What to do about a stubborn 3 year old who won't use the potty?


#1

I know there are a lot of parents on here and these forums are always very helpful. So even though it's not a direct religious topic, I figure I can ask here because my wife and I could really use some suggestions.

Our son recently turned 3 and we're trying to get him fully potty trained by the time he's 4 next October. I think this is highly possible due to the fact that he's firmly grasped the concept of letting you know when he has to use the potty, he does # 1 without even telling him to do so, and recently he's learned how to do #1 standing up. But...the problem of course as expected...is getting him to do #2. He just doesn't want to do # 2 and it is becoming so incredibly frustrating trying to get him to do so.

When he turned 2 we potty trained him off and on for about 5-6 months and then we stuck to it firmly until he turned 3. And our efforts have been succesful in terms of getting him to do #1. But no matter what we try he just does not want to do #2. Everything from rewarding him everytime he uses the potty, promising to reward him if he does #2 with either his favorite treat or a gift, restricting the use of toys and watching his favorite tv shows if he doesn't do #2, even (and I feel terrible for it) spanking him when he does #2 in his pull-up or when he refuses to do #2 and stays on the potty for extended periods of time without doing anything.

I keep praying about this so the Lord will give me the strength, the wisdom, and patience to deal with this. But it's starting to get really really frustrating and I find myself being rather harsh on him when he doesn't go to the potty and I hate feeling like that. I don't want my son to hate me for being so strict with the potty use becase I love him with all my heart and soul. But at the same time, what can I do when he refuses to go and he knows he's supposed to? While we were away on vacation recently and he stayed with his grand-aunt, she had no problems whatsoever getting him to do both #1 and #2 completly on his own. But with us, he refuses to do it and just stays on the potty and does nothing but cry. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.


#2

My son did the same thing-- refusing to do #2 until his night-time pullup was on. Sometimes he'd get desperate and ask for a pullup in the middle of the day. lol We tried bribing him a lot with rewards, but that really didn't work. Then one day, he just matured and figured out it was time to use the potty all the time. Don't worry, all children eventually get fully potty-trained... some just take longer than others.


#3

the first thing to do is back off and stop making this a battleground issue, which is escalating and soon will become a major problem.

go back to pullups and let him decided when and how often he will use the potty. you can also buy a stool and tell him that he is welcome to use the big boy toilet whenever he wants, if that is is choice. then shut up about it. my bet is as soon as the mutual manipulation ceases he will decide on his own when his comfort level is affected and no longer has the satisfaction of frustrating his parents.

yes expensive but better than what is going on now

in the meantime get some parenting and discipline help from an expert like Ray Guarendi who is tops in my book, because if this has been allowed to be such an issue you are poised for bigger harder battles on food and other fronts until you get your parenting act together–as in, in sync with both parents in accord


#4

We struggled with our youngest daughter with this issue until she was 31/2 yrs old. Finally, I went and bought a beautiful packet of princess underwear, and she was informed that diapers were no longer to be an option. It was either soil the pretty princess underwear, or poop in the potty. After only one partially sullied pair of Tinker Bell undies, it was her decision to begin pooping in the potty, and it has been that way ever since.

I must also say that she has gained a great deal of self-assurance from the breakthrough, and now never fails to invite any and all to view her nicely deposited droppings.


#5

My advice is to relax and take a step back. This is not something that you want to turn into more of a power struggle than it already is. Both of my boys took their time with the potty. It isn't a big deal. Avoid the temptation to compare your child to others. We have all heard of potty prodigies who are completely trained at 14 months or something. It has nothing to do with how smart your child is. My 5 year old son could read and count to 1000 before he would use the potty regularly. He just didn't care. If you are feeling that frustrated and impatient over this, I'm afraid you are stetting yourself up for power struggles for years to come. You have to pick your battles as a parent and this is one you don't want to pick. It sounds like it could really effect your relationship with your son.

The simple fact is that where they go to the bathroom is up to them. Kids don't respond to deadlines. What worked for me is that when he did number 2 in his underwear I had him help clean up, but said nothing and kept a neutral expresson. ( inside my head, of course, I was thinking "oh not again!") When he made a good choice and used the potty, I danced around, clapped and made a big deal. It didn't take him long to realize that going in the potty got him attention and hugs, so he started making the right choice.

Relax. Like the other poster said, they all learn eventually. Even the stubborn ones.:)


#6

definitely back off of the intensity. Kids pick up your vibes and will either escalate confrontation or shut down.

I stopped using the diapers and pull ups and put my son in underpants. Wearing messy underwear is very uncomfortable. Potty trained real quick once the comfort level of diapers disappeared.:p


#7

My wife and I struggled with this issue with our son. He's a great kid. I love him more than anything. You should also know that he's got a pretty strong case of ADHD for which he is medicated. I wasn't crazy about using drugs, but believe me without it our lives were a complete mess. But I digress. I only mention this because our situation is quite different. He's 7 now and only started going #1 in the potty consistently about three or four months ago. He was 4, I think, before he would use the potty for either on an intermittent basis. My wife and I were somewhat split on how to handle the issue. She was more of the back-off, it'll run it's course type. I was more of the carrots and sticks type. I'll tell you niether approach yielded any results. Still, I felt because of our other two children, we couldn't set a different standard. It sends a very bad message. We finally resorted to "grounding" him for longer and longer periods of time. Grounding in our household basically means losing TV, Computer, electronic games, privileges. Sometimes one or the other and other times all dependening on the severity of the offense. I can't say it worked. He's a stubborn little cuss. Gets it from his Mom;) Then, finally, he just stopped. We tried to not mention it for a few weeks. then after a month and a half or so, I asked him about it and he said he just doesn't do that anymore. We have been careful to praise him profusely and make sure he knows how much we appreciate it. I don't regret any of our actions or back and forth. I'm just glad we got past it. BTW, he had an accident at his day camp just the other day. He was trying to tell the counselor that he needed to go and got ignored. When I arrived, he was sheepish and I could tell he thought he might get punished. I asked what happened and he told me the story which I had already heard from the counselor. He asked me if he was in trouble. I told him no. Accidents happen. He did what he wa supposed to do and he owned up to it. He thanked me and went on his way. I was moved to tears. He's a good boy. Always was.


#8

I'm not a mother of a living child (yet), but from advice I've heard from women in my family is -

1 don't make it a power struggle. From the very fact that you're using the word "stubborn", it's probably a power struggle. Emotionally ignore the accidents and praise the good efforts (as a previous poster put it so well).

2 get rid of diapers/pull-ups/whatever. Put him in underwear. Do not allow him any comfort zone with this. He needs to be uncomfortable when he has an accident so he'll have self-motivation to correct his behavior.


#9

This is really common. A lot of kids seem to go off to be alone for #2, and I suspect that being on the potty, with other people around, may just seem really psychologically uncomfortable to them. They want to go hide it in the bushes, figuratively speaking.

And remember that from his POV, there seems to be no real advantage to the toilet. It is just strange and weird.

With my oldest, she used the toilet rather than a pot, so I couldn't move it to a place she preferred. But if your son has a spot he goes to, maybe try moving the pot there.

I also tried getting princess underwear, but it was only partially successful, so I decided to give a carrot as well as a stick - I told her for her first poop in the potty I would get an ice-cream cake. My feeling was that if she tried the toilet for #2 a few times, she would see the advantages and the weirdness would wear off. And it worked pretty well - it took five days after the promise, but we talked about it every time and she was excited.

If you follow this, I'd use something he likes but that you can give him more than one of - I found it took about three #2s in the toilet before she got the hang of it.


#10

I have one tip to add. My son's developmental ped suggested that we make him take ownership of cleaning up his mess (we also did the new underwear in a character he liked). His aversion to having to clean up his mess--we explained the concept in a loving way--did the trick.

Potty training is tough--no getting around it.


#11

PS to Big Rio...GO IRISH.

Class of 1990 with an 8 year old future Domer!


#12

[quote="puzzleannie, post:3, topic:224058"]
the first thing to do is back off and stop making this a battleground issue, which is escalating and soon will become a major problem.

go back to pullups and let him decided when and how often he will use the potty. you can also buy a stool and tell him that he is welcome to use the big boy toilet whenever he wants, if that is is choice. then shut up about it. my bet is as soon as the mutual manipulation ceases he will decide on his own when his comfort level is affected and no longer has the satisfaction of frustrating his parents.

yes expensive but better than what is going on now

in the meantime get some parenting and discipline help from an expert like Ray Guarendi who is tops in my book, because if this has been allowed to be such an issue you are poised for bigger harder battles on food and other fronts until you get your parenting act together--as in, in sync with both parents in accord

[/quote]

I absolutely agree with this. He is not the one making this into a battle ground you are. This is not a hill worth dying on. Back off and take it at his pace.

Most boys don't potty train until they are 3 anyway, so your son is just fine in that department.

You say he willingly went on the potty for you aunt but refuses to go for you. What did she do that you are not doing? I'll bet it's the fact that she didn't make this into a big issue. Let it go and let him decide when he needs to go and when he doesn't. Keep the potty available and pull ups as well.


#13

I agree with those who are saying, "Back off."

I realize that if the boy is supposed to be potty-trained before going into a certain pre-school, there is a lot of pressure to get this done. But perhaps it's just not going to work.

My sister-in-law has three boys, and they weren't trained until they were 5, just a few days before they entered kindergarten.


#14

[quote="pacoenelsaco, post:1, topic:224058"]
I know there are a lot of parents on here and these forums are always very helpful. So even though it's not a direct religious topic, I figure I can ask here because my wife and I could really use some suggestions.

Our son recently turned 3 and we're trying to get him fully potty trained by the time he's 4 next October. I think this is highly possible due to the fact that he's firmly grasped the concept of letting you know when he has to use the potty, he does # 1 without even telling him to do so, and recently he's learned how to do #1 standing up. But...the problem of course as expected...is getting him to do #2. He just doesn't want to do # 2 and it is becoming so incredibly frustrating trying to get him to do so.

When he turned 2 we potty trained him off and on for about 5-6 months and then we stuck to it firmly until he turned 3. And our efforts have been succesful in terms of getting him to do #1. But no matter what we try he just does not want to do #2. Everything from rewarding him everytime he uses the potty, promising to reward him if he does #2 with either his favorite treat or a gift, restricting the use of toys and watching his favorite tv shows if he doesn't do #2, even (and I feel terrible for it) spanking him when he does #2 in his pull-up or when he refuses to do #2 and stays on the potty for extended periods of time without doing anything.

I keep praying about this so the Lord will give me the strength, the wisdom, and patience to deal with this. But it's starting to get really really frustrating and I find myself being rather harsh on him when he doesn't go to the potty and I hate feeling like that. I don't want my son to hate me for being so strict with the potty use becase I love him with all my heart and soul. But at the same time, what can I do when he refuses to go and he knows he's supposed to? While we were away on vacation recently and he stayed with his grand-aunt, she had no problems whatsoever getting him to do both #1 and #2 completly on his own. But with us, he refuses to do it and just stays on the potty and does nothing but cry. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

[/quote]

I could have written that post. My 2nd son was exactly the same way - would go pee but not poo in the toilet. SO frustrating! I was getting really upset with him, it just seemed so silly!

You have got to get out of the power struggle. What broke the spell for us? Well, he was in day care part time. He would hold out and hold out and he hadn't had a BM in a couple of days. He went to school, and he just couldn't hold it any more, and he went in the toilet at school. I was not there for him to fight against, and so the pressure :D was able to be relieved.

Can your aunt come for a weekend? And you and your wife go away for a nice romantic interlude? Betcha he would be happily pooping in the toilet when you got back!

:thumbsup:


#15

This can be so difficult. My son was also very difficult to fully potty train. What finally worked for us is getting rid of the pull-ups and diapers completely. We bought him some Buzz Lightyear undies and told him that he was a big boy and needed to use the toilet from now on because there were no more diapers. It took a few days of soiling his underwear, but he eventually learned. He was in charge of cleaning up his messes, too. So he would have to rinse out his undies, and he hated having to do that. When he would complain that it was yucky, we'd just say something like, "yes, it's very yucky. You wouldn't have to rinse them out like this if you would poo in the toilet next time, though. I don't like cleaning this up, either, that's why Mommy and Daddy use the toilet."

Our son also did a lot better for some reason if we let him use the master bathroom. For some reason, he didn't like the other one. If he thought the master bathroom was "cool" or whatever, it was worth it to get him to use the toilet. Now that he's good and trained, he doesn't use the master bathroom anymore, he uses the other one.

Our son wasn't fully trained until after his fourth birthday. It just didn't click until then. But once he got it, he's been great!


#16

[quote="pacoenelsaco, post:1, topic:224058"]
I know there are a lot of parents on here and these forums are always very helpful. So even though it's not a direct religious topic, I figure I can ask here because my wife and I could really use some suggestions.

Our son recently turned 3 and we're trying to get him fully potty trained by the time he's 4 next October. A LOT can be accomplished in a FULL YEAR! Especially at his age. So, I wouldn't freak out. I think this is highly possible due to the fact that he's firmly grasped the concept of letting you know when he has to use the potty, he does # 1 without even telling him to do so, and recently he's learned how to do #1 standing up. But...the problem of course as expected...is getting him to do #2. He just doesn't want to do # 2 and it is becoming so incredibly frustrating trying to get him to do so. Entirely possible he went #2 on the toilet and it hurt. He thinks the toilet made it hurt. VERY COMMON. Also LOTS of kids to this. It's a lot to deal with.

When he turned 2 we potty trained him off and on for about 5-6 months and then we stuck to it firmly until he turned 3.The fact that it took 5-6 months indicates that your child was not ready. When they are ready, it basically happens in a week, with a few accidents. And our efforts have been succesful in terms of getting him to do #1. But no matter what we try he just does not want to do #2. Everything from rewarding him everytime he uses the potty, promising to reward him if he does #2 with either his favorite treat or a gift, restricting the use of toys and watching his favorite tv shows if he doesn't do #2, even (and I feel terrible for it) spanking him when he does #2 in his pull-up or when he refuses to do #2 and stays on the potty for extended periods of time without doing anything. If he can hold it. Even if he needs to be trianed for pre school, he's going to hold it there too. He's FINE! And you're making WAY to big a deal out of this (mom of twin boys here... both potty trained within a few weeks at age 3 with accidents, and very few accidents by 3.5 There are only very occassional situations where a child is NEVER potty trained. And I gather it's from the created battlefield. They learned to hold it until they couldn't possibly. So, I wonder why he's in a pull up? Because he might potty? Time to switch. Go straight to underpants. If he has an accident... it's UH OH... poop goes in the potty. Let's put it there. Then you both walk to the bathroom take off the undies, Dump the poop in the toilet. And clean up. He can help clean up his messes elsewhere too.

Shaming a child over accidents or not going on your schedule invites some long term issues. If they can't even make a mistake with biological needs, they certainly learn they can't make a mistake that just takes judgement. Punishment for failure creates a child afraid to fail... and a child afraid to try.

I keep praying about this so the Lord will give me the strength, the wisdom, and patience to deal with this. But it's starting to get really really frustrating and I find myself being rather harsh on him when he doesn't go to the potty and I hate feeling like that. I don't want my son to hate me for being so strict with the potty use becase I love him with all my heart and soul. But at the same time, what can I do when he refuses to go and he knows he's supposed to? Then he wets himself, and sits nice and uncomfy until it can be dealt with. Just like the rest of us. What happens if you fail to go and are then on the road? You can't honestly say you've NEVER been somewhere when you really had to go??? Right? While we were away on vacation recently and he stayed with his grand-auntProbably 'cause she was mellow about it. No pressure., she had no problems whatsoever getting him to do both #1 and #2 completly on his own. But with us, he refuses to do it and just stays on the potty and does nothing but cry. consider this practice for everything you want him to do in the future. You really don't want to teach this child to hold his own against your will on EVERYTHING do you? He should actually be in control of his own body. And he should KNOW that he should be in control of his own body. So that others don't try to take control over it. Or he refuses to take control later. It may seem silly, but think about hitting for example. You will always be there to tell him not to hit? He will learn not to hit, and then who will MAKE him not hit others? And if he does, and you're not there, then he gets a lesson... right? Perhaps someone hits him back. It's uncomfy... it hurts, and he LEARNS... Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

[/quote]


#17

My daughter's pediatrician (who has young kids of his own) told her to get rid of the pull-ups. He called them "pants you can poop In".:D

Dear grandaughter broke fairly fast after she was put into regular underwear and had to experience the discomfort and yuckiness of pooped in panties. However,when my son was young I did this and he didn't care. He just sort of did his own thing and stopped going in his pants on his own. Maybe boys aren't as particular about those things:shrug: In any case, he will learn to go before he starts school.

But I agree, don't make it a battle. You will always lose.


#18

[quote="CB_Catholic, post:17, topic:224058"]

But I agree, don't make it a battle. You will always lose.

[/quote]

Yup. THis is pretty much true of any bodily function. Better not to create battles around them.

Although I haven't done it, I've come to the conclusion that EC is probably the way to go. Kids that never get used to a diaper seem to train to the potty really fast.


#19

Thank you all so much for you're replies and support.

In regards to him pooping around his Grand Aunt but not around us, I don't think it was for the fact that she wasn't putting pressure on him. I think it was just the fact that he's not used to being around her and her husband so much and so that kind of intimidated him a little bit. She said that while he was there, she could tell that he was trying to poop in his pull up so all she did was tell him to go to the potty or else and he ran to the bathroom and did it in the potty. From that point on while he was there, she didn't have to do anything. He went all on his own. So that was part of the reason as to why recently we felt like we had to force him to go. Because we figured if he could do it just fine over there, then there's no reason he couldn't do it with us and he was just trying to be sneaky about it. And also, the only reason my wife didn't want to put him in undies at night is because she knows that if he goes to sleep and pees and poops in his undies, he may get rashes and she doesn't want him to be in pain.

Either way, last night I told her about everything that was suggested here and we both agreed to not put so much pressure on him and just let nature take it's course. Ironically right after we agreed to doing that...our son did # 2 in the toilet, lol. He had been holding it in all day Monday and didn't poop that night in his pull-up either. So we knew yesterday he was going to poop at one point. So we kept him in undies all day long and we noticed that he kept passing gas around us. So finally we put him on the toilet, gave him a toy to occupy himself, and sat down on the couch not to far off. We noticed after a while that he stopped playing with the toy and kept making some grunting sounds. All the while, he kept covering his eyes with his hands. I had heard about kids doing that when they poop so we figured he was actually pooping. After a while he got off, we went to inspect and sure enough, he did it.

I can't explain how overjoyed we were :D We ran up to him, scooped him up, kissed him, embraced him, told him that he did great job and that we were so proud of him, and we let him play with his toys and gave him a few treats. Here's to hoping he sticks to it, lol.


#20

I wouldn't worry about night time accidents until you have the day time solidly in place. So you could still give him a pull up at night. A lot of kids don't really wake up well enough to tell someone they need to go. Also, if he stops trying to hold in bowel movements in the day you may find he doesn't have them at night - it is actually somewhat unusual to have one in the night.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.