Need advice...My Almost 3 Year Old Refuses to Use the Potty!!!

Updated on October 27, 2009
J.A. asks from West Chester, OH
18 answers

My son will be 3 in December, and has yet to use the potty. We have tried pull-ups that get "cool," potty books and toys, and offering rewards. We even tried underwear for a day, and he piddled in every pair. He will sit on the potty and read or play, but only tolerates about 5 minutes and he wants to get off. I think if he just goes once, he'll get the hang of it. He's a bright little guy in all other areas, and picks things up very quickly, but is really lagging in this area!!! Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks!!!

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Thanks, everyone, for the advice! Keep it coming, I feel much relief knowing this happens to others. My other son, who turns 10 today, was a MUCH easier potty-trainer, so this difficulty is not something I've gone through before. I definitely will relax about it, and let him go a couple of weeks without mentioning the potty. What's funny is, sometimes, he does ask to sit on the potty. But, when he does, he still doesn't do anything! Cute, but frustrating!! Again, thanks to all!!

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E.W.

answers from Cleveland on

I have 3 boys and 1 girl, Each child is different. My last boy was not potty trained until 4. Most boys are later. Girls pick it up faster. I would not push him if he is not ready. When he is ready you will know it and it won't be so difficult. The other side of it if you push him it may backfire on you and he will have problems down the road.

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B.B.

answers from South Bend on

Get or make a stool for him to stand at the toilet, throw in a few fruit loops and have daddy show him what fun it is to aim at them. Hope this helps.

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H.

answers from Fort Wayne on

J.,

I'm going to agree that you hold off for a bit, but go a different route here for what to do if it doesn't progress "naturally". My son was 3 1/2 and still had no interest. The cool alert he didn't like for about a day, then he could care less. The pull ups really keep them too dry. They have no motivation to potty train. Daycare would take him consistently every hour to try the potty, but he wasn't interested. Every motivation they tried, stickers, snacks, peer pressure, etc. didn't have an impact.
We did cold turkey into underwear. We took him into the bathroom every 30 minutes to try. Every time he peed for the first 3 days it was on the floor somewhere. We were careful not to scold and just took him in and had him sit on the potty. Then it started to click. He had not developed the muscles to control, so it took a few weeks till accidents were infrequent. Also, he did better in the daycare situation than at home. In about a month he was pretty well trained, but still had accidents occasionally in situations where he was distracted. We're 5 months post "cold turkey" now, and it's been about a month since the last accident.

There is hope, hang in there, but figure out where your line in the sand is. At that point, try the cold turkey. If you aren't seeing any progress in a week (and yes, it is the longest week of your life - hope you have a lot of tile floors :) - we don't ), go back to pull ups, wait a month, then try again.

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T.D.

answers from Canton on

Okay so I already get quite a bit of scolding for what I'm about to tell you so it doesn't bother me to get some more. Anyway, he's (your son) probably just not ready. My daughter is OVER 3 years old and is not potty trained. She does not care at all about very, very wet pants. She too will sit on the pot for only about 5 min. I really don't always have the time to get to her right away because of the 5 month old. This is what I think. If you can't take them to the toilet every half hour to hour to help encourage them and they don't care about the wet feeling, then you're fighting a battle you can't win right now. And I also don't believe in punishing them over it. It's something new for them and as much as it should seem easy, they could be nervous, scared, etc. (who knows!). One of my nieces was 2 when she trained. Another one was like slightly over 4! I know it's frustrating (for me it's probably just the rude comments) but don't stress too much about it. Like I said, mine is over 3.

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J.C.

answers from Chicago on

just wait it out.......just keep suggesting it but this is the one thing you cannot control and if you keep pushing him he will take longer.........

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C.F.

answers from Cleveland on

Well you have a wide range of good information/responses already but I'll throw in that my son is almost 3 1/2 and still no luck - not even an accidentally went on the potty yet. I have debated about trying the move to underwear but with my youngest personality I'm just not sure it's a good idea. He is very independent an do it myself kid and will redo something (like going down the stairs taking off his shoes) if he wanted to do it and didn't get to. Anyway back to your situation I wouldn't really consider him "lagging behind" yet, he's not even 3 and for boys before 3 or 3 1/2 is rare at least according to parenting magazines I've read and all the peds at our office. I say keep doing what your doing he'll get there. BTW- 5 minutes is pretty good for 2 1/2, mine won't even go 2 minutes before he wants up.

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K.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

Now I don't know how true this comment is but my Pediatrict doctor said smart boys potty train later. They are tooo busy learning about other things. She told me to not push it or worry until he was 3 and half. And at 3 and half he suddenly potty trained himself. :)

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J.C.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi, J.!

When my son was 2 1/2 I decided it was time to start potty training. We tried it for one day, and then my son said, "Mama, I don't really feel like doing this. I'll use the potty when I'm three."

I figured that if he could articulate it that well, I'd wait til he was three. The month before he turned three, I kept reminding him - "You know, when you're three, you have to go on the potty" - with every diaper change!

The day of his third birthday, I said, "You're three now, Cade, you have to use the potty." He said, "I know, Mama." And from that day on, he just went to the bathroom. It was wonderful! The only "training" I had to do was to show him how to wipe properly.

Your son will get there, give him a little more time.

Blessings,
J.

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J.C.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi, J.! As with most everything with our kids, consistency is the key. I would get him to the bathroom every hour. It's a pain, but he should get it in a day or two. Put him on the potty 10-15 minutes after he eats, and always before his bath. That's what we did with our boys, and they did okay. They were both 2 yrs. and 10 months, and I just told them both that we didn't have anymore diapers, and we HAD to use big boy underwear. They were fine with it, and being consistent worked. I have to admit, I sang and danced around when they finally went... "Michael went pee pee on the potty, pee pee on the potty!" They thought it was funny. I'm sure it was rather comical! I got my nephew out of diapers in two days too. It's a lot of work, but you have to keep running back and forth to the bathroom every hour. Not fun, but eventually, it's worth it. I'm sure you and your little man will figure out a system that works for you! I wish you the best of luck!

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D.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

Our 3 year old son just got potty trained a few weeks ago. He had no interest, and we had a hard time being consistent with it at home despite the consistency at day care. We asked our pediatrician, and he didn't think he could recognize the sensation yet and encouraged us not to pressure him. We started giving him a daily/weekly goal for going to the bathroom, and made a REALLY big deal about when he did. Some days it was a sticker every time he went, then it may have been a matchbox car for hitting a goal. If he didn't hit it, he didn't get something he wanted. Finally, it all clicked, and it was like the lightbulb just went off.
Good luck. It will happen quickly.....probably just on his own terms.

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S.S.

answers from Cleveland on

This worked for our twins at about 2.5 yrs old. We bought a kithen timer, wound it up for 30 minutes, and when it went off, we got excited and said "its potty time" and we went and sat on the potty for a few minutes. If they went, they got a treat, if not, we got up and said we'd try again. We restarted the clock for 30 minutes and did this ALL day. We also bought this neat kids soap that had a hippo head that lit up for washing - they were only allowed to use if they went potty. We used the timer (we had to be the most disciplined and keep up with it) for just under two weeks and they were trained completely (except bedtime).

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K.P.

answers from Fort Wayne on

my advice is you are wearing yourself out and agitating your son. When he is ready it will be pure heaven.

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E.W.

answers from Cleveland on

I have 3 boys and 1 girl, Each child is different. My last boy was not potty trained until 4. Most boys are later. Girls pick it up faster. I would not push him if he is not ready. When he is ready you will know it and it won't be so difficult. The other side of it if you push him it may backfire on you and he will have problems down the road.

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B.B.

answers from Indianapolis on

I have a daughter who will be 3 next month. We've had no luck with her either. Same situation as ours.

She's very bright, smart, but doesn't yet "take direction" well.

We learned that with our "soon to be 6 year old" (in 2 weeks) that it was way to early for her to do that at 3, and it's way too early for our now almost 3 year old too. The only thing trying so hard now is going to accomplish is to frustrate everybody. Wait till he's just a little older, take a weekend and set the timer every 20 minutes, then have him go potty. When that starts to take, use the "potty first" rule. He can do whatever he wants, as long as he "potty's first".

For what it's worth, and good luck!

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R.C.

answers from Cincinnati on

I agree with the other moms....sounds like you're doing fine and your son isn't laggin behind at all! I'm no expert really but I'd just continue to make the potty a positive experience for him. Continue to praise him or give him some kind of reward every time he tries. Don't force it too much b/c he's still little and needs time! Too much pressure or nagging can make it a negative experience. Potty books and fun potty videos are good (ELMO's Potty Time!). My son needed to make it his own accomplishment. One day he just decided to do all his BM's on the potty! It was like a switch went off in his head and he just got it! Same thing with peeing on the potty. He wants to do it all by himself and doesn't even want me in the bathroom with him (until it's time for clapping and high fives!). He's a couple months past his 3rd birthday now and we still need to use a couple pull-ups per day but I'm not pressuring him too much b/c I know he's working on it.

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A.C.

answers from Cincinnati on

Hey! I agree that you could try a timer, but you might also try a urinal. Places like One Step Ahead sell a potty-training urinals, and I know that sometimes (at least in public restrooms), boys feel more excited about going in a urinal like Daddy does. You might give it a try.

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K.S.

answers from Cincinnati on

It sounds like he is not ready. Wait a couple of months - no pressure or talk about it during that time - and then try again.

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B.B.

answers from South Bend on

Get or make a stool for him to stand at the toilet, throw in a few fruit loops and have daddy show him what fun it is to aim at them. Hope this helps.

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S.D.

answers from Canton on

My boys are now 19 and 24 so I can't remember exactly what age we started this game. We used a step stool in front of the toilet,threw a square of toilet paper in the toilet and shouted, READY, AIM AND FIRE! to try and hit the paper with the urine stream. They loved it! You will have to help steady him and you will have some clean up until his aim gets better. You could draw targets on toilet paper squares ahead of time with magic markers to make it more colorful and exciting. He should look forward to potty time. When daddy gets home he can encourage him by asking if he hit his target today. Good luck and have fun! S. D.

S.E.

answers from Cleveland on

My son never used the potty at all until after he was three we had a big potty training day. He was trained in a day. Lay off for a while then really teach him how. Make it right after he turns three, because three year olds don't use diapers ;)

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