HELP 34 Month Old Refuses Potty Training

Updated on October 13, 2008
M.L. asks from Boynton Beach, FL
14 answers

HELP. I am getting head spins from reading books, potty charts, candy, stickers, potty surprise bag you name it. Nothing is working and I have backed off of him but my son knows the potty but refuses to pee or poop in it. Last night he pooped in the bath tub. So I asked him Christian where does poop go and he said the potty. I put it in the potty and he starts saying Bye Bye Poop. So then I told him next time you get that feeling don't panic don't fret you can use the potty because you can. He wants the big potty and wants nothing to do with his potty, which is fine. I tried to put him on a regular schedule in the morning to sit on it but he doesn't want to go near it. And believe me I don't force him or even pick him up to go to the potty. I always say okay next time. I tell him we are practicing I don't expect pee or poop and if he does he can get the potty surprise bag. I figure okay don't stress but what is his problem. M & M worked for awhile. I tell him I have to potty and ask him should mommy pee in her pants or go to the potty and he will say potty. he gets the whole idea. I put him in underwear everyday until he wants them off and I don't force it on him and he wants his diaper on. Mind you he keeps them dry. He gets upset if he has to go and he wants the diaper.
I am expecting another child in December and wondering maybe he has a brain over load with potty training and the baby. The nursery has been up since July so its not that. I know it freaked him out when he had his hand on my belly and the baby kicked because he moved his hand really fast and had a confused look on his face. Has anyone faced this problem? I know I will have 2 kids in diapers (so I am over that about getting him out of diapers) but my dilemma is how do I get him to want to use the potty. He is so stubborn and strong will. His Uncle the other day was over and asked him about the potty and sure enough he ran to it and did the motions for him. This kids is a character I tell you. I do feel when he does start it won't be training he will just know to do it. he has been like that with everything crawling, walking and even talking. Has anyone had this experience?

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answers from Boca Raton on

You're letting him control the situation. YOU have to control it and put fear in him if he does it in his pants. No, I'm not talking about corporal punishment. You're the mother. He's the child. You don't give him control.You must take away the diapers and tell him, "no more diapers". Maybe say, Mommy can buy other things if she doens't have to spend it on diapers. The way I did it is that I took the diapers away, and yes, my son, 2 1/2 year years old, got upset and looked for his diapers but you know what, the world did not come to an end. Now, he does not want to poop or pee in his big boy underwear. Keep this in mind when you're talking to him, that he's a big boy now, not a baby. It's going to be hard and you're going to have to get tough but if you don't you're going to be sending a pooper to pre-school.

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answers from Miami on

M., My heart really goes out to you. I was SO frustrated trying to potty train my daughter, I kiddingly said "If I had a gun, I would shoot myself" (not really!)

Someone told me this: "YOU know your child better than anyone else, and YOU will figure it out". I figured that she was right. I did know my child better than anyone else. Then asked myself, what is it I know about her that I could use in trying to potty train her? The answer: She is absolutely an alpha female, is independent, likes to be in charge, likes when she thinks things are HER idea, and is a natural born leader. Simply put, she has "control issues". LOL. Well, I used THAT in reasoning with her.

I got down to her level, looked her square in the eye, and told her that I had forgotten to tell her something very important about the potty. That SHE was the "BOSS" of her pee-pee and her poo-poo, and only SHE could tell it when to stay in, and when to come out. Mommy and Daddy are not the boss of her pee & poop, ONLY she is, And that WE couldn't tell it to stay in or come out, only Briana could. She went to the potty both 1&2), by herself THAT DAY! I hope that helps!

Just remember that YOU know him, and ask yourself what do I know about him (personality-wise) that could be helpful? Here is something you said that popped out at me: "His Uncle the other day was over and asked him about the potty and sure enough he ran to it and did the motions for him. This kids is a character I tell you. I do feel when he does start it won't be training he will just know to do it. he has been like that with everything crawling, walking and even talking".

This is what I read into that statement:
He is a character! He KNOWS "what" to do! And it sounds like he may be "putting on a bit of a show", or "like to put on a show" You also said that he's been like that with everything crawling, walking even talking, so it's just "his way". Don't fight it, work WITH it!

Also, since he is a boy, simply watching another male as an example could help. (Since mine is a girl, I served as the example and left the bathroom door opened (most of the time), when I used the potty, and you really don't have to say a word, cause we all know they may not look like it, but they do watch and listen to EVERYTHING we say and do! Good luck and keep us posted on what finally works for you!



answers from Jacksonville on

This is from a mom who dealt with the same thing and my own mom reminded me that this is how she did it with me and I turned out fine. So please don't take this as preachy or mean. sometimes the old fashioned ways still work better than some of the new junk out there.

i think maybe part of the problem is a mind game of him and you. remember he is almost 3 and not an adult. reasoning like it sounds you are doing is not effective. If you give him the option to quit and tell him "its ok" he obviously isn't going to try.

He has obviously let it be known that he knows how to use the potty so like anything if you start him on one thing like the big boy pants and then let him decide to go to a diaper on his terms then he knows he wins and its steps backward.

This is what I have done if you are in fact ready to get him going. i would recommend taking a long weekend or a straight amount of time as early as possible and go straight to just big boy pants. you really don't want to deal with this with a newborn at the same time. Explain to him that he is a big boy and that it is time to give the diapers to babies who need them. (maybe even take him to a daycare or place that needs them so he can see but don't tell them they are for his new sibling-don't start competition) then its off to the races.

start giving him kool-aid or whatever (something he would really like but don't tell him what its for just give it too him non stop) and don't worry about the sugar this is not a permanent thing. at certain intervals (every 10,15,or 20 min) tell him its time to try. dont' use his potty get a top for yours since he likes it better. He will have so much fluid it will be hard to not go so the potty will be a welcome ally.

Let him watch you and his dad so he sees that grownups do it too. He is young enough that it will do him good to see others going. I like what some others said about influence from other guys- dad or his uncle. If they make it cool he might think so too! If he want to stand like them cool. A fun way to do that is throw some cheerios or fruit loops in and let him aim! (it sounds silly but it works- but don't bother buying what they sell at the kid stores for it too$$)

Plus it is ok if you physically pick him up to go to the potty. you don't have to be forceful just sound very direct not soft about it. If he has a tantrum about the diapers remind him they are gone. Don't give in!!! He has figured that part out.

If he wets the pants tell him as you go into the bathroom that is what happens and if he wants to stay dry run for the potty. If he takes them off no prob let him run around naked but watch him and if you see him start or go hide (to potty in secret) run him to the potty.

Let him wear pullups at night or make sure you are ready to change sheets (the night training is a different beast all together)

It sounds like this is actually harder for you than him (i don't mean that in a bad way) but believe me you will have alot more to deal with in Dec. It sometimes sucks to have to upset your little one but he will not remember except that he is a big boy.



answers from Miami on

Hi M.

I just wrote in a few months ago with the same problem with my daughter(2 yrs old, will be 3 in December) and now she is pretty much potty trained now. Except at night she is still in pull-ups, but like I said it was probably under two months ago that I wrote in with the same problem, she wouldnt even sit on the potty and we have come so far so fast.

The only difference is I am not expecting another baby so that may be adding to the anxiety for your son, but stop talking about the baby for a little while and focus on him and give him a little extra love and attention.

But this is what I did. I think I was making the mistake of telling her if you go pee or poop in the potty I will give you this present or you get to pick from a treasure box and that just wasnt working. So I read somewhere take it in baby steps. At this point she wasnt even sitting on the potty so I asked her does she prefer the big potty or the little one and she said big so then one day she hesitantly sat on it and I gave her the present I bought for her and let her play with it while she was on the potty. I just laid off quite a bit on the stress of her doing pee and poop. So I rewarded her for simply sitting there and I sat with here and played the special new toy with her while she sat there. I also gave her the treasure box full of little toys while she was on the potty and let her play with the stuff. She began to love sitting on the potty. For about a week she never did pee or poop in the potty, but sat there everyday. During this time I stopped putting pampers on her. So if she had to pee she would pee in her underwear. I may have given her a pamper a few times for poop, but only for the first week and then one day she did pee pee in the potty and she looked very happy and instead of giving her any material rewards I just praised her and hugged her and said see I knew you could do it!!! Meantime never put pampers on again, except pullup at night. After quite a few accidents one day she poop in the potty and now it has been like 3 weeks and she has been doing pee and poop in the potty and wearing underwear all day.

Like I said it seems to be happening so fast, it feels like literally yesterday she was refusing to even sit on it. And I think you said your son would always pick up everything overnight. That is how my daughter is. She went from not saying much for a long time to speaking sentences over night!!! So hang in there I know right now it seems like he will never get it, but it will come.

Put him in underwear, let him have accidents. Be patient, be prepared. I think about 6 or 7 accidents and I may have lost my patience a little and I looked at her and said NO MORE!!! Pee pee goes in the potty!!! Being wet is yucky!!!! And it was like a day later when she really picked it up!!!

Sorry this is so long, but I am literally going through this and may be just a step ahead and wanted to share my story. Write me if you have any questions.



answers from Daytona Beach on

Hi, I had this problem with my son also. I found out he wanted to stand and pee like his Dad. So I got a step stool and let him stand and pee and from that day forward he was potty trained. I have also heard to throw some cheerios in the toilet for the boys to aim at. I also left him with just a shirt on and no pants which made it easier for him. On the other hand I still cant my 4 yr old daughter to stay dry at night!! Good luck and dont forget he might regress when the new baby comes. S.



answers from Boca Raton on

I know how frustrated you are! I have a 35 month old DD (today, actually) and up until a month or so ago, she didn't seem to make the connection. She could tell me all of the same things that your DS tells you, but wouldn't act on it! In fact, just last night she walked herself into the bathroom and went poopoo in the potty by herself for the first time! She has also been virtually accident free for weeks when I've picked her up from daycare.
Before that, we did the candies, stickers, charts, etc... She understood that she was rewarded, but it didn't DEEPLY motivate her.
Just be consistent, keep plugging along, and one day it will click! It may even happen before baby #2 arrives. (I didn't have that luxury, I also have a 10 month old.)
If you haven't done so, start using underwear during the day and follow a regular potty schedule. (I had to stop asking or taking the infamous toddler,"No", for an answer and just told my DD that that's what she was going to do.) Let him know that little kids/babies wear diapers during the day (that will be reinforced when baby sister comes along.)
I know it is so hard to hear, "Just wait it out, it will happen when he's ready" because I know that YOU'RE ready! I've been there... but it was right with my headstrong little girl and may be the right advice for you, too!
Best wishes with potty training and the arrival of your little girl!

T. B.
Mommy to Katelyn 35 months and Matthew 10.5 months.



answers from Jacksonville on

My little girl was the same way for a while. She knew what to do but wouldn't do it. She was all about The Little Mermaid and so we went and got the panties with Mermaid and her 'friends' and the potty ring with Mermaid's friends on it and finally she started. She wouldn't use the little potty. She was 35 months before she started really doing it. We are now just getting the poo poo down. (She would ask for a diaper or wait till bed time) I would just be patient and one day it will be like 'Finally!!!" and he will have it. Good Luck!



answers from Miami on

I am in the same boat!!! My daughter knows all the things just like you are describing, but won't go on the potty. I keep reminding myself that she did all the other things on her own, why should this be any different?



answers from Miami on

what I remembered, my husband showed my little boy how he does use the big potty. You can ask your husband and his uncles to show him how to use it so he will have the idea that it is just but ok and not be afraid.



answers from Boca Raton on

Hi M.,

I had the same issue with my son. Going pee wasn't so difficult though. I just let him run around the house naked for about two weeks and that worked great. The pooping issue was worst. I don't think we got that tackled till he was almost 3 1/2. He always wanted the pull up to go poop. We used a reward chart that we put stickers on and made a huge deal when he did good. We also started telling him if he went a little bit on the potty first, then he could get a pull up to go more. Of course, he would end up just going on the potty and didn't need the pull up to go.
Just try to be patient and very positive. It's frustrating, but it will happen. I think boys just take longer. Maybe you could tell him that the baby's going to need the diapers soon and that he's a big boy now so he shouldn't need the diapers as much. Not sure if that would work or not, but you could try and see what his reaction is. If he's competitive, it may work.

Good luck,
L. Della Bella
Peadab Designs



answers from Pensacola on

My now almost 5 year old was resistant too. We gave it up completely. Didn't say a word about anything but left the potty accessible for him. Two weeks before he turned three he got up and decided he wanted to go in the potty. He came out of his room telling me "off" and pulling at his pants and diaper. So I took them off and let him go into the bathroom by himself and he peed. I about hit the roof!!! Sinking stubborn little thing! Anyway, you may just have to be patient and try not to say anything about it and if he does say he wants to go just ask him if he needs help getting out of his clothes and diapers and let him go to the bathroom by himself - as scary as that may seem.
Best of luck to you!
Mom of three - 4.5 yrs, 2 yrs, 8 months


answers from Jacksonville on

You might be right. He probably will just one day decide to use it and there will be very little if any "training" left to do. I have heard of kids that do that sort of thing.. like yours, that don't test out things, they just observe a long time then begin with a complete command of whatever it is: words, walking, etc. The potty might be the same thing. Perhaps he doesn't want to "try".. he wants to wait until he is confident that he is able to do it all by himself.
I wouldn't push him though. Maybe just drop the whole issue. Don't even "quiz" him about where it goes when you are dumping the diaper in the potty. Just say, "well, we need to put this in the potty" then do it. Wash up. Move on. Not a word to him asking what needs to be done.
He might surprise you. Many "potty training stories" go this route... "we tried EVERYTHING and nothing worked, then one day he just decided he was ready and that was it". Not all of them, many also work for months at learning all the urges and practicing learning through small steps and everything. But kids are different and you might have one of those that just, overnight, is fully trained...
Congrats on the darling you are expecting in December... I have a boy and girl 3 yrs apart myself, and they play wonderfully together.
God Bless!



answers from Pensacola on

HI M.,

My oldest daughter was similar to this. She didn't really resist the idea of going potty she was just too "busy" doing her own thing to go. We took her to the store and let her pick out her own "big girl" panties, but then she couldn't wear them until she had stayed dry for one whole day. She stayed dry that day and then refused to wear a diaper to bed that night. She never had another accident after that.

My nephew who is now almost 3 1/2 was very similar. However, for some reason he takes what the doctor tells him as "law". My sister in law had the doctor tell him he was a big boy now and "had" to use the potty. It worked. Since your son seems to listen to his uncle maybe uncle could take him out for a day or even just for a walk and have a "man to man" talk about how he is a big boy now and needs to use the potty instead of the diapers. Might help hearing it from someone besides mom.

Good luck!!!!




answers from Orlando on

Hi, M.!
I just wanted you to know you are not alone. My son is also 34 months old and treats the potty like a game...only going here and there if he wants and never pooping on it. He is also very strong willed :). I have decided to go the underwear only route once he get over his foot injury (he strained his arch on one foot). Then it will be all or nothing (he wears pull ups now). I just have to get ready myself...that is usually how it is. I stress about things (going off bottle, going to big bed...ect) and he does things just fine right away as if he could do them all along :)!! Keep us posted how things go!!
Good luck to us all....

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