Toilet Training: Moving From The Potty To The Loo

Little Boy learning to Potty Train
Little Boy learning to Potty Train

My four-year-old will not use the loo. He's absolutely fine on the potty - takes himself off and sits himself down, proudly shows everyone what he's done - but refuses point blank to even try to sit on the loo.

He'll wee there, yes, but he will not sit. Won't even try it. And while this is an improvement on his brother at the same age (I had to put a nappy on him to get him to do a poo), it's still not exactly ideal.

In the time I've been a parent I've read article after article (and even a couple of books) about how to 'potty-train' children, but I've never read anything about the next stage - from potty to loo. And I don't really know what to do.


I know Joe will progress to the loo eventually (it's highly unlikely that he'll still be using a potty at, say, university or his wedding), but I'd kind of like to speed it up. If only to avoid the hopping-up-and-down in public panic he often experiences.


So what's his problem with the loo? He says he's scared of falling in. We bought a trainer seat, he doesn't trust it. I've told him I'll hold onto him. He, er, doesn't trust me.

Parenting writer - and author of My Potty Poster Book - Lynn Huggins-Cooper says: "The toilet can feel scarily insecure if you are small and have a small bum. I'd never push a child who was worried about using the loo - it shouldn't be fraught with stress."

I agree with Lynn - I certainly don't want to push him or make it a scary experience, but it's hard when we're out and about and I know he needs the loo, but he won't even consider going into a public bathroom. Obviously the first step is to get him to use the loo at home, so I asked some friends how they accomplished it with their children.

Jo Dearden says, "I used a book with a sticker chart for both my daughters. Worked like a dream. Then I re-used the reward chart to get them to move from potty to loo (with a padded insert seat that I let them choose)."

"I used one of those potty chairs as they're a bit taller," Sam Wyld says. "But it was 'Be like Daddy' that worked for mine in the end."

Mum-of-three Stella suggested a step-up potty seat, bypassing the potty altogether - too late for us now, but I do wish we'd gone this route. The potty just seems to extend the problem.

"Be ready with a step for the loo/handwashing and a kiddy toilet seat for making the big toilet less precarious," Lynn says. "And, of course - seeing you on the loo so they know it is normal and not scary is useful too."

That's never been a problem - I don't think I've been to the loo by myself for nine years now - but while Joe is desperate to be more 'grown up' in every other aspect, he seems to consider the loo to be the final frontier.

We're going to buy a seat with a step and handles and even if he refuses to use it (when I showed him the photo online, he said he wouldn't use it) at least it's there if he changes his mind.

And then we're just going to have to trust that he'll come around to it in his own time. And, in the meantime, carry a change of pants everywhere we go.

What worked for your children?