Oh, Crap Potty Training Update & What Went Wrong



Oh this long weekend was NOT fun. I’ve been talking about potty training non-stop for about 2 weeks. Waxing poetic about my love for the Oh, Crap potty training method (more on our experience with Oh Crap potty training & Piper here) and low and behold of course Flora was not interested in following this method at all. We both shed tears over the last few days. It really taught me that every child is different and does things at their own pace (not that Flora has not already proven this to me). I get so wrapped up in what ‘worked’ for Piper or what Piper did that I lose track of Flora being her own person with her own timeline and personality. If nothing else this was a good lesson for ME.

If you need a refresher – here’s how the Oh, Crap potty training method works in general: It divides your training into 3 blocks. Block one your child is naked, in the home all day and you work on getting them to the toilet in time. Once your child understands this concept, you move to Block 2 and put clothes on and take small outings out of the house. And then finally once they can master this, you move to Block 3 which is underwear + clothes. We opted NOT to night train right now. Diapers for nap and bed.

So – how did it go? Here’s a breakdown.

Day 1:

We set up for success (see all my potty training supplies here). I covered our rug in plastic table cloths, the special snacks and juice boxes were plentiful! We had our little potty out in the living room, and the toilet in the hall bathroom all set up. I had books, clean up towels, cleanser wipes and paper towels ready! I felt prepared. Piper was excited to help, and Flora was excited to say goodbye to her diaper.

To start Flora was cold, despite me turning up the heat I quickly put a shirt on her. So we broke rule #1 of being naked all day (though Piper wasn’t either when we did this method with her). Flora understands what the toilet is for, and likes to sit on it but we’d never seen her actually USE it prior to starting our potty training. Well, turns out she just doesn’t know how to release the urine on the toilet. By the end of the day it was clear that she can hold it, but can’t figure out how to relax enough to release the urine on the toilet. She wants to go potty every 5 seconds, but nothing happens. After several hours of holding it she becomes miserable and has an accident. It’s so sad to witness when you can’t do ANYTHING to help!

By dinner time we ended up giving her a bath, putting on PJs and a diaper and letting her eat dinner this way. She wasn’t able to sit still enough to even eat she had to go so badly by the end of the day. This gave her mixed signals, maybe but there was honestly nothing else we could do and she needed to eat!

Day 2:

I woke up feeling positive that we’d see some progress with day 2. And we did! I also felt a little better prepared for the situation we were dealing with – after doing some research. I knew we needed to focus on helping her relax on the toilet so she could pee. I had an arsenal of ‘tricks’ up my sleeve, I made a calm down bottle with Elsa in it from Frozen, got a stack of interactive books to look at, sticker books and then also read that tickling, having them pretend to blow out candles, putting their hand in warm water, turning on the faucet could all help with getting things to … FLOW! Anything to actually keep her on the seat longer.

She had far less accidents on the floor, we cleaned up minimal pee – but she was CLEARLY in the holding pattern. She woke up from her nap and held it for 3 hours!! She did go pee in the toilet maybe 2 times on day 2. I considered it improvement because some of my tricks worked and she was sitting on the toilet for a much longer period of time, though still not peeing. Still holding it for hours, and then becoming miserable and having accidents. This is the part we really don’t feel comfortable with – because she’s clearly disturbed and in stress. End of day 2, I felt pretty defeated… but had hope things may change for day 3.

Day 3:

Would you believe me if I said things actually seemed WORSE than day 2. No urine in the potty at all. She was exhibiting the exact same issues as day 2. She KNOWS when she needs to pee and will say it as the urine starts to come out but once we get to the toilet she still can’t seem to release it. We had to go so far as to put her PJs and diaper on for lunch before nap because she was just in so much discomfort and stress. I cried. I felt defeated and guilty. I felt like I totally failed. I felt stupid for thinking that all kids could easily do the “Oh, Crap” method with no problems. I felt horrible that Flora was having such a hard time. We had to decide if we should try to keep going or stop and try again in a month or two. I decided I’d give it a go one more time in the morning and see if things changed before nap. If they didn’t this would be it for now.

Day 4:

Things did not improve at ALL. In fact they seemed to maybe be worse. I could successfully keep her on the toilet for 10-15 minutes at a time, but she didn’t pee in it at all. I tried ALL the gimmicks to keep her on the seat, even letting her bring her Elmo viewfinder TV episode in with her (I was really trying to keep electronics out of this).

All morning she created the same pattern of holding, getting so uncomfortable and unable to release. We were both stressed. Both in tears and that is when I decided she just wasn’t psychologically ready at this point. She understands the concept, wants to go but just can’t figure out how to make her body do it.

I feel really defeated but also know that I mad the right choice for us. Had we been able to just stay at home for another 4 days, maybe things would be different but I had to get back to work today, and Flora heads back to school tomorrow.

Here are some things that worked to keep her on the toilet for a longer period of time if you’re having a similar issue!

Calm Down Bottle – I made with one an Elsa figurine and she had to ‘find her’ in the snowy glitter, she loved this.

Interactive books – lift the flap etc.

Sticker Books and just peeling stickers off a sheet in general

Singing Happy Birthday to different people (let her pick)


Counting (over and over)

Brining in her baby dolls or friends to ‘watch’

Brushing her hair and then rubbing her back with the hairbrush

Giving her a big hug and letting her rest her head on my shoulder as we rocked and sang together

Potty Training



Oh, Crap Potty Training Update & What Went Wrong


  1. Emily says:

    Oh my gosh this is EXACTLY what happened to us! Couldn’t release, did all the research that night, made the calm bottle (ours was Elmo), tried all the tricks to help relax, she stopped eating and drinking, we cried a lot then quit 😂 so comforting to know I’m not the only “failure” at this. With you mama!!

  2. Tana says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience honestly and candidly. I always have to remind myself that researching the “best” method may not actually be the best for my daughter. We’re going to be bound by daycare potty training techniques, including pull-ups, which the “best” methods take issue with and say it will prolong the process. But, the daycare has also potty trained a lot of kids, so what could be so wrong with their process? Anyway, thanks again being open about your experience.

  3. Sara says:

    I think the below comment hits the nail on the head–the “best” method might not be feasible for your individual circumstances, regardless of individuality of your child. I did Oh Crap with my daughter at 2.5 and it worked beautifully, but I was between jobs, did it over a three day weekend when I had the support of my husband, and then continued with the assistance of my au pair over a five day period before we ventured out of the house. That’s simply not possible for most working parents or even stay at home parents who have more than one child. I had a similar experience with sleep training. We could not control the circumstances at daycare for nap, and therefore couldn’t use what worked for us at night for daytime sleep. A lot of books that maybe have the most effective advice for the ideal childrearing circumstances are simply non-applicable for many working parents.

  4. Katie says:

    I feel your pain! My oldest did the 3 day method, no problem. But then my daughter just decided a week before I had baby #3 to be done with diapers, so I had no control over her potty training as I was home with a newborn and she was going between care givers homes. It took her probably 6 months to be fully potty trained after that point which made me feel so defeated but also it was just what had to happen given her personality and the circumstances. Hang in there momma!

  5. cee says:

    i’m having this exact same problem! i’m pretty sure my son knows the association – he knows when he’s peeing and if i ask him where we should go, he points to the potty. but he just can’t go when he’s sitting there (although i’m not able to keep him on for 10 mins… more like 20 secs!)
    not sure how to help him learn to release

  6. V says:

    This describes our daugher’s experience, now 6 days in to a tee! So frustrating and stressful for her and us. She’s 27 months old and will sit on the potty to read, listen to music, etc but when it comes time to eliminate she holds it in for as long as she can, then gets up from the potty and a few mintues later she midght have an accident and we are putting her on the potty to finish what’s already mostly come out. Did you end up potty training Flora again after this?

check it out

Children's books have always had a special place in my heart, and sharing them with my girls is one of my favorite parts of motherhood.  Learn more about my Usborne Books & More business! 

learn more 

Book Club

Keep your kids busy & having fun with a membership to Magic Playbook -- the monthly printable subscription for kids! 

say goodbye to boredom!