with mine – all of them refused to think about toilet training till they were 4, and then they were trained – no accidents – within a week.


  • Toilet training I would have to say is the one think I actually hated my first child was 3 years old my second child was 4 when they were toilet trained


  • This is really good to read, I’m thinking about starting toilet training really soon, but this gives me a bit of a sigh of relief if we don’t get it straight away. Thank you!


  • I know as a mother of 3 how difficult is this situation. Every child is different. But we need more patient on this stressful time.


  • I can understand the frustration and also the feeling of guilt and failure.
    My baby is only 10 months so we arnt at the toilet training stage yet. But when it comes time I will try to not put too much pressure on either of us. It will happen when it happens


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