Another Toilet Learning ? - 3.5 year old boy — The Bump
Attachment Parenting

Another Toilet Learning ? - 3.5 year old boy

Looking for advice on training my 3.5 year old son.

My view on potty training is in line with what I've read in the "No Cry Potty Training Solution" and heard at my Early Childhood Center. I've never wanted to push my son based on age. He did show some signs around 18 months - like many do. I got excited and bought the "A Potty for Me" book to read to him and a chair just in case. He even piddled a bit. There was praise and encouragement. It didn't last.

Around 2.5 he started mom's day out 2 times a week with some slightly older kids. Over spring break he asked to pee and, I think even pooped on the potty. I think that was when I got super excited and bought wrapped prizes, and the Elmo potty book with sounds. He got it for a bit. But then he started yelling when he that he wanted a prize, even for not going. He didn't seem to get it, so I backed off. I have told him things like "I know you'll let me know when you're ready to use the potty." I want him to be able to feel proud of his accomplishment. 

Also, I was expecting little brother. We renovated our house a bit before that. I've heard there's usually not much success within 6 months after the sibling arrives. Although, of course, I crossed my fingers that I'd luck out like a friend of mine and have him tell me that he was done with diapers right after the baby was born. No such luck. :-)

He's been primarily into fire trucks. He occasionally pages through his "Even Firemen go to the Potty" book, and I've overheard him talking about the Lego man pooping on the potty. So, I think he's trying to come to terms with it. But, he is pretty stubborn. Sometimes lately he doesn't even want his diaper changed.

Yet, he has to be trained for mom's day out this August. He is not into stickers. He doesn't like to run around naked. (I've tried letting him go without his diaper for a bit during a change, and sometimes he'd want to squat down and cover up with his shirt.) 

Even more history ... My mother-in-law started questioning me right after he turned 2 when he was going to train. (She trained her son at 2.) I was appalled, and just said "When he's ready" and left it at that. She's out-of-town and we usually just chat on holidays/special events. Every time we talked after that (maybe 4 times total) she kept bringing it up. A child that she knows who is about the same age as my son did the 3 day method, so she asked me "if I had ever heard of that." I said that I had, but that I was going to train my son when he was ready, not based solely on age. I went so far as to copy pages out of "The No Cry Potty" solution to send to her, but thought, what's the use?

Fast forward back to this summer. We didn't visit them last summer, and now that baby was older we made the trip out there over the 4th of July. (I had hoped to visit them earlier in June, in order to have a greater chunk of July to train, but they were busy.)
She told me that she was going to have my son trained while he was out there. At this point, it certainly can't hurt right? She mentioned underwear that she had, and I let her know his size and interests. She said that she had stickers. I said that I don't think you'll have much luck with that as he's not into stickers. She bought Matchbox cars.

We were out there a couple of days. The first day there was no mention of potty training. I asked, out of curiosity, what method she planned on using, and was told "not to stress about it." End of conversation. My husband and I went out with baby for lunch and to a store. When we returned my son was in pull-ups and had 5 prizes. Huzzah, right? Well, since it was the 4th, we stayed up late. The next morning, he woke up in a horrible mood- wanted to go back home, didn't want to eat anything there. So, his horrible mood persisted for some time- especially since I couldn't get him to eat. He wanted to play in the pool, but they wouldn't let him until he went potty. His aunt (who has sat for my son some before, but does not have kids) went with me to the potty. He was yelling, but she was just going to carry him there. I said that he could walk on his own, but then felt pressured to help force him to the potty. :-(  I got to hear gems from the aunt such as "You went yesterday, why won't you today?" in a hurried, forceful way. He had a choice of swim diapers but didn't want them because of the print on him. He was just in a foul mood. I said that I wanted to back off. I cannot make my child go potty. To top it off, he broke out in hives like I have never seen before. It was very unfortunate.     

So, yes, I'm running out of time. But, really if I don't meet the deadline and he can't go to school yet, it is not the end of the world. Don't get me wrong. I'm really looking forward to my time to run errands without him, etc. But, I don't want to traumatize him. So, while I am running out of time I wanted him to have a break- some fun times. We've been to the park, museum, etc.

I stopped by my parent's house, and my mom made a chart for competition with pictures of my son, herself and myself. And while I know they mean well, really if I haven't figured out a way around his stubbornness now, I really don't think that chart will work. And, it hasn't.

Also while there my dad asked me "what method I planned on using." I said that really, whatever method will work for my son, based on his personality. (This is especially annoying since they know some of the history of what I've been doing with him.)

I believe he's had too much pressure on him lately. I started to read the "How to Potty Train your Dragon-Child" by Stephanie Berk. I've tried telling him things like "Pretty soon we're going to run out of diapers." He is resistant. With baby not sleeping through the night until recently, I will probably read that after this message.  

I've tried having a heart to heart with my child, and he has said that "he wants to stay little." He still gets upset  sometimes when I nurse my 8 month old. I've tried increasing special one-on-one time with him, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. 

(1) I try to let the "noise" bounce off. The other mother-in-law (who has mostly backed off comments), has started telling me how her son needed a big prize. My husband has said that "I don't need so many books, and just need to ask his parents what they did." (Really? I hardly have time for this.)
 I try to balance that with my other sister-in-law who did say that her son was almost 4 when he trained and mentioned how hard it was. And I've confided in my IRL mom friends, who have been supportive. 
 I know many people have had similar experiences with relatives and friends. Any advice? Just thicker skin?

(2) Perhaps I am too optimistic, but I would still hope to have a breakthrough with my son. I had bought several small Jake the Pirate toys (one of his latest interests), and was going to make a "treasure map" for the wall after a petite break. But, now I'm wondering if prizes would even work? But, now I'm rethinking the "method." Has anyone helped a child who "wants to stay little?" My other friend's kids are all motivated to "be big."
 I'm trying to arm myself with more gentle terms to use, such as calling it "practice" using the potty.
 Any pointers for a mama short on time in my day, unless I stay up after bedtime, would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Another Toilet Learning ? - 3.5 year old boy

  • Have you thought about going cold-turkey w his diapers? The 3-day method might be a good method for him, as he's older.

    Maybe play up all the things big kids can do that babies can't do (special trips w you or DH, using things around the house, etc). My DH supposedly potty trained himself after his mom took him to visit preschool and then informed him he couldn't go if he was still in diapers (he was 3 also). Having a motivator like that might help, too.

    I'll be honest and admit that we used bribes and M&Ms to help both our kids potty train, so I don't think there's anything wrong w using them. But it sounds like they don't work w your son's personality. Sorry I can't be of more help!
    DS1 - Feb 2008

    DS2 - Oct 2010 (my VBAC baby!)

  • Naked potty training is working for us pretty well.

    In the morning, when I change his diaper, I don't put on a new one. I carry his frog potty around the house with us, and I tell DS, "if you need to pee or poop, please sit on your potty." Then I leave it up to him. If I notice it's been a long time, I suggest, "DS, don't forget to sit on your potty if you need to pee." But that's it. No pressure, no timer, no forced sitting.

    He has had 2 accidents and we've done this for 3 weeks. I put a diaper on him before naptime, and if I feel like it, we'll have more naked time between nap and dinner (or after dinner until bath or bedtime), but I like to give him a bit of a break where he doesn't have to be paying constant attention to his need to go. Some kids might be cool being naked all the time, but I keep MY DS' interest by not making it all day.

    Next week we may go get DS some cool underwear as incentive to be naked more of the day, and at some point we'll start working on using the big potty. We are still a fair way off from going out without diapers, but I'm not in a huge hurry to have him trained.

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  • sucredeesucredee member
    edited July 2014
    Rewards did not work for my DD either. She could've cared less about the stickers and the chocolate (which she normally loves). I admit that I did start young (at 25 months) because she was psychically ready (staying dry for prolonged periods of time, through most naps and most nights) and so I tried the 3 day method. Big fail because she doesn't like to be told what to do and ended up wanting the M&Ms just to sit on the potty. She would hold it for a long time, after 1.5 days we quit because it just wasn't worth it for her to be so stressed about it plus she had not pooped in 4 days at that point. I quit, didn't mention it again and just stripped her naked whenever possible at home. She would mostly wait for a diaper to pee or poop but a couple of times had a minor accident and got her on the potty. One month later, on vacation no less, I brought her travel potty and just told her one time if you need to go potty ask for a diaper or pee on the potty. She decided she was ready one day while there and that was it. She would tell me when to go. No bribes or anything. I did have to bribe her for a little while to make her pee before we had to go for long car rides because, like I said before, she does not like to be told what to do. 2 weeks later she herself wanted to get rid of the night time diapers and that was it. We had occasional accidents but very few the first few months. Then about 6 months after she PT she had more accidents because she didn't want to stop playing. I can tell you that the naked time thing would not work with her now (she just turned 4). In the last year she has become a lot more modest and doesn't love her naked time as much as she did when she was under 3. Back then she loved being naked. At almost 4 your son really should have the bladder control I would think (is he staying dry longer, waking up dry from most naps?) and I suspect for the most part it is a control thing, after all there isn't much they have control over at this age. I think John Rosemond suggested that you set a date and tell him that he is now a big boy and that he will now be wearing underwear. You put a few potties around the house for easy access. You yell him that when he has to go pee that he goes to a potty and does his thing (keep him in easy clothing). Put the control in his hands that way there are no power struggles. Don't make a big deal about having accidents or doing well. Praise him but keep it brief and don't make a huge deal out of it.,it may take a few days but he should catch on quick once there is no longer a power struggle. Maybe tell him that once you are out of diapers you can't get anymore because he is too big for them now. Keep him in special night time diapers at night (that he can't wear during the day because they are special for night) if needed. Is he excited about going to school? Find something that he is excited about that only big kids do and use that as an incentive. I must admit that I'm glad that DD trained when she did because she has always been pretty strong willed and stubborn but as she has gotten older she definitely has become more opinionated about things And I think it would've made it much harder. You are right that you cannot force your kiddo to go potty. But he really should be old enough (assuming he doesn't have any problems ) to get this potty thing down. I would think that if you take the power struggle out of it and deal with it very matter of factly he will catch on quickly. If you don't make a big deal out of it he will probably be more willing. With my Dd the forcing the issue completely back fired, I know the reward thing and scheduled potty times work fine for some kids, but obviously not everyone responds that way. Give him a break for a bit, tell him once the diapers are gone he is going to underwear and then do it and stick to it. Good luck. I know how frustrating it can be especially when everyone gets on your case about it because he will pick up on that as well.
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  • LisadiLisadi member
    Thanks for taking the time to read such a long post. And, that's the summarized version!

    Based on his mood and timing during baby's nap, I had started to "forget" to put on his diaper. I watched for signs and he did successfully pee. He has had an accident, and I do not make a big deal out of it.

    He's still a little unsure about preschool, so mentioning that backfired. (Although I will want to take him there prior to school to check out their potty.)

    Oh yes, he's physically ready. And, I've talked off and on about the topic to guage interest / teach him even about how food and drink goes in mouth, down tummy and out penis or butt, i.e. I have mentioned before that the stack of diapers in his bookcase (which is where he can see it), is almost over.

    He did have a breakthrough today. He woke up out of sorts. DH just started in on him once he calmed down about what big boys do. I continued on with gentle reminders about babies vs. big boys. (And, it's not as though I've never done that before. I just kept it up.) 
    In the afternoon, after a nap ride, we were at home and dad talked to him about keeping dry to be in a sports car. He finally wanted to go to the potty!! I praised him for getting on. We heard the pee and I started to sing the Mickey Mouse song. He let me know it was too much, so I toned it down with a smile and praise. He did still get a prize (Jake the Pirate stuff), and has expressed interest in another.

    While I put baby to sleep, daddy put DS in underwear. I was happy that he was able to get him to try on the underwear at least, so I could finally see how they fit! He had an accident. Daddy changed him. When I came out he eventually wanted to sit on my lap- so more incentive, hopefully, to stay dry. 
    So, I've dwindled the stack of diapers to a couple. I put the underwear in a bin on his bed with his Jake the Pirate doll. I tried to discuss this with my DH, to run ideas off of him based on his thoughts for our son. 3 day does sound good now that he's at least expressed interest again.

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  • I think you should just have him wear underwear and change them whenever he gets them wet/dirty. If you decide not to do that, then I think you should put a cloth in his diaper, so that he can feel the wetness. That will make him more aware of when he goes, and perhaps he will decide that he does not like the wet feeling and start to use the potty.
  • Sounds stressful. A couple of thoughts:

    A big motivator in our house was peeing and pooping like daddy.  I didn't see where/how your DH is participating, but it was actually fun for the two of them and I think my DH liked being needed for that life lesson. 

    Peeing outside, shooting cheerios, wearing cool undies.... stuff like that? Are there some ideas you could use to make it fun (that are oriented to actually going potty)?
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
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