Need advice for starting PT with a reluctant 3+ yo boy (long) — The Bump
Potty Training

Need advice for starting PT with a reluctant 3+ yo boy (long)

DS is not PTed yet. In fact, he's never gone on the potty ever. We bought him a potty when he was 18 months so he could get used to it and sit on it clothes and he did that for awhile. But then he was over it. Now he doesn't even sit on it clothed. He's not scared (I don't think)--just not interested. We talk about going on the potty all of the time, nearly every time we change his diaper or when we see other kids his age in the bathroom. We bought him Cars underpants as a motivator. He thinks they are cute, but refuses to try them on. My pedi says not to push him, but just to continue to talk it up and let him go at his own pace. He honestly wasn't showing any signs of readiness until around 3. Now he will hide under the table or in the kitchen when pooping. But he still doesn't tell us ahead of time and usually doesn't mind having a dirty diaper. He just doesn't care. He also poops at least 2-3 times a day, and some days it's 4-5. So that's tough.

He's very bright and totally understands what potty training is. He even comments about how his friends are potty training. He'll say that he'll be done with diapers soon, but not yet.

I obviously don't believe in pushing a child who is not ready (am of the mindset that it shouldn't be hard and will be easier when they are ready), but we are going to have to push him in some way soon. He starts preschool in August and must be trained. I never dreamed we'd be worrying about the deadline, but here we are. 

What approach should I take? I don't like the methods that involve getting him naked and staying home for days. Our schedule doesn't allow it and he actually doesn't like being naked. Nor do I want to clean up pee and poop with a crawling baby and cats in the house. He is also not motivated by stickers or rewards. They just won't do the trick with him. He's generally been the type of kid who will decide to do something and fully commit--a bit of a perfectionist that way. It's hard to trick him or coerce to do something he doesn't want to do. He's also not adventurous and doesn't like to venture outside of his comfort zone.

Any advice for a book, method, strategy would be appreciated. We are going to have to address this soon!

Thanks! 

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Re: Need advice for starting PT with a reluctant 3+ yo boy (long)

  • At over 3 years old, you definitely missed a window.  I do not believe for one second that he is "not ready".  50 years ago most kids were trained by 18 months.  You should probably look into the 3 day method - ditch diapers completely.
    All kids cry. They will get over it. Giving parents the obvious answer since 2011.
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  • imageTheyWillGetOverIt:
    At over 3 years old, you definitely missed a window.  I do not believe for one second that he is "not ready".  50 years ago most kids were trained by 18 months.  You should probably look into the 3 day method - ditch diapers completely.

    I agree with this completely.  Well expect I'd say that 30 years ago kids were trained by 18 months.  Back then 18 months was considered old not to be.  I think you missed your window when he was 18 months old and thought the potty was fun.  At 3 there's no reason why he shouldn't be PT.  I'm truly not trying to sound harsh.  I'm just confused- you say he understands it but just doesn't want to.  You say you want him PT but then you don't want to take a few days out of your schedule to do it.  I'm not sure what advise anyone could provide you then.  For 3+ years he's had it easy- why would he want to change now?  If I were you I'd take away all diapers and put him in underwear- no turning back.  It will probably be a battle of wills for a few days but soon he's going to realize diapers are not coming back.  I PT my DS when he was 17 months old with a newborn and it wasn't a big deal at all.  Sure we did have some messes but after a few days I just steam cleaned the carpets when everyone went to bed at night (obviously we spot cleaned messes when they happened). 

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  • Sorry- I don't really have any advice- I just wanted to let you know that I am in the same boat as you.  My DS is having GI issues right now and I don't think that is helping us out but today he put on underwear for the first time and we will see what happens.  I talked to the Dr. about it at his checkup earlier this week and she said that he isn't alone in not being potty trained and that he will do it in his own time. I am just going to start pushing harder and maybe do the no more diapers route and see what happens.  Good luck!
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  • You are not alone..my ds was born 8 days before yours and he still isn't pt either! He sees his big brother go all the time but he says he isn't big enough. I am not pushing it. I will start in the summer going completely diaper free. Our schedules are also too hectic right now...things that can not be rescheduled or moved. Just wanted to say that you are not alone.
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  • buy the book   mommy i have to go potty . its all about ending power struggles.
  • We are in the midst of potty training right now. My story is almost identical to yours.  You just have to wait until they are ready (and I do not believe you have missed a window. the average age for a boy to potty train is 37 months).  I now agree that when they are ready it is so much easier.  I do recommend carving out a few days to stay home, so you can focus on it 100%.  target has a set of cars from the movie CARS on sale for $15.  I bought those and every time DS went yesterday he got one.  He had one accident (the first time) and nine successes. this morning he pooped on the potty.  He was telling me he needed to go by the end of the day.  He woke up dry from his nap and went after. And yesterday was day 1.

    I totally understand.  DS completely "got it", he just wasn't ready until now.

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  • imageTheyWillGetOverIt:
    At over 3 years old, you definitely missed a window.  I do not believe for one second that he is "not ready".  50 years ago most kids were trained by 18 months.  You should probably look into the 3 day method - ditch diapers completely.

    I think I love you.

    OP - just go for it, and don't turn back. No diapers, pull ups, nothing. Just tell him today that he's a big boy, and now he wears big boy underpants. Kids are smart. He'll be okay. Stick with it, mama, and remember: the worst that can happen is he has an accident and you have to clean it up. No biggie.

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  • akayfakayf member

    Okay...those of you who are chastising her for "missing the window"...what good is that going to do her now?   I'm not a puppies and rainbow person but seriously, how is that helping her?   Telling her to just try going cold turkey and stick with it  is good advice(and I totally agree with that) but telling her sorry you messed up isn't going to help.   

    OP-I am in the same boat.   My little guy turned 3 in March.   Up until now, he has had NO interest in potty training.    We got him a little potty before he turned 2.   He sat on it for a couple days but never did anything on it.    Then he refused to go near it.   He would scream and nothing would entice him to go near it.   

    My next plan was to try the 3 day potty training method over the summer since I don't work in July and Aug(I'm a teacher)    The week before I went cold turkey with the underwear, I put him in the pull ups with the cool alert just to prep him.   He was willing to sit on the toilet using a potty ring and actually did pee a couple times.   Then came the day to go to undies.   He refused to go near the toilet.   He screamed his head off.   I'm surprised the neighbors didn't call the police to report suspected child abuse...the screaming was THAT loud!!!!    So I backed off.   He was so afraid of the toilet and I knew until we got over that, he wasn't ready.  The diapers came back out.    

    So we just kept encouraging him to try but every time, he flipped out.   The only person he would use the potty for on rare occasions was the sitter.   She replaced the plastic bin in her potty chair with a tin can and let him pee in the can.    I took out our potty chair to try to get him to sit.   He threw it down the stairs and it broke.  

    So we decided to give up trying to make him sit and just let him pee standing up.   That was a fail for us here at home too until we found out a few weeks ago that the sitter wasn't telling him it was time to pee or time to use the toilet.   She was telling him to shoot the water.   Once we started telling him to go shoot the water, we started to have some success.   He was willing to use the bathroom.    

    We kept him in diapers until yesterday.   I'm off from school this week and wanted a few days where we could just stay home and really push potty training. We started yesterday.   

    Yesterday, we went though 3 pairs of underwear.   Today, as of right now, he's on his 2nd pair.   I've just been telling him every 30 minutes or so that it's time to go shoot the water and letting him choose if he wants to use the upstairs or downstairs bathroom.    

    He's been dry today all day(we had to change his underwear because he pooped)     He was willing to sit and try to poop  2x(told him he had to sit when I caught him starting to make his poop face) but nothing came out.     He isn't telling me yet when he has to pee but he does keep telling me that his big boy pants are clean.    

    For the past 2 days, he's been running around the house in just underwear and a t shirt.   The couple accidents that we have had were easy to clean up...no huge puddles on the floor since I've had him peeing in the toilet every 30 minutes or so.   Today we did do a 1 hour stretch a couple times and he still stayed dry.    

    I know my kid and I know that he just wasn't ready earlier.    I don't believe in forcing kids to do something before they are ready.   When we were trying to get him to use the potty all the other times, we were basically holding him on the toilet while he thrashed and screamed.  It was torture for all of us.   I tried to work past the behavior using lots of positive reinforcement but it didn't help.   Rewards for trying didn't work.   Special books to look at only when you're on the potty didn't work.   Letting him pick out his own potty chair and seat didn't work.   He just wasn't ready yet.

    I feel he was ready soon after he turned 3 but I waited until this week because I knew I had the time to fully commit myself to this.    And this time he is ready.   It's been a very tiring 2 days for me with all the running to the bathroom(I really wish he would choose the downstairs bathroom instead of the upstairs...running up the steps so many times a day at 32 weeks PG is not fun!!!!!) but he's not fighting me and he's excited about using the toilet.   I feel confident that by the end of the week he will fully trained.   

    Good luck!   I hope my story helped you out!!!! 

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