A few months ago I was really struggling with Allison. Being 2, she was starting to assert her independence and it was driving me crazy. The biggest battle we were starting to have was our morning routine. Every morning the routine would be:
- Wake up
- Go potty
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed
- Brush teeth
And that was working for a long time. Then one day, Allison woke up and decided she didn’t want to go potty first thing, and that threw me off. We ALWAYS go potty after waking up! You haven’t gone potty since last night, how can you hold it for so long? So for a few days, I fought with her tooth and nail over going potty first. She refused, and then cried, and screamed, which made me yell in frustration, and it was just not a good situation. So eventually I realized maybe it wasn’t a big deal if she didn’t go potty first thing, and we decided to start going after breakfast, and that worked out.
After awhile, Allison started refusing to do any of our morning routine after breakfast. We had places to go, and she would stand there crying because she didn’t want to go potty, so what would normally take 20 minutes now took an hour, and I was at my wit’s end. Something had to change.
Here’s the one thing I did that made her do a complete 180:
I made her think she was in charge.
She really wasn’t, but if I could get her to think that going potty was her idea, there would be no more whining, no more fighting. Here are some examples of the things I asked her.
- “Would you like to go potty in your bathroom or Mommy and Daddy’s bathroom?”
- “Do you want to go potty first, or do you want me to?”
- “I need to go brush my teeth, want to come with me?”
- “Would you like your dinner on your special plate or a big plate like Mommy and Daddy?”
- “Which shoes would you like to wear?”
- “Would you like to clean up your Little People first, or your food?”
It seems so simple, but this really worked, and still does. I give her two choices that ultimately lead to the same end scenario, but she now feels like she has a say in the matter and rarely puts up a fuss. I no longer say, “Go potty now”, or “We have to leave”. That’s just an invitation for a meltdown.
Does this work 100%? Of course not, she’s a toddler. One day she absolutely refused to potty or get dressed after breakfast, and we had nothing to do that day, so I decided to wait it out to see when she would finally go. She went to bed at 7:00 the night before, woke up at 7:00 the next morning, and didn’t go potty until 10:00 AM. I have no idea how she holds it for that long.
You just have to get creative when it comes to getting your toddler to do what you want. This may not work for everyone, but it has saved me so many tears and useless battles, and if you’re struggling with your toddler not listening, I highly suggest trying this. You may be surprised at how well it works!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.