Potty Training Issues... Can ANYONE Help??

Updated on January 03, 2008
C.I. asks from Cedar Park, TX
23 answers

Hi all you Mamasourcers out there! I didn't know what category this would go in, so here it goes... My son who is 3, he will be 4 Feb 26th... For some AWEFUL reason, has done a complete 360 on his potty training. I am in tears over this. When he wets his pants, its only a little bit(sometimes). He's not emptying his entire bladder... and as of 3 days ago, he's started having BM's in his pants again. It's making me feel like a total failure and I'm coming down hard on myself for this. I haven't punished him really for doing this because I remember reading that you shouldn't do that. But I have taken away a few "rights" such as playing on the computer and such... Speaking of... it only seems to happen when he's playing. Weather its on the computer, or watching a movie, or things like that. His attention is on what he's doing and he doesn't realize that he's got to go maybe? So I was wondering, has anyone else gone thru this? What can I and what should I do? I change his underpants atleast 6-8 times a day. I'm stressing out over this REALLY BAD! I've tried the whole asking him every 15 minutes to go to the bathroom, but in the end aslong as he's playing he still wets his pants. I started to think that maybe it could be a side effect of the new asthma medicine he's on, but I've done ALOT of research on it and thats not the reason. I'm ready to pull my hair out... Any and all advice would be GREATLY appreciated!! Anyone... Everyone... Please help me figure this out?!?!

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So What Happened?

I wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who has and is still responding to my post. I did forget to mention in my first post that my son had been potty trained 2 months shy of a year, and we never had accidents during the day unless he was sleeping. Those accidents didn't bother me because I did the same as a little girl! ;) I have been doing more research on my son's asthma medicine and have found some horrible stuff. Let me say I am taking him off of this medicine! I'm taking him to the Dr. today to talk to the DR about it. If any of you out there have their kids on Singular, please email me so I can send you a link I've found. My e-mail is [email protected]____.com or you can send me a message thru mamasource... either is fine. :) Again, thank you to everyone out there who took the time to respond to my post!!

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answers from Austin on

Well, my son potty trained really quickly. He would even tell himself to go potty, I never had to remind him and got a little spoiled by it all. THEN......He went back to being a normal kid. Started having accidents, first just a spot or two, then full blown peeing everywhere. Some Poo too. I just had to tell myself that for the last 3 years (his ENTIRE LIFE), I required nothing from him EXCEPT for him to do his BUSINESS in him diaper. Now, all the sudden, I have placed on him "THESE EXPECTATIONS". I just went back to square one.

Cherrios are a good incentive (to empty his bladder, put them in the toilet) have him use them for target practice He will usually "run out of ammo". Also, I had to start the reward system for poo. Stickers are great, temp tattoos too.

Also, at 4, he got jelous of his little sister being able to use diapers and I would catch him in the bathroom trying to put on a diaper to pee in. LOL I told him he was stuck with undies because diapers don't fit him anymore.



answers from Odessa on

I don't know the answer to this one, but I can tell you that you aren't alone. My son will be 4 on the 18th of Feb and was totally potty trained and has regressed like this. I'll ask him if he has to go and 5 min later he'll have an accident. I asked the dr and he said that it's not really a problem, medically, until he's older. But it's a problem with the daycare. Anyways I just wanted to let you know you aren't alone in this one.

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answers from Dallas on

First check the asthma meds--I have heard antihystimines can mess with the male prostate! Please talk to your doctor if this all started when he began the medication.
If you think it is not his medication, I can totally relate. I am right where you are!!! My son will be 4 in late May and we took away diapers on Friday. He screamed and got hysterical. He is getting better now and prefers his big boy pants. We have been bribing him to pee with chocolate and toys. First I would give him chocolate for sitting on the potty; now at this point (4 days later), he gets chocolate when he pees or poops. I read at this age (over 3 1/2), if they make a mess, they need to 'clean' it up. I thought this was harsh but Saturday after spending all day changing his big boy pants, I told him, 'you are going to pee and poop everyday for your whole life. It is something you will need to deal with everyday. I will gladly take you to the potty; if you fight and refuse to sit on the potty, you will need change your own pants' so of course he fussed and peed his pants. I watched him struggle to get new underwear and pants on--it was very hard to watch. I finally asked if he would like help (he did) so I told him that first we had to sit on the potty. He did and peed!
Today is still a bit of a struggle but I am trying not to take it personally. Potty training is your son's deal. It has nothing to your parenting ability or even his intelligence.
I'm not sure if I would take away things if he pees his pants. If he can't control it, it will only upset him more. I would offer treats or maybe a special outting if he can stay dry all day. I know parenting books say no bribes but it worked for my older daughter perfectly and it appears to be working for my son (grandma even sent him an autoblox truck :) for pooping) .
I would absolutely avoid pull ups or diapers. Above all stay calm, I promise he won't be in diapers for the prom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

DON'T PUT HIM BACK IN DIAPERS!!!! I would make him sit on the potty every 20 minutes or so...if he has to go then he will. If I just ask my son if he has to go...he will sit there looking at me while holding himself and say no! So, I have resorted to just putting him on the potty. Don't get too frustrated...my son regressed last year when we discovered that we were pregnant and he made a full recovery quickly! Keep your chin up! It gets easier I promise!



answers from Houston on

Maybe I can be of some help. I went through almost the same thing with my son. He appeared potty trained for about 2 months when he had a painful BM and then would not use the potty anymore. He would either have an accident or ask for a pull up when he need to go #2. There was some urinating too. This was explained to me by my doctor. Little boys clearly don't have a uterus so when they try to hold back their poop they will sometimes pee a little because there is no uterus between that and their bladder. This may make sense if it is happening when he playing since they usually don't want to stop to go to the bathroom. I can tell you that I cried and struggled and tried everything under the sun too. Nothing worked!! ( It went on for about 7 months)I will tell you what did work in our case. The doctor said to completely quit talking about it!! (That means everyone) At that age they are trying to develop a sense of self and what they can control and what they can't. It had become a power struggle and he was in charge and he knew it. So we stopped talking about it completely. Also, we gave him a little liquid fiber (prescribed) from the doctor in his morning juice so there would be no more painful experiences. We gave him back the toys that had been taken away and told him to let us know when he felt that he was grown up enough to use the potty on his own. He was good with that. That went on for about 1 month. Then there was a toy he wanted really bad. A fairly expensive one. One that we would call a birthday or Santa gift. When we saw it at the store I told him that it was for children a little more grown up than him, and that when he was doing more grown up things that toy might be appropriate. He said that would be on Tuesday! (LOL everything was Tuesday at that time) I told him that I had an idea. I would go ahead and buy him the toy so that when he felt he was old enough to do the other more grown up boy things he would then be ready for that toy. He agreed. We took it home and we referred to it probably for about a week or so. It was unopened in the closet. Then one morning he came to me and asked for a pull up since he needed to go # 2. I told him - you know I have an idea- he asked what it was and I told him that I felt like he was beginning to a few things more grown up and I named one or two. I said you know I think that you might be ready for that toy if you felt like you were ready to use the potty. But, I told him that the decision was totally his and I handed him a pull-up. He left the room and I felt sure that he was going to use it. However, in about 5 mins he was calling me to the bathroom to show me that he had decided to use the potty. BOY did we celebrate!! He got the grown up toy and we have never looked back. I know this was a novel, but really there was a span of many months where I was in your position. Truthfully, the ball is in his court and you have to get it back in yours. Don't talk about it--- as hard as it will be, and it Will be!!! I hope that I have helped you. Good luck! Also, the worst thing that you can do is make the potty a negative thing!! I was an elementary teacher for years-POSITIVE is ALWAYS better. Good Luck! I promise he will get there when he is ready.



answers from Dallas on

Hi there!

Not saying I am a pro, because I am not. This is what I did with my son this past summer. He was 2 1/2 when I attempted potty training. What I did was I set a timer for 14 min. and every 14 I took him to the potty even if he did not have to go. (I know 14 min. but we tried every 15 min. and it just seemed that extra minute we were having accidents, so the time just depend on your child.) I just kept on giving him lots of fluids to help with the urge. We stayed home all weekend and did nothing by the 3rd day he was potty trained and telling us when he needed to go potty. Of course we had some accidents but by the 2nd week we were all good!!! of, course we are still not potty trained through out the night but at least through the day. I hope this helps!



answers from Killeen on

Hi C.,

Most likely, he is really involved in playing. If you see he is getting ready to switch an activity, MAKE HIM go to the bathroom first. Don't just suggest it. If you need to, go in there with him. He may not go every time, but it will get him into the process of realizing he can go before playing. If he's been playing something for a long time, let him know that he will be taking a potty break in 5 minutes (or whatever you determine). It will give him a heads up so he won't be so reluctant to stop playing.

Try a reward system. Tell him if he only wet 2 times today he will get a sticker or a cookie after dinner, whatever. And after a few days, make it no accidents to earn a sticker. Make a chart to show off how many times he goes to the bathroom without accidents.

DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP!! Kids do things that we have absolutely no control over. The fact that your asking for help here shows that you are a loving, caring mom, trying to provide the best for your baby. When children accomplish or fail something, it's not the parents accomplishment or failure. We are just the teachers and guides. So hang in there!

Best wishes,



answers from Austin on

It is really common for a child to make progress with potty training and then regress, it happened to my girl and most of my friends' kids (but is there anything more trying to our patience?!?! You work on staying calm, see progress, and then it disappears?!?! It's impossible not to feel upset, but it is an opportunity to see how sane you can stay ;0) Just keep going, and definitely what helped with my daughter was for me to let it go--which was REALLY hard to do. We just kept going with the panties, I grimaced and kept my mouth shut and cleaned up (if anyone said anything to her she'd have a setback), and she got tired of it and stopped having accidents. Trust me, when you're in the middle of it, you feel like it will NEVER end, but then suddenly it hits you that you haven't cleaned an accident in weeks, then months, and you appreciate how lovely that is! Best of luck and know that most of us go through this, too, so you're not alone!!!



answers from Houston on

I would consider having your son checked for a possible urinary bladder infection. OR I would consider stopping the asthma medication and see if this really may be the cause of the problem. If the medication can open the breathing passages, it may also cause the bladder's & rectum's sphincters to open too. He may not be able to have control over these like he should. So punishing him isn't the answer. I do think it's the medicine.



answers from Houston on

Since he is a boy, have you had your husband "show" him how its done. Make a game of it. You can actually buy targets that go in the potty. I havent heard of a boy yet that doesnt like to aim and fire.
And remember, one day he'll be 8 and you will have forgotten all about this. There are far worse things in the world than a little poop in the pants!!! You are not a failure.
Good Luck!!!



answers from Amarillo on

My son "leaked" a little pee in his pants all the time and had full blown peeing accidents several times a week until he was in Kindergarten. During the first week of kindergarten I took him to a urologist who discovered he was having bladder spasms causing him to leak urine and occasionally pee his pants when he couldn't get to the bathroom fast enough. He took some medicine to keep his bladder from spasming for about 2 years and then we took him off of it for a summer to see if he still needed it which he didn't. While on the medication he never leaked urine or had an accident at all! If you are really worried about your son and don't think it's just laziness I would suggest finding a urologist.

P.S. Another side effect my son had that I noticed during potty training until we got the medicine was that he would pee every 15-30 minutes all day long and would flood his pull up at night no matter how little or much he drank of anything, this was also due to the spasms not letting his bladder fill all the way up.



answers from San Antonio on

Couldn't read thru all the responses, but this is pretty typical w/ a newly trained kid. He may just be so absorbed and enjoying what he is doing to "bother" stopping to go to the potty.
The rewards chart is a great idea, as are the Cheerio targets. When you see he has been absorbed in play for a period of time, I'd have him go potty regardless of his answer (I wouldn't even ask, I'd just say it's time for potty) reassuring him he can get right back to playing as soon as he has gone potty. YOu can even set a timer during his play-"Oh, I hear the timer-time for potty!" You can keep extending the time if he is dry, or decreasing it if he is wet. He's old enough to reason w/. If the timer bothers him, tell him you can get rid of the timer as long as he stays dry. All info should be matter of fact-this is just the way it is. HTH




answers from Houston on

I am so glad that you posted this. I have been having the same problem with my 3 year old son. I went to school (daycare) to pick him up yesterday and he was walking around in a shirt and a pull-up because he had wet his pants at school. He also has asthma and we have been giving him breathing treatments regularly for a couple of weeks now which is when his sudden turn for the worst started. I never even thought about that being an issue. Thanks for bringing it up. I will check with his doctor to see what she thinks. Good luck!!!



answers from Dallas on


I know exactly how you feel. I have four kiddos. My first two were boys and my second two were girls. I had heard that girls were easier to potty train than boys, so having potty-trained my boys, I thought I had it made when it was time to potty train my daughter...Wrong! She did the exact same thing your son is doing and it was also always when she was playing. I was literally in tears over the situation.

Here are the key things that turned it around:

1) I explained to her that she's a big girl and when big girls make messes, they clean them up. Much like one of the recommendations you got earlier...have him change his underwear/clothes. He needs the inconvenience of making this mess and he's old enough to handle it.

2) Do not make it a battlefield. Don't make a big deal of it, but don't downplay it either. If your son is even the slightest bit strong willed, he may decide this is a battle he's prepared to take you out in. Again, like what was suggested earlier, just respond in an unemotional, matter-of-fact voice and let the consequences fall when they need to (natural consequences...not punishment...having to change his own clothes or clean up whatever mess he made).

3) For your own sanity, when it's crunch time and you know you cannot handle an accident at a strategic time or place that particular day, put a pull-up over his underwear. That way his clothes are protected from the accident, but he still feels the uncomfortable wetness and realizes that he had an accident again. And that way, too, you haven't completed reverted back to diapers.

4) The thing that finally turned this off for my daughter was the reward chart. I made a deal with her that if she kept her pants dry all day long, she got to put a star on the chart for that day. When she got five stars in a row, she got a special reward. That did it! She just wanted a little extra recognition for her efforts. I didn't even have to keep it up very long before she was through this phase.

Most importantly, don't stress. If nothing else gets you through it, just keep telling yourself..."He's not going to go to college still wetting his pants! It's going to be okay!"

Good luck!

~ J.


answers from Dallas on

You could put him back into diapers and try again in about a month if he really isn't going to the potty at all. It seems like taking a few steps back but it might be a good break for both of you for now. You really don't want it to become a major issue or things could take a really long time. Or you might want to let him wear his wet/dirty pants for a while and let him feel uncomfortable. I know it would be a drag but it might help him to be more aware of what he has done. (?)
Sometimes they also regress right before making a more forward in growing up. Please don't beat yourself or your son for this regression. It's part of growing up and you know he'll get it in time. I have a son that turned 3 in July and he is not fully potty trained yet. I'm in no hurry either. I didn't have ANY expatiations at all with him learning this skill. Most of the time he does great but can have some accidents while busy playing and I keep him in pull ups at night. He never seems to have problems with going poo in the potty but pee pee is another story. :)
Hang in there and try to give you both a break about it and things will smooth out. Even if you did nothing to scold him about it just your attitude says it all towards him.



answers from Austin on

Developmentally age 4 is a repeat age to age 2. They are parallel ages. So it is very normal for a child to regress. I definitely wouldn't feel like a failure. You should see similar temperment in him at 4 as he had in 2 as well. Whining, crying, etc. Just work through it similar to how he trained the first time. My son is now 4 and 1/2 and he has passed through that for the most part. Every once and a while he will have an accident and it is because he doesn't want to stop playing to go potty. It is very normal.



answers from Victoria on

So my son potty trained at a little over 3 years old. I took a friend's advice (which came from her pedi) and just LET GO of everything for a few days.

I basically treated an accident like it was nothing.

He would pee and I would say let's go change your underwear - you peed in them.

Monotone voice - got the underwear - put them in the laundry. As I put on new ones I would say - "Ok - next time you have to pee - tell momma and I will help you go potty. Now go play (or watch tv or whatever he was doing) and tell momma when you have to potty - ok?"

WAIT FOR HIS VERBAL RESPONSE TO THAT... ask really nice/monotone until he says ok.

Don't sound bored, just say it like you were saying "I love you, go play."

Basically - try not to hype it up or down in anyway. I went through exactly 3 days of this and ALL OF A SUDDEN he just went by himself!

I got him a stool to get up on the potty easier and a little potty insert for the potty. He wet himself for about a day and a half and then needed my help going to the potty for another couple days but after that - smooooooooooooooth sailing.

At night I just told him, "Come here - it's time to put on your night time underwear." I never called his pullup a diaper. I just said he has to wear special underwear at night like he wears special pajamas (we got him some special superman pjs with a cape).

After about 4 months (recently) he said he wasn't a baby and he wanted to wear real underwear at night. I told him when he woke up and his special night time underwear were dry we would let him wear real underwear.

We bought a $4 vinyl (plastic) cover for his mattress at Wal-Mart and let him sleep in undies. We have had a couple of accidents, but that only happened when he drank too much after 7 or so.

Anyways - basically just go outside - scream - and then let go of everyone and everything that is telling you otherwise and just think:

He will probably live to be about 80. So this time right now is such a tiny part of the grand scheme of things. He will pee and poo in the potty before he is 5 I am sure - and it may take some time - but when you just forget about forcing him to do something, it will work.

Just treat it like it is just something else he does. Like eating or playing. The moment he gets any attention he will keep aiming for that. When he DOES go - be REALLY happy about it and talk up how big a boy he is and how you are SOOOOOOOOO happy.

When he has an accident, really try to show no emotion whatsoever. If you try the every 15 min thing - don't force him.

I tried that and it set me back weeks. I was literally trying to potty train my son for a year. (We had a baby in between all that).

Anyway - make sure hubby is on the SAME PAGE. Just try it for a week - I promise you will not regret it. I had a few people (family - friends) making fun of me or saying I was babying my son using this method.

Well - I potty trained my kid in about a week and had lots of laundry. My son only needs help with wiping after he poos, and other than that is self sufficient.

Their kids are still having accidents, and they are pulling their hair out and living with pee and pee everywhere.

I was the same way - but once I literally just let go of all thee stress and frustration and dealt with the nasty undies - that few days just went by so fast. It will be a nasty time before he gets the hang of it - but in the long run, you will never remember this time like you think you will.

Any other questions - private message me. Hope this helps!!!

(sorry for the novel, haha)



answers from Wichita Falls on


Stop stressing. You might have him go potty every 10 - 15 minutes as he's playing, lay off anything with caffeine in it - and if it comes down to it, take him to the pediatrician. He may have a UTI or constipation - believe it or not - and he holds it until his attention is on something else.

My son turned 4 in July - he still has accidents. My 12 year old had accidents as late as 2nd grade - and wet the bed once or twice after he was 9.




answers from Amarillo on

I'm sorry to say I have absolutlely no advice about potty training tips to start with, bc both of mine were really hard to potty train. But if he has already been potty trained before and is approaching 4 yrs old, I think sitting down and asking him why he doesn't like using the potty could work. Maybe letting him know that you are not mad at him, but that it is very important for him to continue using the potty. He may not realize he is doing anything wrong. I do agree with not punishing kids over pottying bc that can be devastating. I think so far you are doing everything right, so don't be so hard on yourself. Maybe even try talking to his pediatrician. Good Luck!!



answers from Dallas on

C. -

I'm a working mommy - and my son turned 3 in July. He is still not fully potty trained - I'm like you...frustrated and having the sense of failure is common. BUT - don't do that to yourself!!! Everyone keeps telling me he'll do it when he's ready. Don't push him - or you will have problems.I'm not a pro at this - but I know I've been told don't punish him for accidents...just a little thought sharing here...



answers from Corpus Christi on

Whenever anyone asks about potty training I usually say ... try the Peter Potty. It worked for my son. He was not potty trained until he was 4 years old! But he really liked the flushing peter potty urinal and took to it right away! You can find it online and go to their website to see which stores carry them locally. :-)



answers from Amarillo on

Boy, if I didn't see your name as C., I would of thought it was my own thoughts and post. HA! Up until your asthma part, most moms would say it is just a boy thing and you really need not to punish yourself or your child. Someone wise told me...we don't punish them when they fall off a bike when learning how to ride them. We encourage them to get back on and keep on going. Then I read the part about the asthma. I know your pediatrician and research say nothing about asthma affecting potty training...but I don't think that is true. When my son was 3 and started the asthma treatments (and we still use them) he started having the same problems. If you think about it, they are steroids. After the nebulizer he is jumping around jittery and goes a hundred miles an hour. I figure if he is so jittery, he must not be able to feel his full bladder. We went through 2 years of this and now since he is on inhalers and we don't use them as much, he is getting much better about his pottying. I remember leaving a MOPS meeting in tears because he was wet from the button of his jeans to the tips of his shoes. It was miserable and absolutely frustrating. Just remember they don't want to disappoint you, so it isn't intentional. He will get past it. Keep encouraging him is all you can do. It is NO reflection on how you potty trained him. You did a fine job of that.
Good Luck,




answers from Dallas on

Has you son been completly potty trained for a long period of time--a month three months? Usually when a child does something like this it is a sign of a change in their life, but if he was not completly potty trained and he was haveing a few accidents it is not uncommon for them to do this.

I would not punish. I would just make a stringent schedule about taking him every hour and following through everytime. Using pull ups usually make things worse, so I would not do this. It sounds like you don't. Just hang in there and reassure him as well he know what it feels like when he has to go and that he can do it.
Things will get better.

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