17 answers

3 Year Old Refuses to Potty Train

Hi, I have a 3 year old who wears (finally!) pull ups. However, he refuses to go potty on his toilet. He still soils/wets his pull ups like diapers. When I ask him, "why don't you tell mommy or daddy that you've got poo-poo or pee-pee pants? Do you not want to go potty like a big boy?" he says "No, I don't want to." So, he flat out refuses to potty train. He starts preschool next month. I have my little "bible" on potty training sent by huggies and have been trying to follow it as much as possible. Any suggestions?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hi, guys! I wanted to thank you for your responses. Alot of them made a lot of sense. The daycare that he attends is working with him (and he's refusing with them, too, so I don't feel bad) but they don't push it, either. I have decided that I will just let him go at his own pace. He is too like me - will do it in his own time, I believe. I did get a bit of encouragement last night. While I was doing some work on the computer last night, my little fella came up to me wanting for me to put his shorts back on. I thought this was weird but put them back on. He ran back into the back and both my husband and I followed, curious about what was going on. We found him in the bathroom, trying to pull his pants down in front (like daddy does with his shorts?) and point his little you-know into the toilet but couldn't reach so he tried it with his pants off. No luck. So he climbed onto the big toilet (I guess he doesn't like his) and leaned back onto the seat like you do when you're tubing down the river and just stayed there. As far as I know, he didn't do anything... but, I did encourage him and tell him that I was proud and was acting pretty excited about it. I plan to bring him to get ice cream this afternoon (late, I know, but I will tell him why) as a treat for trying to be a "big boy."

Featured Answers

My son used to behaved same when he was his age, I had not clue what do do, but amazing enough was at the daycare/preschool where he learn how to do it, the lady was great with him, and they had a deal that I kept at home, everytime he went to the potty he got an m & m, he was allowed to pick the color, that was a total sucess with him, I did the same at home, maybe you can try it see if that works for you too.

Hey T.,
I am having the same problem with my toddler, but like Lindsay said it may not be a problem, maybe they arent ready yet...lets give it some time, they will start all on their own....hopefully

More Answers

Okay, you have gotten a ton of advice and many moms letting you know it is not unusual. I had a similar experience with my son and the only thing I want to add is that our Pediatrician recommended we not force him and that we let him know that the poopy and pee like to be in the potty and it is his job to help get them in there. That it is up to him, and it is his job. That plus the rewards, singing and patience that when he is ready he will do it. Also when he starts school he will see his friends do so and that WAY helps speed the process up. Good luck dear, and just be patient - no man I have met in my career has every walked into a business meeting in a diaper - he will get the hang of it.

I have a 3 yr old boy who is now potty trained. GET RID OF PULL-UPS, except for nights. When he's ready, he'll do it. But you can encourage him to "get it." I TOTALLY recommend letting him run around naked -- nothing barbaric about it. Its how my mom did it, as well as most of my friends. But don't push, and don't punish. Just encourage. Good luck! Oh - and the rewards (candy, prizes) work well, as do cheerios or apple jacks in the potty for targets. Also, we made a game out of practicing running to the potty from different places all over the house -- like 10 times in 7 minutes. He thought it was great! We'd go to the kitchen, then yell "Gotta Potty!" and run to the potty and take off underwear and sit on the potty, and then get up and celebrate, and then do it again from the living room, etc... But it helped him get in the groove! Good Luck!!!

My response is one you may not want to hear. HE'S NOT READY. Each specialist I have heard says that you must wait until the child is ready. I played a video for my son and read the book over and over again "Once Upon a Potty for Him".

There is a potty song that we would sing together and that helped. Also, make sure his stool is not so hard that he has difficulty (feels pain) when he goes.

My husband comes from a Hispanic background where the women kept telling me to let him roam around the house butt naked (literally) and he'd be forced to tell me when he needed to potty. I found that advice totally barbaric and kept imagining my son soiling corners of my home unbeknownst to me.

Of course, I never tried the technique! If you would like the copy of my video (VHS tape), I will be more than happy to pass it on. Just phone me at ###-###-####, Y.. Moms need to stick together and keep each other from flying off the handle.

My 5 y/o is still in pull-ups be/c he has toilet phobia. I didn't realize until recently that he had chronic low-grade constipation which was making his bowel movements uncomfortable. Also the bowel was pressing down on the bladder causing frequent urination. You may want to rule out any physical causes. I didn't realize he was constipated be/c he "went" but only once every day to day-and-a-half. Anyway he refused to sit on the potty and never gave a reason. He almost seemed terrified of it. I would like to encourage you to do whatever you need to do as far as seeking professional help. I am now having to homeschool my child be/c he can't go to kindergarten in a pull-up. We are having to see a play therapist for a behavior modification program. I never pushed the issue be/c I was assured that he would "go" when he was ready. Anyway, I thought I'd mention this be/c I was in the dark about it for so long. I hope this is not the case with you and your little one.

Hi T.,

I have a couple of suggestions. This worked for my 2 sons. First we tore little pieces of toilet paper into the toilet and let him use them as targets to pee on. Another thing that I heard works is to dye the toilet water that way when they go pee in the toilet it changes colors. Then when he did go potty we sang a song about him using the potty. Now here are 3 different songs ( I have 3 kids one for each. Also when it came to teaching them to go poop in the toilet it was a little more difficult because kids view that as letting a part of themselves go. So we would not only sing the songs we would give treats for them using the potty. I hope this helps

Potty Song 1: (to the tune of "This is the way we brush our teeth")

Where do we make our poops and peep
Our poops and peeps, Our poops and peeps
Where do we make our poops and peeps
We make them in the potty!

Potty Song 2: (to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star")

Tinkle, Tinkle, little pee, in the potty you will be.
Poopy, Poopy stinky-O, in the Potty you will go.

Potty Song 3: (to the tune of "Little Bunny Foo-Foo" )

When we have to pee-pee, we go to the potty, because we like dry pants and wet pants are icky

Whe we have to poo-poo, we go to the potty, because we like dry pant and messy pants are icky



My youngest son (who is 5 now) was a lot like your son. He refused to get potty trained. When he was ready he did it. He was 4 before he was ready. He didn't want to use his potty chair, he wanted to use the big potty. Have you tried that? When he finally decided he was ready, he did it. He's only had one accident at night (and of course, that was a night he decided to climb into my bed) and he hasn't had any accidents during the day. We never used pull ups. We only used them, when we were on a long trip. I don't understand pull ups, I don't see how it will help the child if it keeps them dry. They need to be wet and not like it. If your worried about day care, I'm sure that you could find a home daycare, that will work with you son instead of forcing him. If you force him, he's just not going to do it. Daycares try to force them. There's a lot of home daycares or stay at home moms that will care about the well being of your child and not just what the school wants. I hope I helped some. Be patient with him, he's just on his own schedule. My son who is 11 now was potty trained at 2. I can understand what you're saying. Things like this just shows us how siblings are so different.
He'll let you know when he's ready and you'll be so proud of him. Make a BIG deal out of it. It will encourage him to keep doing it.

M. B
Married, mother of four, 17, 15, 11 5

Take one week that you can stay home with him.....if not an entire week, at least a good long weekend. Get rid of the pull-ups...they are from h*ll for potty training. Each day, have him wear underwear....no pull ups, except at nap time and bed time. This is the quickest way for them to understand the difference between wetting themselves and staying dry. If they are wetting a pull-up, they just don't feel it like they do in the underwear. The first couple of times, he will probably have an accident in the underwear....still make him set on the potty to enforce where he is supposed to be going. The change the underwear and go on. Before the end of the day, he will only be having small accidents. When they start feeling the pee-pee in the underwear, they usually stop, and then realize that they need to sit on the potty.

I can't emphasize enough how horrible pull ups are for the potty training process....only use them during sleep or out in public as a last resort. Remember when those companies send you a 'bible' on potty training...they are also trying to sell you on their product too.

If he continues to have trouble remembering that he needs to go, use an egg timer....set in in the bathroom beside the potty to go off every 30 minutes. That will signal him that he needs to go sit on the potty and at least try to go to the potty.

I also don't like baby potty chairs. If he is big enough, get a step stool so that he can use the big potty. It is so much easier to go ahead with the big potty now. Makes it easier for going in public restrooms too.

Good luck!

Mom of 3 boys

maybe he just isn't ready.
it seems like there have been so many posts lately about parents freaking out because their 3 year olds are having trouble with potty training. Maybe we are just pushing our toddlers to do this before they are really ready.
potty training has nothing to do with the age of the child. it has everything to do with their maturity and readiness to actually do it.
in my opinion pull ups are no different from diapers, except they have neater designs on them and they are more expensive.
I never used pull ups with my first (he is now 7) and he was potty trained completely by the time he was 4. It's all about being on their time clock, not yours.
starting pre-k at 3 years old seems a bit young. Is it an actual pre-school or is it more of a daycare?
did they demand that the children be potty trained before starting at their facility?

it just sounds to me like he isn't ready yet. i would just go back to diapers and try again in a couple months. like you said he is using the pull ups like he would a diaper. there is no sense in using them then. he doesn't see or feel a difference.

try checking out dr. sears website, http://www.askdrsears.com/ he is great and has wonderful info on his site for just about every situation.
here is a link to his toilet training steps:

good luck!

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.