Help with potty training a 3 1/2 year old!

Jenny - posted on 02/08/2012 ( 33 moms have responded )

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I'm at my wits end with my 3 1/2 year old. He will be 4 in July. He has absolutely NO desire to even try to potty train. I've tried a chart. I've tried rewards. I've tried bribery. I've tried picking out underwear with him. I've tried books. I've tried just underwear, no diaper. I've tried no underwear or diaper. I've tried almost everything I can think of. He is just lazy! When you put him on the potty, he will pee, but he will not tell you when he has to go. I've put him on the potty, he goes, put a diaper on him and he's wet again 20 minutes later. Short of putting him on the potty every half hour, I don't know what to do. He definitely does not lack for intelligence; he's advanced in most other areas, I think. Help!

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Misty - posted on 02/08/2012

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He will do it when he's ready. Trust me, I went through the same thing with my daughter. She was literally having bowel movements in her underwear just because she didn't want to go. I had never been so tired of cleaning underwear in my life. I tried everything as well, but I learned the more I pressured her, the more of a struggle it was going to be. I talked to two different doctors and they both told me, "Let her be, she will do it when she is ready and the more you pressure, the more she will resist." I know how hard it is, but I think it you back off a little he may take ownership and start going on his own. Try making a potty chart too. We do that and she loves it. Everytime she goes on her own, she gets to put a sticker on it. Hope this helps a little and Good Luck!

Pauline - posted on 03/21/2012

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Your problem is.....

First, I think you are in a power struggle with your son. Second, you are confusing him. Sometimes you gave him diapers and sometimes you don't. Calm down. The way I see it, your son feels stress out or traumatized by the fact he has to go to potty. One pediatrician advice me to stop talking all about potty training for at least two months. This is to help the toddler to forgot the pressures to be potty trained. And then slowly introduce it again. Some toddlers suddenly get it overnight and some don't. Also, even after being potty train, there will be times for potty accidents. Their development goes forward and then regress back a bit and then goes forward again and back again and hopefully one day they finally get it. Also, one more thing, if he pees again after 20 minutes from the last one, check it out if he drank any of those store bought juices in bottles or in tetra packs earlier in the day (organic or not, it doesn't matter), that will surely make them pee more often.

Christina - posted on 02/10/2012

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it will happen eventually, There are no adults still wearing diapers. YAY!!! Boys take soooo much longer than girls. Had same issues with my son. Daughter was 1-2-3. I would get so mad and sick of cleaning dirty undies. and working ft made it even harder. Try to let go of the anger and you will see when he is ready he will do it. every 20-30 mins on the potty isn't a bad thing and helps get them into a routine.

Tracy - posted on 02/09/2012

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poss try setting a alarm to put him on the potty every 20-30 mins. if he stays dry he may get to like it in time and want too do it himself. its a long shot but you never know. i had the hourly chime go off on my watch to remind me to take mine every hour. drove me mad but it got better in time.

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33 Comments

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Audra - posted on 03/22/2012

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My 3-year-old son has made comments like "it will only hurt a little bit," and "Mom, am I pooping?" It seems that he thought it was going to hurt to pee or poop in the toilet, and when I reassured him that it wouldn't he seemed relieved. Does your son make any comments that might help you to understand where he's coming from?



Our kiddos are individuals, and there could be many reasons as to why he's not quite getting it yet, but where's the fire?? If others are pressuring you to potty train your son, tell them in the nicest way to mind their own business. You're trying. Don't apply any additional pressure on yourself and your son. I realize that day care, pre-school, and public school all want kiddos potty-trained...but I think you'd be surprised how many would be open to some compromise. {What if you changed him right before you dropped him off, so that he wouldn't need a change while he was being looked after?}



I don't quite know what my son goes through to learn how to go in the toilet. And there is a bright side to our kiddos who are still in diapers...have you ever had to leave a full cart of groceries in the middle of an aisle to run your kiddo to the toilet? {IF you know where to find it in that particular store...} Good luck.

Desiree - posted on 03/22/2012

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My son started training really early by himself, watching his older brother definitely helped, peeing is no problem dry nights everything but now he wont wipe himself for a number two, and I'm really struggling, boys are stubborn.. any tips?

Jolie - posted on 03/16/2012

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Hi! I didn't read every post, so I am not sure if you heard this yet or not. Things I did, I did not make a secret thing. We would use the potty in front of each other to make them curious, if their friends were working on potty training or were potty trained, we would point it out without making a big deal. I would say, "Wow, Shelly must be ready for school since she uses the potty." But I never compared them. Also, when they would use the potty, I would tell them to say "By-bye to pee/poo poo. This got them interested and it was fun for them do this. It's frustrating , I know! But it will happen. Is this your first? My first finally took to it around 4. My second figured it out on her by watching her big sister. This is why I say let them watch. Its something you do that they don't and they like to mimic everything! Good luck!

Danielle - posted on 03/16/2012

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Jenny oh I know how you feel. My son is 3 yrs old and he shows me signs he can potty train but he is acting the way your son is. Its a struggle because I want my son in daycare and I can't until he is potty trained. So its frustrating and its a struggle not to be frustrated with him. Good luck.

Joy - posted on 03/14/2012

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Not sure how your doing with this but wanted to let you know about a new option to help with potty training. Babies r Us sells "potty watch" it is actually a timer on a watch band that you can choose to go off every 30, 60 or 90 min and plays a little tune to let your son know to go potty and it then resets itself so you don't have to keep messing with it. I just bought this, as it was only $10, for my 2 1/2 yr old son, he is just starting to work on potty training but thought you might want to look into it if you are still having trouble.

Robin - posted on 03/12/2012

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i wish i could help but im in the same scenario with my 4 year old. he has finally come around to telling me when he has to go but only at bed / nap times. i havent even been able to get him poop in the potty. i can share your frustration!

Michelle - posted on 03/09/2012

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for Sarah Kirkham, I dont know what happened but ours actually flushed away lol, luckily I bought a six pack.

Michelle - posted on 03/09/2012

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stop trying for a while, he will do it when he is ready. Whether you work or stay at home has nothing to do with anything or anyone. My daughter used to sit on her potty and nothing, then stand up and pee right beside it. She is a smart child and was 4 before she was ready completely and my son has just started to use potty recently. He also can go on the toilet as he puts it 'just like daddy', he just done it in his own time. Dont let anyone put pressure on you or your son, EVERY child is different and unique and do things at their own pace lol

Emma - posted on 02/20/2012

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When my son 6 now was potty training he just didnt like using the potty full stop so went and got a seat for toilet and step and he prefered that i think he didnt like it that when he tried to pee his winkle got slightly hard and popped out of the front of potty and he ended up peeing on the floor so throu my experience i would say get toilet seat i let my son choose he was trained by three luckily .

My daugther on other hand she is lazy but ironically she is dry at night unless ill or had a late night but she has just turned 4 and fingers crossed i think we may off cracked it the odd accident when totally ingrossed i let her work out for herself hope helps

Wheng - posted on 02/19/2012

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You could try to get him a potty chair with music on it like fisher price as what we got for my girl.then let him sit down even not going yet that way he could practice and tell him when he goes potty it will praise him and show him the flush sound too. At the end give him some reward after going. It's not easy at first but he will get it when he's ready.

Helen - posted on 02/19/2012

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I would say that consistency is the key - you and your partner HAVE to use the SAME approach ALL the time - choose one method and stick with it! (we went with the bare bottom approach, then just pants, then pants and trousers, with nappies on for sleeps and trips out at the very beginning as he was going, but not telling us he needed to go - as soon as he started to tell us, nappies for going out stopped, but still in nappies for nights.)



Also go to places with other children as much as possible - playgroups, day care, story time at library - literally anywhere where he can see other children using the potty/toilet. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing, and he may well be 'kick started' by wanting to be like the others!



Also - don't make a big thing about it. If he knows that you are stressed by this then he'll keep not going, but if you are laid back, and completely not bothered if he goes or not then he's more likely to.



Unless there is a reason to push this, try not to - he will 'get' it eventually - not many children are still in nappies when they start school, unless they have medical issues.

MICHELLE - posted on 02/19/2012

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Potty training must be one of the most stressful times when having a toddler. I wanted my daughter trained by 3. I felt if she wasn't then I was a bad mommy for having her go so long in a diaper. I started having her run around one summer naked. She had the potty down until Fall came and she was put in clothes. Back in diapers she went. Over the winter we backed off and just let her tell us what she wanted. By the spring she was in no diapers and pull ups at night. We couldn't go far but she had panties on during the day! When the pullups ran out I said to her that she's gotta wear panties all the time now. No baby diapers. 1st night she peed the bed. No more messes until she got sick and she's been out of them ever since. Sum up the story....if he shows no desire to change there are 2 tactics. 1) wait for him to adjust 2) take all the diapers away and see how he fares. Gross I know, but sometimes it works.

Rachel - posted on 02/18/2012

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www.3daypottytraining.com

It really works in 3 days! Day, night, pee, poop, done!

Angela - posted on 02/16/2012

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I had the same problem with my soon to be 4 in May. He was just started using the potty about 2 months ago. I had tried everything and know the wits end feeling. A combination of things finally worked. Everytime he went potty, he got money and praise. I did also keep on him and about every half hour for about two weeks made him try and felt like I was constantly asking "do you have to go potty" but with the money, if he went in his pants he had to pay money back and after a few days he was usually telling me I have to go potty. Now we are working on bedtime and he is doing pretty good. He still has accidents but not very often and we stoped the money "bribe" after a couple weeks. Good luck and just remember keep trying and they will come around even if it doesn't seem that way!

Tamara - posted on 02/16/2012

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This sounds exactly like my son! 3 1/2 yo (4 in July), he has NO interest in using the potty, doesn't really care about rewards (at least not enough to get him to use the potty) and just refuses to even try to sit on the potty. I have backed off for a bit then tried again. Nothing seems to get him interested! Good Luck!

Sarah - posted on 02/15/2012

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Hi Jenny,



Here's an idea which worked great for me...

I put a ping-pong ball in the toilet bowl and told my son to aim for it! He thought this was a great game & was so eager to go to the toilet quite often.

Don't worry! It will never flush away!

I also didn't bother with pants, because he just kept weeing them, so he only wore his shorts.

One other thing, I took him shopping to buy a little step/stool which he picked to use at the toilet.

Hope this helps.....Keep us posted. x

Nicole - posted on 02/14/2012

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I had a similar situation not too long ago, I put underwear on my son n yes he peed about two times on himself n a ill num two once but he got the point, u have to not give in n take the underwear off. Get throw away adult pads for the couch n have a movie day, but make sure to ask every ten mins if they have too go potty. I did this n the second day it was no accidents even at night! The first two nights I would mke him pee and go to bed w inderwear n when asleep put a pull up under so he didn't know n that's was just two nights n that's all it took to get him secure. Try p,s because I was in ur same place a yr ago

Brenda - posted on 02/13/2012

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I can offer suggestions as a stay at home mom. I started potty training my son when he showed the interest in going potty. My daughter who is 4 has been potty trained since 3, my son is 2 1/2 and he is almost completely potty trained. I took my hints from him when he would go sit on the potty and tell me he was going potty even in a diaper. I did switch to pull ups but those cost just as much a diapers and you get a lot less for the cost. So I went straight to underwear. I would put his big boy underwear on and make sure that I or anyone who was around him took him to the potty about every 15 mins to start then we would go to 30 mins. As for over night I made it my duty to get up with him every couple of hours ( I would adjust the time by how long he could stay dry) even though he would be in a dead sleep I would pick him up and take him potty, I would stand him at the potty and hold him up until he went potty. Yes the hassle with that is that you have to some time change sheets in the middle of the night but it helps get his body used to having to get up and go potty. Now I only get him up before I got to bed, and then about 1 time during the night and then he has been sleeping for 6-8 hrs with no bed wetting. I did this same thing for my daughter when I had my son I wasn't going to buy 2 different size diapers for the kids. I have only been potty training my son for 4 months now. It is hard but the key I think is to follow the hints that you get from your child. They will tell you when they are ready to be a big kid. Hope this helps.

Audra - posted on 02/12/2012

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Just out of curiosity, is there a reason to get him potty trained in a hurry? (Pre-school, day care, etc.) I have a 3-year-old who doesn't speak up either, and of course I'd LOVE to get him out of diapers. However, Kindergarten is really our deadline...he can't go to school in diapers. But I know that I spend quite a bit of time stressing over it now, when it's possible that a few months may make ALL the difference. To be honest, there are times when I'm out running errands with him and his 6-month-old brother when I'm glad I don't have to leave my cart in the aisle and rush them both to the bathroom...

Paula - posted on 02/12/2012

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My little one was dry real early, but she wouldn't poo on a potty or toilet!! Only in a nappy, this went on till she was just over 3 years old, I tried everything! But the day was looming, cos she was gonna start reception after the six weeks holiday! So I told her I wasn't gonna put a nappy on her ever again, she held that poo for over a week, but I had back up!!, movalcol, they are bloody stubborn at that age, but I never I gave in, it was hard, but eventually she sat on the loo, I made such a fuss, u wouldn't believe, then she done it!!!! Since then, bare in mind she is nearly 5, I still have to look at the poo and do the silly dance lol x good luck it will come, u think it won't, but trust me it will xxxxxxx it will happen, if u have tried all the charts and the bribery, it's time to get firm!!! He ain't silly x

Tiffany - posted on 02/12/2012

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I agree with others that maybe you just need a break from training for a bit. Take a month off and try again. He will go when he is ready to go, but he won't go on your timetable. Then I think you may need to be more consistent and take him every 30 minutes while he is awake. It's the only way he'll get the message that this is something he is expected to do. Sticker charts work great. Wrap up a present and put it on the back of the toilet and tell him he can have it once he goes. Does he go to preschool? My daughter was also stubborn and wouldn't go, but once I took her to preschool when she turned 3, she saw the other kids doing it, and within 1 month she was trained. Still working on getting her to poop on the potty though (that part is a bit harder). Good luck!

Heather - posted on 02/10/2012

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Try NO underwear! Serious! Keep doing it! Tell him he is a big boy and that he HAS to go in the potty now. If he makes a mess, make him clean it up. Stop putting diapers on him, that's your big mistake right there. No more diapers, no more underwear or pants until he starts using the potty like a big boy. Try not potty training him at all for a few weeks, take the pressure off of him, then begin again. He needs a break from the potty training drama and pressure.

Maite - posted on 02/10/2012

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I never put much merit in this myself but I had the same problem that you are having. My son is 3 1/2 yrs old and I just got him potty trained. My in laws told me to go according to the Farmer's Almanac when the signs are in the "head". It just so happened that for boys it was best to start potty training them on Jan. 19th, 2012 - Jan. 31st, 2012. I put underwear on him on the 19th and only used pull ups at naptime or bedtime. We had 3 or 4 accidents with poop, but I can tell you that today my son is completely potty trained. I fought with him for over a year and was extremely frustrated and chalked it up to him being "lazy" too. Try getting the almanac and reading up when the signs go back into the head and when it is best for boys. What do you have to lose? Good Luck!

Jennie - posted on 02/09/2012

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With my son, when he went pee, he got to play a video game for 15 minutes. Going poop was 30 minutes. That did it. However, we still are working on dry nights.

[deleted account]

I wish I could help. My son will be 4 in April and we are going through the same thing with him. Interestingly, last time we were at MOPS, his friend went pee on the potty so he wanted to go too. Since then, we've had some minor success getting him to ask to go because he wants to be like her! Still, it is a slow road. I wish he wanted it more!

Jenny - posted on 02/08/2012

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Thanks Misty. I know I should know this because my oldest didn't potty train until 3 1/2 either, and it was pretty much overnight; he just woke up one day, wanted to wear underwear, and we haven't looked back. His little brother just seems to be more stubborn ;)

Jenny - posted on 02/08/2012

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Nope. My fiance works first shift; I work second shifts mostly (with a few firsts thrown in). I guess that's part of the hard part. There is absolutely no consistency, and when you add in a really stubborn 3 year old, it's not a recipe for good potty training.

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