16 answers

4 Year Old Not Potty Trained at All...

My sister's son turned 4 years old in October. My sister has exausted every option she can think of to get him to go to the potty. She has tried all the little tricks and rewards and also has taken his pull ups off and put him big boy unerwear for severl days, just for him to continue to go in his underwear. He is a very stubborn child. It seems to me he is awfully old to be continuing to not go potty. If anyone has any suggestions, or has been in this situation, any and all advise would be appreciated.

What can I do next?

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When he makes a mess in his underwear, he needs to help clean it up. Once he has to clean up the pee and poop a few times he will probably decide it is better to go on the potty. She needs to give up the pull-ups for good. If he thinks there is a chance of going back to them, he will just wait her out until she gives in to the pull-ups. She may have to stay home for aweek or even a little longer but it will be worth it if it works. Good luck.

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When he makes a mess in his underwear, he needs to help clean it up. Once he has to clean up the pee and poop a few times he will probably decide it is better to go on the potty. She needs to give up the pull-ups for good. If he thinks there is a chance of going back to them, he will just wait her out until she gives in to the pull-ups. She may have to stay home for aweek or even a little longer but it will be worth it if it works. Good luck.

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This is not the best time of year to do this with all the activity during the holidays. I have a very smart and stuborn son. What I had to do was pick a weekend and refuse to put cloth on him until he used the potty. He knew what using the potty was all about, he just didn't want to. I will not hit my children so I had to resort to extortion. Your sister is going to have to be ready to insist he help clean up if he is so stuborn as to make a mess insted of using the potty. But one day of being told big boys use the potty and only big boys deserve to wear cloth should do it. Make sure the house is warm enough to be safe but not so warm that he is completely comfortable with out cloth. Good luck and Best wishes, from the mom of one stuborn little man to another.

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I would probably talk with his pediatrician. Maybe there is more to it than just being Stubborn.

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My youngest did not want anything to do with potty training either, even at age 4. When she got put in a "big girl" class at school everything changed. If he is not in daycare, maybe a preschool class a few times a week. Being around other kids is what potty trained all 3 of mine.

Hi A.,

I went through this with my daughter years ago. She was turning 4 and i had 4 days to get her completely trained or she was not going to be able to start the preschool she would be attending. I was told to put her in underwear and the plastic pants at night. I was also told that if she pee'd in her pants she wouldn't do it again. After that first night, that was all it took. I accomplished this in just a couple of days and she was ready to start preschool! I was amazed but she didn't like the feeling of being all wet like that and it worked! Good luck!

Deb Emery
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Sometimes you just have to let go. When they see that you dont care, (it does take awhile) they usually start going on their own. It has become a control issue. He can control his bodily functions, you (and your sister) cant MAKE him go, and good or bad, he is getting attention by continuing to soil himself.

If all else fails, and he likes the idea of going to school, tell him they don't let children go that wont go in the potty and that it's up to him to decide.

I've seen 7 year olds potty in their pants. I believe that it must be an embarressment to kids when they soil their pants. Then possibly they choose not to think about it knowing that mom will fix it for them. Sometime, he may have to have timeout or miss activities that he really enjoys as a reminder to stop and go to the bathroom. Slow him down and make him stand in the corner for a while.

well, i am kin da gfoing thorugh the same thing my son he will not go poop in the potty and he is 4 also.but try keeping him naky at home.... or wait until summer to do that..

I went thru this this past summer...my son was a little over 4...i had tried 3 times previous...but didn't stick to my guns..after him messing up a couple pair of underwear..i would give up///but in may after i had my second son..i decided that i couldn't do 2 in diapers...so i did the underwear thing....I asked him every 15 mins or so..if he needed to go....and every 30 mins i put him on potty...made him sit there a min or so...yes there was times he hated it...and most of the time he didn't go...first day he went through 10 pairs...i believe like 5 the next day...and 3 or so the third day...so while he was at home he did underewear...when we went out i put him in a pull up...within a week he was trained..and within a month i was comfortable taking out with underwear as well...and less than 2 ...he was going to bed in underwear..i was so proud...right now he is sick..antibotics is giving him a little poohs....so he has been going on himself a little...so back to good ol pull ups..thankd god he is still telling us he needs to go though...so hopefully will be easy transition when he is better..

The first question I have is whether or not he has been to a pediatrician? Are there any developmental delays ie did he walk early or late, talk early or late, ect? Next, if she is anxious about it then he will be too. Lastly, remember that all typically developing children are potty trained before college! The point is to relax and keep your sense of humor.

I worked in a daycare and we potty trained in the 2 year old class. We had a child who would poop on himself a lot- we would give him a glove and wipe and make him clean himself. He did NOT like it. Another child would wet or poop and we would send him back with the 2's until he would stay dry.
I will tell you this, though. When the weather gets cold- children wet. In one week we had SO MANY kids who never have accidents to have one while playing outside. So if she is going to potty train, keep him inside!
Also- I have a 2 year old of my own that I am working on getting potty trained. He does well. But I have found that I cannot ASK him if he needs to go. I TELL HIM that we have to go potty. Get something he likes- a toy, a show, a meal/snack, a car ride-- but before you can do it, tell him he HAS to go potty! It works most of the time for us!
Good luck!!

My son will be 5 years old in 3 months. If he is not potty trained by August, they will not let him start Kindergarden. Background info that might play into this: his birth mother abandoned her 5 children almost 4 years ago. At the time, he had just turned 1, and was still breast fed. She left for Lousiana and Texas (we live in Tennessee) and has never returned or have contact with her (now MY children). I don't know if a 1 year old can experience emotions at that age, but we have had problems with him ever since. Behavioral problems, violent outbursts, when we tell him "no" he tells me and my husband that he hates us,etc. He was born with a hole in his heart and the prognosis was that they could close the hole when he was 10 years old, however, after a recent visit, his heart was extremely enlarged and the hole had grown bigger. They planned to do the surgery in the cath lab, but the hole was so big that he had to have open heart surgery. What is ironic, is that about 2 weeks post-op, he was completely potty trained, in underwear and all. Then all of a sudden he regressed and has pooped and peed in all of his underwear and pants (which I have to pre-wash before I can wash them with other clothes). We have tried punishment, such as taking away his favorite toys, time out, etc. and we have also rewarded him when he does occassionally go to the potty, although we have to force him to go and try. I was told by several doctors that after open heart surgery, adults deal with depression and anger. Children do not know how to properly express their emotions, therefore they regress and act out. He has more energy than the energizer bunny and tears the house apart, aside from telling us he doesn't love us anymore and hates us, and then 30 minutes later he is hugging me and kissing me and telling me he loves me! By the way, his surgery was on October 11th of this year. I know this a totally different situation from your nephew, but I just want you to know that you are not alone. We didn't get him first potty trained until the end of October of this year...did fine for 2 weeks and then went back to pullups because with 6 kids and going to school myself, I haven't had the time to wash out all of the poop from his underwear! All I can guess is that each child will become potty trained when they are ready, whether we like it or not. It is expensive buying pull-ups! Sometimes I feel like he is doing it on purpose to make me mad. I just don't understand. Maybe finding a developmental pediatrician might give your nephew's family some more input into this. I'm just at a loss and at the end of my rope. I'm sure your nephew's parents feel the same way! I hope this helps in some way; at least letting you and your family know that you are not alone. If he does see a developmental pediatrician, please let me know what he says. Maybe some of his techniques will help my son! Good luck and wish me the same! Where do you live? If you live near East Tennessee, I can give you the name of a wonderful developmental pediatrician.

Merry Christmas!
M. M.

If your son is not having any physical symptoms ie constipation it is likely that it's a control thing. (He is in control) The best way to handle this is to make him believe he's made the decision to go on the potty on his own. Create a surprise basket. This basket should be filled with cheap stocking stuffer type items (box cars, gum, candy, dollar store junk) whatever you think your son would like. This basket goes in the bathroom on the highest shelf. Tell him all the items in the basket are for him but, they can only be earned. He must 1.go in the potty, 2.wash his hands, 3.call you for a check out then he can choose one item from the basket. Be warned... he's probably pretty smart so don't let him check out the items too closely or he'll begin to weigh the benefits of the prize. Make sure you make a big deal out of how easy that experience was over the alternative of going in his pants. Share his success with someone else that loves him. Being proud will be contagious. One of my daughters' friends tried this with her 4 year old last month. This child desparately wanted a tea party. Which they had on the day she met her goal.
Good Luck. Merry Christmas.

This may seem a little mean, however it worked. I have four boys, two that are eight, one that is three, and one that is almost two. My twins were the one I had the biggest problem training. They would go pee pee in the potty but not do B.M.s. They would do these in their underwear and laugh about it. The way I would clean their underwear is wearing plastic gloves I would clean it in the toilet so they would see where it went. When they did not respond, I made them each clean their underwear themselves in the toilet under my supervision but they did the work. After that, it took about a week and they stopped, you just have to be persistent. I hope this helps, I understand what you are going through. Also, if you are mother who stays home but would like to make some extra money, please contact me at www.workathomeunited.com/myfoursons

I actually got something from a friend of mine a few days ago about fully potting training a toddler in three days. If she can take off a mon or fri it would be better. You stock up on as much juice as possible,and his favorite snack, her and the child throw away ALL pull ups, diapers, etc. It says not to leave the house, put only underware and a teashirt on him so you can immediatly see when he is doing it. Keep giving him the juice, water, etc. She needs to stay close by at all times, keep asking him if he needs to go potty and when he does potty on the toilet give him a treat and if she sees him starting to go all she needs to say is yucky and run him to the potty even if he is done let him sit their for a minute and he will understand what he is supposed to do. Make sure he has NOTHING to drink at least 2 hours before he goes to bed. It says that you shouldn't scold him and you will go through LOTS of underware the first day and a little less the second but by the third day he should be good. Good luck and let me know how it turns out. If you want the paper I got send me your e-mail address and I will send it to you. My e-mail is ____@____.com wishes and Merry Christmas

My oldest is 7 years old and he didnt become fully potty trained until he was almost 4. He was terrified of noise, and the flushing of the toliet scared him to death. I started having my husband take him to the bathroom with him on a regular basis so that Hayden could see how it was done and then my husband would allow Hayden to flush the toliet. After a few months of this Hayden began to use the toliet. It was a work in progress, but the transformation was almost over night. They say that children will not become potty trained until they decide that they want to be. This was the case with Hayden. He knew the mechanics and what he was supposed to do, he just didnt want too. We enrolled him in a mom's day out class when he was three and told him that if he didn't start using the potty he wouldn't be allowed to go to school anymore. Within a week of telling him this, he started using the potty and only had a few accidents. Giving the child a goal might help move the process along. Another thing that i found really worked was throwing Cherrios into the toliet and telling my son to try to pee on them. As funny as it sounds, it made going potty fun. My middle child is going to be 2 in March and we are in the process of teaching him to use the potty. I just take him several times a day and sit him on the potty and tell him that if he goes he can flush the toliet. This seems to working for him. Hope something I have said is somewhat helpful.

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