Potty Training 3 Year Old boy...not Interested at Home!!!!

Updated on July 15, 2010
J.F. asks from Atkinson, NH
11 answers

My son (turned 3 at the end of May), is just not very interested in sitting on the potty when home (he will at school, but all the other children in his class are potty trained). I bought pullups last week and now he is refusing to wear diapers...only wants to wear a pullup, but not sit on the potty when asked. This past weekend, I asked him once an hour and he says "no thanks" and doesn't think twice about going in the pullup.... I'm not making a big deal about it at all and also not offering him a reward for sitting on potty. Any suggestions/strategies that you have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks moms.

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answers from Boston on


it is a VERY traumatic time for the boy - a lot easier for you. You have to be understanding and sympathetic. If he does not want the potty then that is OK. Just say that OK well if he needs it later it is there. Success with my 3 year old son was letting him run around the back yard, naked on a hot cloudy day. He came to me and said he wanted to do a pee. I said OK - here is the potty. He sat on it and said "I can't go". I said OK don't worry - wait til later. 10 mins later he sat on the potty. He peed near a pint. So it is happening. It works faster if you leave the diaper off. The diaper ends up as a sgnal to pee and poo. His mother does it through bribery (not a good idea IMO) - I do it through communication and a relaxed attitude.

Problem is as I see it is that too many parents are too bossy. Do you like it if you are bossed around? You do not need to answer - I know the answer.

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answers from Dallas on

Big boy undies or birthday suit around the house for a few hours and see how he does. He might be using the pull up as a comfort device already, if he is doing well at school then no reason why he can't do well at home also. We did a sticker chart for my son and it worked well.



answers from Brownsville on

boys usually take a bit longer than girls to train. i dont like giving my kids candy but i offered my little girl one m&m if she went to the potty. it worked wonders!! i agree with js the pull up is a comfort thing for him. i would suggest the regular undies instead of the comando because you might have a big mess to clean up. then if he goes in his undies he'll feel uncomfortable and will go in the potty instead. be strong and be persistant in whatever you do, DONT go back once you've gone forward because it will only prolong the process and backfire on you later... so if you put undies on him dont go back and put pullups because then he'll know you'll give in to him.
good luck and remember its just poop!! : )



answers from Boston on

My DD learned well past 3, it was very frustrating for me. Let go the thought that everyone else is trained. It will just stress you more. Some kids learn later.
Clearly if he will do it at school he is capable. I found pullups totally useless after the first day or 2. They feel like a diaper mostly. I found that when asked DD would always reply that she didn't need to go. So I would invite her to do it. "DD it's time to use the potty." I read that putting the reminder in their control can be more helpful for some kids (so we're not nagging) so getting a timer or something that rings every 30 mins or whatever to remind them to go can be helpful for some kids. Have you tried that?

Does he have underwear? That is what did it for DD. She decided one day she was going to wear underwear (she kept wanting to wear them over diapers or pullups which I allowed for a week but then told her she needed to use the potty to wear them) and that was it. The only other thing that made a difference was that I put the potty in front of the tv one day so she would poop in it (she'd only peed previously and would ask for a diaper to poop). Once she did it, she was excited and it all fell into place for her. I had also given DD notice. I told her when the box of diapers we had were gone, we weren't buying more. She did NOT agree! But a week later she told me that when the diapers were gone we weren't buying more. So she really made the decision, when I gave her that limit.

I tell everyone with smaller kids, they should try to catch the little window around 18-21 mos that kids have for potty learning because when you miss that you can end up with a willfull 3 yo who does NOT want to be directed so all the reminders, etc that work at younger ages really do not at this age and they have longer attention spans now and can get wrapped up in what they are doing and forget. I know that doesn't help you but it explains why he is always saying "no thanks." Good luck.



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Providence on

If he can do it at school, then he can do it at home. He doesn't need to be wearing diapers at his age anyways, I would stick to the pull-ups or underwear. I wouldn't ask him to sit on the potty, I would tell him to. He's old enough now to understand consequences and rewards. You are in charge, it might be a few days of melt-downs and tantrums, but the fact that he can do it at school shows that he is ready physically to do it. You will love it once he is potty trained.



answers from Boston on

Hi J.! I too am in the midst of potty woes...my son is four and a half, and we have been struggling back and forth with potty training since he was about two and a half (he actually showed interest in it then - until he knew what was involved). He gets so involved in whatever he is playing with that he just didn't seem to care about going to the toilet. I have several friends who have boys who warned me not to make an issue out of it as it could traumatize him. I became desperate to potty train him when I recently found out #2 is on the way, and here's what we're doing.

We bought him a v-tech smile recently, and four cartridges to go with it...but NOT the one he specifically asked for. We told him he could get that one when he is going potty in the toilet all the time. Whenever possible, we go commando or in big boy undies (grandma's house - places where changing an accident isn't an issue), otherwise he wears a pullup and I ask him once an hour if he needs to go potty. We make a big deal out of going pee in the toilet, and he gets a quarter if he poops (he's been putting our spare change in his piggy bank for more than a year, and knows having a full piggy bank is a WONDERFUL thing).

It's been a little over a week since we started going commando, and so far, so good. He definitely prefers to be dry at this point, and even went so far as to tell the grocery bagger at the supermarket that he needed to be changed (he used to not say a word to anyone), and when he didn't make it to the bathroom one morning after waking up, he said to me that he'd made a mistake; and just this morning, he woke up dry and I took him successfully to the potty.

I will admit that at this point, I do regret starting the regular use of pullups, they do seem to be a sort of safety net for him, but we're making good progress. I have since heard that you can potty train an infant by putting them on a potty immediately after you feed them, so we may try that with our baby that's on the way.


answers from Boston on

gotta go cold turkey - underwear only. my daughter did pretty well with the training, but i was worried about going out with her and public bathrooms...so we'd do a pull up when we went out.... and then she regressed b/c of the pullup. so we just had to go cold turkey one weekend - stay home as much as possible for a weekend, let him run around in underwear and go. you know he can do it since he does it at school....

Going out of the house was more my issue than hers, and i was scared to do it.

put a kit together for the car: a potty, wipes, extra underwear, pants/shorts, sock, grocery store bags to put wet clothes in. OneStepAhead.com has a great folding travel potty that i have and it's great. embarrassed to say but i've used it before to, when i was in a pinch and had to go really bad) i also made the same kit and put it in a "tub" for outside - but he's a boy and you can just have him "water the flowers"

get in the habit of making him go to the potty before you leave the house. then if your out running errands for more than an hour, pull out the potty and make him go. i have an SUV so i just open the back hatch and set it up and she went... i've also done it in a parking lot just put the potty on the ground between 2 cars.

find something that is small that will work for him. for us it was M&M's everytime she went on the potty she got 3 M&M's. we did this for about 6 mos. then when the bag of M&M's were gone, that was it.

don't give him the option to say "no thanks". make it clear that until he goes potty on his own, he needs to go when you tell him. set a timer so he hears and audible reminder of when to go - so it's not just when you tell him. (i use the timer for everything, when i want them to get dressed, when it's time to leave the park.) since it's a "neutral" reminder my kids don't give me any pushback when the timer goes off. they know it's not negotiable. so i have a small digital timer at home, in mypurse/diaperbag, car etc..... my daughter was so active she didn't want to take the time.... so put the potty in the LR/playroom if needed so he doesn't have to stray from playing so much (just to get started). then once he gets the hang of it you can put it back in the bathroom. and i would make her say the ABC's if she got through the whole song with out peeing - i'd say thanks for trying and she'd get 1 M&M. 90% of the time she's starts peeing by the time she say "ABCD"

the other part is "liquid management" - when your home for the first weekend of training - flood him with liquids so he has to go alot and get the hang of it. once he's trained... try not to give him liquid 30-45 minutes before you want to leave the house... try not to give him endless sippy cups while you're out to cut down on the potty time while you're running errands.

hope this helps



answers from Boston on

totally agree with these comments - what worked for my son was not asking him - just telling him when it was time to go and ditching the pull ups. Go out and buy a couple packages of underwear so you can throw them away if an accident is too hard to deal with. It can be gross but it worked fast. good luck!



answers from Boston on

Hi J.,
My son is 3.5 and we are having the same issue. He knows how to do both on the potty (and has been practicing since he was about 18 months old) but now it has to be on his terms. We've tried pull-ups, underware (he doesn't care if it gets wet), m&ms, stickers...pretty much everything, to no avail. It is really frustrating. He will go on the potty when he wants to and that's it. Just like eating or sleeping, you can't make someone do it. I think you just have to tell him that when he is ready, then you will be ready to help him.



answers from Boston on

My 3 year old was not in a hurry to be potty trained. I'd suggest getting training underwear instead of the Pull Ups. Pull Ups hinder the potty training process because Huggies wants you to buy more Pull Ups. I would only use the Pull Ups when you are going out of the house for longer periods of time. Also, bribery does work. My son earned stickers towards a bigger prize of his choice. We went to the store to pick the prize that he wanted, then he earned stickers towards getting it. We also got a potty training boy doll; he absolutely loved it. One the One Step ahead website there are potty training watches, you can set it for every 1/2 hour to remind him that it is time to try to go to the potty. Another thing that little boys seem to like are targets to pee at, I used to put a Cheerio in the toilet and have him aim at it, he looked forward to going to pee after that. Does he already poop in the potty? My son hated the feel of poop so he started pooping in the toilet at around 2 y.o, the pee took some time

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