15 answers

Potty Training When Child Wont 'Release' Pee

My daughter will be 3 next month. We are on our 3rd 'try' potty training. She holds her pee for hours and wont release it on the potty. She says that she 'can't' do it. She pees in her diaper when she sleeps. We have tried things like putting her hands in water, running water, offering rewards, etc. Is releasing pee a learned skill or is it something that comes with time through maturing? Her dr said to wait 4 more months and then try again. She will be approaching 3.5 by then and it seems like understands what's going on now-- except how to release. This is so difficult b/c we only have a couple of opportunities each day when her bladder is so full that she releases it by accident. We try to get her to drink, but she still seems to hold it forever. She seems to do this naturally (when not training) and mostly wets and poops in her sleep. Any advice? Thanks.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for the great advice. I am wondering how to 'take it slowly'. Putting her on the potty throughout the day generally doesnt work b/c she holds it so much. Yesterday we spent a ton of time in the bathroom between 11 and 2:30 waiting for her to go. She generally goes around 12:30 or 1 PM but we never know exactly when. Even when she's not training, she usually just goes in her sleep. Im just wondering how she's going to get up to 15 or so 'hits' b/c it is so difficult to catch her at a time when she has to go.

Featured Answers

My daughter was around 3.5 when she pottie trained. It was when she was ready, not me. When I finally gave up and said, "there is the potty, please try to use it" (she was running around in underwear) then I left her alone, and she was almost instantly pottie trained! I heard the less stress you put on them, then they do it. I don't know, but it seemed to do wonders for my daughter. Good Luck.

More Answers

My little sister did the same thing during her potty training... my parents would pour water over her privates and she would just let go...

2 moms found this helpful

I would listen to the doctor. Let it go for now. Take it up again when she is ready. I'm sure she understands what is going on, but by what you say it might just be a power struggle by this point. It sounds like she is really stressed out if she is only voiding in her sleep. Is there some reason that you "need" her to be trained? Otherwise, let it go.

1 mom found this helpful

Your sweetpea, I garantee you, will not be pee-ing her britches in the 3rd grade. My DD was a little late too. She is a singleton that does not go to day care. I just waited and encouraged. One day,,,,,boom!!!...she went!!!
Give it time, dont listen to "bad-mouthing" of those around you....when you are calm...those nuggets are calm!!!
She will go before you know it!!!!

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe it is too late for this.....but I am doing what I call "stress free" potty training. I have been putting my son on the potty since he was a little over 2. No pressure....just sit for awhile. We started by doing it ONE time a day, then 2 and so on. I have TONS of books by the potty, toys that are only used when on the potty. I let him sit as long as he wants. He finally just caught on....started peeing/pooping in the potty. He will be 3 in Sept....and he pees/poops in the potty about 60% of the attempts. Now he is starting to tell me when he has to go. I am really not expecting him to be fully trained until he is 3.5.

My advice....try this stress free approach....until she gets how to release on command. Don't make it a big push, but just part of your everyday routine.

Try putting her on the potty after her bath......my son goes after his bath about 80% of the time....it kinda surprises me that he would hold it during his bath, and then go afterward....but he does.

Lastly.....if you have ANY friends who are trying to train their kid.....when your daughter is ready (and their child is ready), spend the weekend together with both of your kids in underware. I also have 1.5year old son who is a bit advance for his age (IMO), and I have started putting him on the potty when I put my older son on the potty. They get REALLY competitive. I make a HUGE deal when they go on the potty (yes, singing, dancing, spinning them in the air, basicly being crazy), and they get REALLY jealous when they see their sibling getting attention......if one brother goes, the other brother will go after seeing the big celebration. I really didn't think that they would "compete" but they kinda do.....peer pressure exists even with tiny kiddos.

Best luck.

1 mom found this helpful

The book Once Upon A Potty is great. They have a version for boys and one for girls. We started reading it when my son was on a potty training break. He was 3 years 4 months by the time he finally figured it out. The Mom who said kids are competitive about potty training was really right on. Dr Phil (take him or leave him) has a method where you get a favorite doll or stuffed animal and put her on the potty. Then you cheer for the doll for using the potty and give lots of praise and wear party hats and celebrate with cake for the doll. When your child sees all the attention the doll gets, she'll want to steal the spotlight. Then you can celebrate and eat cake for her achievement! No pressure really is best.

This is the one place kids really do control things and they won't fall in line on your timeline, only theirs so relax. Don't let other family/friends she should be trained by now. It's 100% up to her so give her the time and space to do it on her own.

It sounds like you've been doing everything right! Remember that she's not even 3 yet. Most studies on potty training show that though some kids are earlier and some are later, on average they end up mostly successful at about 3 or a little later. So don't worry too much about it at the moment if your doctor thinks there's no physical problem. Your doctor may have had this thought in mind by suggesting taking a short break before trying again. If we stress the child about it before they are ready developmentally, they will feel bad about the task and about disappointing you. That feeling could make them want to avoid the challenge completely and make them get the idea that they just aren't able to do it.

Try backing off your explicit suggestions for her, while integrating a regular potty time into her day. About 1/2 hour after breakfast and dinner are usually good times when her body might be sending signals she hasn't wanted to hear. Have her go and sit on the toilet for 10 minutes. She doesn't have to do anything--take away the performance anxiety! But sit with her and read her a story or two. It's important that this not reduce the time she gets for an enjoyable activity. If she has siblings, they must not, for example, be watching a video at this time. Otherwise, she will think that this potty time is making her miss something fun. It's not punishment, after all. If she is successful, give her lots of praise. If not, make no comment about it except to thank her for sitting so patiently. This regular potty time has to be every day, including holidays or weekends or at grandma's house.

Your question about releasing pee is a good one. Many kids (even grown-ups) have trouble relaxing enough in a public restroom, for example, to go when traveling or at school. By age 3, most kids (but not 100%) can control these muscles. But like all muscles, it takes exercise to train them. Before she can start, she has to relax about it to let it happen naturally. At the moment, this is when she's asleep. For additional support, visit www.GoodNites.com.

Try sitting her at determined times, just after she wakes up in the morning, 15-20 minutes after meals, before and after naps, and just before going to bed at night.. This could give you a clue of her schedule. Also try putting her on pretty panties, princesses or Disney characters or any other she likes. NO PULLUPS. EVER. Good luck
Did you ever watch the Kate plus 8 episode where she sat the sextuplets on their potty chairs until they peed?--one of them for about 30 minutes? Pure torture.

If she can hold it, then she is physically mature enough to be potty trained. But her not wanting to go, means she's not mentally ready. Try to relax and not pressure her. She needs to feel relaxed and not stressed herself before she'll be ready to "let go". Don't let anyone else bother you either. I know sometimes other parents feel the need to point out when it's "normal" to be done. But there is a wide range of normal. I wouldn't say stop and wait altogether given that she is mature enough, but just take it extra slow. Ask her if she wants to go and encourage her to sit for a few minutes after meals and before bed. But if she doesn't go, then she doesn't, no biggie. She will get it when she's ready and be fine. My kids were 2 1/2, 3, 3, and 18 months. My niece was 4.

Please check with the International Chiropratic Pediatric Assn- and get a referral for her- if the nerve supply is not going to the proper places she wouldn't be able to do this, except when lying down, is a possibility.
So really want to rule that out.
best, k

My daughter was around 3.5 when she pottie trained. It was when she was ready, not me. When I finally gave up and said, "there is the potty, please try to use it" (she was running around in underwear) then I left her alone, and she was almost instantly pottie trained! I heard the less stress you put on them, then they do it. I don't know, but it seemed to do wonders for my daughter. Good Luck.

Did the doctor check her for yeast infection and urinary tract infection? The doctor also told my niece that her child would learn to potty train and to give it a break. She finally listened to my advice and took her for a second opinion. The poor girl had urinary tract infection so bad it took a couple months to clear up. Also, just have her go sit on the potty when you go to the bathroom and sing and talk. Don't put pressure on her. I ended up taking my youngest to town and letting her pick out pretty panties and new sheets for her bed to get her to quit wetting the bed. I then put them where she could see them and wouldn't let her have them until she stopped. Also, the same day my Dad told her she couldn't go camping with Grandpa and Grandma if she wet the bed. She stopped that day and we didn't have any more problems other then when her Dad would call or visit.

I wouldn't wait 4 more months. What I would do is drop it for a week. Then start up slowly, telling your daughter that you know she can get one pee in the potty that day. Then, just take her after breakfast or first thing in the morning. No stress, just spend 10 minutes reading to her or something.

Releasing pee is a learned thing. They have to learn the control of it, as well as the conditioning of it. The reason why people believe in infant potty training is that they literally train their babies to go pee when placed over a potty. The potty becomes a cue to the baby that it's time to go pee. It takes 12-15 "hits' before kids understand how the muscles work. So you need to reach for that.

Sounds to me like your daughter is having some performance anxiety. You need to just be patient and keep giving her the opportunity to go pee on the potty.

It sounds like you are giving up on her and giving her a diaper when all else fails. She has conditioned you to give up and instead give her what she wants. Which in this case, is a diaper to pee in. A child can hold it for a long time, but eventually the urge to go will get so strong that she'll have to go and since she knows she can hold it until nap time when she'll get a diaper, I'd say she has you trained well. Don't despair, you can remedy this.

First of all, you need to stop using the diapers. Your ped means well by asking you to hold off for 4 more months but I have a friend whose child was still wearing a diaper at 5 because he refused to use the toilet. I'm sorry, but that is ridiculous! We don't start teaching our child to talk until they are ready to talk. No, we begin communicating with them from birth. They learn by hearing so we talk to them all the time and encourage them to make sounds all along. Same concept with potty training. There comes a time when a child is just too old to be wearing diapers and I'm sorry, but your child is too old. I can see if night time training is in effect and then you would need a pull up but your child is relying on a diaper to do her daily pottying as well and she is too old.

Do you work? If not, then let her run around the house all day long with no diaper, no pants, no shorts, no underwear. Just totally bottomless. Trust me, a 3 year old is not going to want to pee on the floor or worse, on herself. Also, the sensation to pee will be much stronger without any pants on so she will be very aware of the sensation to urinate. You show her the toilet and tell her that when she feels pee-pee in her tummy, the toilet is where we go potty. It will be up to you to train her and you must be committed to this or it will not work. First thing in the morning, off with the diaper and put her on the toilet. If she doesn't do anything, let her run around the house with no pants on but every 30 minutes or every hour (set a clock if you have to remind yourself...and setting a clock so she can hear it go off is also helpful for her to know that it's time to do something) put her on the toilet. If she still doesn't do anything, then wait another hour. Eventually she WILL pee in the toilet. When nap time rolls around, refuse a diaper. Tell her she cannot take a nap until she pees in the toilet. You are not torturing her as I have taught my 3 children this way and my first two children were totally potty trained by age 2 and my third was totally potty trained by 2 1/2 years of age. This method does work!

Also, you need a reward system for her when she does finally go. It should be a reward (not a bribe) that is ONLY given to her when she pees or poops in the toilet. If you give this reward to her at any other time, you are then defeating the purpose of the reward system. I used Gerber gummy treats. They are sold in the baby section of most stores and they come in little snack bags in one box. I would open one bag and give my child only ONE treat, not the whole bag and the treat/reward is ONLY given if pee or poop was produced. Sorry, but no reward just for sitting there. She must do something on the toilet. Finally at the end of the day at bath time, put her on the toilet and do not put her in the tub until she does something. Now, you may be thinking you don't have time to be sitting with her in the bathroom until she produces. You don't have to! I utilized my time very well. I would put my child on the toilet and say, "Mommy has to go get something, you sit here and go potty and I'll be right back." Often times my child would call for "Mommy" and I'd call right back, "I'm coming, be right there...you go potty and mommy will be right back." I got laundry started, beds made, dishes washed all the while my child was sitting on the toilet! Hopefully, by the time you get back to her, she will have done something. Sometimes they like to do their business in private anyway but when you see she has done something, make a huge deal about it. Clap, and hug her and tell her how happy she made you by going potty in the toilet and then offer her the reward for a job well done. Do not go back to diapers. If she is not staying dry during the night, use pull-ups but the diaper for your child is her crutch and you need to remove the crutch. Good luck and above everything else, be patient but persistent. If at any time you give in, your have lost the battle to a 3 year old and potty training needs to be underway by now.

Another thing is to watch your daughter carefully when she doesn't have pants on. Watch for the pee-pee or poopy dance. It's really not hard to miss. They start wiggling and giggling when the urge is present and that is your golden opportunity to whisk her off to the toilet and let her know that you know that she has pee-pee or poopy in her tummy that wants to come out and put her promptly on the toilet and make her sit there until she makes something come out. She will only be able to sit for so long with that strong urge before something drips out and that will be you cue to start encouraging her enthusiastically!

This might be a primitive reflex called the Spinal Galant. If this reflex is retained past the age of a yr or so then problems can occur with holding/releasing urine. There is a great book you can get on Amazon called Reflexes, Learning and Behavior and it will tell you how to check and see if she has it. You can then find a professional who can show you how to integrate it. This reflex has so much to do with sitting still in school and learning as well so check into it.

My Daughter is 2 1/2 and she refused to go on the potty. She would hold it for hours also. My Dr said she's just not ready. This week she just decided she was ready and walked over to the potty and went. I did get this free DVD from huggies (pull-ups.com) There is a kids section that has songs about potty training, I played it quite often the past week and I think it helped. It has kids singing about "going" and being a big kid now. When she "goes" now she always says "I'm a big kid now" So maybe that will help. Good luck.

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.