19 answers

2 1/2 Year Old Potty Training & Behavior

I have a 2 1/2 year old little boy and I have two issues. The first issue is his behavior. Lets just say he has me dialed into the max!! As soon as I come around he starts to whine and act up. I can drop him off at daycare and he's fine all day or I can leave him with his Dad, but when I come in the door typically he starts to whine. He is also at a stage where he repeats everything I say. So if I go to discipline him and tell him "no" or "please stop doing that", etc., he'll repeat what I'm saying. I have tried to do time out with him. He does get upset when he goes in time out and we talk about why he was in time out and he says he won't do whatever he did "naughty" again but he still does. He is a very smart boy for his age but he just seems to "work me over" for some reason? My second issue is the potty. He was starting to get interested in the potty and would go from time to time when he felt like it. He was still in diapers while trying to train. Then one day he just stopped completely. He knows when he's wet and he goes and hides when he's going poop. He always tells me when he's got a poppy butt and wants his diaper changed. I tell him to go on the potty and that he would be a big boy if he did it and he just tells me no. I have tried to bribe him and tell him that other kids at daycare do it and that he should join in. What should I do?

What can I do next?

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I have 3 boys that i have gone through this with, and it sounds so familiar. It really sounds like he is not quit ready for the potty yet. He is very close though. He knows when he goes, and he wants to be changed, but mentally not ready just yet. The only thing i could suggest is making him stay in the dirty diaper for a while. It will make him uncomfortable, and maybe that will get him to the next step of usung the potty instead of having to be in poopy pants.
He is not unique in this way. I went through it with 2 of my boys. You are not alone.
Good luck to you!!

M., I don't have boys I have 3 girls. But, I did have a whiner. My youngest daughter used her whine to get everything and I finally got to the point where it made me crazy. A friend of mine told me two things. First, tell him you can't hear him when he whines and make him use a normal tone of voice. Second, don't reward bad behavior. If his whining continues to get him what he wants he will continue to whine. As far as the potty training goes, my only suggestion is 2 1/2 is still pretty young and maybe just give him a little more time and then try again.

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First off, as my pediatrician advised me (and it was good advice) never bother training a little boy before age 3, especially with a new baby in the house. He is still wanting your attention and showing it by wanting to be in diapers too. I have also noticed that the whining starts when Mom comes through the door. They never whine for Dad. Not sure why....My guess is that Mom provides certain needs that they may be looking for at that time and that is their cry for attention. As far as the other issues, just ignore the mimicking; he is just trying to get your attention. Give him positive attention in other ways and the annoying phase will disappear. I think the little guy is just going through some changes right now with little sister, potty training, day-care, etc. Lots of love and one-on one will probably do wonders. Just remember, what I always tell myself: "This too shall pass...." and it will!

I have twins that just turned 3 in November and I have been working on the potty issue since the spring. When they expressed an interest we bought them undies that they picked out and I have been diligant about asking and taking them into the bathroom to sit and try to potty and we used the treat and sticker incentive and nothing seemed to be working. One day before Thanksgiving my son woke up and decided he was ready and has used the potty ever since and that includes over night w/o pull ups. My little girl, on the other hand, still refuses and so I am still constantly asking her. I was told by my doctor that she will when she is ready like he did but to keep asking. It is frustrating but we have come to terms that they might be twins but every child is different and she will when she is ready. Don't be discouraged and keep trying with positive reinforcment and it will happen when he is ready.

I would suspect that his whining when he sees you is partially because he misses you during the day. Mommies are the #1 person in their children's lives and kids attach themselves to their mothers naturally because mothers are the main caretakers. If your son is without you most of the day, I would expect his response to be negative, even though it may seem wrong, it is actually a normal response. I would suggest you make sure to spend as much Mommy/Son time with him as you can and let him know how important he is to you. Don't be too hard on him, he is a young child needs your patience. As far as repeating your words, this is also very normal. My son just turned 3, and I realize that this repetition can get annoying. But repetition is how they learn to speak and it's really amazing how fast children remember and pick up on things. Just try to respond to him when he is speaking to you and remember this is a stage of development, it too will pass.

My 2 1/2 year old daughter is like your son in a lot of ways. The whiney stuff I'm still trying to figure out. However, the potty training is really starting to work out. First taking her out of her pull-ups and putting her in underwear makes a big difference. They know that when they wear a pull-up or diaper that they don't have to worry about having an accident or really feeling gross. When she wears underwear if there is an accident it will run down her leg etc and she doesn't like it very much! Also we started using a stiker chart. Everytime she would sit, go to the potty, or tell us she had to go she got a sticker. Hope this helps.

You are not alone in the whole "I come in the door and he starts to whine". My kids are the same way! So are my nieces and nephews, my friends' kids, my neighbors kids, my babysitting kids,......LOL See what I'm getting at? I don't get it either, but for some reason most kids go into whining mode when mom is around. My best advice is to point it out to him and tell him how much it bothers you and the people around him (of course, that might encourage him to do it! lol) Other than that, just ignore him and tell him you speak to him when he can quit whinning and talk like a big boy. It's sounds like he's in the full throws of the "terrible twos" and the "horrible threes". Just hang in there!

As for the potty training, both my boys went in fits and spurts of being interested. One day gung-ho, next day not so much. Maybe it's a boy thing =) Boys do usually take longer to potty train. My oldest wasn't fully trained til 3 1/2, my youngest at 3. So at 2 1/2 just let him come around, this is one thing where he gets to set the schedule to when he's ready. It won't do any good to push him. Good luck!

the first task you work on, will require a lot of creativity from your side, as you know him better than any of us, but iut is the great time that starts for you both!
Here are couple examples:
MY son once started responding on any of my questions 'yes-no'. It lasted for months: I ask, for instance, are you hungry?" and he responded: "I am hungry, not hungry."; "Do you want to go for a walk?" "I want to go, not to go", and looked at me very seriously and inquiringly.
Another situation we had, was that once he decided he needs two of everything. He wouldn't start eating one slice of bread, or even his favorite pie. He needed two. He just held the one in his hand and said: "two." Then, I took it from his hand, broke the slice in two, handed him two, he held one in each hand, and happily devoured both, munching from one and another one simultaneously. Same with toys. He came to me with his little toycar and announced "Two!" So, we walked to his toybox, and found another one, about the same size. With a car in each hand, equaling two, he could play alone or in his brother's company for a long time, no problems.
You will have some interesting situations, obviously.
Do not get frustrated. As creative as he is, he expects you to be even more creative.
I have no clue what would work, but you will need to try many things.
Important is though: do not approach it straightforward, as you tried it already and it did not work.
For instance, he starts whiling, why don't you sit on the carpet and shart quietly whining also (peeking at how he reacts of course). As this is totally unusual behavior for him, the hope is, he will quit his whine, or at least become curious. If he will come closer, you may ask for his help: "mom is so sad, she needs a hug, can you help her?"
if he starts whining, start doing something (not addressing him AT ALL), what he really likes, in the same room: take his legos, start building some castle, and talk TO YOURSELF: "I like to build this castle, but if _____(Your son's name) was here, it would be so much more fun to build it together! But he is not here, so I will have to do it alone." and see how he reacts.
If you DO NOT PAY PARTICULAR attention to his whining, he should eventually get bored with it.
if you say, once he starts whining: "oh, little boy, I do not know who you are, but I am looking for my son ___(his name), and I miss him so much! You even look almost like my dear ______, but your face is so much different, I don't think this is my son. My son always smiles, and I have such a great story to read him, I need to find him right away!!! Maybe you could help me to find him, little boy?" and if you walk around a little, he will probably follow you, out of curiosity, and once you get into the room with the mirror, start looking inside the mirror: do it very carefully, attentively, inquiringly: see what he will do. I believe he will come to the mirror too, and it won't be a whiny face... THAT"S when you discover him! "Oh, here he is! Can you come out here, I need to hug You, ____, please!" and finally turn around and find him in this world, and express your surprise how you didn't notice himn here before!
You know what I say? None of these described above situations might work, but if you quit paying straightforward attention to his whining, do something absolutely extraordinary, to catch his attention and redirect it away from his 'sadness'(something jaw-dropping would be even better, you name it!), make life interesting for him to the point that he will forget whining, and always leave him a chance to approach you 'through the other door with a smile', you will be both fine pretty soon.
He is definitely trying out what is poossible with you, and you need to outwit him. Once he will see whining does not work, but not whining makes life so much more interesting, you are on!
Be VERY creative, explore your son's soul and mind, like he explores yours. And, do you not get frustrated, this will make YOU cry, and then your creative mind will not have enough energy to think about new ways of communication :) !!!!
Good luck!!!

With Potty training:
I responded about a month ago to one mom with a 3 years old girl. if I may, I just copy-paste you my response, and good luck, again, M.:

one VERY UNPLEASANT experience taught my daughter immediately:
I cannot suggest it, as it is for you to decide, but 3 years old is definitely ready to understand and do it right. She might feel it comfy not to bother to run to the toilet, but it's really time to 'grow up' :).
So, this is what I did: no diapers, regular underwear and stockings or pants on.
Once the clothes got wet :(, I helped her to change, but I tied these wet stockings to her tummy on top of her dress. Well, they kind of stink. She did not like it at all. She quietly suffered through about half an hour, then I took the wet stockings off.
Ever since, not one single time of such a problem occured. She knew where the pot is, and she 'helped herself'

Good luck to you!

M., I don't have boys I have 3 girls. But, I did have a whiner. My youngest daughter used her whine to get everything and I finally got to the point where it made me crazy. A friend of mine told me two things. First, tell him you can't hear him when he whines and make him use a normal tone of voice. Second, don't reward bad behavior. If his whining continues to get him what he wants he will continue to whine. As far as the potty training goes, my only suggestion is 2 1/2 is still pretty young and maybe just give him a little more time and then try again.

Hi M.!
I can't help you with your behavior problems, ie, I have a 3 year old, but it's a possibility I could shed some light on the potty training! First of all, DON'T go back to dipars. Ever. Throw them all away. Better yet, have him put them all in a box and take them to the garbage. (or save for your baby, but don't let him see them) Spend one whole weekend with no plans. Don't say a word and just help him change his underwear when he soils them. Make him help you laundry them as well! That's an icky job that worked with mine! When he does go in the toliet, smile, kiss and hug and give him a much desired treat. Once he realizes that you mean business and sitting in cold icky underwear is gross, he might have a change of heart. Let him pick out his cool underwear all by himself. You will be doing a lot of laundry the first couple days, but it will get better. Just don't go back to dipars. Good luck!

My son lost interest in potty training for a couple of months too. He wouldn't stop what he was doing to go. He turned 3 in November and over the last few months he's gotten really good at going poo in the toilet. We have a seat he puts over the big potty because he has never wanted 'little baby' versions of what we have. I reminded him that big boys go potty in the toilet and he's such a big boy now he needs to remember to go to the toilet when he gets the feeling. I reinforced ANY good behaviour where the toilet was concerned. There was quite a bit of sitting on it without anything happening, but that didn't matter. I praised and praised with lots of hugs, just for sitting on the toilet at first. When I had to change a poo diaper, I didn't make it overly pleasant for him, but I tried not to shame him. The kids at day care did that by saying to him..'Naa naa, du gå i bleie' they would taunt him. (that means 'naa naa, you still wear diapers') The workers there made a light joke of it so it didn't scar his ego too much, but it certainly made him aware that his older friends DIDN'T use diapers and he wants so desperately to be like Arian and Mikkel.

The sticker system worked for a little while too and we bought stars and hearts, but what has really worked well for discipline with our little precocious man is taking toys away and putting them in time out from him. He gets the toys back, but only AFTER he demonstrates that he can behave better. Sometimes it's later that day after playing nice for a while, or sometimes it's the next day, after a good report from daycare. He stopped caring about time-outs and about stickers, but if I have to take a toy away because his behaviour is disrespectful or if he's hitting or whining, he'll lose a toy and I'll ignore him for a little while. I tell him I'm going to ignore him because he's not being nice and mommy deserves more respect. This matters to him and I usually get an apology. I had to learn to keep calm and sometimes I still get mad, but I tell him that. I'll say, 'OK, now you're going too far and Mommy is getting mad.' He understands the meanings of words so well now that telling him how I feel and what is going to happen, (He knows what the word consequences means) really makes a difference. What your son might be picking up on is that he can send you into a tizz and if he's not happy about something he knows he can make sure you're not happy too and kids learn that it's a quick way to communicate how they feel. Just remember that when he does it, he's trying to tell YOU that HE feels powerless and frustrated. (that's how he makes YOU feel when he does it, right?) Redirection works quite well now. Sometimes not immediately, but last night, when we had to turn off the computer, he was having a tantrum so I offered to to take out the chess set for him. He didn't calm down and agree right away, but he did after a few minutes.

Oskar (my little man) needs constant input and loves to help, so if I can give him a little job to do, like putting the napkins on the table for dinner time, or handing me clothes to hang, he loves it. It calms him down, gets him positive attention and adds to our 'bonding time'.

It sounds like your little guy has LOTS of energy and is VERY smart. It's a challenge to turn that energy and intelligence into positive behaviour rather than winding us up and getting into trouble, but I've found that will a bit of time and patience the tantrums can be shortened and his 'need to please' can be tapped.

I have 3 boys that i have gone through this with, and it sounds so familiar. It really sounds like he is not quit ready for the potty yet. He is very close though. He knows when he goes, and he wants to be changed, but mentally not ready just yet. The only thing i could suggest is making him stay in the dirty diaper for a while. It will make him uncomfortable, and maybe that will get him to the next step of usung the potty instead of having to be in poopy pants.
He is not unique in this way. I went through it with 2 of my boys. You are not alone.
Good luck to you!!

Boy, I just went through that stage and it often felt as if I wasn't going to make it! One thing that I found for my little boy (who is now 3.5) was making a special time for me and him - "mommy time". He seemed to want my attention, especially when he hadn't seen me for a while. When I saw him, instead of putting him off "for a minute" I would sit down with him and do a game or play with a toy that he liked and give him 20 minutes of my full attention. If I couldn't do it right away, I would tell him I would play with him after dinner - or whatever. And then, I would make sure I kept my promise. I don't know if that will help you, but it worked great for us.

For potty training - I know EXACTLY what you are talking about! It was sooo frustrating. I gave up - we went through screaming matches. He knew exactly when he needed to go and when he went. I would put him on the potty, then he would scream until I took him off. I thought I'd never make it, but one day, out of nowhere, he told me he wanted to use the potty and he did and has never stopped. In 3 days he was out of pullups and into underwear - even through the night. It was just before his 3rd Birthday. I don't have any good advice here, but hang in there, he'll do it - might be on his own terms, like my son's, but he'll do it.

Best wishes!

My oldest daughter did the same thing with the potty training. I finally just got frustrated and told her, "No more pull-ups during the day. You have to stay dry in your "big kid" underwear." The only time we did a pull-up was when she put her PJ's on for bed. Her not using the potty was her way of telling us she was ready! :)

I can say that we had the same issues. And then they re-visited us at 3. What we did was the whole bribe thing, then the "M & M" thing. Finally, I waited until warm weather (early spring). I took 2 days off (plus the weekend) and just put him in big boy pants. I didn't want to, but a friend told me to let him run around in his underwear for those 4 days, and go about every hour or two depending on liquid ingestion. The first day was messy, and I got discouraged. The second day was better, and by the third day we were getting that the diapers weren't coming back. It was more of a "getting to spend time with mommy alone" reward that really seemed to help (my boys are less than a year apart, I also work at least 50hrs weekly- so I wonder if the baby and less time with mommy is similar to my child's temperment)- We still had accidents from time to time, but it got easier....and I hate to admit this....I let him go outside on a tree (we live in a country setting)- and that was quite the fun. We have never had any issues with him going outside in a place he shouldn't, so I don't think harm was done....we did use pull-ups at night, and celebrated when we woke up dry...another thing that we did during this time was get a step stool, and they got to stand like daddy (gave them a couple of cheerios to aim at)- They would go with daddy in the evenings during those days, and that seemed to be a real "treat"-

I wish you the best of luck, as I too had two in diapers at the same time. It is such a joyous moment to leave them behind! and believe me, it will happen, it just doesn't seem like it right now!

My son is 2 1/2 and we have had him potty trained for about 4 months now with just a pull up at night. He was interested in the potty real early and we would let him go, then one day when we thought we were making progress, he stopped. A couple weeks later, he started going and it seemed instant (one weekend with accidents!)So, be patient. When he did stop going, I would make him sit in the wet pull up for a little while, because he didn't like it. The other thing we tried is when he had pooped for the day, we put training pants on him. He didn't like being wet, which gave him a reason to use the potty! When he pooped, I would make him wear that pull up for a while too. He really didn't like that on him. He was big about wanting big boy undies so that was an incentive to go poop on the potty. We went and let him pick out one package of big boy underwear (Spongebob)! Then, when he went poop in the potty for the weekend, we let him start wearing them. So far so good. Good luck.

I potty train pretty similar to the lady before, although I have never put out multiple potties, I just keep the one they are using centraly located, yes there are a few messes but not anymore then what you would get when potty training the more traditional way, and it really does work, I swear by it!

his behaviour is pretty normal for one that age he had learned what works to get moms attention, even if it is negative. First don't react to his whinning just ignore it, let him know that when he is ready to talk normally you will be willing to listen, this is hard and nerve racking but it will work, and stay consitant in what you say and do, pick your battles wisely decide what can slide a little and what needs to be dealt with now, if we try to over correct the little ones some of it gets lost on them, don't know if I was much help but good luck.


I agree with the suggestions about the big boy undies. My son is just turning 2 next week, and I am starting him on the big boy undies. I personally do not think it is too young, and 2 of the other 2 yr olds in his daycare are being potty trained as well.(They are both girls and doing much better then my son.) The only difference in my situation is the daycare provider is his grandma, so she is a little more willing to help with the big boy undies. The only suggestion I haven't really read would be to also speak to the daycare and ask them to help you with it.

P.S. My son does the whining thing also. I am glad to hear I am not alone, because it tends to feel like you are when you are the only one that he whines around.

Good luck!!! We all need it.

My daughter will be 3 monday :) and we have recently moved past the refusing the potty. She just said No Thank You and would refuse. So I got a sticker chart out and started rewards. At first it totally didn't work, because she didn't care. Then I put things on the chart like brush her teeth, finish breakfast, etc. things that she would do. So she got stickers for those. Then it started to bug her that she wasn't getting stickers in the other spots. So then she agreed to try to go potty for a sticker. So she would atleast sit on the potty. Then we got cool stickers!! But those ones were saved for when she really put potty in the potty chair. She also gets a treat (m'n m). And we reserved other special stickers for poops.
However, I still have to ask her to go, and poops still usually happen at naptime with a diaper on, so we haven't worked through it all yet.
But looking back now, when we first started last summer when she was 2 1/2, she totally wasn't ready, and I am honestly glad I gave up and waited a couple months.
So if your son is trying to tell you he's not ready, it may be easier to just back off for a little bit, and then try again in a couple months.

Most boys don't potty train until 3 1/2yrs old.

As for the whining as soon as you walk in the door...do you think he might just miss you and need some undivided attention? Everything else is very age appropriate and I wouldn't worry about...I would however suggest you modify your expectations of him...he may be a very smart little boy but he is still only 2.

The whining issue when you pick your son up is one I faced, too, with my first child...except, she had all-out temper tantrums. Not good for my self-esteem. My very kind childcare giver explained that she read an article in the Chicago Tribune about why my daughter did this...the psychologist explained that the child contains all its emotions while the mother is away and then releases them when he/she sees the mother again(feeling safe, at last, to do so). That helped me realize that she really loved/missed me so I concentrated on spending time cuddling with her, reading books, etc when we got home (not easy because there's always MORE to do when you get home).
My guess re: the potty training setback is the 4-month-old sister may have triggered it. Once the novelty of having a baby that demands a lot of attention and diaper changing dissipates, it'll be easier to go back to training. Don't give up on the training...just don't expect big strides. He WILL learn to use the potty. He's just not sure he wants to grow up right at the moment. We did, however, have success with a chart and stickers on the bathroom door. Every time our children went potty in the potty chair they got to put up a sticker. Taking pictures of the child next to the chart and sharing it with grandparents helped, too. Also, being able to do other "big boy" things with mom and dad will help, too, to show him that growing up isn't such a bad deal...I suspect that his sister just makes it look like being a baby is better.
The "repeat" thing is unnerving, but thankfully he's talking! Some mothers would do ANYTHING for their child to repeat words! Again, he's competing for attention and learning how to live in a bigger universe than himself. Focus on getting him to repeat other words...pointing to objects and getting him to say them...and try ignoring what sounds like "sassing back" for awhile and see if he quits once it doesn't trigger a reaction. My experience says he'll have less fun repeating the negative responses and more fun playing positive word games with Mom.

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