25 answers

Help with Potty Training a 3 1/2 Year Old Boy

I am the mother a 3 1/2 year old boy who has no interest in potty training. He has started a mothers-day-out program that if he has poop diapers I have to go up and change him. He will go pee on the potty with resistance if prompted, but no poop yet. Also he does not want to be without his diaper. He freaks out if I try to put pullups or underwear on him. He wants his diapers. I know he should be potty training by now and I keep thinking it will click and he will get it, but no luck yet. He cries a lot when we try to get him to use the potty to the point of almost making himself sick. I do not want to totally freak him out with potty training, but I know he needs to start. Help!!!!!!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

K.,
Potty training can be really scary for children. I have read in several places that children feel like their BMs are part of their bodies. Therefore they feel like they are losing something when they go on the potty but that in a diaper keeps it with them. I know that it sounds strange, but it was true with my little boy too. He would go tee tee on the potty but not poo poo.
I was able to potty train my little one by 2 1/2 by letting him pick out underwear of a favorite character. Elmo worked for us. We also read lots of books about going potty.
Good Luck! Don't give up! He will get it!

I don't know, but I honestly don't think he's ready. Give it time. He may be ready in a couple of months and it could go by quickly. I know that is hard with the MDO program, but you don't want to freak him out.

Have you spoken to the pedi about this? S/he might be able to give you some insight as well and explore the issue.

Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news.... but you should just put underpants on him whether he likes it or not. It might be messy at first, but soon enough he will not like the feeling of the wet and/or messy underwear enough to motivate him to using the potty.

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Hi there K.,

I'll probably get flamed for this one; but why does your son have to be potty trained now? Yes, it'd definitely more convenient; but is it possible that he's just not quite ready yet? Have you asked him why he doesn't want to wear underwear or pullups? Personally, I'd skip the pullup and go straight to underwear when he's open to the idea of wearing them.

1 mom found this helpful

My opinion, which you can probably do with out, is to find another Mothers Day Out. For any facility such as this to NOT change poopy diapers is absolutely rediculous. I mean really, where do they come up with this. They are little kids. Believe me, as the mother of many, with lots of experience in this - HE WILL POTTY TRAIN WHEN HE'S READY - not when MDO is ready. None of my boys were trained before 3 1/2. When THEY decided they were ready, they were done with no accidents. It will happen when HE is ready. I feel your pain though, just so you know I am not insensitive to your plight - I have one that will be 3 on Christmas Day and she has NO interest in potty training either. She'll change her mind sooner or later. God only knows when / if my 1 yr old will EVER have an interst. They tell me she is most likely autistic. But then, drs. don't know everything. LOL

1 mom found this helpful

Have you considered that he is resisting letting go of diapers because he wants to share the attention given to the baby...? If you can figure out what the diapers mean to him, you might be able to redirect his security blanket on another object.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I have two girls and one boy, which is about your son's age. I hate to say this but you can't force potty training. That is one thing that they have full control of. My daughter was like that and we had accidents for quite some time. It is totaly up to them when they finish with diapers.I had to relize this the hard way. You might try to reward him with stickers or time just for you and him play if he poops in the potty. I remind my son where the poop and pee go before I leave the sitters house or Mother's day out and I let him answer the questions. LIke: Where does the pee go? Where does the poop go? Depending on what underwears he is waering I ask him if spiderman likes to be peed on? I hope this helps.

dear K.,
i actually started potty training my daughter vigorously at that age. i was told by another mom to put her on the pot a whole 15 min every 2 hours if possible. especially around the time she normally poops and praise her. but i also made her go around without under pants so she would run to her potty if she had to go. shes almost 4 now and it worked really well. she did hate sitting there but finally got use to it. i had to make an effort to let her know, i knew what i was doing, and not looked so concerned as she sits there.
M.

You probably need to get rid of the diaper all together. It sounds like it's become a security to him and if he thinks he's going to loose it by doing good in the potty he might not go potty on purpose. Move him to underwear except at night. He will have accidents, but they always do, it helps them to understand what happens when they don't stop playing and go potty. If it's a security issue give him something else to let him feel safe, a certain toy or blanket. Take him to the store and let him pick out which kind of underwear he wants it will be fun for him and if likes the underwear he will be proud to show them off. As far as pooping that is always the last thing for them to learn. My 3 and 5 yr old both had trouble pooping in the potty, but they would gladly go in their diaper. You have to take that option away, it's more tramatic for you to see them upset than for them to poop without their diaper! Good luck, it's never an easy thing!

I took my son to Target and let him pick out his "big-boy" underwear. I never used a pull-up when training, have had better luck when the child feels the outcome.

For urination, I used M&M's and stickers. Even for sitting he could earn an M&M. Once we got that down, I took him to the Dollar Store. He picked out several little things, mostly bubble type things because he loves bubbles. I put them in 2 different baskets, the bigger prizes separated out. If he urinated like 3 or 4 times he could choose from one bag. If he went poop once, he could choose out of the big bag item. Oh, and the little potty never worked. My son liked the insert for the regular toilet. Be sure and provide stool.

Good luck, just remember what works for one doesn't always work for you. It just takes time to find out what works for your child. Being in the preschool should help by seeing others. You might have the teachers praise another child who went infront of your child.

I work in a church child care program and we have to change poop diapers no matter what the age. We have also had to do some unpleasant things (missing the potty, pooping in the urinal) That comes with working with children. I will say this though, you don't want to have the big kid that has to be changed, when they are that big its pretty yucky, especially when its not your kiddo. The only thing I worry about is that at that age is when they start to learn that only mommies and doctors can see their private parts. We had to take a looong class about what is appropriate or not and we are not allowed to go into the bathroom with the kids, or change them anywhere other than in the room with everyone else (which I think is a good rule) so I would hate for your son to feel embarrassed. Its ridiculous you have to go change him. By the way in order to help with the potty training at the daycare when they are 3 and up (around there) they have to help clean themselves up, they can do it and they say its yucky, and we usually say something like 'that's why poopy belongs in the potty.' It works well.

Don't beat yourself up that he is not potty trained. Basically, I just went through this with my three and a half year old son. I discovered something. It is not him who needs training it is us. I forced it. I said no more diapers. I had a few weeks of pure torture cleaning up messes (no pull ups either, they are too much like diapers and defeat the purpose) and dealing with a lot of screaming (I would reward with candy for each potty visit and he got to choose a small toy for when he stay dry all day that I hung over the toilet and one for when he pooped on the potty; if he had accidents, this sounds so mean but it worked, I'd take the toys away until he peed or pooped on the toilet again). But after about three weeks he is totally toilet trained. Looking back, it seemed so easy and so obvious and I wish I had done it sooner. But.... during those three weeks, it was easy to give up. Now my first was easy, he just caught on and did it. Anyway, good luck and don't beat yourself up. He is three and stubborn!!

WEll, when I started potty traning my little boy he loved bubbles and books....he was not wanting to sit on the toilet and then I brought the bubbles out and he stayed...then I started reading and showing himthe pictures of a new book...it worked! he is real excited and loves all the praise....good luck, also get a favorite treat and give every time for the first two days when he sits on the pot and then give just when he goes potty...he will understand soon! dont give up and just leave him in his diaper...you just need to be understandiung and bend a little

It looks like you've already received a lot of good advice here. I potty trained my son when he was 3 1/2. I set aside a full week to just stay home -- the busier you are, and the more outings you have, the more stressful it is for him and you. So just stay home for a week, and definitely get rid of the diapers during the day. Picking out cool underwear is always fun, but if he won't wear it, just let him go pantless. I know it sounds weird, but it works. If he has accidents, just act like you don't care, and very matter of factly clean it up. If he uses the potty, give him a reward of some kind. For my son, I kept a bag of assorted dollar store toys, and he was allowed to pick a toy every time he went pee or poop on the potty. He began going pee fairly quickly, but was really nervous about going poop on the potty. He held it for 3 days, but eventually he realized he had no choice but to use the potty. When he finally went, we had a big celebration around the potty, and he got to choose 2 toys. After that, he couldn't wait to do it again. Good luck!

My little boy is also 3 1/2 and he would NOT potty train for me.............but always went in the potty for my hubby.

So, I stopped trying to control/worry about it during the day & at night my husband would come home, have our guy sit on the potty, put on big boy undies, and go outside to play for a while b/f dinner. W/in 2 weeks of this evening routine my little boy is potty trained & went back to pre-school sans diapers last week :).

On a side note - learing how to pee on a tree in the backyard was really "cool" for our guy. Now he's standing on a tiny stool & peeing in the potty.

I don't know, but I honestly don't think he's ready. Give it time. He may be ready in a couple of months and it could go by quickly. I know that is hard with the MDO program, but you don't want to freak him out.

Have you spoken to the pedi about this? S/he might be able to give you some insight as well and explore the issue.

K.,
Potty training can be really scary for children. I have read in several places that children feel like their BMs are part of their bodies. Therefore they feel like they are losing something when they go on the potty but that in a diaper keeps it with them. I know that it sounds strange, but it was true with my little boy too. He would go tee tee on the potty but not poo poo.
I was able to potty train my little one by 2 1/2 by letting him pick out underwear of a favorite character. Elmo worked for us. We also read lots of books about going potty.
Good Luck! Don't give up! He will get it!

Potty training: How to get the job done
Potty training is a big deal. Here's what you need to know about timing, technique and handling the inevitable accidents.

"I've gotta go!" If you're looking forward to ditching your child's diapers for good, these words may be music to your ears.

Potty training is a big deal for parents and kids alike. The secret to success? Patience. Perhaps more patience than you ever imagined.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/potty-training/CC00060

let him run around naked at home...He is also being a baby like his sibling in diapers. Bring that up. We started using m&m's for potty treats. 3 for wet, 5 for poop and 1 for trying(when he has gas on the toilet!) This is normal behavior, it is his security to have the diaper on. You may have to use bribery(yes, we can) as long as Momma makes the deals! Buy a new something he would really like. He can only play with it wearing underwear!!

I'm in the same situation. My daugther is 2.5 yrs. She will go pee on the potty but won't go on her own and she refuses to poop on the potty at all. She's been in pull ups but thinks the pull up is a diaper. We put padded training pants on and she is doing great but at sleep time she wears a pull up and then poops in those. I'm not much help but if you get some great suggestions please pass them on.

I know some boys like to stand versus to sit. I've heard a lot of moms liking the stand up potty to train. Maybe it would be worth a try to get him interested. Also, I've seen targets you can buy or use cereal and tell to pee and hit each target. Good luck!

I can't wait to hear the responses to this as well. I have the same issue. I care for two children - one boy 3-1/2 and a girl who will be 3 in October. She is potty trained but he will not do it. I started wondering if it had something to do with the consistency of his bowel movements. Not to be gross, hers are very formed and his are consistently looser stools. I am facing the same situation at the school, if he goes in his pull-ups they will call me to go and change him. HELP IF YOU GET ANY!

See his ped. If he/she says there are no probelms, take away his rewards for diaper change, ei. Your attention. He should be helping to clean up at this point, if he is not trained. Start teaching him to wipe, toss the diaper, put the clothes in the washer, ect. Of course follow him and double check everything, but he can do these things. Then praise him for being such a big boy.
We have also attended a MOD program that had this policy for 3+, but they would do everything for anyone under. My daughter and my cousin's daughter went to the same MOD program. My cousin's girl wouldn't train for anything and once she figured out that mommy would come and change her diaper/underware if she soiled them, it became an everyday event, just so she could see mommy on demand...UNTIL, I showed up one day to change her instead. (Her mom worked part time and I didn't.) That was the end of the game. She is now potty trained during the day, but still struggles at night, but she still wears pull ups at night. Diapers are a firm go-ahead for most kids which is why pull-ups don't have a better success rate. To most kids they are still diapers.
I wonder what would happen if you "ran out of" diapers? Maybe make "plans" to go somewhere fun, like Chuck E Cheese or Inflatable Wonderland and then "run out" of them. He can't go naked, he'll have to wear underware, or not go. DO bring a change of clothes, though.
He will learn, but you might need to get creative.It should be his idea, but there is nothing wrong with planting the idea. Like most men, make him think it was his idea. Just kidding...kind of ;)
Good luck.

Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news.... but you should just put underpants on him whether he likes it or not. It might be messy at first, but soon enough he will not like the feeling of the wet and/or messy underwear enough to motivate him to using the potty.

Talk with your doctor/pediatrician. Some kids take longer, you can do things like telling him he can say goodbye to his poo poo and pee pee in the potty. My kids LOVED saying goodbye to their poop, it was hilarious!

Also, you can gently point out how the other boys in the class are not wearing pull ups but don't push it, it is a big deal and sort of part of their emerging identity, sexual, everything having to do with down there, I am sure you can pick up a book on it.

My kids loved reading the original POTTY BOOK and my first boy went poop in the potty by three and the other wasn't completely trained till 4 or 5, but I would just just back way off if he is having problems and try talking to you doctor, and reading the potty book (that original Potty Book) everyday, and sort of subtly pointing out the boys who are wearing big boy pants in his class.

I would just change his diaper until Christmas or so, and let him know you are comfortable with him letting you know when he is ready to try the big boy potty and trying again in January. Dr Phil also had a good show on potty training about 2-3 years ago...you might try to find that.

Good Luck! L.

I hope that you will give me a call or email. I don't mind passing on a great program for potty training but it is easier to explain verbally rather than in a email. I don't want anything for this information just to help you. It will take around two days.

###-###-#### Please call and I will help you. I did this with my 3 year old over the summer. and now he is even staying dry over night!
T.

Hi K., I am happy to know that my son isn't the only 3 1/2 out there that is not potty trained. He is very speech delayed (no he is not autistic) so that is the big reason this has not happened. I just started potty training 2 days ago. While we are at home, I keep him without a diaper or anything. I set a timer for about every 30 minutes or so and sit him on the potty with a bunch of stickers and if your toilet is by a wall, I put a piece of construction paper on the wall so he can sit there putting stickers on it. He doesn't quite understand the reward system, so I haven't done that approach. If your son is about rewards, give him little rewards for at least trying, and if something ever does happen, then he gets a bigger reward. Keep a box of little goodies somewhere that he can't get to.. I remember doing all this with my now 7 year old and saying I will never go through this again... and I here I am.. it is very frustrating, but it will eventually happen.. Just give it a lot of time.. Hang in there.. J....

I have 3 1/2 yr old twin boys who were exactly the same way. About a week and a half ago I told them that we ran out of diapers and did not have money to get any more...not really true, but I wanted to try and see what happened. They ran around naked for most of the day b/c they didn't want the underwear. But then they got dressed and have impressed me beyond belief with their potty training. They have a sticker chart..one for pee, two for poop, and when they fill up the chart we'll take them to toys-r-us. I also have a "treasure chest" of dollar store toys that they can choose from if they stay dry all day, and also when they poop on the potty. Again, I am so impressed with them...they're dry most all the time, even all night long with no diapers, and they're getting the poop thing down as of a few days ago. Good luck to you!! Your son will get it, don't worry!

I am potty training my second boy! One thing I learned potty training is one the hardest things I have had to do. So hang in there.

One thing I did was have my son throw away the diapers that were left and we went straight to big boy pants. He got one marshmellow for pee and one for poop. As long as his pants were clean and dry when he went. If he went in his underwear he got nothing. At night we would wake him up before we went to bed to go potty and not let him drink for two hours before bed time. Which that part is hard but once they get the hang of waking and going potty then I would let them take water to bed.

Good luck

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