12 answers

I Can't Potty-Train My 3 Year Old Son!

I'm having a dreadful time trying to potty-train my son . . . Nothing works! I have done everthing I've heard of - putting him in underwear, reading potty books together, reward chart, stickers, treats, praises and privileges. I've heard that boys will decide on their own when they want to be potty-trained. I would like it sooner than his older cousins, who finally were potty-trained by age 5 1/2. I've run out of ideas, is there anything I haven't tryed? Any information will help. Thank you to all who will respond.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I tried everything that people suggested, and the only thing that worked was leave him alone. I just stopped bugging him about going potty, then he started to go to the potty on his own! He goes poop in there every time (no more stinky diapers!), but he still has a hard time always getting there to go pee. Thank you to everyone that responded, it all was very helpful. :-)

Featured Answers

Hi M.,

I potty trained my daughter using Dr. Phil's method. My brother also potty trained both his kids (boy and girl) and my other brother potty trained their daughter using this method and we all had great success. Here is the link with the instructions. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Good luck!


More Answers

Honestly, if he isn't showing any interest I'd back off, put all the potty books and potty away and let it go for a month or so. If he's not ready, he's not ready and you are setting yourself up for a lot of frustration. It seems to me the more you push when they aren't ready the less likely they'll respond positively. Good luck.

Hi! I also had a really hard time training my son. What I finally learned is that no matter how hard I push, if they're not ready, it just won't happen, no matter how much you want it to. I would suggest just giving it up for now and try again in a few months, maybe when summer's here and it's warmer (both my girls were trained in the summer and it only took a couple of weeks). I used to let them run around with minimal clothes (read: naked) so it was much easier getting to the potty in time. Maybe next time around it will be easier for you and for Alexander. Good Luck!!

My son is 2 1/2 and is starting pre-school in July, and was ready for school, shapes, colors, some word recognition, but we couldn't get him to use the potty at all. Finally about 2 months ago, I stopped buying diapers for him, and stocked up on lots of regular underwear that he picked out himself. He would wear the underwear and then wet himself and go and get a diaper because he just didn't want to do it. One day he went into his room to get a diaper and they were all gone and he said "great they are all gone, now I will pee in the potty" and that was the end of the fight, I still had to wash all of his underwear everyday for the first four or five days, but now he goes in the potty and can do it by himself. I wish you the best of luck.

my son is 3 and a half and he just got potty trained almost 2 weeks ago.i took away his security,his diapers.he kept wanting to ware them bc my daughter who is 19 months wares them and he wants to be like her.but one day i said no more diapers and you better not pee your pants and i got him all excited to go on the toilet.he is compleatly potty trained,i did it in one day.and i took away the diapers at bedtime to.if you dont give them anything to drink a half hr to an hr before bed he most likely wont pee the bed.my son hasnt peed the bed in over a week,thats when i stopped daipers at bed time.let me know how that works.i was in your shoes 2 and a half weeks ago.i swore up and down he was gonna never be or he was gonna be like 5 but all of a sudden in one day no more diapers.even when you go somewhere do not put a diaper on him just tell him how naughty it was if he pees his pants and tell him hes not gonna go to school cuz only big boys ware underware.sorry to make this so long but i can just relate like you woldnt believe.lol.hope this works.

in all honesty, it sounds like he's not ready. maybe back off for awhile and try again in a couple of months. good luck!

I am looking forward to reading the other responses - maybe there will be something that will help me too. Our son was 3 in March and we have tried all the same things but he just isn't ready. I'm hoping someday the potty-training is just going to "click" but it won't be soon enough for me!

Hi M.,

I potty trained my daughter using Dr. Phil's method. My brother also potty trained both his kids (boy and girl) and my other brother potty trained their daughter using this method and we all had great success. Here is the link with the instructions. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Good luck!


My son was the same as yours, nothing seemed to entice him to use the potty. Until some mom's recommended Dr. Phil's method of potty training in one day. To my disbelief, it worked (although I would say it took about a week overall).

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

OK so my method isn't like a lot of others listed here but it worked. My son turned 3 in Feb and had no interest in potty training, he knew what we wanted but could have cared less! I have a bowl of candy from easter, christmas and halloween up out of reach for "special occassions" so I explained if he pottied in the potty he would be able to chose 1 piece of candy. He loved being able to have the choice to use the potty or not and picking his own treat. He currently only get candy for pooping in the potty, which seemed to take a little longer than peeing in the potty. I am actually considering switching to treats like fruit snacks, peanut butter crackers stuff like that, they don't get normally. Just an idea... Good luck!

Somebody told me to put my son (he was 3 1/2) in underwear and let him wet himself, so I did and it still took about a month.
I changed 10 times a day and had to wash it all at the end of the day for first couple of weeks. It still took another several months to be #2 trained (4yrs 2m). I started making him rinse the poops out in toilet, with help of course, after I wiped him, taking the soiled underwear to the washer in the basement and then going upstairs to get the clean one. In other words, I was trying to make it as hard as possible, because I was tired of running up and down the stairs. Another thing is to go to Walmart, Kmart and pick out a cartoon (there is sponge bob and dora) toilet seat that you put on the regular seat. He sit this and wants a step stool under his feet for the #2. He is still wearing pull up at night for bed time, so we not 100% there. Do the chart and tell him if he gets 10 stickers (or stars) he gets a new toy or a trip to MD's, or movies or whatever. Take him every 90 mins (more often when he is drinking, 30 mins after) pull his pants down tell him to try Also, have dad take him potty and see what dad does. Also have dad take him as much as possible to see what dad does. All the cute Osh Gosh overall don't work very good for potty train either, try elastic pants or sweat pants as much as possible. Last but not least try not to make it a battle.

I had wonderful results potty training my son, here's what we did: I bought a training potty for Christmas when he was 1 year and 9 months old, we lived in a small apartment so I took it out of the box and set it in the hall way, At around his second birthday, he started showing signs of being ready to train when he went poop in the training potty and I didn’t even know it. I just looked in there while walking down the hall and noticed a little poopie in there. SOooo..I bought a book called "Potty train you child in just one day" Me and my mom read the book, thought "yeah, right" and followed the book exactly, that way if it didn’t work, we knew it wasn’t because of us not doing what it told us to do. There is a prep period if I remember correctly, but on the "BIG DAY" where we dedicated 1 full day to potty train him, I swear to you, he was indeed potty trained!!! I actually felt like "NO, he cant be, he was in diapers just this morning" but one word of advice given to me was "once you put them in big boy (or girl) underwear, don’t put them back in diapers" so that evening I put him in some Buzz Light-year Underwear, and he NEVER went potty or poop in his pants, It worked like a charm. I actually felt gypped, (not that it was a bad thing) but I felt like I skipped over the whole potty training experience that I see so many parents struggle over and went on to the next learning milestone. He never even peed the bed. So there is my experience, I hear Dr. Phil has a book with the same concept, Good luck.

As a middle child, your 3 year old is perhaps feeling a little "squeezed" and not getting enough attention, so he may be doing this for attention from his mommy (bad attention is better than no attention!) I would leave him alone and let him do it at his own pace. You are at home, so you don't have to worry about potty training him for preschool, so really as long as he is ready for kindergarten you're okay (and many kids aren't, so don't sweat that either--once he sees the other kids going potty, he will do it for sure!). Society sometimes puts limits on kids, and they need to just do it themselves when they are ready. If he wears a pull-up at night, I would just keep him in the pull-up all day until he can go without it. If you pull way back, you may be surprised how quickly he starts doing it.

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