How do I get my 3 1/2 year old son to go potty?

Michelle - posted on 08/17/2011 ( 53 moms have responded )

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I have tried just about everything, but nothing seems to work. My 3 1/2 year old son is refusing to go potty. I don't want to end up with a 4 year old who is still in diapers in pre-school. Everytime I put him on the toilet, he startes crying. He will tell me that he went pee pee but when I look, there is no pee. I make him stay on the toilet for 10 to 15 minutes hoping he will just go. About 5 minutes after I get him off the potty, he has peed in his diaper. How in the world do I get my son to go to the bathroom???

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Janine - posted on 10/06/2011

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There were "paddles" designed for this very reason that sit in the toilet where the child tries to aim for the bulls eye and hit the targets.. much like a dart board. It's colourful and fun and makes toileting for a child interesting and exciting and not a daunting experience. You could placing a big sticker inside the bowl and making a game out of it that way. If he is still sitting on the toilet, then I agree with another parents statement.. put a ball or object in there and see if they can hit the object then maybe rewarding him somehow and offer him alot of affection. I also believe in letting them run loose around the back yard and allowing them to get used to it naturally that way. Is your son telling you when he has done wee's and poo's... This is the first step in his acknowledgement. I would even go so far as to allow him to watch a parental figure such as yourself or dad do a wee on the toilet.(not all the time of course). make a big thing out of it and get him to clap and get excited when you go - allowing him to associate your experiences with his own. Hope it helps good luck xx

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Addys - posted on 09/17/2012

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Hi! I hope that the potty training is going great! I had the same problem with my daughter, everytime I would seat her in the potty she would cry, scream and lay on the floor (nightmare). I just finish her potty training last week. We got her little toys and put it in a place where she could see them but not get to them and explained to her she would get one everytime she uses the potty. Also the night before I started I put her a diaper and told her that was the last one and there was no more, that mommy was not going to buy any more. The first day was a mess, accidents everywhere, but from day 2 until today (day 7) no more accidents, but I didnt use pullups or any diaper, just regular underwear. On day 5 i started using pullups for night time because I got tired of washing the sheets everyday. But she believes the pullups are underwear and goes peepee before she goes to sleep and then once she wakes up goes straight to the toilet. There are days when she doesnt pee during th night but is hard to ask a 2 1/2 yr old not to pee at night while sleeping. But the best way to do it is no more diapers, even if you have to spend a couple of days cleaning and once you start dont go back to diapers at all. Good luck!

Thao - posted on 09/17/2012

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It was so easy for me to train my 2.5 year-old girl going potty. I bought a princess potty which has music when she flushes it. So, my girl love it and she can go potty by her own within 1 week !!

I think it will work the same for boy if you buy something that can attract him.

Good luck.

Lisa - posted on 10/10/2011

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In my experience with my boys (ages 5 and 3) they pottytrained when they were good and ready, with very little outside interference (meaning me.) My older son wasn't ready until right about the time of his fourth birthday. Then, magically, he trained himself overnight! No accidents. The younger one was a bit more challenging. He showed interest at 3 years and 3 months, at which time I bought him his own potty (now known as "the frog potty"...it is cute, but more importantly, easy to clean). Whereas the older one had no accidents, this little guy has had several, but (three months into it) he is doing great (makes it to the potty nearly every time), and it is all his own accomplishment! In my opinion, making it their own accomplihment is the key. Also, we sang the "I'm proud of You" song to him at first. "I'm proud of you, I'm proud of you, I'm proud of Brandon Glick!" (Of course, the song is adaptable.) :o) (Btw, I recommend the pottytraining section of "The Girlfriends' Guide to Toddlers" by Vicki Iovine.)

Brittney - posted on 10/08/2011

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At the age of three he is able to control his muscles to go potty, so now it is really just a battle of will. First I would defiantly take him to the pediatrician and make sure there are no medical reasons, and that is probably NOT the case, but you need to be sure. So, with that ruled out you know it is simply the battle of will. Some tips that I have found helpful include: setting a timer to remind him (and you) to go potty. Each hour the timer should alert him that it is time to go sit on the potty and use it. Another thing that is helpful for alot of parents is the "cheerio game", put a few cheerios in the toilet and tell him to "hit" the cheerios, not only does this give him initiative but also helps him with his "aim". Then there is the Dr. Phil Potty Doll Method, go to his website and check it out it is supposed to work wonderfully! And finally explain to your little man that big boys go in the potty, because it is easier and cleaner than having a diaper on. And ALWAYS no matter what, you and your husband should make a huge deal over anything he does on the potty. Clap, Sing the potty song, whatever, but positive reinforcement from you is key! Good Luck!

Emer - posted on 10/06/2011

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my son took a while also maybe use a star chart & make a HUGE deal jumping around clapping ect lol even when he does a dribble & give yourself say 3 days & dont leave the house & just dedicate them 3 days 2 potty training dont worry when u just put ur mind 2 it u will get it

Kelly - posted on 10/05/2011

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My made a chart with my son, we made it together it had about 20 spaces on it, I took him to the store to pick out stickers for the chart and big boy underware and at the end of the chart was a picture of something he wanted once he completed it. I did not use pull ups but at night for first few days, he wore big boy underware, I think pull ups confuse them because they feel like diapers. The first chart had a big sticker of thomas the train, everytime he went on the potty he got a sticker once he filled all the spots he and I went to the store for a train. On the way home he said "momma, I think I need another chart just to make sure and this time I want a dinosaur"...so we made another one and when he completed that it was off to the store for a dinosaur. Since then no more charts and not a single accident. Include your son in the process of it, I suggested this to my friend who also has a son and within a week he was potty trained. During the charts my son did not have an accident but I would say if he does just don't give a sticker and tell him he can try never time for a sticker. !!!Good luck!!

Tonia - posted on 10/04/2011

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I just let my son come to me when he was ready. He was 3.5 years old. We were visiting family in another state and he got up one morning and asked if he could use the potty. He said he did not want to use a diaper anymore. I said ok, went to the store and let him pick his underwear and his "potty candy". He has only had two #2 accidents and as long as we make him potty before bed he is pull-up free at night.

Veronica - posted on 10/04/2011

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i just show my son how to do it, his dad work with him too, and what i did was the every time the he had an accident dont make a big deal out of it, and dont get mad at him. i think that help him to dont feel pressure, and now hes full potty train, and he almost never pee on his bed, and when that happens, i just never make him feel bad about it, i just tell him the is ok, the dont worry , and he drinks all what he wants even before go to bed and still dont pee on his bed. i just can tell you dont get mad at him or make him feel bad or hurt his feelings.

Kathi - posted on 10/03/2011

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i put my son potty where he can see the tv while he sit on the potty n try making him wear big boy under wear n do it while the day cuz i did he work n it working for my lil girl now cuz i dont put pulls up on her n i didnt put it on my son..

Kira - posted on 10/03/2011

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I had my son on a strict schedule once he started showing signs and was done in a week. All underwear all the time is a good start. Even at night. Invest in mattress pads, they will save the mattress and keep him from going backwards in training by putting training pants on him, which are still like diapers. I set up a "drink" schedule. He was given certain amounts of liquids and with 20 minutes of finishing it, I would put him on his potty and let him sit for awhile, and occasionally give him another small cup of something to drink. Now this may sound weird, but I would also on occasion when I knew he had to go but was holding it in, drizzle a small bit of warm water over his privates, and that would get the flow going. Before starting training we had a talk about how big boys go potty and how special it is to be a big boy, and I took him shopping with me to pick out his own potty and underwear. I even let him decorate it with stickers. We didn't give candy or prizes, we did give oral praise, and let him know accidents were bound to happen, he would not be in trouble for them. It all seemed to work, even though it kept me ties to the house for awhile, and tied to a potty, but he was done quickly and within a month wanted to get rid of the "baby" potty and use the big potty so we just purchased a toddler seat for the big potty. Good luck!

Deirdre O - posted on 10/03/2011

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hi girl i no whats it like i use to sit him on the potty and then if he didnt go and wet himself i would say why didnt you do it on the potty he would say didnt want to so then i started leaving the wet pants on him and when his bum started to get sore id tell him that i would change his pants if he did wees on the potty and this happened a few times adn he got sick of having a wet pants so he did go on the potty it takes time and you will get there its hard work but its worth it in the end

Christine - posted on 10/02/2011

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dont force him more a less tell him no he can not use it and when you go let him watch its not disgusting its showing him what his missing out on my sone is two and a half and tells me when he wants to go and uses the big toilet i allow him to watch when dad goes sometimes not everytime used to mind you we told hime to get out when we were not in there and when he wanted to go in we would sit him on the toilet and flushing the button was fun maybe this will help a bit other wise good luck

Lindsey - posted on 10/01/2011

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try not putting dipars back on him let him find out how uncomfortable it is to be wet work for my little one

Nancy - posted on 10/01/2011

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Oh gosh, I remember this problem! Just a little over a year ago! I tried EVERYTHING! Anyone who has not experienced this should not say it's not difficult! He really WILL go soon on the potty. I found that my son started to go on the toilet at preschool because all the other kids were doing it even though he was giving me a hard time at home. THAT made a huge difference, not the rewards, or the underwear that I finally had to throw out that I stuck him in instead of diapers. I was at my wits end, but I've got to say, once he started, he didn't look back and had barely any accidents!! The up side of all of this!! :) GOOD LUCK AND DON'T GET TOO FRUSTRATED!!

Amie - posted on 09/30/2011

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With my son I just took his diapers away. I told him a few days before that I was taking his diapers way when the weekend came I did. It was a three day weekend the first day her was completely naked all day. the second day I gave him a shirt and socks and the third day I gave him everything but underwear so he could learn to get his pants down in order to go to the bathroom. The first day was rough my husband tells everybody he cried for hours for a diaper but it was about fourth five minutes it was hard to stand my ground but I did it an it was worth it. He is now potty trained an doesn't have many accidents at all, its been almost a year.

Keely - posted on 09/27/2011

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I had the hardest time with potty training my son. Many elders I know told me that if I leave him alone, then he will do it. My son was just shy of 4 when he got it. I stopped bugging him about it, and one day he wakes up in the morning and says to me, "I have to go potty!" He got it from there!

Amber - posted on 09/25/2011

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The answer is simple but hard.......PATIENCE :-) Honestly, positive encouragement is all you can do. I tried it all, my son new what to do, he had the idea, he just didn't do it until he decided it was time. It gets frusterating and they sense that energy, it makes it "not fun" so just let him make the choice on his own, he will eventually and in the meantime who cares what anyone thinks. Each child is unique with strengths and weaknesses of their own, they move at their own pace at this age. Best of luck. A year from now you will remember this. I was in your shoes mommy! I understand, I thought it would never happen!

Rebecca - posted on 09/22/2011

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do you have a little kids potty? what i had to do with my son was take him to the bathroom every 5 minutes and each time he went you can also act like its a game every time he goes potty make something up that will want to make him go potty to see it happen again

Veronica - posted on 09/22/2011

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My 3 1/2 year old was the same, I had tried everything. I have to older sons and they were both fully potty trained by 3 yr old, SO he was frustrating the heck out of me. Even his daycare had asked if we could put underwear on him to help encourage him to go in the toilet. I was off a week at the end August and was determined I was going to potty train him that week. Well he was in underwear the whole week, I would put him on the toilet, no luck, he would hold it until he couldn't hold it anymore and go all over himself. He did not want to potty train, he did not care if he was wet, he just didn't care. When I went back to work I still sent him to daycare in underwear, they said he would only go pee in the toilet which I thought great, if only if he would go at home. He refused to for the past two weeks and hold it until I would put a pull up on him for bedtime, then go and change his own pull-up. But finally on Monday he woke up and said "Mom, I want chonies (underwear) on and I'm going to go peepee in the toilet all day" Sure enough when I got home from work he had no accidents during the day and continued going in the toilet during the evening. We have not had any accidents the past 3 days. I guess he wanted to be the one to decide when he was going to go in the toilet. Maybe your son is the same way?

Tammy - posted on 09/22/2011

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My son was not nearly as easy as my daughter to get to potty, we tried viedos,and he would watch them, but then when you asked him if he wanted to go he would say no. finally I went to the dollar store and got some little toys for him, I kept them on a basket behind the potty, and explained what they were for and in no time he was pottying, eventually I had to switch to stickers because started peeing all the time just a little bit, so that he could get a toy!!!

Aleisha - posted on 09/19/2011

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the best way i found was 2 teach them 2 go out side on a tree then the toilet.i did this with my 2 boys they wer out off nappies by 2 1/2.also summer time iz the best time

Kahlia - posted on 09/19/2011

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Iad real trouble with this and my son Loki... I had tried all the techniques I knew. I ended up bribing him I bought little jelly beans and told him that he could have one each time he did poos on the toilet. He hasnt had a accident since... but he was never afriad of the toilet.

Nicole - posted on 09/19/2011

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I was in your shoes a few months ago & thought my son would never go potty. Even though most say not to, I bribed him into going & it worked when nothing else would! He loves money so I went to the Dollar Tree & bought a bunch of little toys & a piggy bank. Everytime he went pee, he got to put 2 pennies in his bank & got to pick a toy. When he went poo, he put 3 pennies in the bank & got to pick a toy again. He had it down in about a week & has been doing great since! Try not to stress too much because kids can sense that & it will just cause more frustration & battles for the both of you. He will eventually get there. Good luck!

Deirdre O - posted on 09/17/2011

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what i use to do was when i saw he had to go i sat him on the potty and of course he didnt go so i just had his underware on him and then a few min later he went in his pants i did this for 3 days changing him when it was wet then on teh 4th day i told him if he wet his pants he was leaving it on i no some people will say its cruel but it worked for me as i stood to my rules and he wet himself so i left the pants on him and when he felt the wetness was getting to him to told me its sore.i said ok if you tell me when u need to go to the toilet and if you do it on the potty ill take off your wet pants and get you a new one and it worked.its hard work but its worth it in the end good luck

Luree - posted on 09/16/2011

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a lot of preschools help with potty training. with my son i would make him sit on his potty every half hour, then when he does go reward him and praise him for it make it the biggest deal ever him seeing u excited bout what he did will make him get excited about doing it.

Sarah - posted on 09/16/2011

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I feel the same as Michelle Long... My son screams while being on the potty. I try not to force the issue because he is only 2 1/2 but I don't want to have to potty train at the last minute because he is starting school. It is very hard for me to focus on only him being as I have 2 other children under his age and 2 above his age. I try for a couple days and then stop because he is just resisting so much. He loves to go in there with my husband and I when we go so he knows the concept and he can tell you that that is where you go potty. He fully understands the concept but won't make that leap.

DEONTRANYCE - posted on 09/16/2011

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dont put a diaper or pull up on him at all cause it confuse them when u do that just let him wear underwear thats how i potty train the both of mine at the age of 1

Jenny - posted on 09/15/2011

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We did not experience very many accidents (3 or 4 tops) and he was also 3 1/2. But of course, all kids are different. We went right to a toilet as well, I didn't want to break another step. My partner built him a little stool for the occasion and he felt like a big boy like Dad. Anyways, good luck!

Kristen - posted on 09/15/2011

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I got a Peter Potty for my son. It was more fun. I always potty trained him standing up. Take the diapers away. He and I went and picked out new Big Boy underwear. My son is now potty trained and after about 6 months of that I started potty training at night. I get him up before I go to bed. I never pushed him to go to the bathroom. I just told him that Big Boys do it and when he would ask for some thing I know he wanted I would say that's for Big Boys. Hope this helps.

[deleted account]

Take away the diapers, expect lots of accidents, get a nifty potty seat (or potty). Get lots of cool stickers of his favourite cartoon to reward him for going in the toilet/potty.
Allow him a pull up at night time. What ever you choose to do, be consistent!!!!

Good luck. We're still working on the pooping in the toilet consistently here.

Amy - posted on 09/15/2011

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i had the same problem with my son he will be 4 in april. but finally we just stoped trying to make him and it happend we was in the middle of walmart and he told us his belly hurt and he needed to go pee. for the first couple of weeks he would only do it in tha stores. when hes ready he will go

Jenny - posted on 09/15/2011

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I did diaper boot camp. I threw all the diapers out, gave him some underwear and told him he was using a toilet now. He had a couple accidents over the next couple of days but I said nothing and just cleaned them up. He never had one overnight and would always wake up with a wet pullup. Just keep reminding him to go constantly, he'll get there.

Denise - posted on 09/15/2011

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I found that just leaving my son until he was ready was the best startegy. Not sure if it will work for you. Sometimes we stress them out by the constant pleading.

Jennifer - posted on 09/15/2011

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I had my 3 year old son potty trained 100% for days on two separate occassions, then he fell of the wagon and was peeing his pants 100% of the time. Anyhow, we got advice from a parenting specialist and this is what worked to get him back on again: He got a reward and lots of praise every time he peed (or pooped, but that wasn't our problem spot) in the toilet. We didn't give any attention whatsoever to accidents, just sent him to change. Complete turnaround in two days. The parenting specialist actually thinks we were stressing him out when we were making him feel bad about his accidents.

Tamara - posted on 09/13/2011

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Ok, so I posted to this site a few weeks ago because my 3 yr old son refuses to use the potty. For a couple of weeks we totally igorned the potty thing. Not a single word about him using the potty. So yesterday I popped in a potty training DVD, hoping to get him interested. About 5 minutes into the video my, two year old daughter decided to wanted to start using the potty. So, I've begun training her (she shows all of the readiness signs!). I was wondering if this has happened to anyone else who has children close in age. I am hoping my son will decide it is his turn too!

Roberta - posted on 09/02/2011

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I don't know if this will work for you but when my daughter was 2 we stopped putting diapers on her and let her wear dresses (you don't have to do the dress thing)...if she didn't got on the potty she would wet herself. She REALLY didn't like that. SO she potty trained herself in about 2 weeks. If you sit him on the potty and then turn around and give him a diaper...well then he ALREADY knows that he doesn't have to use the potty. He'll get his diaper if he just holds it a bit more. Needless to say we stayed outside in the yard for a lot of those 2 weeks and luckily we have no carpet in the house. But we did continue with diapers at night until she was pretty comfortable with it. And since our daughter still gets a bottle when she goes to be we wake her at 3am to go potty and get another bottle (yeah she's 3 and still on bottles but she's got weight issues).

Melanie - posted on 08/30/2011

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i had a hard time with my first. then my sister told me to put them in underwear ( you can always throw out really nasty ones, and they dont cost as much as diapers) and let them have accidents on themselves. it sounds crazy but my next boy potty trained in about 2 weeks. no accidents at night even. also my daughter had an issue when she was little with pooping. she thought part of her was falling out til i explained it was just the left overs of her food, and not part of her.

Jillian - posted on 08/30/2011

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Forget the games and food in the toliet, for some reason ur son, is afraid of the potty, do u have his own potty? He is cryin cus he maybe is afraid to fall in, so if ur not using a toddler potty, do it. Also at this age he should be able to listen to his body and and know when he has to go. But the diapers have always been their for him, so he can easily ignore the signs of needing to go and jsut go cus he feels his diaper protecting him. Id take offf the diapers/trainers ASAP, and keep him in underwear, ALL THE TIME, except at night.My son is 3 1/2 and was potty trained right after 2.5yrs old, (100% trained even at night) At 2.5yrs old he wud go in his trainer if he had it on, so I had to just leave him OUT of them things, yeah we had some accidents but he quickly caught on as he didnt like being soakin wet. he was always good about poopin on the potty. But yeah DEF take away the diapers/trainers for GOOD, and their is also a great DVD by Elmo called "potty Time" it talks alot about "listenin to ur body" which was a BIG catch phrase around here when my Son was potty training. AS him every 15-30mins if he has to go and ask him to tell u what his "body is tellin him" "does he have a funny feeling" cus thats really what its about, takin the time out their Busy lil days to listen to what their bodies are tellin them........Good luck, My freind also has a son who turned 3 in May and he isnt potty trained, he wont poop on the toliet at all, only pee from time to time. I belive her son might have a developmental delay though, with alot of areas not jst toliet training...

Adia - posted on 08/29/2011

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its not that hard. if u have a man in the house u could have him take him in the bathroom everytime he go n tell him this is were big boys go 2 the bathroom n get him big boy underwear 4 the daytime n pull ups 4 night n stop him from drinking after 7 or 8 pm take him 2 the bathroom b4 he goes 2 bed than after a hour or so after he goes 2 sleep get him up n take him 2 the bathroom he is going 2 b mad @ first. when he gets up in the am take him 2 the bathroom everytime he use the bathroom let him know that he did sumthing after a couple of days of him gettin up dry take him 2 get sumthing from the store. it works i have a 20yo 18yo n 4yo n they all was potty trained by their 2nd bathday

Sarah - posted on 08/24/2011

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My son who is now 4 and was finally trained just recently only made progress when we told him that only big boys who go in the toilet get to play with trains. (Thomas is his favorite) We took the trains and put them away in the closet for the rest of the day whenever he would have an intentional accident. If he tried to tell us but couldn't make it in time he just got a warning, and reassurance that it was good to tell us when he needed to go. I hated to "punish" him by taking toys away but we had already tried stars, rewards, m&m's, and stickers...Hang in there!

Christina - posted on 08/24/2011

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I agree with Jessica, 3 day potty training. It's been the best thing ever. It's tough and alot of work but SO worth it!

Tamara - posted on 08/23/2011

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My son literally screams when I ask him if her wants to use the potty. I am afraid that if I force him to sit he will resist the potty even more. He turned 3 in July so I guess he has some time but like you, I don't want a pre-schooler in diapers!

Theresa - posted on 08/22/2011

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My son was the same! He finally started going right before his 4th birthday. We used Skittles. He didn't get them any other time only for potty cuase he loved them. One or Two for pee and a whole bag(snack Size) for poo, it worked really well. Use his favorite candy and don't let him have it any other time just for potty. Hope this helps.

[deleted account]

when my son first started going on the potty he was scared and would only go if i sat on the big potty and peed too.

Kristy - posted on 08/20/2011

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i let my boys pee outside at first on a tree (it was fun to pee on something)or i no u can get ping pong ball for the toilet,let him try and pee on them for fun

April - posted on 08/19/2011

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My son was 3 b4 he was potty trained. He did ok with pee it was poop that we struggled so bad with. We tried M&M and stickers nothing worked finaley it came down to money for him. He would get a dime each time he went. Of course he already understood the concept of money and working for it. He has had chores since he was 2. Just little things that would earn a dime or nickel so when we went to the store he had his own money and if he wanted something he could get it if he had enough. Side note it also cuts down on him asking for things in stores.

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