You have spent the last few weeks or months begging and pleading with your child to use the potty. You have tried bribing him with the promise of a new toy, performing a potty dance around the house, and splurging on a ridiculously expensive potty that plays Beyonce songs and puts on a light show every time it’s used, but nothing has worked. There are many factors involved in successful potty-training and if you find yourself struggling to make progress then it may mean you need to do a little tweaking of your strategy. Here are 5 common reasons why parents experience setbacks in potty-training.

He Isn’t Ready Yet

Beginning potty-training before a child is both physically and emotionally ready can lead to a frustrating experience for both the parent and the child. While it is true that some children are ready to begin potty-training around the age of 18 months old, the vast majority of children are not ready until closer to the age of 3. There are signs you can look for to help determine if your child is ready or not. These signs include: staying dry during two hour naps, telling you when he has a dirty diaper, being able to undress and dress himself, and showing an interest in using the potty. If your child is not exhibiting most of these signs yet, then it may just be too soon and you should stop and try again in a couple of months. Keep in mind that there is no right age for potty-training, every child develops at his own pace and potty-training shouldn’t be rushed.

You Aren’t Being Consistent

Setting a consistent potty-training routine is vital to success. Potty-training is a big commitment and it can require a lot of time and effort, especially at first. If your hectic schedule is causing you to push your child to use the potty one day and throw a diaper on him the next because you just don’t have time to deal with it, then you should consider cooling it on the training until your schedule allows you some time to really focus on it. Alternating between encouraging him to use the potty and allowing him to mess in a diaper or pull-up sends mixed signals to your child and can confuse him. Once you begin potty-training you have to be all in, which means you have to be ready to drop everything and rush your child to the potty on a moment’s notice, no matter where you are or what you are doing. Begin being consistent in his training and you will see results.

You Aren’t Utilizing Positive Reinforcement

Young children respond better to positive reinforcement than they do to negative reinforcement. Potty-training can be frustrating, but yelling or punishing your child will only add to the frustration, and may make him so scared of failing and disappointing you that he becomes literally too terrified to try and use the potty. The best way to be successful with training is by utilizing positive reinforcement such as praise or reward. Every time he sits on the potty and tries, even if he doesn’t actually use it, praise him for his efforts and let him know that you are proud of him. When he is successful at going in the potty make a very big deal about it, singing and dancing around. It can also be helpful to use a reward system, such as a sticker chart to track his progress. While training it is important to stay positive about using the potty, even when you become frustrated. When your child has an accident you should stay calm and clean it up. It is alright to let him know that you are disappointed but your tone should remain calm and neutral, never harsh. When you feel yourself becoming overly frustrated, arrange for your child to stay in the care of another adult for a couple of hours and go do something you enjoy to cool off, such as taking a walk or going shopping. Losing your cool and yelling at him will only end up setting the process back and could result in you having to start all over again.

You Aren’t Letting Him Wear Underwear

Many parents find that the quickest route to getting their child potty-trained is by switching out of diapers or pull-ups to underwear cold turkey. Once you begin potty-training you should put underwear on your child fulltime. This sounds scary because there will definitely be accidents, but most children will only have an accident in their under a couple of times before they start using the potty regularly. This is because the feeling of wet or soiled underwear is much more uncomfortable than the same feeling with pull-ups. Pull-ups have the same feel and consistency as diapers, which can encourage children to mess in them just like they did in their diapers. Taking your child to the store to pick out big kid underwear can also be a great way to get him excited about training. If you are worried about accidents, schedule a few days off work so you can stay close to home while he gets the hang of it.

You Are Holding On To Expectations

The truth is, potty-training is a rocky road and very few parents find it easy. If you have convinced yourself that your child can be potty-trained in a certain amount of time or by a certain date, then you are setting both you and your child up for failure. Let go of any timelines you may have put in place and also avoid focusing on how fast your neighbor or best friend got their child potty-trained. Potty-training isn’t a competition and every child develops at his own pace, so worrying about competing with other children isn’t fair to him and puts undue pressure on him. In the words of Elsa, let it go. Relax and allow your child to train at his own pace and you will both be much happier.