How do you get a 4 year old to use the potty?

Many children are not fully potty-trained at age 4. What are some good strategies for helping these potty-resistant kids to use the potty?

38  Answers

1 3

My son is fully potty trained!!! It was a rough journey for us. He resisted pooping in the potty. I used a combination of prunes (which he loves) and keeping him with me all the time. It was kind of exhausting but it worked. The prunes keep him from getting blocked up. My son would hold his poop for days in order to keep from potting on the potty. The prunes made that more difficult. Kids who get constipated are less likely to poop on the potty. I kept him with me all the time because he would only poop in his pants when he hid from me (like many kids). Every time I would see him make the pooping face I would run him to the potty. It took time but this definitely worked. I will also include a website that helped. We used both a sticker chart, prizes (ebay is awesome. look for lots), big boy underwear, and candy. I know it seems like a lot but he really struggled and now he has no issues and is completely potty trained.

http://www.littlellamas.com/2009/08/potty-training-101.html

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56 6

Wow! I have the same problem as yours and my son acted exactly the same as yours! And I do use prune too but he doesn't really like to eat it all the time so it's kind of hard. Will keep on trying.

13 0

My son just turned 4. At around 22 months, he showed an interest in the potty. We went for a couple times, but then it didn't last because I didn't stick with it. I was the one really not ready for the constant checking and reminding! About 4 months ago, we started again. He would wear diapers, but we went throughout the day and he rarely wet during the night. Then we transitioned to wearing underwear and we got some cool ones. (I tried the reward system with candy and I tried buying cool underwear...neither worked to get him interested...he didn't care) But then he decided on his own, to wear underwear and he was doing really well. We would still wear a diaper at night, but he rarely wet it. HOWEVER, over the 2 months or so, he pooped ONCE or TWICE in the potty. I just couldn't get him to go....the one time he did it on his own. I had taken his clothes off and he was going to take a bath...I left the room to get something and was gone a couple minutes. He yelled out that he needed help as he had pooped!!! I was so excited...but it didn't last.
Now...he is back in diapers. Why? We went through a very sudden move and he had his life basically uprooted. He started having accidents EVERY time he peed...and he started stuttering again. So instead of making a big deal, I reverted back to diapers. We will try again in a couple months when things are back to normal and he's not feeling stressed. But they all get around to it at some time!!! Hope that helps.

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1 3

My daughter turned 4 in August, she has been potty trained for almost two years......when she's naked. When she is naked or has nothing on her bum she will use the toilet with a smaller seat on it without hesitation both urination and bowel movements, that is until about July. In July I started putting her in cotton panties and after about three days of accidents and reassurances that everyone has accidents, she flew into a panic attack after an accident and insisted on being put back into her pull ups. Since then about 10% of the time she's naked she'll use the toilet, the other 90% of the time she comes running and asking for pull ups. When I suggest we try the toilet first she goes back into a panic. I don't want to traumatize her by just getting rid of the pull ups since it's sincere panic, but don't know what to do to transition her out of pull ups. She is in full day preschool 3 days a week, almost all the other kids are potty trained if not all of them, the ECE's have been putting her on the potty at certain times each day she's there even if it's just to "practice", but she keeps hinting around that she's glad she's in her pull ups and doesn't have to worry about accidents. She has always been the kind of child who does things only when she's confident and ready. She didn't walk until she was 17 months old, and at that time she went from commando crawling on her tummy to walking within a matter of 2 days of using the furniture. Any suggestions or help with this would be greatly appreciated, I'm not sure what my next step should be.

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0 0

My son is 4 years old and he only recently started to poop on the potty. He could already hold his poop (even for 3 straight days!) but refused to use the potty. He had no problems peeing on the potty however. He would insist on wearing a diaper when he has to poop. Until I told him that his diaper won't fit him anymore because he has already grown too big for it so he has to start pooping on the potty. Of course he refused. What I did was I let him sit on his potty chair with his nappy just lying on top of the potty chair and reassured that the nappy would still catch his poop even if he's not wearing them. And then after about a week, I moved him to the potty (still with the nappy "catching his poop" and eventually was able to remove the nappy all throughout. It's hardwork but it worked! :)

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I might wind up trying this! Thanks for posting your success :)

1 18

I have a 3 yr old boy & he has been potty trained for about a year & a half. Though I cannot get him to do poo on the potty. He will do poo in his pants or on the grass & will not let me no. If I start seeing him doing poo by his face expressions he gets highly upset if I go near him & will not do poo on the toilet. I have tried bribing him with chocolates & praising him but that does not work. I feel like I am failing as a mother & getting judged by friends & family that I am not trying hard enough with him.

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0 7

Anna, I hear ya on the family and friends judging because your little man is not potty trained. My son will be 4 in June, I just can't get him to use to bathroom either. I have tried everything in my power to get him to go. I have bribed him, I have let him just run around while we are outside in underwear so he can let me know that he needs to go. I just can't get him to even tell me about going. He hides on me and then he comes up to me to change him. I even let him pick out his own underwear he doesn't even want to wear them.

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16 5

Right now, my daughter is almost four. The one thing I would say is that do not force your child into getting potty trained if he or she is not ready. I tried to do that thinking that she was ready and she would not pee in the potty. But now we have started to potty train her and it is working pretty well. she is starting to go poop in the potty now> All it takes is PATIENCE AND TIME. Dont give up

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2 0

I have a four year old son he will go pee in the toilet but not poop. I don't understand way he wont go. If you have any idea's for me can you please help. It would be very much appreciated

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what if he won't even try

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0 10

My son turned four in March and I'm having trouble getting him to poop in the potty. He will pee but won't poop. I've put big boy underwear on him and told him not to poop in his underwear but he still does it. He's only pooped in the potty once and that's it. Every time he makes his face, I try to rush him to the potty but it's to late. I feel like I'm the only mom going through this. My niece is 6 months younger then him and she's fully potty trained. Why do boys have to be harder?

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Hi my son turned 3 in September he is going to start nursery in January and he is still not potty trained. I have been trying for 6 months now and he will not tell me he needs to go for a pee. He wont use the potty but will sit on the toilet. I have put him in pull-ups as when i put him in underpants he wets them straight away. If i tell him lets go pee he says no and hides under the dining table. I always take him regardless him saying no. he always goes to the toilet before a nap or before bedtime. during the day he will not tell me i need to go to the toilet. if i take him he will go and if i don't ask him he will wet his pull-up. when he wakes from his nap his pull-up is wet and when he wakes in the morning his pull-up is very wet. I am getting really stressed about this. please can i get some help and what can i do.

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5 0

My son was toilet training resistant and at 5 he had never pooped on the potty and I could count on one hand the number of times that he had even pee-peed on the potty. We tried every method, online suggestion and imagined motivator. A few weeks ago our pediatrician recommended that we see a developmental pediatrician. He immediately diagnosed my son as having an anxiety about growing up. He gave me some advice that was hard for me to follow, but I did it and the next day my son started going potty regularly and has been for the past few weeks. Its amazing and I am so grateful to the doctor for pushing me to handle it in a way that I never would have.

I had two older children that had potty trained without any issue. I would suggest talking to your doctor to see if a specialist might help. Different kids have different issues that can affect their progress in certain areas. I felt uncomfortable with the idea that there might be something "wrong" with my son for him to see a developmental specialist, but the results have made me a believer.

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7 12

My son is 3 1/2 and still working on being potty trained. Treats worked for awhile, then nothing, special stickers, cheerios, food coloring ( changes color), then regressed again. The new thing I am trying seems to be working, if he pee's he gets $0.25, poop $0.50. Then he gets to spend his quarters around the house. If he wants a 30 minute show ( 4 quarters), freezie ( 2 quarters) so on so on. What he doesn't know is that all the quarters he is *spending* are going into a jar to go to the big thomas exibition next year. I'll ask him if he wants to watch a show, and he looks in his hand at his quarters and will tell me * nope, I'm going to want a freezie later* puts the quarters in his pocket and skips away. Here's hoping it doesn't take to much longer. ( put him in big boy panties.... let's just say there is not enough soap in the world to get that much poop out of the carpet.)

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dont have any some boys really dont like to let go.

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my daughter is four and has been potty trained know for 2 years but the one thing that i know from having 2 other kids is that if you are ready to start to potty train than stay with the pull ups and do not confuse him/her by putting on a diaper they think its ok if you do also make sure they are ready because if they are not ready it will not work. something else i did was take away the diapers and pull ups and within 2 days and 2 accidents later it was done. if she had an accident i had her help clean it up so she would understand what she did she did not like to clean up the walls that she smeared her number two on at all (thank goodness for wipe off paint) after that she did not have any more accident and has been potty trained ever since.

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63 41

My 7 yr old, who has OCD & a speech disorder, wasn't potty trained until he was 4 yr & 8 mos old. He's my 3rd & was by far MUCH harder to train than my 2 daughters. I started to work on potty training him at 2 1/2 yrs old. But then my FIL, who he spent a lot of time with, died and he started school. I didn't push it, but encouraged using the potty. At 3 1/2 he was almost fully potty trained, but starting a new school (where he needed to be potty trained). Also at the same time my MIL moved & my aunt was taking over watching my kids when they weren't in school. We gave the school a try, but the whole situation was a bad one for him & (I think in revolt) he had too many accidents during school the 1st month. He ended up at a reverse mainstream center-based early intervention program/day care 3 days a week & my aunt's the other 2, so we didn't need to push the potty training issue. He was 100% capable of being potty trained, he just refused to go at times. Since he was in the early intervention program through Pre-K, we let him go. The summer after he turned 4, we switched to undies during the day & pull-ups at night. And we dealth with LOTS of accidents! That year I also got pregnant with #4, born in Dec. Starting around October, we really started focusing on him being a big boy & being a big brother. He was fully potty trained in November. I think it took him deciding he was ready to truly be a 'big boy' to stop having the accidents. I also think that his OCD played a big part in the whole potty training problem. It was his way to keep things the same.

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13 0

It's interesting that you mention the OCD part playing a role in the delayed potty training. I believe my son has OCD, or something. He doesn't do well with change and likes a schedule. Which, with the way our life went the last year, we moved twice and had a lot of unstability, which I don't do well with either, so he played off of that. About a month ago, I decided to give potty training another try. We got some more big boy underwear and he wore them during the day and a diaper at night. The first couple days were a struggle for him to poop in the potty, but pee was not an issue. He kept running to me saying "I need to poop, put a diaper on" After the third day, it got better and no struggles. Since that day, we have had one little accident where he didn't make it to the bathroom in time. He still wears a diaper at night, but I think that will soon be done too as he hasn't wet his diaper at night for over a year. He even told me the other day he didn't want to wear diapers at night. I'm sure his personality played a big part of it and going in the diaper was his only thing he could control.

28 29

My son was going wees on the potty,at an early age,but resisted pooping anywhere,other than in a nappy.I had him started at Kindy at 4 yrs old,in the school,he has now been at for 5 years and was so concerned that he may need to go one day and that I wouldn't be there. I took him to the Doctor,as I was worried about this and the Doctor suggested that he have an X-Ray ,just to rule out any possible problems.The X-Ray showed that he was obviously 'holding' his poop and wasn't going,as he was severly constipated.Strangely enough,the very next day,I collected him form Kindy and not long after he spiked a high temperature (all form holding his poo in).He begged me to put a nappy on him,so that he could 'go',but I whisked him straight off to the toilet,where he couldn't hold it any longer and as soon as he did that one poop on the toilet,he never asked for a nappy again.There definitely,is a fear in some children of releasing bodily fluids and solids and it can take alot of coaxing and perseverence.It is frustrating,but try to hide your frustration.Be supportive and encouraging.Make a big fuss of success,with lots of praise and just remember,they wont need pull-ups or nappies when they are 16 years old.It will happen,even if it is left to watching their peers,use the toilet,at kindy,that finally motivates them,to eventually give it a go!

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My twin boys were both potty trained at 2 years old, after I had another baby one of them started pooing in his pants (just less than 3yr old), he is now 4 years old and still does it. We tried a reward chart which worked fantastically but then he regressed again. I have another reward chart up and its not working this time even though the reward is a pony and they are all horse mad!! He holds it for days but sometimes can't hold it enough and has soiled pants at school, I am worried he is going to be bullied. I have tried everything, I'm sorry to say even yelling at him - which makes it so much worse. I don't know what to do. My 2 yr old is now better at it than him.

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236 7

This is my situation too... my 4 year old daughter, who has been potty-trained for 2 years, except at night when she wears a diaper, has decided that pooing and peeing in her pants is just fine. She seems to be holding her poo in and letting out just a bit at a time. Yesterday I changed one wet pair of panties and THREE poopy ones. I am so frustrated and expecting another baby in September. Thankfully it's summer and she is out of school and ballet, but I am very nervous about what will happen when the baby is born. She can't go back into diapers during the day... what do I do?? I try to be patient and supportive. I remind her constantly to go use the potty and walk her to the bathroom for potty breaks, like it or not. Often he has a complete hissy fit and refuses. Help!

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56 6

i just told my son if he went toilet he would be a big boy like daddy (helps that daddy is his absolute fave person lol). it did work and now the only problem is teaching him how to wipe properly.

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0 0

praise him and encourage him

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22 14

Well my son is almost 4 and we basically do a reward system... I went out and bought a "treasure" box.. and filled it with toys,candy,stickers, and pennies.. He can have 1 every time he pees and @ every time he poops.. So far its working well.. He still has accidents but for the most part its working well.. be patient, and try not to stress over it...It only freaks the kids out...

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13 0

I have to say that I honestly dont agree with the wait until she's ready... what I did with my now 3 year old was I was on leave for 2 weeks, for the second week of my leave I would wake up in the morning with the girls and set my timer on my stove for 20 minutes, when the timer went off we went to the potty, my daughter didnt like the little potties, but i think that was because her older sister was using the regular potty. Anyways, the timer went off- we went to the potty, I kept her in a shirt and panties all day, and every 20 minutes we went to the potty and we sang a song while she sat there for a couple of minutes. This enables them to go pee, or poop and start realizing what the feeling is that they get before they have to go. Give her juice or water frequently throughout the day. If she has an accident, then take her straight in and sit on the potty and tell her this is where we go potty not in our pants. It takes a lot of time, but by half way through day 2 she was telling me when she had to go and we didn't have any accidents from then on. Bed time- i decided after she started to have frequent dry diapers in the morning. hope this helps!!

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0 25

I agree with you! I feel that you need to promote the interest. My son is 18 months and he is almost fully trained, and unlike a lot of posts I am seeing, he has zero issues with pooping on the potty. My son also preferred the regular toilet with a potty ring over the little potty.

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14 22

Go cold turkey on diapers, that's what I did, it gets messy and it's a lot of work but it doesn't take long until they decide they don't like having wet or poopy pants, also make sure u take their diaper off as soon as they wake up and take them to the potty. I also sat my son infront of the tv on his potty chair with his favorite cartoons on and a snack sitting on a box infront of him. Hed sit and watch tv and eventually he would go, then TONS of praise! Kids love making their parents happy! :)

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0 1

help please.i am a mother of 2. my oldest is a 3 and half years old ,he will be 4 in 2 months. he is a strong willed child. we have tried everything to get him to use the potty. rewards are not working. he was underwear all day. they were dry but he will not pee. he is saying he is afraid. what do i do/

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5 13

Have u tried putting fruit loops in the toilet and see if he can sink them by.going pee on them. Or dish saop and see he could make bubbles

19 13

My son didn't poop in the potty either for the longest time.It turns out that another kid at daycare had told him that a monster in the toilet eats it. It took us a little while to figure that one out, but one we proved it wasn't true, he was ok.

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71 10

My son will be 4 in September and he just now is fully potty trained. Make sure he is in underwear, plastic pants and several changes of clothes to go out with. My son regressed several times before finally getting it. Finally I would not let him wear one during the day. We got books on potty time, and the potty ELMO dvd is great. Be consistent.

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2 26

My 4 year old son still isn't potty trained. I tried rewards (stickers, field trips, m&m's, dollar toys, etc). We had a schedule with his nursery school and all and one day he woke up and decided to start using potty on him own. Then we moved to new state, summertime so no school and no routine. He continued being trained and I thought we were don. However, after 2 weeks of being trained, he's stopped all together. Thisnis really stressful because I know he can do it. I just hope that once a routine is established again with his preschool, he tries again. Any suggestions?

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4 41

When you find out please let me know. I have also tried everything. NOTHING HAS WORKED. She is trained for number ones during the day and wears knickers, at night, whole new kettle of fish. My daughter is beyond resistant. She is so stubborn she wont budge a MM. Number twos and the loo are just impossible. No I got that wrong, BEYOND IMPOSSIBLE. Tried treats( outings to special places, lollies, colouring in books etc), praise, and as last resorts threats to take away privileges. She has just turned 5. Anyone want to criticise is more than welcome to come over my place and give it a whirl. My mother used to criticise til I left her to it. Now she will sit and shake her head at the table.

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0 15

My grandson who is four years old can pee in the potty but he refused to poop in a toilet or potty..Its driving me nutz ...My son has full custody but he live with me most of the time goes to his mommy every other weekend Please I never had this problem with any of my nine children please

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0 21

Lots and lots and lots of praise.... My son is toilet trained but he can be resistant to new things and very hard to motivate. I find lots of "good job" high fives, cuddles and telling him how proud I am of him will generally work.

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2 1

I realized as long as my daughter had a diaper or even a training pant on she would go in it, though I knew she could hold it in. I tried the letting her run around nude thing, but she would hold in her pee and put her own diaper on instead of sitting on the potty (it was the weirdest thing). So when she turned three and refused to use the potty, I just took away her diapers and let her wet herself until she understood it was more comfortable to pee in the potty than her pants. It only took a couple days before she was fully trained. She hasn't even so much as wet the bed since.
Of course I would praise her a ton for each step she took. I praised her the first time she sat on the potty for a good amount of time, then the next time I praised her for actually using it, then I praised her for staying dry and so on.

The downside is the tons of laundry and mopping you will have to do, but at least no more diapers! I found that material rewards and candy didn't work for her. Different things work for different children I guess. It is just trial and error and I got lucky!
Good luck!

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17 12

My son is 4 1/2 & has Down Syndrome. We started potty training at 2 1/2 & he is still not trained. We've tried everything and he just doesn't care if he's wet. We just started potty training our 19 month old twins and I can see a much different pattern with them. They seem to stay dry until they go whereas our 4yo seems to always be a little wet.

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0 7

My 3rd child has PDD NOS and we started potty training her at 2 1/2. We tried everything under the book and were going crazy. Finally right after she turned 5 she decided she wanted to be potty trained and within a few short weeks was potty trained during the day. She wore a pull-up at night until she was 6 1/2 but it felt like a little miracle that she was finally potty trained during the day!

0 20

Jelly beans worked very well for my youngest. We also had a "Potty Fairy" for my oldest. When he did a good job the "potty fairy" left a car under his pillow.

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6 10

I let my oldest two let me know when they were ready to use the potty. Not everyone's choice. My oldest, who is now 10, was day-time trained in one day (I kid you not) and then fully trained within a week. He was ready at 3 years and 3 months. My middle child was ready at 3 years and 6 months. He took slightly longer and we just made a huge deal of it. It helped that him and his brother are close in age. However, my youngest (who turns 4 this fall) still refuses to use the potty. I'm not forcing him at this point because his dad is deployed recently and he took it really hard. So I usually let them decide when they were ready. However, with my youngest, I may need to change my tactics slightly. :-)

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9 1

My son was and still is crazy about trains, I used train rides at a local amusement park that we had season passes too. At first if he went potty with no accidents all day then we would go the next day. Gradually working up to him staying dry with no accidents all week. While I transitioned him to staying dry all week, he had to fill up a sticker sheet to turn in to me at the end of the week to go to the park. He got a sticker for every time he went potty and had to have 5 stickers a day (not hard to do for a toddler) and at the end of the week (monday through friday) he had enough stickers then we would go on saturday.

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9 1

Also during the first week of potty training I let him run around completely nude (in the house of course).

2 30

my lil girl has been potty trained from age of 2 and all i did was make it the biggest thing rewards clap and prase them when they do it use stickers kids love getting stickers now she goes on the big toilet

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6 37

rewards :) I use gummie bears. I use alot of whoo hoo and let them call grampa and grandma.

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18 13

wow was just thinking the same thing

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4 90

I had my daughter potty trained at 2 years old. I feel it is necessary to remind your child and be consistent. If they have a daily rountine, it is much earier. Are you a stay at home mom or do you work?

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EK SUKKEL NOG OOK MET MYNE WAT NOU 'N MAAND TERUG DRIE GEWORD HET, VERMOED IETS HET BY SKOOL GEBEUR, WANT HY BLY WEG KRUIP OF HY ONTKEN AS HY KLAAR GEMORS HET. HELP !!!!!!!

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28 8

Sterkte, my seuntjie is now 3jaar 4 maande. en ons is ook nog besig daar mee. Gaan skool toe en vind uit hoe hulle "ongelukke" hanteer. Is hy uitgeskel of "punished" om dat hy gemors het? Is hy geterg deur kinders en/of onderwysers? Is hy openlik met ander kinders negatief "compared"? Besoek die skool sonder waarskuwing so dat jy kan sien wat aangaan. Tuis gee baaie liefde en herkenningvir wat hy kan doen en dat ongelukke gebeur maar jy weet hy kan dit volgende keer regkry. Gebruik positieve taal, bevoorbeeld - "In die familie gebruik ons die toilet vir...." of "volgende keer se vir mammie dat jy moet piepie en dan gaan ons pottie toe" in plaas van " moenie in jou broek mors nie" of "groot seuns mors nie hul broek nie."

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4 10

Yes, I delt with a 4 year old who peed in her pullup and was going to poo in it too!!! WRONG!!! I told the caretakers to threaten her with a spankin' (I did with my kids) She went to the toilet the rest of the night. SHOW THE KIDS WHO THE BOSS IS.....
Oh, and when she does.... LOTS of praise, chocolate, and hugs!!!

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0 28

You'd really threaten her with a spanking for not going potty in the right place?

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