Potty Training 2-3 Year Olds

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  • Potty Training 3 & 4

    Jan 13, 2023

    Hi everyone. 

    We're having a hard time potty training our 3 & 4 y/o toddlers. We've tried different potty seats/toilets. No diapers. And more with minimal to no luck. Our 4 y/o can hold it all day, not exaggerating. 

    Would love any tips or tricks or anything to get them headed in the right direction (AKA no diapers). 


    Hello!! It’s a difficult and draining time… it sure is. I can highly recommend following literally step by step the guidelines in the book Oh Crap by Jamie Glowacki. 
    I found the first weeks a mixed bag until something clicked and it worked! She also has blogs and a network of potty trainers in case you want 1:1 advice. 
    good luck!

    Have you seen the little targets you put in the toilet, either in the regular toilet (they stick on) or float on the water? Or I saw one you put in the bottom of the kid potty, and warm pee makes a dinosaur show up. How fun is that? In general, I think we got more results with better bribery, to be honest. Make it worth their while - sticker charts for BIG prizes at the end. 

    I'm sure there'll be lots of great tips and resources, but just from my own experiences, have you tried showing them potty training videos for kids and/or reading kids' books about potty training? My 3yo daughter was also resistant (after showing some initial interest) but we started watching "I'm a Potty Princess" video on YouTube and I read her the "Potty" book by Leslie Patricelli and she started being really interested in trying to potty after that. She still likes watching the video and reading the book every now and then, after being fully potty trained (even through the night)! Good luck and hang in there, it'll happen!

    I had a similarly hard time to begin with with my fiercely independent and strong willed 3 y/o, who would also quite happily hold his pee all day. I found the advice in the book Stress-Free Potty Training really helpful and our experience ended up being just that (stress-free, easy and child-led). Good luck!

    Oh do I remember these days.  Mine would hold and hold and hold.  She get to the point of bursting, and one day I was able to coax her onto the toilet with a hole cut in the pull-up.  No joke, a hole.  She didn't see there was a hole but she was willing to sit.

    I used the Oh Crap method which totally stressed her and me out.  After going back to pull ups for awhile, we ended up doing the following:

    1.  Visiting the bathroom to pee in pull up (she could tell me when she needed to go).  She peed ONLY in the bathroom.

    2.  Got her to sit on the toilet still in pull up and pee in pull up.

    3.  She would hold all day at school and one day I put her in pull up with hole when she knew she needed the toilet bad.  She tinkled and the pull up cannot hold that much pee so the pee escaped and went into the toilet bowl.  She was AMAZED and told me she peed in the potty.  We were very happy.

    4.  I cut progressively bigger holes.

    Three days later she abandoned the pull up and never looked back.

    Good luck.  This was our hill to die on and I feel you.  It'll happen.  I swear.

  • We started potty training our 2-year-old boy several weeks ago, and it is…not going very well. He is amazing at holding it, but can’t seem to figure out how to release it. He seems very at ease on the potty and will happily read his favorite books, several times through, but he never pees. He has basically never had a good pee on the potty (the exception is once or twice, sobbing through peeing everywhere). I got some Teddy Grahams to introduce rewards when he goes in the potty, but it’s never actually happened so the incentive is basically theoretical at this point.

    I don’t get any sense that he’s being stubborn or that we’re in a power struggle — I think he just hasn’t identified that internal on/off switch. I believe he’s holding it so long that it becomes really, really uncomfortable. He’ll go 6 hours (!) without peeing, and then fill his diaper during his nap. Sometimes I can see him actively trying to hold it in, through little shudders, while he is sitting on the potty or even sitting in the bath.

    It feels like we’ve been plateaued for weeks with no progress at all, and I can’t find much advice online or in BPN archives beyond little tricks, which we’ve tried all of: blowing bubbles, singing songs, making him laugh, blowing into a whistle, the sound of running water, putting his hands in warm water. He even has a little cold right now, and coughing on the potty hasn’t made any come out either.

    Has anyone experienced really extreme holding from a toddler and have any advice to share on how you taught them to release?

    Some more details, if it helps:

    I chose the Oh Crap! Potty Training book to follow, which is basically: naked for the first phase, then commando for the second phase. He is 26 months old and showed many of the signs of readiness described in the book.

    We took four straight days to focus on potty training and followed the book’s advice to a T, but saw little progress, and by the end we were so frustrated we decided to take a break to regroup.

    Now we’re trying again with a few changes: He hated being naked or commando, so this time we have him in big boy underwear. The book suggests catching your kid mid-pee and saying gently “wait sweetie, can you hold it?” as you transfer him to the potty — this seemed extremely upsetting to him, so we stopped trying to make it to the potty and are focusing on pointing out that he successfully peed instead of holding it, in hopes that he’ll start to identify that feeling of letting the peepee out. I’m also ready and eager to give him a Teddy Graham treat when he pees in the potty, but it never happens so it’s not providing any incentive.

    Lastly, the book suggests using the phrase “Open the peepee gate” to describe the feeling of letting yourself pee. Any other suggestions of phrases that resonated with your child would be greatly appreciated.

    I strongly suggest you stop training and wait quite a long time before you start again. My son also showed early signs at age 2, but lost interest and I felt we were doing more harm than good. I did a lot of reading, and from what I found it seems like boys are typically 3 to 3.5 years before they are trained. Girls are closer to 3. i found that to be dead on right for my kids. And, I was surprised because my son seemed to be really ready! From what I read it said that the kids who were "trained" earlier than this had very trained parents, but were not really trained themselves. 

    First, you're doing such a great job! Hang in there.

    We just potty trained our 26 mo old over the last couple months, and he struggled with this part, too. This will sound weird, but it worked for us: He loves any chance he gets to interact with our phones, so I started letting him push the Start button on the iPhone timer, set for 5 minutes, and then challenged him to "let the pee out" before the orange circle of the timer disappeared (I imagine any timer with some kind of visual like that would work). And if managed to let the pee out before the timer went off, he got to push the Stop button. We stayed quiet, and just silently watched the orange circle together. Zoning out seemed to help for some reason. Reading was too much fun, and turned into a way to get attention from us and alone time from his little sister. :)

    If he didn't get any pee out in 5 minutes, I stopped the timer, we got up, and tried again the next time he did the pee-pee dance. It took a couple days, but eventually he figured it out, and we set the timer for shorter and shorter increments until he just peed right away. At that point, we just stopped using it altogether ("Let's see if you can do it without the timer.")

    Hope this helps! Good luck!

    It sounds like he's not biologically ready to potty train yet. As you said, he hasn't identified that internal release mechanism. His neuro-feedback loop is not intact yet. This is nothing that he or you can control. Can you stick with diapers for now and try again in a couple months? 26 months old is really young, especially for a boy. My boys weren't ready until 3+ years old. 

    Every child is different and when I tried to potty train my son at 2.5, it was too early. He became really constipated, so we just let it go, switched to pull up diapers and gave him the option of the potty. A few months after, he made the transition by his own choosing (no more wet diapers, prefrred potty to diaper) and we haven't had an issue since. Long story short, they're ready when they are ready and in our case it really helped to relax and give him more time and options.

    POTTY TRAINING IS THE WORST, so first please give yourself a break. And he may be too young. Two is VERY young, and for some reason especially for boys.

    But I have good news! We went through something VERY similar with our daughter, who was three. She would hold her pee ALL DAY, including skipping a nap, and then we'd put on a diaper to put her to bed, she would immediately pee boatloads in the diaper, we'd change it and she'd go to sleep. So it was like 12 hours of holding pee. She would get a little distraught, and sometimes would climb on my lap mid-day and let out a TINY bit of pee, and then go about her business. It was insane.

    It took at least three weeks to potty train her and I'm sorry to say I don't remember what ended up doing it. But we were doing the Oh Crap thing too (over allllll of winter break). Oh, the good news. THE GOOD NEWS IS THIS: You have a kid with a big bladder! On cross-country flights you won't have to take him to the gross airplane bathroom! She has so many fewer accidents than her friends! She's six now and our potty training story was the worst of all of our friends but we NEVER have to pee in the bushes at the park. :)

    This, too, will pass. Be patient. And, again, 2 just might be a little too early for your kid. No shame in that game.

    I might suggest putting him back in his diaper when you have him go to the potty, and if that works then just put it in the potty. The familiarity with the sensation of the diaper and the act of eliminating might help him make the connection.

    Also watching mom and dad go so he can see the step by step you go through intuitively- sitting down, taking a breath, relaxing your body...

    You may also want to take focus off the release part and refocus on being excited about the other parts for the time being. I have a friend whose daughter didn't poop for a week because of an emotional potty/diaper interaction.

    Lastly, my son loved the Potty book by Leslie Patricelli. He was always especially taken by moment the kid's eyes light up when they have to go after waiting and waiting. The book actually focuses a lot on the idea that you know you have to go but it doesnt always come right away, and that it's exciting when it does.

    Oh, and yes to fun underwear, being excited and making a big deal that he gets to pick them out and wear them because he goes on the potty now. And yes to agreeing on a prize after x number of successes.

    Fingers crossed for you all!

    Blowing on a trumpet or a whistle while sitting on potty sometimes helps "open the gates". But the bigger problem here is that you are frustrated and your child is feeling upset, and that is a BAD combination for potty training. Take a break for 6 weeks and during those 6 weeks put away the potty, stop reading any potty training books, don't talk about pee or poo at all, and pretend potty training does not exist. Allow your frustration to die down and your child to stop associating the potty with parental pressure. In 6 weeks try again. Try to relax! Your child will not go away to college wearing diapers, potty training will happen, no need to rush.

    I hate Oh Crap.  I'm a pediatrician, so this is my professional advice!  It works great for some kids.  For others (like my own) its just not the right way.  My real beef with it is that they freak out the parents into panicking that if they don't potty train by a certain age, they will never be able to do it.  First kid we trained via oh crap at 26 months.  The training was easy, but he had a huge behavioral regression that I think was due to the stress.  It wasn't worth it.  Second kid we did a halfhearted try at 2.5.  had absolutely no interest/ability, so we stopped trying.  3 months later, at 2.75, he just decided one day to start using the potty and was doing it in 1 day.  So we didn't actually need to potty train.  I think almost all kids are like that--if you follow their cues and their timing, they'll just do it.

    Thank you all so much -- original poster here. I so appreciated your thoughtful responses and shared frustrations! We tried a few of the great tips here to no avail, so we ultimately decided to take the advice of many here and wait until he's more ready. The previous commenter really hit the nail on the head for me: the Oh Crap book really had me panicked about missing a finite potty training window! Hopefully at some point it'll be "his" idea and we'll have a completely different experience the next time around. Thank you again!!

  • Hello all - any advice (or just reassurance/validation) appreciated. We started potty training our 2.75 year old basically the first week of the shelter in place, 4-5 weeks ago (with a new 4 week old at home... figured maternity leave plus quarantine was a good time to be at home). We tried the “oh crap potty training” method kind of liberally, starting with no pants and following her around with the mini toilet. She got peeing in the potty pretty easily within 1 day and has accidents now only when she’s too excited and playing (once every few days). Unfortunately pooping has been harder for her to catch on. She did face some uphill battles initially - constipation that wasn’t immediately recognized (so her first poop was a little painful) and two weeks ago she developed a pilonidal (butt cleft cyst) that caused her some discomfort (that she conflated with pain associated with pooping). Since then she has had regular soft bowel movements but she nearly always has them directly into her underpants. She has successfully pooped 2-3 times in the potty max. She usually tells me “I have to poop!” And it’s already too late, with some poop in her pants. Once on the pot, she often is reluctant to push, which leads to multiple small bowel movements per day. Sometimes she will poop in her pull-ups or diaper (which we put on her just for naps and nighttime) but it doesn’t seem she waits to have a bowel movement into her diaper. Have read a ton of stuff on BPN and other internet resources and am at a loss. Have tried toys, books, songs on potty, bribes, rewards. Are we still battling the initial fear that might have been associated with her constipation? We offered a diaper and she doesn’t want that either. She is excited by underwear but doesn’t care to keep them clean. We don’t seem to be making any progress over the last 4 weeks. Is it too early to throw in the towel and back off? Should we just stop talking about pooping in the potty as we are putting too much pressure on? I read on BPN that sometimes a moratorium on talking about it helps to relieve anxiety and pressure. Should we wait a little longer to clean her up (bht I don’t want to make this seem punitive)? Sorry for the long post. Really appreciate any advice!!!! Stay safe everyone!

    I know this may not be the right approach for everyone but I read this article (and generally try to follow the principles of Janet Lansbury) and it might help take some pressure off for you. My child is younger, only about 20 months, and we just recently offered the potty but are trying to let her lead in when she wants to use it. So I'm certainly not speaking from any kind of real experience, just want to offer a resource I found helpful. We have friends whose daughter didn't poop in the toilet until she was almost 4.5, and I do remember them putting a lot of emphasis and even pressure on her, including bribes, prizes, etc, which all seemed to backfire!

    Hi there! Been there...She’ll get it eventually. I tired many things as well for my child. Are there any physical cues for when she needs to poop, like hide, so you can sit her on the potty ASAP without waiting for her to tell you? Ultimately, we had to make him go commando for consistent results. Good luck!

    No advice just empathy as we are going through the EXACT same challenge with our 2.5 year old. Pees fine in the potty most of the time. But earlier constipation issues makes her afraid to poop in the potty, and she just hops around nervously and before we get her to sit on the potty it's often too late. Just hoping pushing for it and talking about it repeatedly will help in the long run. I have accepted this won't be a short-term process but may take more time that we had hoped.


    We had the issue that my son would pee in the potty but not poop. We had to completely back off and not mention it at all in front of him for a month and then he moved forward on his own. Your timing isn’t great bc of the new baby and disruption which causes your toddler anxiety. I would back off and let her take the lead. Give it 6 months without mentioning it and see where you are at. She absorbs you’re anxiousness about this issue. 

    I had a similar experience as you with my younger child - pee training happened immediately but poop was a big problem. What worked for us was to go back to diapers full time for several months and then start potty training again at age 3. Second time was the charm and peeing and pooping happened very quickly and he has been fully trained for a few months now. 

    Just a word about Oh Crap. I used it with no issues for my first child at age 2.25. She was trained in two days. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I was a total evangelist for the book and really believed the author’s mantra that you shouldn’t wait until past age 2.5 to potty train. Well, my second child proved that approach wrong. Now I tell people Oh Crap works great for some kids, but it’s not gospel. Your child might just not be ready yet. 

    Our 3.5 yo has been potty trained for a year and still won’t poop in the potty. She goes at night in her pull up. Aside from the 2am diaper changes when she wakes up with a poopy diaper (sigh...big kid poops), we haven’t had any issues. Our pediatrician recommended not making too big an issue of it so it doesn’t introduce fear/constipation; she’ll get there when she’s ready and it’s common for pooping to take longer than peeing in the potty. 

    In solidarity!

    With my kid, she was doing same, so she and I made “magic poopie sprinkles,” pretending to add spices to an empty spice jar. Then before poop time, we “sprinkled” the magic sprinkles so her “poopy gate” would open and it wouldn’t be scary to poop in the potty. I’m not joking, this worked immediately. Helped her feel in control and acknowledge and resolve her fear around pooping maybe?

    We had similar issues and unfortunately our son wasn't completely potty trained until he was 5! We seriously tried everything....We were so frustrated. I am not sure if you have the same issue, but for some reason our son was afraid to poop in the potty. We tried to talk to him about it, but he couldn't explain his anxiety. He would sit on the potty and nothing....but then he would put on his pull up and go. He wore underwear to bed and always kept dry and clean at night. We finally found an older book...and I can't find it on amazon now, but it was written by a doctor or psychologist. The plan was to let your child go poop in a pull-up...but you want them to sit on the potty when they go. Then you start cutting a small hole in the pull-up. Each day you make a bigger hole, until finally the hole is big enough where the poop goes into the potty and then once they are ready, you get rid of the pull-up. The reasoning is that the child will feel the security of having the pull-up on and relax.. We did bribe our child to sit on the potty for a certain amount of time each day. So, this did work for us...but it took time and I can honestly say there were days that I felt like crying because I was so frustrated.

    I had a similar problem with my child when she was young.  A very wise pre-school teacher gave me the following advise ......and it worked for us.  Ask your child to blow up a balloon while sitting on the toilet.  Make sure the child’s feet are on a stool or the ground or raised higher.   If you test it out yourself, you’ll see that it causes the same muscles to relax and push that are necessary when having a bowel movement. It might take a couple of tries but it’s a fun game.  I think it works because it teaches children which muscles to use.   Good luck!

    Going through this myself - 3-yr old boy won't poop in the potty. I am also afraid of constipation. He had slight constipation when we moved him cold-turkey to underwear (and didn't go an entire weekend), so we went to pull-ups. He is agreeable to peeing in the potty (though he often pees in his pull-ups anyway, which we don't reprimand but tell him he gets candy, as opposed to a sticker, if he can keep his pull-up dry). He poops in the pull-up, and most times (when I'm present), I change him in the bathroom where I dump his poop into the toilet and flush it. I heard that this helps children get over that weirdness of seeing their poop 'leave' them. He seems to like seeing the poop get flushed down and puts up with me wiping him with regular toilet paper instead of wipes. My logic is that I get him very used to the idea of everything surrounding pooping in the toilet, except for the actual pooping in the toilet, which I can't control. He is also aware that I have a huge gift waiting for him the first time he does the #2 in the toilet. I'm hoping at one point, it will just click that he wants to poop in the toilet... it also doesn't help that he is the oldest in his daycare, so he doesn't really have peers that are fully potty-trained, but so it goes.

    My son was terrified to poop in the potty for ages. The only thing that eventually worked for us was backing off completely until we got lucky one day. He wore underwear most of the day b/c he was potty trained for pee, and asked for a diaper for pooping. One day, about a month before he turned 4, I was picking him up from preschool (half-day) and didn't have a diaper with me and he desperately had to go, so I sat him (crying) on the nearest toilet, he went, and from then on, he was over the fear. It seems like it will never happen when you're in it, but one day it will. 

  • Hi, we had two under two, and now our boys are 3 years and 17 months. We just started trying to potty train our strong-willed 3-yr old. I've been to our advice forums about various issues (holding in poop, pull-ups vs. underwear, etc.), but I also want to know if/how any parents have dealt with trying to potty train an older sibling who adamantly wants to be treated like his baby sibling all the time - this translates into wanting to revert back to diapers, wanting someone to pull up his pants, etc. (Even though my 17-mo old is really a toddler now, he is the de facto baby, and my older one knows it, simply because we are always helping the little one out more.) I've thought - what if I start 'training' my 17-mo old, at least getting him to sit on the potty. Maybe his older brother will be more motivated that the little one is doing it too? I hate to manipulate it into a competition thing and wouldn't explicitly call it out that way (maybe just sit my little one on the potty and hope that my older one wants to do it more too). I also try to tell my older one that 'babies can't eat treats and chocolate like you do when you make a pee-pee'. This seems to work some of the time, but the bottom line is that he keeps telling us he wants to still be a baby.

    If anyone else has any other potty advice, here's where we're at right now: Using pull-ups, peeing in the potty but not pooping. Discouraged with underwear because he had accidents before, even though he loves his Thomas Train underwear. We didn't scold him for accidents, but I think even telling him that he should try to use the potty when he feels like going was maybe too much pressure? Also, gets annoyed that we put him on the potty every half hour when he's in real underwear. OK with pooping in pull-ups. (The times he wore underwear, he didn't poop at all; hence, pull-ups was the compromise.) He simply finds a lot of this training/learning to be tedious and prefers to go anytime/where in the diaper/pull-up and have someone clean up for him - which is logical, too! TIA for your thoughts...

    Three year olds are stubborn. Just remember that no matter what you do, basically all kids going into kindergarten are potty trained, so time and peers will (eventually) help here. You could try going “cold turkey” to underwear, reduce the potty break frequency to every 2 hrs, and accept messes for a couple weeks. Few 3 year olds are going to be happy about having to stop what they’re doing to change, rinse their clothes, wash off, put on new clothes every time they pee when the alternative is to just pee in the toilet every 2 hrs. That said, I’ve met several 3 year olds who really don’t care.

    Onto the younger one. Our friend with 5 kids once trained her 3 yr old and 18 mo old (both boys) at the same time and said it worked well. So if the 17 month old is interested in potty training, I would definitely try it - everyone is stuck at home for a while anyway, right? We started our younger kid around that age, and that child was fully daytime potty trained at 19-20 months (even at daycare). To be fair, that kid was interested in the toilet because everyone else was using it including the older sibling. We found it much easier to potty train at that age vs when they get older and more stubborn. More accidents early on, but way more cooperation and no need for treats or star charts or anything.

    Hi, my kid peed in her pants until age 5.5 and wore pull-ups to bed until 7.5. Just for perspective.
    There are so many opinions and strategies. I hope you find some sanity in these crazy times, even without toileting issues!

    My kid developmentally advanced and regressed throughout her childhood. This was more so than for other kids due to some early trauma issues so I simply had to roll with this dynamic. When she was more regressed, wanting/needing to be a baby, for example, I took it as a sign that there was some developmental need unmet. While accommodating her need/desire to be a certain age, I also reduced privileges and perks of being older to match. No screens under 2 years, for example. No sugar or juice under age 3. Earlier bedtime, more naps...
    So if your kid “wants” to be a baby, what would your kid getting out of that? More hugs? The intimacy of changing diapers? Being carried? The need to suck? Attention? If you meet the need and make “privileges” age-appropriate, you might find your kid “growing up” quick. It worked for my family. Many parents found my parenting “weak” and were worried about manipulation. My teen girl now is strong and independent and can advocate for her needs. Not “needy”, she just understands herself. 
    And I still match privileges with her behavior, not chronological age: bedtime, screen time, allowance, chores, independent time with friends away from the house. It’s still working, she’s maturing beautifully, (although I’ve been getting furious at her once a day or so the last few weeks at home).

    Good luck! It’s tough to have two under four!!!! 


    He will start using the toilet when he’s ready.  IME, no need to try to get them using it before they’re ready. What’s the harm here?

    You might also try a potty training watch, so that it's the watch "telling" him to go rather than you.  We've liked this one: https://www.amazon.com/Kidnovations-Premium-Potty-Training-Watch/dp/B07QMKPVDX/ref=cts_ba_1_vtp

    Good luck!

    We started potty training our 2.5 year old last week because why not? He is also very strong willed and was showing very little natural inclination towards using the potty. Most of his friends at daycare are potty trained and I hoped that would be a trigger but hasn't been. We went straight to underwear and there were about 3 days where he was fighting it hard and there were a lot of accidents. Now he's much more aware of when he needs to go and is slowly getting it. Pullups just weren't working for us because they're essentially diapers and there weren't any "consequences" of not using the potty like there is with underwear. I also had some colored bath bombs (that we don't use because they stain the tub and who wants to clean the tub more often?) that I broke into pieces and put in his little potty. I told him it would color his pee if he peed on them and that has been a bit of in incentive when we need a push. My friend recommended using cheerios in the toilet for target practice but we're just working on sitting on the potty right now.

    I only have one, so I don't really know what I'm talking about but my thoughts are, while 17 months is a bit young, it is not outside of possible. If you're training one, why not try the other? I think we would if we were in that place. If you're not putting pressure on the 17 month old, there probably isn't any harm in trying! (Our's was actually MORE interested at 17 months than he is now.) Good luck! 

    Having a younger sibling is hard for the older ones. At some level, if he wants to be babied a little, I would just do it. Re the potty training: how about using a ‘big brother’ tack: ‘you can show your younger sibling how it’s done’?

    I potty trained by older one when she was almost three, and my second one, believe it or not, I kind of forgot about it (I just had my third and last baby) until two weeks before he was scheduled to start preschool. I’d gone to the preschool with him to fill out some papers, and the secretary looks at him, with this big wad of cotton diapers on, and says ‘ You know he has to be potty trained, right?’ Me, like, ‘oh yes, of course.’ We came home, cold turkey, no more diapers. He had a few accidents, then was fine. I believe that starting later is just much easier on them. What is the rush? Yes, some more poopie diapers, but, in the big picture....Anyway, my two cents. 

    Give him empathy about having a sibling that gets that attention. Back off the potty training and pressure for a few months. Let him take the lead now that he knows what to do. When younger is two maybe try them together with it. 

    OP here - thanks for all of your thoughts! I appreciate all the different perspectives. There's no 'rush' at the moment, but some preschools require they are potty-trained upon entering. I don't necessarily like that idea, but also, we've had to apply to places that are both must-be-potty-trained and work with you in tandem for the potty training because we don't know who has availability. Of course with COVID-19 right now, all of it is even more up in the air. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions about 2-year-olds Questions about 3-year-olds More Potty Advice for 2-3 year olds

2 year old doing great, as long as pants are off...

April 2009

The first part of potty training my 25-month-old is going great. So long as he wears nothing on his bottom, and has the potty in sight, he has done great for sitting down without prompting when he is ready to do #1 or #2. So yays and much praise have come his way for the past couple of weeks. The issue now is that if I put anything on his bottom, even regular underpants or training pants, he seems to think this is a license to go ahead and wet his pants like a diaper. Even though I've explained numerous times how the underpants are different than diapers, and try to prompt him to go to the potty when he has them on, it seems like he just doesn't think he should use the potty chair if he has any kind of bottom covering, and he doesn't at all mind walking around soaking wet in his pants. So, folks, how do you get to the next step? Thanks for all advice. ''A'' for effort, but ''W'' for wet!

When my son started that, his preschool teacher suggested ''commando.'' Worked like a charm. I just put him in loose-fitting, soft, elastic-waist pants or shorts. This worked for all 3 of my kids. The oldest wore no undies for 2 yrs, the middle started wearing undies after about 4 mos or so, and the youngest started after about a year. I have heard of others having success this way as well. Good luck!

We had the same issue with our son who started potty training at 21 months. After a while we just gave up and let it be (so he was potty trained at home when naked but not when we went out). It also didn't matter what he had on (training pants, underwear, pants with no underpants etc. 4 months later we tried again with clothes on. We bribed him with candy (Did that first time too) and it took this time. So I'd recommend backing off for a while then having another try. I also posted here and got some advice, none of which worked for my son but it included trying pants but not underwear (not tight fitting like a diaper), picking special underwear at at the store. It seems that kids who potty train early take a little longer! Been there.

Potty training a 2-y-o on wall-to-wall carpet - training pants?

March 2009

I'm trying to train my almost-2-year-old and have run into a couple of questions the books don't seem to address: 1. I just found out that pull-up diapers don't really help kids to feel the wetness. Is there a recommended cloth pull-up/diaper for a bigger kid? Since we've previously only used disposables, I don't know if it's silly to switch to cloth during the training period or whether there are training pants of cloth that will absorb enough during this time of learning. 2. We rent a place with wall-to-wall carpet, so I don't think it's feasible to let a child run around bottomless while learning. (and don't have the money for an expensive steam vacuum). But if you devised a good system with carpeting, I would be grateful to know it. Many thanks.

Glad you're giving PT an early try. People thought we were nuts for trying PT on our 'just-turned 2' year old boy... but it worked. And we wouldn't have known this kid would be so amenable to it if had not tried.

Try those Gerber padded cotton underwear (I always found them at Thrift stores) with a plastic training underwear over. Padded underwear are good at absorbing a lot, though you can't prevent all leaks. That's why I'd rec the plastic trainers (we had hardwood floors). Our method was letting our son drink loads of juice, choc milk and then leading him to the toilet every 15 min. He sat for about 1-2 min each time (with a book). On the 3rd sitting he pee'd and learned what peeing on the potty was all about. We cheered like crazy and that was his reward (others use stickers or treats). We had accidents 50% of the time for a couple days, but it was still bye-bye diapers after that first weekend. He was accident free after 4 days. GOOD LUCK! Try, try again.

I suggest skipping pull-ups/training pants and going straight to underwear. Yes, there can be some mess involved, but I found that layering on sweatpants and/or other thick clothing absorbed and contained most accidents, and my two-year-old was potty trained in a week and a half. old-fashioned

My son & twin girls were daytime potty trained before 2. It's a great time to start, before they get in the stubborn ''no'' mid-twos, and take delight in your positive reactions to what they do. There is the child-led approach (kids need to take the initiative) and the parent-led approach, which if done right is pressure free and basically just teaching the child a new skill, that of using the potty. Between 1957 - 71, 85% of 2 year olds were potty trained. By 2000 that fell to 4%, one reason was the child-led approach recommended by the pediatrician Dr. Brazelton. Most child-led potty training literature fails to mention he was a paid consultant for a disposable diaper company.

What worked for us was not using pull ups nor training underwear. They get so busy playing they wouldn't stop to notice if they were wearing an underwear or diaper. We started using underwear after they were about a month accident free, other than that they went with nothing under their pants. We started with sitting on the potty 1x day right before bath and over a couple of weeks did it more and more. We let them see us use the toilet & talked to them about it. Keep what you say simple, ''it's time to sit on the potty,'' asking if they need to go doesn't work as they aren't ready for that & may just say no to express their independence. If they had an accident, we put them on the potty during/after the accident and calmly said ''pee pee goes in the potty, not on the floor.'' We had a potty in the living room/play area and in the bathroom, so one was always on hand. The first week we stuck close to home, then had a week or two of short outings. When we did go out I brought a potty and would have them sit on it in the back of the car before we went into a store, etc. My son was in daycare when we trained him, so he wore pull-ups to school but was diaper free at home. He became potty trained at home, but it took a couple of months before he would wear underwear to school. The key is to keep it fun (sing songs, read books while they're on the potty, do a silly potty dance & song when they pee in it), light, and never let them see/hear you may be upset or frustrated with their accidents or progress. I tried potty training my twins at 20 mos and saw after a week they weren't getting it, so we put the potties in the closet and tried again 2 months later. Then it just took one girl a week to get it, her sister maybe a week or so longer. anon

Some answers: 1) Gerber makes some 'thick panties' that you can get at most stores in the baby department. The crotch is the thickness of a couple of cloth diapers. They stop most/all urine from getting through. 2) Wait until it is warmer and let him/her run around outside in your back yard. Also, I am assuming that you are letting your child take the lead on this matter or you won't get anywhere... -anon

Should I try to potty train 2-y-o before new baby arrives?

Aug 2008

Our second baby will arrive when our son is 2 and a half. Hes a communicative little boy who is happy to sit on the potty a couple of times a day and at times will ask to use it (usually when he is the bath, strangly.....and thats usually when he actually manages to pee on the potty) Should I make a big effort to potty train him before the second baby arrives, or should I wait? I know big changes around the time of the new baby arriving are a bad idea, but I'm not sure I want to wait til he is three..... The idea of 2 kids in diapers is not so appealing, but neither is the idea of a partially trained or stressed out 2 year old and a newborn! Any advice? potty novice

Hello, we had incredible success with finishing up the potty training of our 2 2/3 yr old by giving him underpants for christmas; on the 1st January he started to wear his cherished gifts all day. He was SO proud when 7 weeks later his sister arrived, and he no longer needed diapers. I don't remember when the nighttime diapers stopped, but I do remember he was proud of that as well and never once wet the bed. There was never a sense of regressing, because he felt so good about himself. Good luck, and congratulations on your second! lucky parent of two happy kids

I say go for it! A book that is helping us with our daughter's early potty training (she's 19 months and going on the potty one or more times a day) is ''Diaper free before 3.'' I suggest getting it and using it. Kids who are completely potty trained can have setbacks when a major life change like the birth of sibling occurs. So, why not go for it? Good luck. potty fan

Don't push the issue. You can do subtle things -- let him run around naked while at home. I've never met a two year old who didn't LOVE that...which sort of forces him to use the potty. I've 'trained' one child and I've let one take the lead. Both were fully trained about the same time age and letting my younger 'take the lead' was far more enjoyable/less stressful. -anon

I missed your original post, but I trained my almost-three-year- old and my five-month-old at the SAME time! I started EC-ing my infant with the help of the East Bay Diaper Free Baby email community, and my toddler loved mastering the skills the baby was working on, as well as acting as a teacher and coach to her new baby sister. If potty training your older child doesn't work out before the baby arrives, this is one alternative. I simply said, ''Everyone in our house is going to try to use the potty, even the baby!'' Also took some of the pressure/focus off my older child so she didn't feel like she was under a microscope everytime she had to pee. :) Double-Duty Potty Trainer

Potty Training: 10 prs of panties/day?!

May 2008

Our daughter is 32 months old and wanted to start potty training a couple of months ago. We've tried to stay low-key about it, and have made a point to not to push her. With that said, however, she's really taken to certain aspects of it. For example, she LOVES going poop in the potty! Seriously. She'll even hold it until we get home - it's totally amazing.

When she's at home in regular panties, she typically wets a small amount in the panties, stops, then runs to the potty to finish. We're very proud of her and compliment her ability to ''listen to her body'' (we don't do rewards or praise her for doing it for us), but I fear that we might be ''stuck'' in this pattern. We're worried that she might think that this is how it actually works... wet panties, potty, and new, fun panties each time!

We've tried taking away the temptation of all the extra panties by saying, ''Panties stay dry... when the panties get wet, they go bye-bye...We'll try again tomorrow/after your nap...'', but this angle doesn't seem to be working. We've tried leaving her in her wet panties and pants, but this (strangely enough) doesn't seem to bother her at all, either! Oh, and we have terrible luck with Pull Ups and Training Panties - she treats these completely like diapers, so we only use these when we go out for errands.

Should I just assume that she will eventually (it's been almost 2 months) learn that panties are meant to stay dry and not necessarily part of the potty-routine? I'm willing to be patient about it, I just don't want to establish a ''habit'' that is difficult to break.

Has anyone had a similar situation? Any suggestions? Thanks! Panty'd-Out

What about trying no panties? That is what I did with my 3 kids. Their preschool teacher told me that some kids don't like the ''closeness'', that it feels like a diaper. They just wore soft pants (my daughter wore bike shorts under dresses and skirts). It worked perfectly. Good luck. ''commando'' kids

Just take her bottoms off her when she is in the house. I am pretty sure that she won't urinate on the floor...my daughter was similar, and it lasted forever, but she potty trained at 22-months. You'll daughter will get it more quickly as she is older. -anon

2.5 year old will only sit on toilet if her diaper's on

May 2006

Our girl is 2y-7mos and hasn't been able to transition to the potty successfully. As a family we have tried jsut about everything to get her to use the potty including encouragement, videos, sitting the potty in her play room etc..We let her watch us use the toilet. We talk positively about the experience and have never scolded her or made her feel bad about not using her own. I should say that she did pee in it, on her own without coaxing twice. Once without a underwear, once right through the underwear. After peeing through her underwear she was really freaked out and hasn't wanted to pee in the potty again. She will sit on it but only with her diaper on. Sometimes she asks me if she wear her underwear but as soon as she feels like she has to go she frantically demands her diaper back. So I think she's obviously not ready, but she starts school in Sept. and they require that she be trained. So I'm starting to worry. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks
Potty Drama

I think that it is very hard when your child isn't doing something that you expect/want them to do - but some kids aren't ready for potty training at your daughter's age. I also think that despite your excellent and caring approach that she probably senses that you WANT her to stop using her diaper and use the potty, which probably makes her even more determined to not do it. From everything I've read about kids the 2 things you can't force them to do are 1) sleep and 2) potty train. I would just not worry about it at all and maybe even drop it totally for awhile. She will be potty trained, she will. It's hard to remember but their little personalities and brains are so complicated and they are going through so much at this age. Good luck

My husband and I found the book, ''Mommy I have to go Potty! A Parent's Guide to Toilet Training'' by Jan Faull, M.Ed., really very helpful and I highly recommend it. Our daughter is 2 years and 6 months and just now is using the potty regularly, wearing underwear and has few accidents. After reading this book, we realized that she just wasn't emotionally ready, as the book suggested, when we had started the whole process well before she was 2 years old. It seemed to be working at first and then she became disinterested so I just backed off for a couple of months before reintroducing it and by that time she just seemed to ''get it''. I know you mentioned that you have read and watched a lot but I do believe that this book explains simply and in detail with also ''stories from the bathroom'' to help ease the difficulties related to this topic. And to sum up what I learned is that the child is the one who is in control over this process not the parents. They will ultimately learn when their bodies tell them that they are ready. Good luck and hope all goes well! Anon

I know you said you've tried everything, but have you tried having her diaper/ underwear free in the house all day? It took my 2 year old boy less than a week to figure out how to potty train when we did this. He peed on his leg once and never again. Then, another week of his getting used to wearing underwear (NOT trainers or pull ups, just plain underwear) in the house, and then the third week wearing underwear during outings all day long. I really think being butt naked helps children realize where the pee/poop comes from and they are clean at heart and don't want to make a mess on themselves. My son can't poop on command but waits until he has to go; and then he tells us and we make a beeline for the toilet and he does it. Oh, we also use one of those small toilet seats that sit on top of the regular toilet. Before we got that, he hated using the toilet because it felt so big to him anon

Girl potty water fountain! (2.5-year-old spraying)

November 2002

i am having a strange occurrence now that my 2.5 year old is using the potty regularly. when she sits down (usually on a potty ring over the toilet, but sometimes on the regular toilet seat) the peepee comes out almost like a water fountain and lands either on the toilet seat between her legs or even as far as onto the stool or floor in front of the toilet! is this common and how do we prevent it?? suzie

Ah! We had the same problem! One thing is to tell her to keep her legs closed (with her knees touching). This seems to help. If we are in public, and the top of the seat has a crack in it (where her knees should be), we put a wadded up piece of toilet paper, both for a place to put her legs together, but also to catch any escaped pee. One point of interest, my second daughter does not have this problem (pee goes straight down). Seen Lots of Wet Floors!

Is it possible her labia are stuck together, creating a forward- directed channel? If so, perhaps she can be taught to ''unstick'' herself before she goes? anon

I would suggest a visit to the pediatrician. Sometimes girls develop vaginal adhesions, skin growing across the opening. It is easily treated. jen

When I read your message I had to laugh. Our daughter did the same thing for about 6 months, between 2.5 and 3 or so. It was irritating - here she finally stopped having ''accidents'', and instead she would pee out of the toilet and into her underwear! Or all over the floor, or the toilet seat, or sometimes between the toilet seat and the bowl of the toilet.

We tried getting a little potty seat that sits on the toilet for training, and leaving the little shield on that is supposedly for boys. That helped alittle at home, but not out and about, and even at home sometimes it was hard for her to make it onto the toilet in time when she had to climb over the little shield

My husband took to putting his hand in front of where she was peeing so that it would hit his hand and go into the bowl, especially in situations where he was out with her and there were no replacement undies or tights. (Of course he would then wash his hand).

She just seems to have grown out of it on her own. I don't know if it was a moment in the growth of her body, or how she was sitting, or what, but it didn't last long. Just hang in there! Mom of an accurate pee'er

I remember my daughter peeing like that. I remember thinking that it was just like a boy- she would be able to pull down her underwear and pee in the woods and never get herself wet, it just headed straight out. Anyway, she is all grown up now, it was never really a problem. Her younger sister was a bit the same way, not as dramatic. The key to getting it into the toilet bowl is to have her lean forward, like chest on thighs, and the pee will go down...usually. Our doctor never thought much about it. anonymous

Well ... sounds like you need to utilize the pee guard -- the plastic removeable thingy that comes with the potty seat that you might have thrown away already since you don't have boys. It's about the size of the business end of your spatula - a backstop that goes in the front. The baby bjorn potties have it built in; the grayco potty I have has a detachable one which we now use in the sandbox since the youngest was afraid of it. Anyway - good luck with this. Boys have this problem too but at least with boys you can show them how to point the, um, appendage, in the proper direction. Sigh. If it's not one thing it's another! Mom of Several Boys

I was just as amazed recently when I found myself spurting like a fountain with a steady bead shooting out in front of me between the seat and the toilet basin. I guess I've recently taken to sitting rolled back on my butt too much so that my urine stream was really aimed forward. So, your little girl's fountain may just be a factor of her sitting back too much? If this is the case, rather than her sitting straight up, have her sit with elbows on knees which should help her aim down! no more old faithful

Make sure your daughter isn't looking into the toilet when she pees. If she is, that rounds her back and her hips forward making the pee come forward. Instead, teach her to keep her head up, arch her back, and lean forward. When you're out without a change of clothes and it's extra important, have her sit backwards straddling the toilet and leaning forward with her hands on the back part of the seat (this works great for boys, too.) You have to pull her panties off one leg, but at least they stay clean and dry. Mother of kids with bad aim

Frustration after 8 months of training 2.5 year-old

September 2002

I never knew potty training could take so long. My 2.5 year-old daughter has been having several victories and also many lapses with her potty-training. She will go pee-pee when I put her on the toilet, and will sometimes go on her own. But, she will also going pee-pee in her pants on several occasions, and she is really unsure about pooping, and I think it freaks her out to see it in the toilet.

We've been working patiently on potty-training for about 8 months now, and I have to admit that I'm now getting frustrated with how long it's taking. Yesterday, my daughter had an accident on the couch and I didn't handle it very well. Does anyone have experience with long-term potty training techniques. I've had a positive attitude up till now. Any advice welcome as to how to make this transition for my daughter easier. We've used stickers and trips to the ice cream shop as rewards as well as lots of positive feedback. a.m.

If your daughter is now 2.5 and you started 8 months ago, maybe she wasn't ready when you started. You can't undo history now but have you considered going back to diapers for awhile? If you do it without it being a humiliating experience for her, it might take the pressure of both of you. I just wonder if the timing just hasn't been right. My 3 yr old was potty trained about 6 months ago within one week for peeing. I thought it was because I waited until she was very ready and talking alot about wanting to wear underwear. It also really helped to have a potty in the car- very reassuring to both of us that there's a clean toilet any where we go. She took a bit longer for pooping on the potty and wanted a diaper back on. I complied and promised her a treat when she finally did poop in the potty. Within a month she was pooping on the potty. Good luck.

No Progress with 2.5 year old's Potty Training

Jan 2005

My 2.5 year old daughter has been ''working on'' potty training for about 6 months now. Maybe she wasn't totally ready, but in any event, we've been stuck at the same point for awhile now and I would prefer to try to get her fully trained. She will use the potty (with more or less encouragement-sometimes she doesn't want to) 2-3 times per day, most days. When we take her, she almost always goes, and there certainly seems to be no lack of understanding as to how it all works. But-I can't seem to get her to the point where she is not ALSO going in her diapers-she doesn't ask to use the potty and resists being taken more frequently than a couple of times a day. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Perpetual Potty Trainer

My advice is drop it. Put her back in diapers, explaining that perhaps she's just not ready yet - without judgement or scolding, of course. And, then in six months or so, check in with her to see if it's time. She may surprise you and come to you herself in between - wanting big kid underpants. I've seen this work on more than one occasion. Her self-esteem will flourish if you can let go and allow this to become HER project, when's she's ready.
Best of luck to you.

Get rid of the diapers (except at night). Get her cute panties she gets to choose herself and take her to the potty every half hour or so for the next few days. Only use diapers at night and wait until she uses the potty for awhile (a year?) before trying the go without diapers at night.
been there done that

If you're trying to potty train your daughter but you're still putting her in diapers, you're sending very mixed messages. Now that she understands the process, either put her in underwear (or leave her bare-bottomed) and prepare to (1) send her to the potty every 30 minutes or so, and (2) clean up a lot of accidents for a while; or leave her in diapers and forget about potty training until SHE decides she's ready for underwear.

We preferred to change diapers rather than clean up accidents, so we left our son in diapers until he finally decided, very suddenly, that he was ready for underpants. He was a few months past his 3rd birthday. It was clear to me that in his case, physical ability preceded motivation -- and both are necessary for complete potty training. anon

All three of our kids potty trained themselves in one day, because they were ready. Potty training that takes six months is not the way to go. Let her be the one in control (our son potty trained about two months before his third birthday, and our two girls potty trained around 2.5 years). No tears. No frustration. I would say relax about it, and tell her often that she will get it when she is ready. Stay positive and let her know that it is totally up to her and when she is ready, she will do it. This takes the pressure off her and let's her relax about it. Also, stay away from diapers and pull-ups except at nap or at night, or if she asks for one. Two and a half years old is still pretty little. She'll get it!
Diaper Free in Berkeley

You probably just have to wait until she's ready. I know it's inconvenient, but when she's ready she'll just do it. It's not worth having a power struggle over. You can't control it. Try to stay positive. ''When you're ready, you can do it yourself.''

Is she still wearing diapers all the time? What worked with my son was not putting him in a diaper at home or anywhere indoors where there were bathrooms available. I bought him underwear. I would remind him to tell me if he needed to go potty, and when he didn't remind me, I would take him and ask him to try to empty his bladder. We've had three accidents out of the house, on long outings, but now he tells me he when he has to go. Incidentally, since he's not *fully* potty trained, if I forget to take his night time diaper off in the morning for a little while, he will sometimes go in his diaper. So, if you don't give her a comfy (relatively speaking), absorbent diaper to wear and instead let her go au naturel or wear underwear, things might really progress. Good luck!
--hopefully on our last box of diapers

In my experience, potty training is all about motivation. If the child is not motivated, you can forget it. As I see it, your choices are to either work to increase her motivation (rewards, stickers, praise, etc.) or let it go and wait for her to decide that she wants to be a ''big girl.'' I went through the former strategy with my oldest (which worked for a month, before she decided she didn't feel like continuing) and then we wised up and went with the latter strategy. The key, and it is difficult, is to really and truly not care when she does it but just accept that she will do it in her own time. It wasn't until we were truly able to accept this that our daughter really started using the potty consistently.
Learned to let go, and go with the flow

2 1/2 Yr no longer willing to sit on the potty

November 2002

My 2 1/2 year old was singing along with her potty training for about a month, getting rewards and the like, when one day about two weeks ago she decided that she no longer wanted to use the potty for anything. She will not even sit on it. I have tried to convince her that in order to go to a big girl's school etc., she must use the potty like big sister, to no avail. She insists that she is now afraid of using it. I am at a loss. Does anyone have suggestions. Thanks Skay

I have four pieces of advice on these issues: 1) Take the emphasis off if, when and how they are using the potty and put it on staying clean and dry. After all, that is the goal. Start on a day when you are home and give rewards often at first (like every 15 minutes) that they are clean and dry. Then increase the time as they have success. Give lots of positive reinforcement and show diapproval only if there is an accident. (Read ''Toilet Training in Less Than a Day'' for more on this subject.)

2) It's very normal for kids to hold their poop when they are potty training for 3 to 5 days. My doctor assures me there is nothing wrong with it and it does go away when they get more comfortable with using the potty. If you want to reduce constipation, feed them dried apricots. They taste like candy but have a very strong laxative effect, so be careful how many you give them.

3) If you want your kids potty trained, take off the pull-ups during the day. Using pull-ups eliminates the natural negative consequences of not using the potty. And we all know that natural consequences are the most effective.

4) Don't take off diapers/pull-ups during sleep until they have mastered using the potty while awake and have shown they can stay dry while asleep. Eliminating them sooner will only make lots of laundry for you and discourage them. Many kids wear pull-ups at night until they are 4 or 5 - no disgrace there.

Good luck to all of you! Julie K.

2.8 year old won't stand up to pee

March 2007

We started potty training my son who's 2 years & 8 months a few weeks ago. He's been doing GREAT, except that he doesn't want to pee standing up, especially outdoors. We've tried to motivate him by having him watch dad pee standing, and have also thrown ''targets'' (cereal) into the toilet for him and dad to aim for. But it's to no avail. For the most part, this isn't a problem for now (I'm sure he'll figure it out later when all other boys are standing), but it just seems like it would be so much easier for him if he could just pee standing up. This is mostly an issue when we're at a playground or somewhere without restrooms & I want him to just pee on a tree/grass/rock. We'll pull down his pants, but then he won't pee. And he just says he'll hold it & he does...until I can see he really really needs to go and we either just leave (after at least 2 more tries) or I pull out the potty that I've recently learned to take with me in the car. I think the dribble that ends up on his pants & shoes afterwards bothers him, but I don't know what to do about that b/c his penis is so short that it doesn't extend that far away from his body when he pees. The first couple of times he peed outside standing it got all over him and he HATED it b/c he ended up needing a change of clothes anyhow. Anyone w/ advice? pee pleese!

My now 4 year old son wouldn't pee standing up for a while either. We taught him to pee at home sitting down because my husband sits at home also so that there are no seat left up issues with me : )

In any case, once he got a little taller and penis was a bit bigger, and he was in preschool with all of the other boys standing, he started peeing standing up. It was a pain for a while when he had to pee without a potty. I had to hold him in a seated position and make sure his clothes were out of the way, etc. Now that he's 4, he'll pee on a tree standing up and go standing up at school.

He still pees sitting at home, which I prefer because then he doesn't miss and leave a mess to clean up, etc. Just give it time and carry extra clothes. He'll figure it out. Been there

My son was potty trained at age 2. Now he is a little over 3 years old and still sits down to pee. I don't mind this because 1) he is on the short side and would have a hard time aiming properly) and 2) I think he'd be tempted to aim at things other than the toilet at his age if he had to stand up. We don't have the problem of his not being able to pee standing up if he absolutely has to, but my thought for your case was to just have your son squat and pee. If he likes to sit, he can easily just squat and pee in an ''emergency''. And for the record, I think many, many parents have to carry around a portable potty in the trunk of their car for a while until their child truly learns to ''hold it''. anon

I have two sons (& a daughter) and all had their own funny ways of learning to pee. Ultimately my boys began to pee standing up but it wasn't their initial inclination. I think it is scary to pee upright at first, there is the whole pee-on-the- leg issue plus loss of control b/c you have to reallt relax to pee. to tell the truth i prefer them to pee sitting b/c they dribble on the toilet seat and floor still. When they were little and needed to pee outside I would have them squat or perch on a rock or even cradle their bodies in my clasped arms like a swing (bottoms on one side legs on the other so that they felt like they were sitting) that worked well too. anyway, my point is htat i would not worry about it AT ALL -- just know that the day will come, all on its own, when you son discovers the ease and pleasure of peeing stangin up - and then he'll get married and his wife will insist he pee sitting down - ha! Sarah

I think your son is waaaay too young to be expected to pee standing up. We didn't even try it with our son until he was well over 4 years old, pretty close to being 5. He just sat on the toilet and tucked his penis down in the seat. that worked best when he was using his training seat because it has the pee/spray catcher on front. When he transitioned to the big toilet, we had to encourage to physically hold his penis down so the urine went straight down into the toilet. Come to think of it, that was probably a good baby step toward holding his penis when standing to pee.

As for transitioning to standing, don't rush it. If he continues to see daddy standing, he'll get it. Just keep the potty in the car for now. This isn't something to make a big issue about, because then it'll take forever for him to do it.

I had the same problem with my son. I liked that he peed sitting down at home but when we were at the park it was a big drag to have to go into those filthy port-a-potties. Finally, we were at the park one day and he had to go, so I stood him in front of a wall, facing it, and told him to put his hands on the wall like he was pushing to keep it from falling down. His feet were away from the wall a couple of feet, so he was angled toward the wall, head closer than feet. I then told him to relax and pee. It worked ok the first time, he got better at it with time. I think the effort of standing up was distracting him from relaxing to let the pee out. By leaning against the wall he didn't have to worry about falling over while peeing. Good luck. Rebecca

Given everyone's advice about how to get their son to pee on rocks, trees, wallls... well, I wonder how many moms who are hesitant to use the dirty looking bathrooms have ever thought about how many small boys have peed on the rock they are sitting on, the wall they lean against to tie their shoes, the tree their daughter is climbing, or the bushes their own small boy is insisting on exploring... Just a thought. anonymous

Potty Training 2.9-y-o - How To

April 2007

Hi - I'm pretty sure my daughter (2 years 9 months) is more than ready for potty training. She is comfortable on the toilet, can occassionally tell us in advance that she has to go, and is eager to get panties. I've read the advice from previous posters, but realize I need more explicit information. The process I'm proposing to use is to 1) let her select panties she wants to wear and take her out of daycare/preschool for one week 2) put her on the potty every 1/2 hour or so. 3) put her in panties so that she'll feel the pee/poop and get uncomfortable. Here's were I get confused. What do I do at night? Put her in pull-ups? How do I transition her from pull-ups? I would love any advice on the topic including any modification of the proposed steps listed above. Thanks!

When my daughter was the same age as yours we KNEW that she was ready to use the potty. It sounds like you are getting that same vibe from your daughter.

We kicked off 'potty training' with a visit from the 'panty fairy.' The 'panty fairy' delivered panties individually tied with bows to the bottom of her bed one evening. When she woke up, she carried the whole pile to our bed to show us. We explained to her that she must have received a visit from the panty fairy and that it meant that she was probably ready to give up her diapers during the day. As luck would have it, Mom had some Gerber training panties (not the plastic kind, but the 'thick' cotton kind) on hand. We doubled bagged (put two pairs of 'thick' panties) her and started our day. She did just fine (an accident or two at most) per day for a week and then gradually got less and less over the next few weeks.

She still wears a diaper at night (she just turned four) and probably will for a while. We have our own reasons for delaying the night time potty training -- we are guessing that she will be in a pull-up for the next year or two. -the diaper fairy

Yes, diapers or pull-ups for night. Most kids are in diapers at night long after they're trained for daytime. Mine was till age 6. When her nighttime diapers are no longer wet in the morning, you'll know she's ready to give them up. Mary

I think you are thinking about this too much. Many kids are potty trained day and night at 2.5. Just get the underwear and that's it. Expect occasional accidents for about a year. Carry her to the bathroom once in the middle of the night for a few months. Don't go to parks that don't have bathrooms. No big deal. -- a mom

As for the nighttime, goodness, my 5-y.o. son was in ''Goodnights'' pullups until he was 4 (daytime training complete at 3.4 years)! Nighttime training takes longer--don't worry about it--they make these overnight pullups in HUGE sizes, so that may give you an idea of how long it takes some kids! I'd just go for daytime success first so she gets the idea of what it means to be dry. Mama of 2

I would just work on the daytime stuff until her night time diapers are consistently dry in the morning. My 5 1/2 year old has been daytime potty trained for a couple years now but just got out of the night time diaper a couple of months ago. On the other hand, my 3 year old has been out of night time diapers since he was about 2 3/4. Don't rush it!

2.9 year old has lost interest in the potty

Nov 2005

Although I've looked through the archives, our situation is a bit different and I'm hoping to hear from parents whose kid responded to potty training the same way.

My daughter is 2 years 9 months. She knows how to use the potty and knows when she has to pee when she's naked. She was psyched to go on the potty a few months ago. Now, she has not only lost interest, she does not want to go at all. If I begin to take off her diaper so she can be naked, she will say ''No no no, I don't want to be naked. I want to wear my diaper.'' If I say, ''come one, it's time to go on the potty,'' she'll scream ''no, I don't want to go on the potty.'' Every once in awhile, I can get her to come around. But those days are few and far between. And forget pooping on the potty.

She has told me that she doesn't want to wear undies instead of a diaper because she doesn't want to have an accident. She's had one or tw and although my husband and I didn't make a big deal about them, she was upset she peed in her undies.

She's also told me she doesn't want to go on the potty because she's busy. :) And she is - she's in preschool most of the week and has a couple of afternoon activities. So, we're not home during the day much.

I'm not worried that she's not going to be potty trained. And I don't think she should be trained by 2 year 9 months. I just want some advise to keep going in the right direction. And what is the right direction, at this point? Gentle Mama Two steps forward one step back? So many achievements are like that. Why not just stop pushing right now while there's resistance. She'll want to use the potty again soon, no doubt, and she won't be in diapers in kindergarten. Just about every parent I've talked to who had a problem with potty use pushed before the child was really ready. Every sucessful potty use story came when the child lead the way. While some kids do learn to use the potty before age three, most of what I hear is that it's most normal between ages three and four. Why not just let go, and wait a little while? Carolyn

Back off completely for a while. She's not even three, and you already know she is capable of being trained. The rest is up to her, and the more you force it, the more she will fight it. Go back to diapers entirely for a while, and wait for her to let you know she's ready. Donna

Pullups: delay 3+ daughter's potty training?

March 2005

My 3+ daughter is resisting potty training but really wants to dress herself. The problem is that she can't manage to put a diaper on herself (I'm not sure I could, either). My mother thinks pull-ups are the answer -- but I'm worried that giving my daughter pull-ups will delay training even more. I'd love to hear from parents who used pull-ups as part of their potty training -- how did you do it???
Stuck In Diapers For Now

My 3+ year-old daughter is also in process of potty-training. When wearing pull-ups, she is not motivated to potty when she needs to, knowing there won't be a mess. She simply doesn't care if she wets or not. When wearing panties, however, she is much more conscientious and will go when she needs to. Even though I worry more about accidents, having her wear panties facilitates her training. mh

Can't seem to engage 2.9 year old in toilet training

June 2005

My son will be three in mid August. We began toilet training a month ago. Although he is compliant about getting on the toilet or potty chair, successes for urination are purely by luck, and defecation is better because he squats when he is ready and we can often move him on time. We have tried praise, letting him flush, dancing, singing, high fives, and lately Teddy Grahams. Yet he shows little if any motivation to go to the toilet. He doesn't like it when he urinates and it runs down his leg, but then leaves the puddle and moves on unaffected. We can't seem to find a way to get him engaged and /or motivated. Should we just continue what we are doing, are there any suggestions that might help, should we just go back to full time diapers and attempt this when he's more willing?

Hello, I was in your situation a few months ago. Don't worry he'll get it. Don't go back to diapers, just hold out a little while longer. Also, take his pants off completely every time you are in the house or at home. they tend to notice more when they are naked and can see it come out. also, is he in school? I found that when my son was at pre-school, he saw the other kids go and the teachers were really good about having a potty schedule, and it just reinforced the potty training thing. Also, I totally advocate giving treats as rewards for using the potty. we are normally a no junk food household, but for potty training we bought chocolate covered peanuts (a little protein in addition to the sugar!) from trader joes, he got to pick two when he successfully went on the potty. Then the treats need to be changed occassionally b/c they get tired of them. We then switched to jelly beans or something like that...up the ante. Now he is potty trained and we don't have anything like that anymore. So just to assure you that it didn't ruin him for life!

Another simultaneous thing was that we created a Potty Chart like they had at his school. We put a photo of him sitting on the potty pasted to a big poster board. Then we bought a bunch of stickers and he got to put one sticker on the poster board every time he went on the potty. It was just another thing. And when visitors came over, they would see the potty chart and tell him how great it was. So there was some public validation.

So anyway, don't go back to diapers...and the pull ups are worthless too. done that

RE toilet training, here is advice I read in the newspaper that worked Perfectly for our son: Pick a weekend and make toilet training the only goal that weekend. Summertime is ideal (for more backyard outdoor time), so you are set there! Off go the diapers, out comes the potty, and that's it. No errands, playdates, etc. Family time with no dipes while they master it. We put ''big boy'' undies on him, and went through 5 pairs (maybe 10?) from 9am to noon, and had to pick up some spills on the floor, but that was the worst and it went quickly. Kids by nature do not want to soil themselves, so it is basically a practice thing: do this, you will get wet, do that, you stay clean and dry. It truly is ''training.'' And Worth it big time. It's one weekend and dipes are gone forever. Tell him about it in advance as you change his dipes, such as ''remember, the weekend after fourth of July, the dipers are gone.'' It's a huge relief. Good Luck! Susan

My 2.5 year old son has been toliet trained for a couple of months now. Even though your son is older, I'm sure it's the same in that it has to be gradual and that they have to feel like sitting there. The first step is not about going pee or poo in the potty, it's just about sitting on the potty and getting used to it. Both my son and neice would sit on the potty for 20 - 30'' stretches for weeks before anything actually happened. I think a lot of kids find it boring so we started with letting our son watch a short video while sitting on the potty. He seldom gets to watch tv so this was a treat and a great distraction. A lot of the times the video we'd put on was ''Once Upon a Potty.'' ''My Potty Book for Boys'' is also great as is actually photos, not drawings. We'd read that and other books to our son while he was on the potty. We didn't make a big deal about having to go pee, we just asked him to sit for a while. This probably went on every day in the evening for 3 - 4 weeks. After a couple of weeks we also started putting him on the toliet right before his bath as part of the routine.

Don't use diaper pull ups. I took my son to Target where they have all sorts of garish underwear with Thomas the Tank or Bob the Builder that will appeal to boys. I told my son that he could pick some out, but that they weren't for pee or poo-poo. He was so excited about his Bob the Builder underwear that he held them on the way home in the car and we kept talking about how they weren't for pee or poo-poo. That did the trick. The first couple of times I put them on him I's reminded him again. Now every morning when I'm getting him dressed and put on the underwear, he declares ''not for pee or poo-poo!'' anon

Go back to full-time diapers and try again when he's more ready. No use fighting a battle of the wills. He'll know AND you'll know when the time is right. Our son was 3 3/4 and we thought it'd never happen. But, suddenly it did - and he's been virtually accident free since - almost a year now. Been there

You know, with some things readiness is everything. Potty training is one of those things. You'll be amazed at how quickly it goes when your child is ready for it. And not quite three is a little on the young side for potty training, especially for a boy. I'd suggest you just go back to diapers full time. Offer the potty but don't force it, and let your son lead on this one. Been there

3-year-old is totally disinterested in potty training

Feb 2008

I have a three year old son. Very smart. Academically advanced. Totally disinterested in Potty Training. This week he has taken to removing his diaper and pants when soiled with poop. I have been talking to him about using the potty for some time. Never with any pressure, just explanation. Prior to turning one he was very interested and even used the potty a couple of times. For no apparent reason he became very averted to sitting on it. As not to create a big push-pull over the issue, we did not press. We have tried both types of training potties (small and standard toilet adapters). We are now working with the toilet adapter type. We get as far as sitting on the potty, but no further. I will mention that getting him to eat with any regularity is difficult at best. It makes his bowel schedule, sporadic. This makes working with him when he has to go, hit or miss. I would love suggestions on how to approach this or just other parents to commiserate with. Lucca's Mom-Mom

I can only commiserate. My son is 3.5 years old, also academically gifted (read his first word today! Is starting to add!), spoke early, etc. He does not have any interest in using the potty! (He did at one point when he turned 3 and then stopped.) He shows every sign of readiness, but does not want to. (he also says it's scary sitting on the potty.) He does pee sometimes standing up at preschool. Everyone tells me to relax and he'll use the potty when he's ready, so we gently suggest using the potty to him often, and that's it. We wait and wait, and joke that he should be potty trained when he goes to college, we hope. Sick of dumping pull ups in the landfill

I remember looking in scorn at a 4-year old who was still in diapers. Then my third child, a boy, turned 4 and was still in them. His sisters were out at 2yrs and 2yrs 3 months. We went on a very ling vacation and he slept in the room with his older sisters and in a few weeks wasn't using them anymore. It had to be his decision and I think he wanted his sisters to see him as a big boy. So he will probably do it in his own time, on't worry.

My son is also 3 and was resistant to toilet training. We recently moved and prior to our move he was training very well. After we moved he refused to wear underwear and would cry if we put them on. He refused to sit on any toilet as well. Here is what we did to train and maybe it will be helpful.

We didn't stress him out and force him to train- that was key. We bought training underwear ( these feel more thick like a diaper and made him more comfortable) in colors and patterns that he would find appealing.I let him pick out which to wear. We gave him small peices of chocolate if he wore the underwear. First we had him wearing them in 30 min increments and didn't mention using the toilet. Eventually, we had him in underwear for half a day and explained that it would be great if he told us when he needed to go pee-pee. We'd give him another piece of chocolate ( and M). Over the course of a week, this worked well and he was trained. However, he refuses to make a BM on the toilet or use the toilet at preschool. THat is our next hurdle. But, at least we have him in underwear and on his way to full training.

WHen we needs to make a BM he asks for a diaper. We put him in one as not to create stress around training. We need to come up with and idea to tackle this issue.

My son, who got potty-trained about a month prior to turning 3, absolutely hated his small potty and showed no interest in even sitting on it. However, when we offered him a regular \x93adult\x94 toilet, that sparked his curiosity. Of course, our training process was not an overnight miracle (quite the opposite) but what finally broke the spell was a simple bribe. I bough 20 or so of those really cheap Tonka cars (my son is a typical boy and would do anything for a new car/train/airplane toy) and I started putting one toy at a time on top of our shower, so that he could see it but was not able to reach it. The deal was, every time he does #2, he gets a new toy. I think he stared at the first one for about a week. When he finally earned it, that was one of the happiest moments of my life (seriously). After three unsuccessful days he finally earned his second toy and the training was done, we never saw another diaper. anon

I would recommend an excellent book: ''Diaper Free Before 3'' by a pediatrician named Jill Lekovic. She talks about potty training issues with children over 3 as well. I would also just suggest that you give your son time to just sit on potty while doing something fun at the same time like reading a book or blowing bubbles - just to give him practice sitting on it - maybe 1 week of that with no pressure to actually go in the potty. Then after he is used to how it feels sitting on potty you can strongly encourage him to go in potty. If you get him in the habit of always sitting on the potty after he eats, you may start catching a bowel movement. You may need to encourage with a reward system like a sticker chart or a special treat. Whatever you do, keep it up. Just be patient. good luck! suz

3-year-old wants to sit forever on the potty

Feb 2008

My very spirited, 3.25-year old daughter is not potty-trained yet. She went pee on the potty a few weeks ago for the first time, after sitting on it for at least 30 minutes. She will now pee on the potty maybe every-other-day, but usually only after sitting on it for sometimes almost an hour. We have to pull her off of it sometimes if we have to go somewhere, but she says ''I want to go pee on the potty'' over and over again. We have of course talked to her about just sitting on the potty when she feels the pressure and has to go. She asks for toys and for us to stay in there with her, which we don't oblige. I also have a 4 month-old so it's difficult to keep on checking in on her. When I see her pooping, I point it out, and ask her if she wants to go on the potty, but she refuses. She also holds her female part when naked. I think she's afraid she can't control it.

I'm not sure what to do. Any suggestions? I'm very frustrated and don't want to do anything that is going to make this process harder than it could be.
Daughter spending too much time on the throne

I feel your pain. I started potty training my 3 year old when her baby sister was about 3-4 months old. It was not a whole lot of fun, especially with a nursing infant in tow. In fact, it was so stressful, I vowed to do something different with the second child. I joined East Bay Diaper Free Baby www.diaperfreebaby.org, which is the coolest, smartest most progressive group of mommas out there, and began toileting my 5 month old, explaining to my 3 year old that the goal was for everyone in our family to use the toilet, even the baby. In this way, big sister was able to become a role model and diapering became less attractive for both of them. We all know the three things we can't control are the three things our kids use to drive us most insane -- eating, sleeping and eliminating. I learned concepts and practices through Diaper Free Baby that have proven very useful for both kids and even beyond the realm of toileting. Essentially, positive behavior is celebrated, and unfavorable behavior/accidents (intentional or not) are downplayed or even ignored. You already sense that your daughter is trying to ''hook'' you and you have the instinct not to want to get hooked. Start working on toileting the baby, cheer and sing when the baby uses the potty, and your 3 year old will be eager to receive the same positive attention. We also watched A LOT of ''Once Upon A Potty'' for about 6 weeks to help my older one get comfortable. We had 2-3 potties and kept them all over the house so I could stay near the baby while big sister had potty tries and she could sit on the potty while watching the video. For the older one, I would not avoid a small reward like an M for successful potty tries. It will phase out on its own as she learns to appreciate a little song, hug and kiss for getting it right. One day it's just, oops, I guess we're out of M, but YAY! You used the potty!!! Incidentally, the younger one was potty independent and accident free at home by about 17 months. A nice perk in all of this. Did It Differently The Second Time

3-year-old is freaking out when he needs to pee

June 2007

My son just turned 3 and we are working on potty training. All the other kids in his daycare of the same age are potty trained, so we have been getting a little pressure. Anyway, we seem to be making progress, as he has gone many times on the potty, both pee and poop. We are doing a reward system with stickers.

We can tell that he now is clearly aware when he has to pee. He starts holding (or hitting) his penis and doing a sort of 'dance.' However, he often strats to cry/scream and freak out. When we try to get him to sit on the toilet and pee, he either continues screaming and doing the 'dance', but will not get on the potty (he is holding the pee in) or he will sit on the potty, continue to show unhappiness/discomfort and sometimes eventually pee, or hold it until he gets off and then pee almost immediately after getting up (he often pushes his t- shirt against his penis to ''hold it''). We always offer 2 different toilets (little and big) and the option to stand or sit. He has observed all variations at his daycare so that seems to make sense.

Anyway, I would appreciate any advice on this behavior. We are really not sure what to do. It is becoming very upsetting/sad to us to see him go through this, but now that he is obviously aware of his need to pee, it does not seem to make sense to go back/stop the potty training. Thanks so much. In potty pain, Oakland

Our son never screamed, but I have read that some kids are really afraid to let go of their urine and feces, because it's a part of them. They are also sometimes afraid of where the urine goes once it's in the potty.

The thing that kickstarted potty learning for us was letting him pee outside. Today he wanted to climb a tree and pee off it. Fine with me although I may regret this when he can actually climb the tree on his own. I have also had him put out an imaginary fire in the toilet with his pee and pushed around cheerios with his urine stream. Oh, and the first place he ever peed consistently was in the bath. Yeah, it's a little gross to have your kid bathing in bath water with urine, but it's his urine and he was peeing in there already so I am okay with it. Also you could try having him bee naked a lot at home. Another idea is to ask him where he wants to pee and accommodate if feasible. Good luck! First day without a puddle

My son does a similar thing when he poops. We can't get him to sit on th potty or toilet- he just runs around the house, yells and screams if we even suggest that he may need to or is pooping. So, I asked him point blank why he gets upset when he has to poop ( he is fine with pee). I didn't expect a response, but he looked at me and said ''I'm scared''. Wow. Of course, I asked why- not expecting a response. He said ''Don't touch it''. I never realized that when we changed diapers, and he inevitably went to grab his penis, me and every other family member who changed his diaper sort of freaked out that he was going to grab his poop and in surprise/ disgust/ fear told him ''No, don't touch your poop!'' in very serious tones. I, personally never realized my son would be so sensitive to this reaction and that I was sending a negative message different than what I perceived it to be. He's a pretty bold kid and doesn't get scared too often. Now we are sure to constantly re-iterate how great it is that he poops like the rest of us, we poop with him in the bathroom ALL of the time and wave bye when the poop goes down the drain, give more and more positive reinforcement and have discussed with him that poop is not bad, but that it has yucky germs,that it is ok for poop to touch our butts in a diaper, etc.

He seems to be dealing with it much better now, but I think the big thing is to just let kids run their course. My son is 2 1/2 and is ready, but his cousin is 4 and is just expressing big interest. Yes, it is tough for his family because his peers are potty trained and they feel pressure, but they feel it is better that their son is allowed to be who he is and take things at his own pace-- which I totally agree with! Try having a discussion with your son and see what happens, but mostly just let him have his time and space. He will not wear diapers forever, and he may train sooner than you think just from feeling un-pressured by adults and from the unspoken peer pressure from his classmates. Best of luck! Messy pooped & peed on mom!

After what weve been through, I wish I could turn back the clock and completely let our son use the toilet when he wanted to. He was terrified of the toilet and started holding in his poop. This led to severe constipation and having to do an enema a couple of times. I recommend completely letting go of the issue. Don't compare him with other kids. Just use a diaper or pullup, have a potty cusion or chair with cool figures on it, but don't mention it. Let it be okay for him to choose the toilet when he is ready. He will learn. There are so many other more important things to stress and worry about with children. molly

Preschool starting, need to get potty training started

June 2007

I have a little boy who will be three in August. His preschool wants him at least on his way by then, although he does not need to be completely trained. He has been resistant so far to getting into any routine around the potty. I just got the doll that you give liquid and pees when you squeeze his stomache. I have underware, training pants, chips and salty foods to get him to be really thirsty to drink, lots of yummies as motivation or rewards. We also have a chart and reward box with re-usable stickers. I cant seem to get into any rhythm and its hard just to get him to practice pulling his training pants up and down. If there was a window when this would have been easy, Ive missed it. Any advice?

Our son is also 3 in Aug and is about 95% potty trained, but he has an older brother. We tried a few months ago to push the potty training and he had no interest. They pushed it at school a little and once he showed interest, we tried again at home and had much better success. It sounds like you have all the incentives, but maybe just lay back for a few weeks and try again later. Each kid has their own scedule and there is no need to stress yourself about it. Don't forget to pee in front of them so they see you. Other then that it's about encouragement. BTW our son revolted against undepants so we let him go commando. As my husband says, wearing underpants is not a hill we have to die on today. Good luck

I know boys can be more difficult than girls, so other mothers might have more useful tips. For my daughter, I bought the book ''The everything potty training book'' by Linda Sonna. It gives several different methods, and I chose the method that made the most sense to me in terms of my daughters needs and temperament. Basically, we went cold turkey and accepted the fact that there would be some accidents. No training pants - just panties. And forced her to go to the potty every hour for a whole weekend, with stickers as prizes and lots of praise. Then, at preschool they reinforce the potty training schedule, so she was trained within a week or two, with only a few accidents (albeit some very messy ones) along the way. Good luck!

We had great results potty training our daughter during the summer by letting her be naked almost all of the time. No underwear and no pull-up except for at nap and bedtime. I know its been recommended by others on this network as well. Kids don't like pee running down their legs very much and just seem to notice more when they have to go. I spent lots of time outside with her and kept the potty right next to us most of the time. She got the knack very quickly when she was naked, but it took a while before she could wear underwear without peeing in them. Even in public, we didn't have undies on her, but we kept her in longish dresses all summer long. Don't know what you'd do with a boy. kris

What has worked really well for both our kids when we were potty training them was wearing no underwear/diaper. For obvious reasons summer time would be the best time to use this approach. We let the child walk around half-naked for almost the entire day. Our daughter caught on really fast and was fully potty trained within 2 weeks. We didn't realize that we were spoiled, though. We thought that we were just really smart parents - hahaha... Our son was a completely different story. I had heard that boys can be more difficult to potty train and I have to agree that that was indeed the case in our household. But once I allowed him to walk around half-naked most of the time, he really seemed to catch on. The moment I put underwear or diapers on him, he would poop. However, if he was naked he would get nervous and call me or run to the potty himself. I read many ''potty'' posts on BPN and most of them said to be patient. That was difficult, because I wanted him to be as fast as his sister and that just wasn't possible. But I kept reminding myself of those wise words of fellow BPNers and, by gawd, he is actually potty trained now. It took months, but perseverance and constantly reminding him seemed to eventually pay off. Good luck! JOJ

I think the salty foods, treats, rewards chart and training pants are all distractions (since they don't seem to be working for your son). We just potty trained our 2.5 year old son in a couple of weeks by going straight to underwear and taking him to the potty every half hour. He had accidents the first week and immediately realized each time that he didn't like that messy feeling (I think training diapers still shield kids from appreciating the drippy feeling). He began to lead us to the bathroom when he wanted to go not because of treats, but because he realized for himself that he prefers to feel dry. Of course we reward him with gushing praise and tell him what a big kid he is (especially when he does #2), after which he beams, without treats. That's what worked for us. Your child might respond differently, but focusing on treats and gimmicks may be distracting your child from finding his own motivation to become more independent. anon

Need to get 3-year-old trained - school starts in 3 wks

August 2006

My son will be 3 in October, and toilet training is ''required'' by his preschool that begins in Sept, though they are willing to work with us.

Currently, he will sit on the little toilet training chair if requested and either read to or able to watch Sesame Street (we have been a no TV household for the most part, so this is VERY motivating and drives him to actually ask for it.) He will urinate most of the time and once has had a BM. Until 3 weeks ago he would not even consider sitting naked-bottomed on the chair, so this is great progress. But we seem to have stopped there. He is NOT amenable to going diaperless and panicked the one time he urinated on the floor, asking for a napkin and wanting to clean it up. After that, we had to wait 2 weeks to even bring up toilet training again. Now, after we dump out the toilet he immediately wants his diaper and pants on.

So here we are. He is not dextrous enough to take his own pants off or down, but refuses to go bottomless in fear of making a ''mess''. He has no interest in the toilet unless asked or in the mood for a little Sesame Street. Seems to be unaware of when he actually needs to go. He is now tied to TV or extensive reading (with TV being sometimes the only motivator) for any toilet time. He is terrified of the big toilet, even with an Elmo seat. And school starts in 3 weeks.

I might also mention that he is a perfectionist - no job worth doing unless it's done right. If he spills a little milk he'll dump out the whole cup in anger. If he drops one thing, he flings the rest. Asks for napkins at every meal, doesn't like to make a mess unless it involves dirt, mud or sand. HELP!!!!! How do I get him to go to the toilet of his own volition?

I am also potty training my soon-to-be 3 yr old son and he likes the video 'potty power' - he wants to watch it all the time. You might try it. I know from potty training my older child that you can't force it and sometimes have to back off for a few days. Try not to have unrealistic expectations of him - it can take 3 - 6 months. My son started preschool this summer and he is doing pretty well at school - I think he is motivated by seeing his classmates use the potty. Also, I doubt your child will be the only one going through this - in my son's preschool about half the 3 yr old still use pull-ups. Take care and good luck! Sarah

You are ME about a month or 2 ago. We just finished a marathon toilet-training with our 3yo son. It took just over 2 months for him to ''get it'' and he still has occasional accidents. Our biggest hurdle was the pooping. He used to tell me it was ''scary'' to poop in the potty. I read so much of our own situation in your post. We did the video-reward system too (which actually backfired on us). As far as going diaperless, have you tried putting him in big-boy underpants? Make a big deal of going shopping for underwear....let him pick out whatever he wants (it was ''Cars'' underwear for us!) It's his special underwear that he gets to wear all the time, no more diapers. We made a pile of diapers and left them out on a shelf. He could see the pile getting smaller and when they were all gone....that's it. No more diapers. Some people use bribery, but my son didn't fall for that. He doesn't like sweets so promises of M's were completely useless, but we did use a sticker chart that seemed to work, but only because there was an end goal: when he filled the sticker chart, he got a new Thomas Train. But to pull the focus away from the potty a little, we incorporated other big-boy jobs on the sticker chart. We got stickers for putting our pajamas on, taking our clothes off, etc...in addition to going potty. I didn't make the sticker chart too easy either, it took him over a month to earn that train, but it got to be a big deal every night to see how many stickers he got for the day. Which reminds me, you said he's not dextrous enough to take his own pants off. I think you underestimate your boy! You need to modify his wardrobe. He needs to be in elastic waisted, baggy pants for awhile. My son hasn't worn jeans in months. Once he learned that he *could* dress and undress himself it made a huge difference. Kids want to be able to do it themselves. Sure, he usually pulls them up sideways with half his shirt tucked inside his underwear, but so what? He did it himself! I'm willing to bet once you get your son to do this on his own, your potty issue will get much better
BTDT mom who's planning on letting son #1 potty train son #2

I would say cut out diapers except at night or when he need to poop. also cut out the tv and potty. put his potty in the bathroom and ask him if he needs to got often. My son and I make a game out of going potty together. I sit on the toilet, he sits on his potty. and we listen to each other pee. It started when I was trying to get him to pee before going out. I thought hearing me go would help him. it did! and now when we sit in the bathroom we look at each other and whisper ''listen!'' and then I make interested faces while he's going. Also, he almost exclusively wears sweat pants so he can pull them up and down by himself. We also make a game of dumping his pee into the big toilet, he loves to flush and watch it go down
good luck

I was in a similar situation with my now almost six-year old son. He is still struggling with accidents and has toileting issues. The one thing I would go back and change if I could would be to NOT send him to the preschool that required toilet- training!! Talk to the director and teachers - how will they ''work'' with you and him? Tell them exactly where he is with training and get them to commit to help or you need to find a better fit. Yes, all schools expect a few accidents and deal with them, but they must be prepared to help train if you want to send him there. My son's school said they'd help, but our approaches differed. They would not let him use a potty seat on the toilet, and he was uncomfortable balancing on the seat. Plus one teacher was more supportive than the other. It puts added anxiety on the school experience. You want to pick him up after school and ask ''How was your day?'' NOT ''Did you have and accident?''!! Get on waiting lists for other preschools if you need - there are often last minute openings and changes. Remove the deadline! it's too much pressure for everyone.

As for the training itself, I think you need to be able to take a break from toilet training for 1 week up to a month. Tell him the potty needs a vacation and he should let you know if he wants it back. Your perfectionist son will probably tell you when he is ready to try again if he doesn't, introduce it again when things seem to be going well. Maybe after school settles into a routine.

Try introducing some Sesame Street time and reading time to separate that association - try keeping the potty only in the bathroom away from the TV. You could have a book or toy that is only for the potty instead.

I wish you luck and hope that you won't be dealing with this three years from now like I am!!
been there, still at it

Pressure to potty train 3-year-old for preschool

June 2004

We will be relocating to the South Bay for job reasons, and so we're currently looking for preschools for our 3-year-old daughter for the Fall. Unfortunately, she's not yet potty trained, and that seems to be one of the first questions the preschools ask. For most of the preschools we've seen, our daughter would either have to be fully potty trained to attend, or she would have to be with the 2-year-olds and I fear she would be bored.

Our daughter just doesn't seem terribly interested in potty training. When she does sit on the potty, she never manages to produce anything. I've considered letting her run around with no diaper on, but we're renting and have carpets throughout the apartment. We haven't seriously pushed her, partly because I always thought that she would do it when she was ready. I also thought seeing her friends use the potty at school would be strong encouragement, but that hasn't worked, either. Neither did shopping for ''Big Girl Underwear''.

So here's our dilemma. We need to enroll her in a preschool very soon for the Fall, and I don't know whether she'll be ''fully potty trained'' or not. If we find a preschool we like, but that requires potty training, do we enroll her there and hope she's one of those kids that trains in a week? And what if she doesn't? Or do we enroll her somewhere we don't like as much but lets us put her in with the 2-year-olds?

I don't want potty training to become a stressful thing for her or for us, since I fear there will be more problems. I'm also concerned about how this impending move is going to affect her. But we're running out of time for preschool enrollments, and I just don't know what to do. I didn't see anything on the website that really addressed these questions.

Have you successfully crash-trained your child for preschool? Unsuccessfully? What if she trains for pee but not poop? Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Please, please use the potty, dear

I would strongly advise against forcing the issue. If she's truly not interested then it will turn into a major power struggle that you're likely to lose. In addition, if you're moving, it is not an ideal time to force the issue. Big changes often bring about regression that would interfere with the process anyway. My advice (and I've been in a similar situation with my son) would be to choose a preschool that accepts children who are not potty trained. Your daughter may need to spend some time in the younger class in order to learn that she wants to be with the bigger kids. She may also learn some valuable lessons by being with the two's. If she's truly bored, they she may understand that the decision to move her to a more interesting class may only be possible when she decides it's time to use the potty. I would be careful about enrolling her in a class where it is required that she be trained. It would cause her more damage to experience the failure of moving to a different school if she is unable to stay dry at school. By choosing a more inclusive program, she is able to move up once she is successful. Good luck! Anon

My mom always talked about the rush to potty train me for preschool also at 3ish. I think it was stressful but she said after a few accidents at school i got the gist of it. I guess you could push it a bit more and then wing it. My experience so far with potty training is that they almost never do it on their own. It really has to be parent-initiated. Doing it now

My daughter took a while to ''get'' potty training. We tried buying thick potty-training underwear that kept her from peeing directly on the floor. When she peed in her new potty training panties, we'd say, ''That's okay. You just forgot to tell us you needed to go. Try to tell us before the pee comes out.'' Based on her sometime-success potty training (sometimes she's tell us she had to go, and sometimes she was too busy having fun to tell us), her preschool teacher suggested we try the Diaper Fairy. I told my daughter that the Diaper Fairy had come to take all of her diapers away since she thought she was ready to go potty. In a few weeks, after a year of potty training, she ''got it''. We did not make a big deal if she peed in her pants, and we only used Pull-ups over night. I told her that the Diaper Fairy would only bring one Pull-Up for her to sleep in, but that she had to wear ''panties'' from now on. When kids wear Pull-ups, they don't really know what it feels like to be wet. When they learn what it is like, it helps them be a little more conscious of when urine and poop is coming.

After she'd been trained for a while, she started peeing in her pants again. We worked with her preschool on getting her back on track to no avail. After a few weeks of regression, one of the teachers suggested we get her checked for a urinary tract infection. We took her to the doctor and that was the problem. She ALWAYS felt like she had to go pee and couldn't tell us this, so she stopped telling us. A very short use of antibiotics cleared it up (we didn't finish the meds). When little girls are potty training, they sometimes get bacteria in the urethra because they don't really know how to clean down there properly yet. My daughter was the last kid in her preschool class to be potty trained and she's three years and two months old. I'm sure that some people would say we pressured her, but I don't think we did. We let her pee in her pants and didn't scold or punish if she did. We told her, ''wehn you feel like it's coming out, tell us''. Now she wears thin cotten panties and doesn't need the thick ones, and I save money on Pull-ups. She still uses them at night, but rarely wets them. Anon

3-year-old successful in underwear, then changed her mind

My almost 3 year old daughter has shown me that she can use the potty many times, very successfully. There's always been a certain arbitrariness to when she decides to display her skills, but it is, of course, only on her terms. Now for the first time ever, she decided to wear underwear yesterday. She had complete success all day long, even including going out and using public restrooms. She said she wanted to wear underwear to school the next day, but when Monday came around, she had changed her mind by morning and would only go to school in diapers. It's like she's proven to us all (and herself) that she can do this, but now she just doesn't want to. Is this common? Is there anything to be done but just wait it out until she completely decides that she wants this? (She's pretty strong-willed so I'm suspecting that will be the case).

My daughter was potty-trained three times by three years old. In the long run it was a matter of being patient and waiting for her to make the final decision. Helped that dad called from the place we were moving to and told her her new pre-school didn't accept diapers. That was the end. Her choice.

3-year-old has no interest in potty training

I'm looking for potty aids for a boy around age three, who has shown absolutley zero interest so far, but I suppose responses not specific to that description might be helpful to others on the list. Thanks!

I am sorry to say that I do not have any guaranteed aids for helping your son with his potty training. I just wanted to offer you some support to let you know that you are not the only parent having difficulty getting a three year old boy potty trained. I have recently had the same experience with my son. In fact, a few months before his fourth birthday, he still wasn't fully potty trained. I tried just about everything; buying books about potty training, letting him run around the house without clothes on, having regularly scheduled times when he had to sit on the potty, buying big boy underwear, etc, etc. etc. No matter how much he was coaxed, rewarded or punished, nothing worked. One day, my son just decided that he was going to use the potty all by himself (without reminders). We have only had about 3 nighttime accidents since he started going to the potty on his own a year ago. I know that this does not help you solve your problem. But, essentially I think that he will go when HE'S ready to go.

Your three year old will not train until he decides to, and boys are notoriously reluctant. Just keeping saying to yourself, He won't go to high school in diapers. and don't push the issue. Both my kids trained themselves more or less overnight when they decided it was time, and never had accidents. My son, however, was probably 3 1/2 before he made his decision.

Our pediatrician told us not to push potty training, that our son would do it on his own when he was ready. And he did, just a couple of weeks before his 3rd birthday. The only outside aid he had was other kids at his daycare who were potty training at that time: he wanted to do what they were doing.

At 3 years old, my son was not interested in potty training either. The advice I heard the most at that time was that he would train himself when he was ready, which was such an unbelievable idea, but that is just what happened. When he was 3 years and 4 months, within a week he was completely trained in the day for pee and poop. (He is 5 1/2 now and still wets the bed.) The only thing that I think may have influenced him for potty training was starting preschool at age 3 years and 1 month, and wanting to be like the other kids.

3-year-old resists potty training

November 2006

My son will be 3 in December and I am at a loss as to what to do about potty training. I feel like I have tried it all. I could go into detail but it would probably take up an entire BPN advice page. We have the potty chair (never been used), and seat that goes over toilet, books, we have picked out and purchased copious amounts of underwear, I have offered treats, he gets stickers even if he just sits on the toilet. He is the only child in his preschool class not potty trained. It does not bother my son to have a poop or pee in his diaper. In fact, he hates getting his diaper changed. This morning we tried underwear only and he wet himself twice in an hour, but when I asked him to sit on the toilet, he said no. The books say not to push it. So, I wait until he is 4? He uses pull-ups at school but arent' they just glorified diapers? His teacher says he sometimes pees in the toilet at school, and that he is very ready to be trained. So, what am I doing wrong? I feel like I have interrogated every mom I know who has a potty trained child, so now I am putting it out to the BPN community - help! shauna

Our son (now 4.5) completely refused to use the potty or toilet till he turned 4 years old. He's quite smart and could have learned beforehand, but he simply wasn't interested. He didn't care at all that all the other kids his age at preschool were potty-trained; we were fortunate that he is at a preschool where they took it in stride and just kept changing his diapers. I broached it a few times with him between age 2 and 4, set up a potty chair, read all the kids' potty-training books with him, etc, but he repeatedly declined. He did eventually agree that when he was 4 yo, he would start wearing underwear. Sure enough, as soon as he turned 4, he started using the toilet and basically trained himself in a couple days. (We had also promised him a positive incentive once trained for a few weeks-- a trip to a special childrens' museum which worked for him). I think for my son it was more of a control issue-- he just wanted to do it his way, in his own time. And I didn't care that much as long as it eventually got done. In any case, I think it's important to try to keep the whole process as positive as possible. Good luck. anon

This is a tough one. There is a lot of pressure on parents to ''get'' their children to use the toilet by a certain acceptable age. As a childcare provider, I have had the luxury of helping introduce children to the world of using the toilet, without feeling that pressure. And my hope is that, should I become a parent someday, I would let my child take the lead. Wait until he is four? I would say yes. Chances are that it may not be such a long wait , once a child is given the space to decide that he/she wants to be in charge of this process. Children will naturally reach their own limit with the whole diaper scene. Also, if they are in school or otherwise spending time with their peers, they will simply notice that other children are using the toilet , and may become curious and interested. Adults can casually mention that so and so uses the toilet and doesn't need diapers anymore, but avoid making this a point of competition. Strongly encourage, help, and make sure that everything toilet related is visible and easily accessible, but I would avoid pressuring. After all, this is about a bodily process that belongs very much to the child. I can't imagine that the long term effects of having this process associated with pressure and stress could be very positive.

I would note that I have known several very precocious children who seemed ahead of their peers in other areas of development, but who wanted litte to do with toilet learning. On the one hand, it seemed they were too busy getting really good at other things to be bothered. On the other hand, they were extremely capable of holding up their end of the toilet ''battle''. Perhaps inadvertantly, the focus is often put upon acheiving toilet learning within a certain time frame. Almost by default, the focus is thereby taken Off the hands on, very important toilet learning process. There, I have gone on long enough. I will just add some things that I have found helpful. If you have not done so already, let your child take his stuffed animals (yes, all of them) into the bathroom, where He can be in charge of helping Them learn to sit on (not in) the toilet. I would Highly recommend a childrens' book called ''Time to Pee'', by Mo Williams. Even if you have other books, this one is Excellent. The author has written scripts for Sesame Street.
A Childcare Provider in East Bay

I'm sure you will get lots of advice about this one. I felt strongly enough that I needed to write. I have a 9 year old boy (and a 6 year old girl). I don't have many regrets about his childhood. But if I could change one thing it would be about potty training. Looking back, I wish I had said nothing and did nothing and just let it happen when he was ready. All that hubbub, talking, treats, threats, discussion, games, and pressure not only was useless, I feel it was damaging. It created a whole problem where none existed. My son is a slow developer, he still has lost only a few teeth. It is just who he is. Looking back he just wasn't ready!! Anyway he continued to wet his pants until he was 7 1/2 and I am very very sure that would not have happened if he had been allowed to do it on his own. Don't listen to anyone else, the teacher, your friends, even BPN, just pay attention to your son and TRUST that he knows best and will do it when he is ready. So my advice would be to shut up about it completely and just turn off that spigot of discussion. Don't say one more word to him about it. Anyway that is my advice. :) (P.S. My daughter, who has a completely different body and growth pattern, did it herself at age 3 - see, it isn't a function of anything you do at home, it is simply a matter of when their bodies are ready and they need to learn to trust their bodies!) anon

3-year-old not making forward progress

January 2003

We are struggling with potty-training our 3-year old boy. He demonstrates some readiness (can pull pants on & off, stays dry for long periods of time, tells me when he's pooped) but does not seem to be making any forward progress, despite months of trying. He'll sit on the potty several times a day (with direction from us), but will rarely make a deposit. Sometimes he'll go in his pull-ups right after he's been on the potty. We feel like we've tried it all: bribing him with rewards for using the potty, celebrating dry pull-ups, talking about friends who use the potty, promoting the ''big boy'' benefits. It's becoming a stuggle, which is not what we want, of course. Perhaps he's not ready despite his age? Any ideas would be welcome. Thanks!

One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received was to never let anyone tell you how to parent your kids. My son had a bottle longer than what others thought was necessary and my cousin (who has 3 beautiful children) told me that when he is ready to give it up he will, and don't worry about what others think about the timing. He gave it up shortly after. Same with potty training. Boys take longer. I would give up on it for a while and let him do what he is ready for. At the age of 3, they want to be independent and do things on themselves. Maybe he wants to do this on his own. In the meantime, try giving him big boy underwear and if he has accidents, just change them and put clean ones on without making a fuss over it. He definitely will not be comfortable without the diaper protection and might make the choice to go to the potty himself. Or, if you don't want to deal with that mess, just leave him in diapers until he is ready. I found pull-ups more for the grown ups than for the child. They were difficult to change and kids don't really get the feel of real underwear. Do yourself a favor and try and let Been There, Cheri

I know how you feel! I have a 3 3/4 year old boy who's still not totally potty trained. We've tried just about everything but are finally making some progress. We did this by taking off his diapers when he's at home - and this includes Pull Ups. He only wears underpants at home now. I've cleaned up quite a lot of pee off the floor but it's been the only way my son has figured out the connection between the feeling of wanting to pee/poop and the actual action. He doesn't like it when his underpants get wet (nor when he has pee running down his legs) so it's a big motivator. Lose the pull ups, as they're just like diapers in that the child can't feel the wetness when they pee. Good luck! Tying-to-be-very-patient mom

My son didn't potty train until he was 3.5 years old (he's now 4.5). Once he was ready, he was READY: he has had maybe one or two accidents and was dry at night the same time it took him to get dry in the day (about 1 week). Let it go. Your son will let you know when he's really ready. I did go to Target and get him some Bob the Builder undies in an effort to give him some incentive, but he didn't even care (and this is a kid who loves machines, especially talking ones). This is a really huge issue for many kids. I know it's hard, believe me. Hang in there and before you know it, bye-bye diapers! Been There, Done That

Have you tried just letting him run around the house without any pants or diaper on? THis worked well for my son and it was a way to see if he really was able to hold his urine in. By being naked, he loses the easy option of using the diaper. Expect accidents at first, but that is how he realizes that his urine will go all over his legs and feet and the floor if he doesn't make it to the bathroom in time. A logical natural consequence I think. My son didn't like the urine landing on his body so he decided to use the potty instead. We used absolutely no negative words or tone of voice when accidents happened. Just matter of factly helped with cleaning it up and reminded him that pee pee goes in the potty. Cotton training pants might be an option too because your son can sense right away when they are wet, whereas the diaper feels dry. Jen

When it was time to potty train my daughter I had just watched an episode about it on Dr. Phil. I tried his advice and it really worked. I put her potty in the front room and started by using a baby who would pee. Both of us would put the doll on the potty and watch her pee, then we would have a party. We would get really excited and because my daughter loves parties the baby would get a Happy Birthday song and get to blow out the candles(with the help of mom). We would do this once or twice an hour then I would get her to sit on the potty. After giving her lots of water she would pee then we would make alot of noise, dance around and she would get the Birthday song and get to blow out the candles. We did this for a few days (maybe the whole week) and it really worked. By the end of the week she didn't have any accidents and I didn't have to sing Happy Birthday or blow out the candles everytime. Eventually we got rid of the little potty and she goes on the big potty. On the show the little boy was really into super heroes so when he would pee in the potty someone pretending to be a super hero would call him and tell him how proud he was to be peeing in the potty. You can probably look up the episode on DrPhil.com. I didn't think it would work, but it really worked out great for us. Good Luck. Janet

It doesn't sound like your little one is ready and 3 years isn't particularly late, especially for boys. My daughter didn't get potty trained until she was 3 1/2 years. I thought her sister (who is 22 mos younger)was going to lap her! But once she decided & was ready, it went completely smoothly. The oldest is still in pull-ups at night (she is 5 1/2 now) because she sleeps so soundly. I think some kids just aren't that interested. Also, you may be seeing some aspect of the ''terrible threes'' where if you want it then they exert their independence by refusing. My kids wouldn't go potty at all if I suggested it. The most useful thing I did was to just go along with whatever they indicated they wanted to do. So my advice would be to completely let it go and let him be in charge of this one. Just follow his cues. He will learn in his own time. I am sure you have heard the saying that no kid goes to kindergarten in diapers. It may not feel like it now but it's really true. Good luck & hang in there. Anonymous

What worked for our 3 year old boy, after trying the various methods you mentioned, was setting a date when we would get rid of the diapers. We talked a lot with him about the date for about 2 months. (We used our summer vacation as the date -- which ended up working great.) As the date neared, we shopped for fun underwear. When the day came, he put on his underwear and never went back. (He still uses a pull up at night.) There were accidents for a week or so and smooth sailing after that. Good Luck! Deb

3-year-old has little interest in pee and poo in the potty

Feb 2004

I have a 3 year old boy who has shown little or no interest in learning how to go ''pee'' and ''poo'' in the potty. I was wondering if there are any good resources or advice anyone has that might help him along. cm

My daughter did not potty train until she was 3-1/2. After trying everything that was suggested to me and that I had read about (including not pushing it) for at least a year, I finally concluded that she wasn't going to do it until she was ''ready'', and I would not be able to tell you what that entails, although I think cognitive development is key. When she was ready, she managed to stay dry at night as well as during the day. But what seemed to help her understand the process were the more graphic books like Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel (there's a boy's version) and Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi. Good luck.
Relieved Mom

Need strategies for training 3.3 year old

August 2002

Dear parents we are desperate because our son at 3.3 still hides when he has to do #2, and is not phased w/ #1 in cloth diapers. For those moms who have succeeded in training their boys... were you very consistent about placing them on the potty every hour or so? Are there any foreign-born moms who could provide additional tips on how you potty trained your boys so early (12-30 mos)? Is it true that we must act in a way so that they don't see that we want them to potty train so badly?

My advice is to just drop it. Leave it alone and when he's ready he'll go for it. This is one of those battles that he will win, every time. I totally feel your pain. My just-turned-4 year old potty trained only 4 months ago! It took about 2 weeks to completely have him out of diapers but after 4 days I could already see results. I did try several times before that but he never went for it. The last time he was just ready, I guess. So my advice to you is to just give it a rest and try again in a few more months. Laurel

I wouldn't worry too much about it, frankly. I think that when toddlers hold their poop, or hide to do it in a diaper, it is a form of control. It is one of the few things that they have control over. Both of our sons did this, and got over it. Also, for some, letting go (even of a poop) is a difficult process. We used a sticker chart for every potty use, and offered rewards, too (something small, like a sticker book or a tiny car). They do get over it, and I think you will feel a lot better if you don't think about it too much. Katherine

My mother, who potty-trained seven kids, says that one of my brothers was very slow to potty train -- he was more than 3 years old and still refused to use the potty. She thought he was just being lazy, because he seemed to understand the concept of using the potty, so one day she just took him out of diapers and put him into regular underwear. After wetting his pants two or three times that day (and being horribly embarrassed, I'm sure), he got the message and potty trained himself in one day. It seems a bit drastic, but it sure would get the message across! I don't think this technique would be recommended for a very sensitive child, though. Hannah

I am one of those moms with a ''trained'' baby. #3 used the toliet from 11mo (started EC at 7 mo) and ''graduated'' at 20mo. #4 has been sitting on the toliet from 6mo or so (started EC at 5 weeks - diaperless). Elimination Communication simply bypasses the ''ignore your body's signals and use a diaper until we decide it is no longer socially acceptable to wear a diaper'' phase that most kids go through. The babies are not trained - the adults are - but by 15mo or so, the babies prefer (in general) to use a toliet. I like EC because it keeps my babies in tune with their signals, is really easy and simple (especially so if started early) and I've only had diaper rash when putting a diaper on. I would take your child out of diapers (they will void everywhere - being completely out of tune with the sensation of peeing and pooping - and learn their patterns. Offer the toliet when you feel they need to go. After over 3 years of being in diapers, however, you might just need to bite the bullet and allow them to choose when and where they want to give diapers up - especially if they do not want their diapers removed - by now, they might balk at going naked. If you're not going to practise some form of EC, I would pull completely back and recognize that you've provided the diapers and they've responded to them - now allow them the comfort of leaving diapers on their time table. http://www.committed.to/ec kathy

I read the advice given to the ''potty training 3.3 yr old'' posting on Elimination communication(EC) by ''Kathy''. I visited the EC website and found it very helpful, and would like to learn even more about it. I have a 3 yr old just coming out of diapers(thank goodness!), and a 4 month old boy. I absolutely DO NOT WANT to see my second son in diapers till he's 3 yrs old! I was potty trained by 12 months old, and my mother who is Asian thinks its absurd to see any child ''who can chew food'' not going to the potty. If ''Kathy'' or anyone else has tried EC and either been successful or not with it, could you please email me? I'm very motivated to try EC, and would like to hear other's experiences. Thanks! The potty's the place! m.

Potty trained 3.5 yo having naptime accidents

Sept 2012

My 3 and 1/2 year old daughter is newly potty trained. She's doing great and has only had a handful of accidents in the 2 months since she's been out of diapers. She still wears a diaper at night, and it's usually wet in the morning. However, she's decided that she doesn't want to wear a diaper for naptime anymore. I'm all for it, but she tends to have accidents maybe 2 or 3 times a week-- especially when she takes a really long nap. Have any of you dealt with this scenario? She says that sometimes she forgets that she's not wearing a diaper. Other times she says it happens while she's sleeping. I put a potty chair in her room but it hasn't helped. I'm not interested in putting her back in diaps for naps. Any suggestions? Am I just destined to do a lot of extra laundry for the foreseeable future? Out of diapers and into the laundry room

Congratulations, you're, well, she's almost there! You may or may not do this already, but it wasn't mentioned in the post..

Here are a few tips.
1. limit how much she drinks before her nap.
2. have her go potty right before nap
3. buy ''special pull ups.'' for my daughter, I told her that sometimes her body forgets to remember when she's sleeping and until her body remembers, the doctor (you can change this to whomever she might listen to) suggested that she wear it. I use the 7th generation, looks and feels less diaper like. Emphasize ''special'' LOL

Also, maybe you can have a calendar or a countdown chart that you can mark and tell her when her body can remembers to stay dry, for example, for 20 consecutive days, then she can try her regular underwear.

I tried to stay away from ''you're not ready'' or ''you're forgetting'' b/c I felt like it could get into a power struggle. I say things like ''oops, you're body forgot'' or ''yay, you're body remembered this time'' i felt like it was a no-pressure approach. Good Luck!

3.5 year old wets his pants throughout the day

Jan 2011

I have a 3.5 year old boy who recently (in last 4 weeks) started to wet his pants throughout the day. He has been potty trained since age 3 but continues to wear pull-ups for naps and sleeping and had been making progress toward making it through the night dry.

Recently, he has been peeing small amounts in his clothes; no rhyme or reason to it, sometimes 3-4 times a day. He does it even after we ask if he needs to use the potty, so not like he is too distracted to use the potty. When peeing his pants, its usually a small amount; definately not a full bladder.

I have considered that this is a medical condition but dont see that he has any other pain or bodily complaints anywhere in his body. He is an healthy boy.

We do have another child, now 7 months. The peeing started over Christams break (he is a full-time preschool student) when he was home for two weeks with his younger brother and his former nanny who now takes care of our infant. I mention this as we are thinking there is some jealousy/regression happening. Perhaps this is a delayed reaction? We never had any conflict or regression up to this point and our toddler has been very happy about his role as big brother.

In fact, it seems that having a baby around who needs diapers actually made our toddler want to be a 'big boy' who does not wear diapers and his potty training accelerated after the birth of #2. Is this the regression we feared?

I would appreciate any advice or insight into this. What to do, any concerns etc. Thanks BPN community!

You may be right that it is an emotional trigger. Just in case I would take him to the pediatrician just to rule out medical causes. My daughter spent a month wetting her underwear and I thought she was acting out. It turned out she had a severe urinary tract infection and couldn't help the wetting. dry now

When that happened to my 5 y.o. son, the doctor diagnosed a bladder infection. It went away quickly. Hopefully, your child is better already. Good luck!

3.5-year-old potty trained at school, not at home

Nov 2006

My easygoing, sunny 3.5 year old son has a perfect record of using the toilet for both #1 and #2 at his preschool. He's been going potty at school for 3-4 months now with only an occasional accident.

At home is a different story. I've had about 5% success rate getting him to use the potty at home. We have a small potty which he understands is ''his'' next to the regular size toilet, and he's encouraged to choose either one. He seems clear on the concept of pooping and peeing in the toilet rather than in a diaper, since he does it faithfully at school, but if I try dressing him in underwear on the weekends, 9 times out of 10 he has an accident.

I've tried the approaches of: asking him every 15 minutes or so if he needs to go; matter-of-factly stating, ''It's time to go potty,'' so that he goes and sits whether or not he ''needs'' to go; creating a brightly colored ''incentive chart'' so he can earn a star every time he even makes an attempt, and a dearly-desired new Thomas engine is the prize for earning enough stars; but none of these attempts has been much of a success. This morning I dressed him in underwear, and he had an accident before we even left the house.

I've tried to make the whole process positive and low-key. At one point I dropped the effort altogether, since I didn't want it to turn into some kind of power struggle, and because I knew he wouldn't be wearing a diapers when he entered college (although I was starting to think high school might be a possibility).

I think the problem is that I'm not clear on exactly what approach I should be taking. I've been proud of my success in other areas where standing firm is required, but that was when I was clear on what the process needed to be. Now I'm not clear myself, and am being wishy-washy with him.

Again, he's a bright, healthy boy, and this is not a big problem, but I would like to be more of a help to him. Any suggestions? Stumped on the potty

Having potty trained 3 boys, here is a method that worked for us. When I knew that they were really able to use the potty, I swtiched them to thick training underwear with pull on plastic underwear over it (the old kind for cloth diapers). I'd place a stack in the bathroom, and tell them if he had an accident to put the wet ones in the bathtub and put clean ones on. If he needed help he could come get me. This method worked great because they got tired of changing themselves! So much easier to use the potty. Coupled with sticker rewards for using the potty, this method really worked. been there

I suspect you will get lots of advice and I am a mom with a not- yet-trained toddler, so what I am saying is what I would do, not tried and true. If I were in your situation, I would begin by picking your son up one day at school and telling him his teacher told you how proud of his potty use his teachers are. Tell him it is time for him to start using the potty at home as well. (Check with the teachers...does your son use the little potty or the toilet? With or without the ring on the toilet? Standing or sitting for pee? I would limit the options at home to whatever he uses at school.) Tell your son that it is time to start saying goodbye to his diapers. Tell him in X number of days or weeks, the diapers will be replaced with underpants, which he can pick out. Take him to the store and let him choose (regular or potty traing style) underpants. From that day on, only underwear and just expect accidents. Be ready with a plastic bag, wipes, and extra clothes when you go out and about. Praise his success and don't show annoyance when he has accidents. Then, when he ''gets'' it, reward him. Good luck. We are starting down this path, now, and I am so ready to be rid of diapers, I have to restrain myself from being pushy! still diapering...

3.5-year-old son refuses to use the potty

Oct 2003

My 3.5 yo son refuses to use the potty. Although he will sit on the potty if required, he has never made a ''deposit'' in it and seems to be deliberately withholding his urine and bms while on the potty. I've tried all the normal methods - books, videos, underwear, rewards, talking about his peers who use the potty - and none have worked at all. I had hoped that seeing his peers use the potty when he started preschool this fall would positively influence him to use the potty, but this has not happened so far even though he is the only child in his class who is not potty-trained. When asked, my son says he just doesn't want to use the potty, period. No explanation. We have not had a new baby or any other recent change other than starting preschool, but this pattern predates preschool. My question isn't how to potty-train him, but whether I should even be trying at this point. He is ''normal'' developmentally, but has had some behaviorial issues (hitting, scratching, etc.) and is a very strong-willed and persistent child. His pediatrician says that, given his behaviorial issues, she is afraid potty- training efforts will turn into a power struggle and I should just forget about potty-training until he is ready (God, when will that be??!!). His preschool teachers say that I should sit him on the potty at frequent intervals and make it clear that my expectation of him is that he will use the potty (that's the approach they take with him at school, with no success so far). I personally don't mind keeping him in diapers for awhile longer, but I feel like a bad mom for not potty-training him by now. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Worried mom

A strong-willed 3.5 year-old is going to win most battles with mommy, especially considering that this is a very difficult and emotional stage (and also a stage when he/she really bucks mom in just about everything). I would suggest waiting until he's past this stage and then try again.

Once you feel comfortable stepping up the potty expectations and follow-through, you may want to try what has really helped in our house:

1) stop buying pull-ups. Tell your son that you are not buying them anymore because it is time to learn how to use the potty, and that diapers are for babies, and that he's a big boy now.

2) put large absorbent water-proof pads on his bed (and yours if he sleeps in your bed) so that you don't have to worry about bedwetting staining the mattresses. I've found that children have a great capacity to hold their bladders when not wearing pull-ups. You could also try letting him run around bottomless when he's home and placing a potty chair in the room where he spends the most time. good luck. anon

Our four year old also did the same thing (with BMs only)! My husband thought it was absolutely over the top, and was upset by her behavior. I (he usually follows my lead) thought that we should ignore it. So, that is what we did. We offered the potty, and when she said no, we said, okay. No problem. We would always add, ''You'll poop on the potty when you are ready.'' She would say, ''I will never be ready!'' And we would simply say, ''okay.'' We often added, ''And when you are ready, you'll get [whatever toy she wanted at the time]''. Her behavior indicated that she would, literally, never be potty trained, ever. Then, totally out of the blue on day, she decided to poop on the potty (by herself. We didn't even know that she was in the bathroom). That was it. She never looked back. So, although we received a lot of advice from people (such as my mother in law) to force her to use the potty, in the end, we ignored it completely and she potty trained herself. Good luck! Pooped Out in Berkeley

I have two 3.5 year olds and it is very frustrating. They have both made deposits in the toilet on occasion. They enjoyed the fanfare afterwards. However, if I put them in underwear they will undoubtedly pee wherever. They don't seem to care that they get wet. I have asked them numerous times about it and they say things like ''it surprised me'' or ''I didn't make it in time'' or something to that effect. I have given up. Whether my children are ready or not I don't think should reflect on my parenting. I have tried and I believe they are not ready. Maybe they are ready physically but not emotionally or vice versa. I feel your pain but I don't think you are a lesser parent in anyway. They will do it when they are ready and then it will be effortless-or so everyone tells me. My advice-listen to them and support them and they will tell you when they are ready. waiting for her boys to use the toilet too

3.5 is not too late for potty training a boy. It may seem late with the peer presure you seem to be feeling, but clearly it's not so for your son. Are his teachers pushing you to train him? Do you really feel like it's time? I'd suggest lightening up on it. You could ask him to experiment with going without diapers outside on these late summer days, and perhaps he'll understand how nice it is to go diaperless. Good luck. --still waiting for the right time too

My now 4 year old daughter finally potty trained about 2 months before her 4th birthday. She had been working on it off and on for about 2 years but was pretty clear that she didn't want to do it. The advice given to us by our preschool was to let it go for a while until she shows signs that she wants to and when she does go potty, to be pretty low-key so that she would feel it was an accomplishment for her and not for us. We did follow this advice and then when we actually did potty train, my mother had gotten a set of quite attractive underwear (which never had worked before) and she wore it for the day, and then for more days. She had several accidents for the first three or four days and requested to wear pull-ups again, saying she wasn't good at this. I explained that nobody was good at it and had to practice to get good at it. Because she was really ready, she went with it. I think if she wasn't, she would have been back in pull-ups just like all the other many times she tried wearing underwear. Getting comfortable pooping was hard for her but she did it with our support and we really especially careful to not use any bribes or pressure. She now has an accident occasionally, but this is very rare. I think your pediatrician is right to let it go for a while and that forcing the issue could just turn into a power struggle that no one would win. I think my daughter was perfectly capable of potty training much earlier than she did but it really had to be when she was ready. Good luck! anon

I've been dealing the same issues with my 3.5 year old daughter for the past 6 months. We've also tried everything. She has been the only child, for almost a year, not potty trained in her pre-school. We did have a power struggle which got to the point of her crying when I asked her to sit on the potty. On the positive side, I am happy to say that she is almost trained. Here is what has worked for me. I stopped putting her on the potty and had her only in diapers for about 2 weeks. I would ask her if she had to go and she would generally say no. I then began asking her if she wanted to wear big girl underpants or diapers. After a few days she began asking for underpants. I told her that big girls go on the potty but it was okay to go in diapers but I didn't want her to mess her pants. She sometimes still asks for diapers. I asked her for a few days, frequently, if she had to go potty and have her sit down but if she said no I wouldn't force the issue. Now she is going on her own, still wears diapers infrequently, but our power struggles have ceased and we are both less stressed. Don't worry about being bad mom - be proud that you have an independant kid that doesn't give into peer pressure. Sandy

hi, I had EXACTLY the same problem, I tried everything, bribing, batman underwear etc. My pediatrician, bless her heart, told me not to rush it, which was contradicted what his preschool wanted to do. I'm going to break down what happened: The first 2 times we tried (we as in parents and preschool) we took him out of diapers and what we noticed is:
1) he didn't care he got wet
2) he peed vindictively, he would pee RIGHT after we put him on the potty, and usually on a piano bench, his bed, the couch, or the playstructure at school. We put him back in diapers, as per his doctor.

The third time we tried he was 3 yrs 9mos, he was still showing no interest whatsoever, he didn't care that every other kid was doing it, that he couldn't go to kindergym with his class, no cajoling would work nothing!!!

BUT, i had a nagging feeling it was really time, so against the advice of his pediatrician, and with the support of his school (new school is awesome about these sorts of things...), i just took away his diapers and swore he would never wear them again (i did not count pull-ups at night). I swear, it took 3-4 days of hell, but he was on that potty! I almost cried the first time i heard the tinkling of pee on water!!!! this time, he really cared that he was wet, and i had him help clean up during those difficult first few days (never the poop, only the pee). It worked for another parent i know too. anyways, that is the long version of what worked for my most stubborn now 4.5 year old (we are working on getting him out of pull-ups at night now, i am thinking underwear underneath them, so he feels the wetness)
GOOD LUCK!!!!! juliet

My daughter did not start using the potty until literally the day she turned four. I too was frustrated when my daughter was not interested. Like your kid, she also goes to preschool, but that did not inspire her. Like your kid, she would agree to try, but was never able to do anything on the pot.

When she was about 3.9 years, I tried using a potty calendar that had great sucess with our little cousin. We'd put one kind of sticker for trying, another for peeing and another for pooping. It backfired completely. She just felt pressured.

It seems that there are two schools of thought. One is put them in underwear, and pretty soon they will get tired of having accidents and potty train. That probably works, though maybe its traumatic for some kids. My lesson from this was FOR MY KID I just needed to wait until she was ready. For her, for some reason, using the potty had to do with what it meant for her to turn four. It actually was a good lesson for me that kids develop at different rates for different things. It will happen by itself, it just takes longer. I do think that we can certainly encourage our kids, in a low key way, that we have confidence in their ability to do it, BUT to let them know that it is ok for them to wait until they feel ready.

The good news is that once she started it took no time at all for her to potty train.

Hang in there!! It will happen! Lori

3.5-year-old daughter refuses potty training

My three year, four month old daughter steadfastly refuses to use the potty, much less wear pantsies (as she calls them). We've always taken the easy-going approach to potty training, figuring she'd do it when she was interested, and apart from gentle persuasion (the potty video and books, two kinds of potties, lots of naked baby time), we've pretty much left out the hardsell. Now, however, I'm getting kind of hung up about this. Grandma, her daycare lady (with 30 years experience with toddlers) and peer pressure have not made an impression upon her, either, and I don't know what to do. We're expecting our second child in mid-July, and it would be nice to have her out of diapers by then, or at least leaning that way. Is it too early to worry? Should I continue to wait until she's interested? Has anyone else ever heard of a 3.5 year old girl refusing to be potty trained? She's a normal, independent-minded three-year-old in every other way. Thanks for any advice or suggestions.

My daughter is almost three and a half and just started using the potty about 3 months ago. I, too, used a pretty laid back approach. We used books and videos, she had cool panties, and she watched her friends use the potty. When I suggested she try, she replied, I'm not ready to potty train yet Mom, soon I will be. Those were her exact words. I kind of felt that if she could communicate that well, them she damn sure could use the potty. I stressed in silence and hoped that she would do it soon. Indeed she did. I have no idea why she started using it. I didn't do anything differently. One day she just started doing it, and not on the little potty, but on the big one. When she first starting using the potty I would remind her by saying, Don't forget, you're wearing panties. One day at Totland, I was half way across the playground when she shouted, Hey Mom, don't forget you're wearing panties. I hadn't, but appreciated her concern. Good luck!

Oh, yes! I certainly know of another 3 1/2 year old girl who refuses to use the potty. Mine! she's also about 3 years 4 months. She knows how, she goes at school, sometimes (one great day she spent all day in underwear with no accidents!). But she just can't be bothered to interrupt what she is doing most of the time. We've taken the same approach, with (it sounds like) similar results. We have also tried stars, and at one point we tried putting her on the potty every 15 minutes, but nothing has really worked. I'll be interested in what others have to say about it. My neighbor (also on this list) says that her son just up and decided to do it one day--from zero to 60 in no time flat. I keep that in mind whenever I get discouraged.

As it happens, we're planning to go in a couple of weeks on a 4 day camping trip at a naturist resort. I assume that my daughter will run around with no clothes on (and a LOT of sunscreen!) for the better part of 4 days. I'm hoping that this will help her figure out WHEN she needs to go. I've never been willing to try this technique INSIDE our house, but maybe it will work outside! I'll let you know.....