My 3 year old son won't potty train

Kirsty - posted on 02/03/2010 ( 33 moms have responded )

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My son is really stubborn, he has bladder control, he knows when he needs to go to the toilet but half the time he refuses to go to the toilet. He is not interested in the potty. He continually asks for a nappy. He wants to do a poo in his nappy still.

What do I do with my 3 year old who won't potty train? I am at a real loss.

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Christine - posted on 02/05/2010

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I've done all of the above things and the biggest thing I've found is to not make a big deal about it. Don't go back and forth between underwear and pull ups (maybe just pullups at bedtime)- stick to your guns and just be prepared to do a lot of laundry and spend the money to get your carpet cleaned when he's finally trained. I praised them ( I have one of each) when they did what they were supposed to do and just said Oh Well - have to try harder next time when there was an accident. Yelling and punishing do not work (tried that too). Sticker charts work well but like with everything else - consistency is the key. My daughter turned 3 in November and has been wearing big girl underwear since last July. She's still sometimes changes her panties a couple of times a day because she just waits too long. I got rid of the pull ups last week altogether (she was just wearing them to bed) and have been doing laundry daily. One thing I did learn though - waterproof mattress pad/sheet/waterproof mattress pad/sheet - double up so if they wake up wet in the middle of the night you can just tear one set off and they can go right back to bed!

Dawn - posted on 09/20/2011

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THROW AWAY THE DIAPERS!!!!!!!!!!! I have another child on the way and I REFUSED to change two sets of diapers so I started potty training my 2 yr old. I simply did not buy diapers..... If she had an accident you clean it up. Constantly keep putting them on the potty. Also offer rewards... a little cup of m&m's or their favorite treat for going on the potty. It will take a little while but after 2 weeks of that my daughter is fully potty trained!!!

Megan - posted on 06/23/2013

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I had a hard time potty training my 3 year old son who tended o use the potty when he felt like it, approx. 10% of the time.... I tried reward stickers, praise etc. to no avail. Then after a really nasty diaper I said that's it.. I put on big boy underwear and he peed his pants within 10 minutes. Then I took away is scooter (which he LOVES) and that was the end of that. Potty trained instantly. Take away something that is urgently wanted and they will learn real fast!

Eschelle - posted on 11/13/2011

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My son was like this at three. We tried EVERYTHING until our last resort was to take off the diapers cold turkey. A messy week but after seven consistent days and having to pack multiple changes of clothing. He finally understood that this diaper thing wasn't coming back, and BOOM he just woke up one day no accidents using hte potty completely.

Kara - posted on 02/04/2010

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As you said, your son is stubborn. If you get into a power struggle...you will probably give up first to save your furniture and carpet. Give him choices...but make the rewards for using the potty positive, and the consequences for using the nappy not so fun. Dance and clap for potty use, and frown (but do not yell or punish) showing your disappointment in using the nappy. You can also try potty targets (things for boys to pee at) to make it more interesting and fun, even Cheerios work.

If your 3 year old won't potty train and it gets to frustrating then back off for a few weeks and start new soon. Also, rest assured that he will not go to college with his nappies.

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Sue - posted on 03/31/2013

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I would also add that in the case of my son, I didn't find treats or rewards worked, so it isn't for every child.

Sue - posted on 03/31/2013

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I had an identical problem to you and was also worried about him not getting it in time for school. I had a whole nine months of constant accidents while I was trying. I was told by everyone to never go back to nappies, but feel it was what I should have done, as in hindsight he wasn't really ready and I suppose it was assumed that by 3 he should be getting it. He didn't get it by school (nursery), but they were really good about it and he was trained in a matter of weeks, just from watching other kids do it I guess. I would just keep trying every couple of weeks or so and try not to stress too much about it.

Alisha - posted on 03/30/2013

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My stepson is three and he hates being wet but yet wont potty in his potty first he said he had to have his own so but him one and wrote is name on it we have tryed the treats but all he does is scream at the idea my son also three was potty trained within a week and now we have another on the way and dont know what to do any advice

Kirsteen - posted on 10/14/2012

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At least you ladies are trying that is the main thing. I have a partner who has three children. One boy aged 6 (fine) a girl aged 5 (acts and wants to be treated like a baby) and a girl of 3 (gets treated like a baby). Their mother in my eyes is a lazy so and so. The 5 year old girl was only potty trained thanks to the efforts of her father. He went to pick them up one day and her mother had given her a bottle? The girl of 3 is still constantly in nappies, drinks bobos, and hardly speaks. Is it possible for a child to have depression because I kid you not she looks miserable and I am bipolar so I know how it goes. Her mother still puts her in a cot because she spends all the money she gets on other things and won't buy her a bed. She puts shoes and clothes on them that are too small have holes in them etc! I am at my wits end and feel like choking the woman because her laziness is really only affecting her kids. What do I do short of telling him I can't see him anymore because I can't handle seeing the children with greasy hair, long fingernails and toenails, black holes in their teeth! They have a terrible diet which consists mainly of takeaway and if you offer the youngest one something she doesn't like she screams blue murder! They do not eat veg other than tinned peas and will not entertain any other fruit than apples. They refuse to try new foods and to be honest it is really starting to upset me! The wee one only just started walking about six months ago because her mother had her strapped into various things including strapping her into a buggy until she went to sleep them moving her! Surely this is unsettling. My partner refuses to say anything because she uses her kids as a weapon against him and he loves them all dearly. I also wonder if he is blind to all of this or sees it as not much of a problem. I am sorry but two 5 year old (the boy last year and the girl this year) having to have several teeth removed is surely a cause for concern. I would greatly appreciate some advice or am I completely over-reacting?

Ann - posted on 10/10/2012

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I'm right there with you my son will be 4 in 5 months and he knows when he has to pee and poop but refuses to go to the bathroom unless you tell him to go and make him walk in there. We have tried giving him treats getting excited doing the happy dance he doesn't care and will actually scream at you to put a diaper on him. Now my 1 yr old daughter is refusing to have a diaper on she will actually take off her clothes to get the diaper off the second she pees in it. I've actually seen her stand on her head until she got her onezie unsnapped to take her diaper off. My carpet and carpet cleaner is getting a major workout.

Stephanie - posted on 07/29/2012

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All this potty talk is really helpful! However I once heard that we shouldn't discuss the potty training progress with others when the potty trainee is around, I wonder why though?

CAROLYN - posted on 05/27/2012

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Watch what time he goes for several days and at that time give him cookies or the kind of snack he likes while he sits on the potty kneal down in front of him and make faces like you are going potty and rub his tummy. I had all of mine potty trained early but I was at home with them . I had 3 boys and 2 girls. You need to be firm and consistant. Good luck and God bless also never try to train for pee pee and poo poo at the same time be sure he has one down pat first. I always trained for poo poo first and after they were consistantly going on their potty chairs, the boys watched their dad pee and followeed his lead.

CAROLYN - posted on 05/27/2012

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Watch what time he goes for several days and at that time give him cookies or the kind of snack he likes while he sits on the potty kneal down in front of him and make faces like you are going potty and rub his tummy. I had all of mine potty trained early but I was at home with them . I had 3 boys and 2 girls. You need to be firm and consistant. Good luck and God bless also never try to train for pee pee and poo poo at the same time be sure he has one down pat first. I always trained for poo poo first and after they were consistantly going on their potty chairs, the boys watched their dad pee and followeed his lead.

Katrina - posted on 09/28/2011

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Thanks so much for telling me to pray for him. I never thought of that till I read it on here. I may not be able to make him potty train but God is much bigger! God bless you all in this endeavor!

Deborah - posted on 02/14/2010

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Serena you are on the money. Do what you tell you child you are going to do. 2-3- and 4 year olds understand. Pania, prepare them before hand, tell them what you are going to do and make a chart to count down the days, they don't understand time. But they do understand yes and no. An believe me that they will be watching and trying you to see if you are going to do what you said. Force no, push into yes. Even just grown ups need a push in the right direction some times. My grandson laughed at his dad when he took him to the bathroom to show him. Dad got tickled and never did it again. If you and your spouse work as a team in this, make sure each of you follow the ground rules you have set and don't give in to the child. Because they will work you like a job. Good luck ladies. Hang tough, your 3 year old that won't potty train will soon be a memory and you will gain much knowledge to share with the next set of moms in potting training world.

Sheila - posted on 02/14/2010

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To Karyn, try the regular boys underwear.....I posted last week and I started all over again yesterday with the regular boys underwear and my son hates the feeling when he has an accident in them....lol.....he walks really funny and says yuck...and he didn't even pee the bed last night.....we got up at 5:30 am and pottied and again at 7:30 and so on every 2 hours and he's had 1 accident but as far as poo poo goes I'm not sure yet.........just get ready to do laundry if you do this! Just remember not to yell or get mad at them even you want to just scream...it'll set them back is what my husbands grandma told me....and really.........99% of the time...she's right....good luck!

Jeanifer - posted on 02/11/2010

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I had a really hard time with my boys but i would give my kids treats when they did #2 in the potty...lol. I didnt let them have sweets at all but I would give them a bar off a kit kat. He would look forward to getting on the potty after that, he would sit there until he did something just so he could get a treat.

Karyn - posted on 02/10/2010

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see here is my problem, my 3 year old was doing great when i started potty training him he would pee and even poop on the potty i gave him treats and rewards and then we switched from dipers to pull- ups and now he dosen't go to the potty i have tried the going to the potty every hour and it dosent work he will sit there and listen to me tell him to go potty and then he gets up and runs and i mean gone in a split and he stays hidden untill it is safe for him to come out i am loseing my mind he is going to start school this year and he needs to be potty trained before he can start i am on a big time crunch and i dont know what to do. My husband does not like our 3yr old being in the bathroom when he is going so i dont have anyone to teach him haw boy's go potty, i know i am mom and i "can" do everything put i can't pee standing up without making a mess. please help me i cant take much more i am about to just give up..... Karyn

Debbie - posted on 02/09/2010

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This is my first time visiting this site and it is a relief to see that my 3 year old is not unique in pooping in his pants! He doesn't mind going to the toilet if he needs to pee but he absolutely refuses to go to the toilet when he needs to poo! I have also tried everything I could think of but nothing works. I can't help myself getting angry at him if he makes a mess but at least as Kara said - when he goes to college he will (hopefully :-) not be in diapers anymore!

Christine - posted on 02/08/2010

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One other thing I've learned is not to ask if they have to go - just tell them its time to go.

Sheila - posted on 02/07/2010

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My son will be 3 this month and I am having one heck of a time with potty training...I literally have to pull his pants down and put him on the toilet while he screams on the top of his lungs and finally after talking to him and telling him that he is a big boy and that big boys go on the potty and babies go in diapers he will pee in the potty....but after he is done half the time he calls for his biper but I have to tell him no....I hope we will be done with this soon....with a newborn boy and him both in diapers and pullups it's a bit expensive.

Brittaney - posted on 02/07/2010

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When my stepson was potty traing at 3 and a half i was getting so frustrated too. He wouldn't care if he was wet and wouldn't even tell us if he went number 2. Even when we caught him in the act he would act like he wasn't going. Finally I took an old tupperware container and filled it with things that I knew he would really love. He was showed what was in there and then told that he could only take something out of there if he went on the potty. His favorite was Jell-O, he loved helping make it, he learned to be patient waiting for it to cool in the fridge and especially eating it. And lots of praise along with the 'prizes' even if he just tries make a big deal out of it.
This is getting a little long sorry. But also, don't get angry with him when he goes on the floor or doesn't tell you and wets his pants. Just tell him it's okay and that you'll try again next time. The more you get angry the less he's going to want to even attempt it for the fear of disappointing you. If he tries give him a sticker but if he actually goes then he gets a 'prize'...Good Luck!!

Pania - posted on 02/07/2010

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If your 3 year old won't potty train I wouldn't try force it on him, get him to feel comfortable about it first. Get daddy to take him to the toilet and show him how it works.

Deborah - posted on 02/05/2010

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Don't buy another pull up. Let him be embrassed, because he knows what he is doing and hang tough and don't give in.

Christine - posted on 02/05/2010

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I agree with Karla. I did that with my son. If he pooped in his pants, he had to clean them out in the toilet. That changed his attitude about going in the potty FAST! My son was 2 when we started training and I did the on again/off again thing and gave up for a while. I enrolled him in a mothers day out program and he had to be trained before he went there. We did a Potty Training Boot Camp for 3 days about 2 weeks before he started preschool there because he STILL refused to go in the potty. I went and bought crafts, books, a potty movie - all kinds of things to do for those 3 days because we didn't leave the house. We stayed next to the timer and went every 45 minutes the first day, every 2 hours the 2nd and 3rd day and he FINALLY got it. It helped that I was 5 1/2 months pregnant at the time and I had to go all the time too! LOL ;)

Karla - posted on 02/05/2010

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I know it sounds harsh but if your 3 year old won't potty train let him stay in his messed pants. no diaper no pull up. just pants and underwear. Can he dress himself? Have him change his own clothes and help you wash them? Maybe he'll get tired of being wet? that's a tough one. Does he go to preschool at all? or a mom's day out kind of thing where he's around other kids his age? maybe that will help to see other kids not having messed pants. Pray for him with him. Not in a condemning way but asking God to help him go on the potty and you to be patient with him. God will help you and him too. And you son will hear your heart as you pray with him. Just a thought. hope this helps some.

Rebecca - posted on 02/05/2010

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My son will be 4 the 22nd of Feb and he refuses to go to the potty !! He will if we make him but not on his own.. he will go hide.. WE have done treats, celebrating.. to go every 30 min.. big boy underwear, pull ups.. he knows he has to go bc he hides.. we have let him go naked.. I dont know what else to do !! please let meknow what I can do next!!

Karla - posted on 02/05/2010

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I agree 100% with Christine. Figure out what the best "treat, reward" would be. For my daughter it was cheap little trinkets I got at a thrift store. for my son it was peanuts or stickers. Also, my son (will be 3 in April) when we were starting potty training and I KNEW he had to go I took off his pants altogether underwear and all. He hated going on himself and RAN to the potty. Like Christine said. just be prepared to do lots of laundry and stick with it. Don't waiver between starting and stopping you'll drive yourself crazy!

Marcy - posted on 02/04/2010

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My son is 3 1/2 and is about 90% potty trained....we started trying when he turned 3 and boy was he mad about the whole thing. I tried creating a chart and after a few times of going to the potty he could care less. Here are a few things that did work for us...



I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of cheap gifts, wrapped them up and put them right near the potty. When he went pee I gave him a small gift (pencil, stickers, etc.) and when he went poo I gave him something a little bigger (toy car, piece of candy, etc.). My husband just laughed because he was going all the time to get prizes....honestly I questioned it because after a few days I ran out of gifts and he was not a happy camper. However, we sat down and discussed an even bigger prize which was going to Disney (we live 30 minutes away) so for the last 3 months we have bene working on going potty so that we can go to Disney because MIckey will not see little boys in diapers...HAHAHA.



Anyways, its working for us. We also went and got him lots of new big boy undies and wearing pull ups during the day is not an option anymore. Good luck!

Cassandra - posted on 02/04/2010

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I'm having the same problem with my son. He is 4 and goes when he wants to. He will go for a day maybe 2 but then he won't go again. I'm at a loss.

Kirsty - posted on 02/03/2010

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I have already tried all of that. He did a wee on our lounge today after he did a wee on the carpet. He did it after he asked for a nappy and I said no. I tried to explain to him that he is a big boy now, but it doesnt seem to make any difference.
I think he has regressed and I will have to wait for a few days before trying again.

Serena - posted on 02/03/2010

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I'm sure people have told you he will when he's ready but his "ready" and your "ready" are two different things. When you think about it why would he want to stop playing and go to the potty when he potty right there and keep playing. I learned that was the big problem with my son. So I just started making him wear only big boy underwear and made a big deal out of it. That way if he pottied in it, it would stay wet and they don't like that feeling. We only did it at home first until he embraced it and went to the potty but it is also a lot cheaper to wash underwear than those expensive nonhelpful pull ups. You could also try the cheap store brand pullups because they're not as absorbent which again will make him feel more uncomfortable being wet.

We are still working on the pooping though...it all comes in time.

Also what helped is when daddy is around have him take your son to the potty. My husband made it a game who could potty faster and it sure helped. Good luck :)

Deborah - posted on 02/14/2010

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Serena you are on the money. Do what you tell you child you are going to do. 2-3- and 4 year olds understand. Pania, prepare them before hand, tell them what you are going to do and make a chart to count down the days, they don't understand time. But they do understand yes and no. An believe me that they will be watching and trying you to see if you are going to do what you said. Force no, push into yes. Even just grown ups need a push in the right direction some times. My grandson laughed at his dad when he took him to the bathroom to show him. Dad got tickled and never did it again. If you and your spouse work as a team in this, make sure each of you follow the ground rules you have set and don't give in to the child. Because they will work you like a job. Good luck ladies. Hang tough, your 3 year old that won't potty train will soon be a memory and you will gain much knowledge to share with the next set of moms in potting training world.

Pania - posted on 02/07/2010

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If your 3 year old won't potty train I wouldn't try force it on him, get him to feel comfortable about it first. Get daddy to take him to the toilet and show him how it works.

Karla - posted on 02/05/2010

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I know it sounds harsh but if your 3 year old won't potty train let him stay in his messed pants. no diaper no pull up. just pants and underwear. Can he dress himself? Have him change his own clothes and help you wash them? Maybe he'll get tired of being wet? that's a tough one. Does he go to preschool at all? or a mom's day out kind of thing where he's around other kids his age? maybe that will help to see other kids not having messed pants. Pray for him with him. Not in a condemning way but asking God to help him go on the potty and you to be patient with him. God will help you and him too. And you son will hear your heart as you pray with him. Just a thought. hope this helps some.

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