Toddler can hold his pee, but can’t release it
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.