I have three girls. The first one, now 4, was potty-trained in just over a week. No accidents, not even at night. I was so proud of myself — I mean of her — especially since there was a new baby in the house.

Fast forward two years and that new baby is now a toddler with her own strong-willed, independent personality. Plus, there's her new baby sister to contend with. After weeks of trying to get girl #2 to consistently use the potty I was at the end of my rope. She had spent an entire weekend traveling four hours in the car and visiting relatives without a single accident. But she was right back to peeing in her pants about a week later. And when I would tell her she could have M&Ms after she went potty she would just respond, "I don't want M&Ms." 

Then came that Ah-ha moment. As I changed her pull-up, she told me, "You can't pick up the baby because you're changing my diaper." And there it was, the pure, straight from the babe's mouth truth. It's all about the baby and the attention she gets. It was clear that the usual M&M hand outs and sticker charts weren't going to do it with this child. I had to change my tactic.

Stop Talking About the Potty

At a good friend's suggestion, I completely quit talking about her using the potty. I didn't mention it at all. Not when I had to change her diaper, not when I knew it was about time to put her on the potty, not when we were getting in the car for a long drive. Potty was no longer in my vocabulary unless I was talking to her big sister. I even put her big girl underpants away. Message: Girl #2 has the control over whether to use the potty or not.

Talk About the Baby

I stopped praising the baby's accomplishments in front of girl #2 and instead I focused on what the baby couldn't do. The baby can't eat ice cream. The baby can't eat cookies. The baby can't play ball or chase bubbles or even watch TV. Message: Being a baby must stink!

Lose the Emotion

When girl #2 took herself to the potty out of nowhere one day, I didn't celebrate. I gave her a quiet "good job" and went about my day. I didn't show her how happy I was because quite frankly, she didn't do it for me. She wasn't going on the potty to please me, she did it because she decided she wanted to. Message: Girl #2 is totally in control of where and when she pees and poops.

Within a week, my strong-willed little girl was using the potty without fail. And when she did, she cared less about what I thought than what her grandparents did. So she would call them and they would celebrate with her. Every child has their own way, their own time, and their own personality. And now I know that my girl's stubbornness isn't a negative; it's a part of her personality that will help her become a strong leader someday.