Accidentally Potty Trained Child…4 Scenarios of How It Happens

Accidentally Potty Trained Child…4 Scenarios of How It Happens
Written by:
Michelle Swaney, CEO of The Potty School®
January 23, 2024

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Accidently Potty Trained Child

4 Scenarios of How It Happens

Here’s the scene: Her child is far younger than she envisioned him being when ready to potty train…at 16-months he’s pulling at his diaper when it’s soiled…She has been taught “you must wait until they are ready” but he throws fits at every diaper change, shakes his head “no” to diapers and tries to take off the diaper as soon as he poos in it…but the Momma’s not ready.

[Scenario #4 is an amusing one :)]

I encountered such a story. The main reason this person didn’t want to start potty training was because his cloth diapers were so cute! Well, people, let’s be real – there are some super cute undies in this world too! (Check-out some cute little undies we like at our supplies page).

Perhaps your child runs to you and grabs you leg whining, but you have no idea why. Then after a minute he leaves, without the desperate look on his face.

Or, some parents (for sure not all), this happens: They pull their child’s diaper off and guide their child to the potty and that pee or poo gets in the toilet the very first time, and then after that. From my experience,  most parents have kids with these signs of awareness that they are going at approximately ages 12-18 months (some sooner, some later).

Scenario #1: You Noticed & Responded to When Your Child Needed to Potty

Though many children convey signs that they are ready to potty at very, very early ages, many parents dismiss these signs. Or, they recognize them, but do not tend to them. Think about when you saw a parent noticing their child pooping in their diaper while in a high chair. Maybe even the grown-up conversation goes to talking about how funny that “poop face” is. The parents are all sitting around knowing that the child is going, and that’s the child’s way of being very obvious that it’s happening – but unless you actually attempt to potty the child, you’ll never know that they are capable.

Do you smile at your child’s ‘I’m pooping’ face…or take action?

Scenario #2: They Were Ready All Along

Did you know that some people around the world, and even in your hometown, practice “elimination communication” and take their babies to the potty/waste location as early as birth? Meaning…that the first meconium isn’t going into a diaper to go to a landfill, or going into a cloth diaper to get washed – it’s going straight into the socially acceptable receptacle. Whether that’s a potty/toilet, or bucket or a bush (depending where you live)…many believe this is what potty training “should” be. For them there is no such thing as a 3-day plan or a timed attempt to get your child to pee – it’s just a way of life that started as early as birth. To learn more about elimination communication, and options we have to teach you more, visit here. The Potty School loves teaching parents about this practice that has been utilized worldwide, for generations!

Scenario #3: You Were Desperate!

Maybe you’re at a restaurant and run out of diapers and have to “conserve” diapers and see that poop face happening…so instead of leaving the restaurant, you just take your baby/toddler/child to the bathroom and hold them over the potty, hoping for the best. For some kids, this is all it takes. That is definitely not the case for all – but for some all they need is you to tell them, and expect of them where their pottying should be done. Many kids will catch on to your “put it in the potty” desperation and actually do it (thought it may take more than one trip to the bathroom).

For some kids, all they need is for you to tell them where it should go. - The Potty School (some, but definitely not all kids)

Scenario #4: It was Culturally Expected of You

This is the most common scenario throughout the world. If you explained to a very elderly grandparent in some countries how some parents in the U.S. keep themselves inside with a 3-year-old for a week at a time bribing them with candy and an ipad in order to pee in a flush toilet, she would keep asking you questions about what you were talking about…thinking that perhaps she was translating something incorrectly in her head…because the idea of all of that sounded…

…just so…


…so strange to her.

When you asked her, “What did you do?” She might say, “I took her to the bucket when she needed to go, or when the family needed her to go.”

When you asked her, “What did you do?” She might say, “I took her to the bucket when she needed to go, or when the family needed her to go.” - The Potty School (about Elimination Communication)

Yes, that is a true story. I was the one asking the questions and I was the one getting the, “You’re crazy, right? Do you know what you’re saying?” looks.

For this grandmother, it was simply a matter or how she learned, and what was expected of her – based on the fact that she was not only poor, but home with children, and had a lifetime of “child rearing” training by growing up with multiple generations in the same home.


Have you ever  “accidentally” potty trained child? If not, we're here to help. Check-out our potty training consultant and elimination consultant options HERE.

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