Outsmarted, Parenting Gone Awry, Potty Training

The Negotiator

We got a letter from the pre-school last week stating that all three-year-olds must be potty trained in order to attend school in the fall.  This fall – the one that arrives in two weeks according to the school calendar.  Which is still summer.  Remember the good old days when fall had something to do with the Gregorian calendar and leaves falling, blah blah old lady rant blah?


They do not indicate if they will refund our deposit if we are unable to meet their stupid arbitrary deadline.  But I’m guessing not.


The pressure to potty train, it’s just so… not helpful for my own intestinal issues.


Nonetheless, we’ve made a little progress on that front. We have had some measure of success. We still have a ways to go, if you will — or even if you won’t — but we are working on it.  At this point, it’s a matter of will, not skill – a will that makes iron look like warm butter.


Many times a day, I enthusiastically enumerate to Sean the many benefits and privileges of wearing big boy undies.  And I sound as though I am trying to sell him an annuity or something equally useless.  If I were calling myself on the phone with this fabulous offer, I would hang up on me. Really.


The stupid arbitrary deadline has turned me into some sort of slimy incentive-wielding used car salesman.  Whereas normally, I’m not that slimy.  Oh the depths to which I have stooped in the name of potty training.  There is nothing that I have not promised that boy in the last week.  The incentives have increased from gummy bears and plastic dollar store crud to a bicycle.  But apparently, even at that, I wasn’t aiming high enough.


This morning, when I gave him the “poo poo on the potty” pep talk and promised him the moon and the bicycle of his choice, he listened intently and like a little executive, he nodded slightly while making a little church steeple out of his hands.  “Well, I want to be in charge of the world and drive the car,” he countered. And then he walked away from the bargaining table. “What’s it gonna take to put you in these big boy undies today?” I called after him.


On the other hand, he may be 16 by the time I get him potty trained, so handing over the keys to the car shouldn’t be a problem.

81 thoughts on “The Negotiator

  1. My kids went for “CANDY”, “LOTS of CANDY!”

    I tried M&Ms like my sister, but the mini or bite-size candy bars were the big hit. They loved to pick out their favorite from the jar after each trip to the potty. My husband also told me to let them go pee in the backyard. I think they managed to christen every fence panel on the property, but it made potty time fun. Get dad to show him how its done. Also make a HUGE deal out of telling EVERYONE in the store, on the street, call family on the phone, or whatever it takes to make them a celebrity for their success.

  2. I understand 100%. My preschool has the same policy. And I’m not against bribery in the LEAST! I’d say the instant prizes are the best, and candy has worked here. BUt I gotta tell you that my son took the longest. And I also firmly believe although we can promise the kids the moon, they aren’t really gonna get this whole potty training thing until they are ready. And my son took until he was FIVE to get it down consistently.

    My first daughter just picked it up and ran. My baby, who will be 3 in a few weeks, has just started, but she clearly rules her own waste. Sigh.

    I wish you well.

  3. I feel for you. We had the same situation, and as you know, my child doesn’t do anything unless HE decides it’s a good idea. We made it, just barely. And he still had accidents occasionally. Thankfully, his teacher was incredibly understanding.

    For us, Thomas The Tank Engine helped a lot. Thomas doesn’t like being peed on, you see.

    Best of luck to you and try not to stress about it. The more they perceive you want them to do it, the less inclined they are to cooperate. Oh wait…that’s only my kid.

  4. My daughter KNOWS what rewards are available, but right now they’re just not as important to her as going in her diaper.

    Maybe you could send him to preschol in big-boy undies, then when he has problems, claim he’s been trained for months, it must be their fault?

  5. I know so many of us Moms have been there….I was so frustrated with my youngest and had resorted to high dollar bribery with little to no success. Bicycles, Barbie Houses, you name it…it didn’t seem to matter.

    However, one day we were driving past a small church with a small kiddie playground on it. She was so enamored with that playground and I told her that her school would have one even better but that she would not be able to go if she didn’t start going to the potty.

    And at that moment from the backseat, the “negotiator” in our family seized the moment and raised the white flag. Can you believe that was our breakthrough moment? I was stunned!

  6. Hide the diapers/pullups. My son turned three this past June and refused to go potty if he was wearing a pullup. It wasn’t until he was in the underwears that he hated being wet. In the pullup, when he peed, the wet feeling didn’t last, but he absolutely HATED that wet cloth of the undies.

    Maybe you could have a bye-bye diaper party with silly songs and toss them all?? I remember someone doing that with bottles or sippy cups or pacifiers or something…

    Or let him pick out his own underwear at the store?

  7. Okay, as the mother of several boys, I feel I am an expert here. So here’s the scoop: it is still summer! YAY! Let your son play outside as much as possible, and yes! Let your husband show him to pee on the plants. Tell him there is nothing that plants love and need so much as little boy pee. Put your son in easy-to-remove longish pants, with or without easy-to-remove undies. If he wets his long pants, it will soon feel cold and stinky against his legs, and he will probably (hopefully?) not like that. Put a potty outside too, for pooping. No paddling pool or hose play. Reduce bribery to an evening “wow, you did well today” icecream sundae or something. Get whipped cream. Try not to make it seem like your life depends on his pooping and peeing, because in my experience, huh. Hint: those swimming trunks, the ones that dry really quickly? We call them “baggies”? If a boy wears thick absorbent training pants with those over them, there is very little leakage. I don’t know why! Maybe they cannot wick wetness out? So if you are going out, put those on. Or if you will be indoors with carpets at all. He will feel wet, and hopefully will not like it. Say to him, “now that you are a big boy…” and DO NOT put a diaper on him in the day, ever again. Tell him you only have special night-time ones for big boys. (get different ones!) This all sounds drastic, when I read over, but school starts WHEN? You gotta be drastic now! When you drop him to school, look them in the eye, and say “oh yes, he is potty trained. Isn’t summer wonderful?” He will want to be like all the other kids, and they will be reminding the kids regularly to go. Most of them will have accidents anyway, so DON’T PANIC! I really hope you get through okay. Don’t give him a choice. Just give the impression that “you are now potty trained” and let him live up to that. How about adding a big-boy thing to his day now, like 10 minutes later bedtime? Or a new bedtime story? Let “Santa” phone him and talk about the bike for Christmas. What colour, etc. Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

  8. Then there are those of us who conceid and have to home school because are 5yo’s are still wet more often then not.

    (OK — I’m kidding…) But you know… I’m thinking WHEW… I would have no fingernails left if I was under that sort of pressure!! YIKES!!

    So sorry to hear of it.

  9. We pushed and pushed and pushed our older kids at 2 to toilet train – and they still were three before they did. In fact, both of them absolutely refused to have anything to do with our training efforts and then trained themselves completely over a couple of days.
    If Sean isn’t ready, he’s just not ready – bladder maturity plays a BIG role in these things, and if he doesn’t have a mature bladder, than you can’t rush him.
    My grandma, for the record, trained all of her kids by sitting them on the potty and giving them lots of orange pop.

  10. I am there with you right now. My son absolutely refuses to go to the potty. He also refuses to wear nappies. Not a happy combination (for me).

  11. We have an iron fence in our backyard that backs up to a jogging trail. Having AD show the boy how to pee in the backyard is probably not that great of an idea. We don’t really need to give the neighbors another reason to avoid us!

  12. I think it’s such a shame that many schools / nurseries / kindergartens etc won’t take kids until they are trained completely. My son’s nursery takes children in nappies & is not fazed at all by nappies or by accidents but this seems to be in the minority.
    Boys are known to take longer & have more difficulty in potty training & for them to have to miss school because their bladder control isn’t at the required level fills me with disgust.
    When will schools, doctors & governments wise up to the fact that all kids are different & that nappies or accidents are no big deal

  13. We started at skittles and ended at a convertible corvette!

    Thank goodness they have forgotten the rash promises made to them when they were three!

    Good luck!

  14. Boys are much more difficult to train. My second son was 3 before we were completely potty trained. We struggled for a long time and it was his strong will that kept us from success not a physical maturity issue. A friend suggested something unthinkable, but it worked. One day I made him actually wear the poo and pee in his pants for 30 minutes after discovery. It was a horrible day and there was a lot of crying and being pitiful and that was just me. But oddly enough after a day of living in the poo and pee, he decided “Hey the potty thing ain’t lookin’ too bad! So a very bad day was followed by wonderful days.

  15. I seriously thought I would have a nervous breakdown when I was potty training the twins. The candy didn’t work for them, but I gained five pounds eating M & Ms by the fistfull. I ended up buying them a new Thomas Train every time they pooped. It sounds so crazy now, but at the time, I was desperate.

    I remember going to the movies by myself on a Friday night. My husband had been traveling all week, and I’d been in the bathroom “Potty Training in a Day.” (Um. Right.) I cried as I looked around at all the people and was strangely encouraged by the thought that to the best of my knowledge, each of them now use the toilet successfully.

    And now my boys do.

    Good luck!

  16. Our son is almost 9 now but I remember the pressure to get him potty trained. His preschool wanted them potty trained but he wasn’t 100% so we just used pullups while he was at school. He never had an accident but they were willing to take him with the pullups. We had trouble getting him motivated too. We still have motivation problems in other areas. He loved HotWheels so we decided to create a chart. He got a sticker every time he at least tried to use the potty and after 10 stickers he got a HotWheels car. This was the trick for us. He loved those cars that much that he was willing to “work” for them. As you can see by all of the comments here many people have struggled with what you are going through. It’s a very frustrating time. Just hang in there and know that it will happen. Unfortunately it is usually on their time not ours though. 🙂

  17. I blogged about the early days of our potty training, and refer to it as “potty training boot camp” — but 2 months later, I’m shocked at really how easily it’s gone. Last week a switch in my little guy’s head flipped, and he began to prefer to use the potty and REQUESTS TO, which I wasn’t quite ready for somehow. We, too, are up against the Labor Day Deadline, but after talking to our preschool director, she says that really, they’re used to some “backsliding,” which I think is code for “kids who weren’t really ready yet but we let ’em sneak in anyhow” and just instructed me to bring changes of clothes. The peer pressure, uh, I mean role modeling of the other kids using the potty, she tells me, will bridge any final gap to diaper independence.

    Strangely, I think I’m going to miss picking his 40 pound tuchus up by the feet to slide a diaper under him. So bittersweet, watching them grow up in a way that in retrospect seems faster than it really even did when it was happening, which felt fast all on its own.

  18. My DS also had to be trained to meet the deadline. The preschool teacher (whom later became one of our dearest family friends) explained that their definition of “Potty Trained” was different than most people think. She said…..as long as they wear underwear and bring extras and extra clothes….that is good enough. When a child had an accident, a teacher would take the child into the rest room and have the child remove the clothes and put them in a plastic bag, they would have the child try to potty some more, then have the child put on the clean dry ones, and the child had to carry the wet stuff out to the car at pick up time. Peer pressure, and a “can do” ( or doo doo! ha ha ha) attitude usually finished the potty training. The most important thing was she asked that we not put diapers or pull ups back on at home. This truly worked for us. Hints…..underwear that is a size or 2 bigger, shorts or pants with elastic waist, no zips or buttons or snaps and that are a little big. I did the candy bribe with some success. I never told him….you HAVE to do this in order to go to “Big Boy School”, because he didn’t want to go to Big Boy School!!!!!!! I never associated the 2 together.

  19. Pressure….never helpful for mom or tot when potty training. It seemed like the more determined I became the more against it my 3 and a half year old son became. We discovered that if he was unclothed (as a jaybird mind you) that he would always go on the potty. There is something unnerving about not having a place for your deposits to land. I later read the book, how to potty train in 24 hours and saw it on Dr. Phil, and the author swore by the book. Now he is ten and I can’t believe I just let him run around like a streaker, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

  20. Love it! Been there, done that,…….will be doing it again in about a year (not looking forward to it).
    I wouldn’t be surprised if he is one day in charge of the the world, or driving the car before the age of 16.
    He is priceless, indeed.

  21. I’m right there with you. My three-year-old only wants to use the potty when I am trying to give him a bath, and then he wants to run from the tub to the toilet 5000 times and leave paths of water all over the floor. The rest of the time, he tells me that he “can’t get his pee pee to come out”. Sigh.

  22. Our potty training consisted of me putting big girl underwear on my daughter and playing outside for most of the day. The potty chair and a roll of toilet paper took its place on our deck. If she made it to the potty chair on Monday she got green M&M’s, Tuesday was red, and so forth. She looked forward to finding out what color the next day would be. She didn’t look forward to those occasionaly accidents in her underwear. I admit I wouldn’t take her out of them quickly so she could feel how yucky it was.

    Took us that one week and she was potty trained. Summer is a good time for potty training. This wouldn’t have been so easy inside.

    Good luck!

  23. Peer pressure will help lots. As a preschool teacher, understand that with 18 kids in a class, there is not time to attend to mistakes. Also, there is so much fuss about inppropriate touching, this could give some parents plenty to get upset about. It’s a tough line to walk. But when he sees all the other boys going to the potty…he will want to go, too. At our school, when there is an accident…the parent has to come and do the ‘clean-up’. As the mother of 3 boys, this I know…when they WANT to do it…they will. Good Luck!

  24. I was just about to ask how your jogging neighbors would like being greeted with a little boy who seemed to be flashing them, but I see you already brought that up.

    Have you offered real estate? Power of attorney? A smallish island perhaps?

    Sorry. A year or two from now this will be so far behind you, but I know that doesn’t help now.

  25. Oh good luck with that! I think those deadlines are ridiculous myselft!

    We’re kind of sort of training our 2 1/2 year old. We’re not serious enough about it yet so neither is he.

    When he goes poop or pee in the potty, he gets a stamp on each hand. He LOVES stamps!

    So, I have a favor to ask, please stop over and offer your input for my “Name That Business” contest, will you? I need help! 🙂


  26. I have no wonderful words of wisdom for you…just empathy from one mom to another. I know how you feel, but you WILL get through this and maybe even someday you’ll look back on this experience and laugh.

  27. This happened to someone I know. She had about a week to potty train her son. They adopted a “tinkling in the backyard is now socially acceptable” rule. Not sure how that translated into peeps in the potty, but it did. I think it made the whole process more fun to be able to do something so inappropriate. 😉 After he got used to recognizing the need to go when playing outside I guess it wasn’t a big leap between the hedges and the powder room…

    GOOD LUCK to you! I’m not looking forward to this little phase when our 14 month old hits it…

  28. Oh, I have nothing but the greatest of sympathies. I blogged about how we trained Leela at 2.5 — We got rid of diapers and went straight to underwear — no turning back no matter what. The first few days were absolute hell, we lived in the bathroom, but lo and behold, it worked. Preschools put way too much pressure on 3-year olds to be potty-trained. It’s ridiculous.

  29. Ahhh, little boys. Sometimes I wonder if my 34 year old is potty trained. Yeeesshhhh.
    You have gotten some really good advice and I hope you find one that works for you quickly!

  30. I was thinking about one of those old-fashioned charts with gold stars, but looks like somebody already suggested that, only with stickers which is probably even better. I don’t know, but I think kids like working for a goal and watching the stickers/stars mount up on the chart, knowing that when they reach a certain amount they will get such-and-such reward.

    That said, I agree with others that it is very unfair of the school to demand that all 3-year olds be perfectly potty trained in accordance with their school calendar.

  31. Potty training…. shudder, shudder.

    Does he HAVE to go to 3 yr old school? Just wanted to throw that out there as a possibility, if he really isn’t ready.

    And we did all of the above suggestions with my first. He didn’t care about the stickers or stamps, toys got repetitive and he had “enough” after a few, he didn’t care about being wet or pooy, charts were not exciting, etc. The thing that worked?

    Time. He just had to be ready. And it only took 2 years…

  32. Ok…this is silly but it worked for my son:
    1. his grandparents paid him pennies each time he went.
    2. he found it quite amazing he made bubbles in the potty.
    3. he then found it quite amazing he made circles (when the peepee spins around) in the potty.
    4. he HATES poo in his underwear.

    This worked for us????

  33. PS…I totally agree with everyone that is saying it is ridiculous to expect a 3 year old to be potty-trained…especially, especially, did I say especially boys? They just don’t care about peeing in a potty!!!!!!!

  34. Tracey – Yes, he has to go. I’m a selfish mom who needs a break lest she should swan dive off the deep end and he’s a boy that needs someone younger than 47 to play with once in a while.

  35. Does he HAVE to go to preschool? He seems to be a smart little boy already and maybe keeping him home this year would suit him better. Take the stress out of your life AND his.

    I ALMOST held my “youngest in his class” son out of Kindergarten since he was turning 5 a week after his school year started. I thought he might be too young and stay behind in his class. That would have been a big mistake. He was the top of his class early on – despite being the youngest AND writing his name backwards for a time. (WHEW!)

    When he began 1st Grade, he was reading on a 4th grade level. Words like “backyard, neighborhood” didn’t stump him. I was truly amazed. I asked him if his teacher worked on reading with him that week and his reply was, “Nope, I just figured it out in my brain!”

    He was always a lively little boy and ahead of his class. He was selected for Gifted/Talented classes and was writing computer code by 6th grade. He won science fairs by 8th & 9th grade AND got perfect scores in Math (twice) on his ACT test for college. He had his choice of colleges and has a very good job now that he is out of college.

    What I am really trying to say (in hindsight) is: Don’t let keeping up with the Joneses by sending your child to preschool, just because “everyone is doing it” is just not worth the stress for some kids OR their parents.

    Best wishes on your choice and Sean’s future. You will laugh about all of this some day. 🙂

    Love, Betty (Grandmother of 12)

  36. “Iron Will”. I think that’s a movie about Sean. Sometimes going up against that will makes dealing with those who lack the skill look like a walk in the park. What about sitting him down at the same time every day? Would that help or have you already tried that.

    As for pre-school? Unlike the days of old, it IS rather necessary, though not every single day. For social as well as academic and developmental reasons (and especially in the case of the only child). I feel your panic because I’ve been there and I promise that whenever the “light goes on” for Sean, it will be smoother sailing from that point on.

  37. Sean is so smart, that I can’t believe he doesn’t have an ulterior motive. Perhaps he doesn’t want to leave you at home and go to school —- remember, he wuvs it there. I would stock up on big boy Jockey shorts and get every diaper or pullup out of the house, when he isn’t looking. Tell him that you aren’t allowed to buy any more from the store because he is over the age limit — sort of like being under age for booze. Then, when he’s wet, let him stay wet or figure out how to change himself. If he has a dirty butt—whoops!— into the bathtub for a self bath. Maybe bathing a couple of times a day without any rubber duckies will cut into his play time. Or tell him that you can’t take messy pants of a half grown man — it gags you. I don’t know — I think he is just too busy to take time out of his schedule to use the facilities and so far, diapers have kept him from stopping in his daily fun schedule. We still wuv him!

  38. “What’s it gonna take to put you in these big boy undies today?” Hilarious!!!

    Potty training is horrid enough without the pressure … Good Luck!

  39. I’m sure you’re holding your breath waiting for more advice… 😉 I’d go over to the school and tell them how very very close Sean is to using the potty, and how very very thrilled you are for him to attend their outstanding academy of learning, and see what they say.

  40. I agree the sticker chart works for an immediate award. For the boy and future wanna-be-video-game-player, it acts like a score card. My 3 year old also loved putting the stickers on himself, and it also turned into a counting game to see when he would earn his trip to Chuckee Cheeses. Poop was also worth more stickers.

    The rest is a battle of wills. At 3 1/2, I just said no more. No more diapers and no more peeing. For a week, I cleaned up pee puddles everywhere, but eventually he got the idea mommy wasn’t going to give up nagging, I’m insisting. I also said no more PBS if you can’t remember to go to the potty while watching it. Once I also convinced him there weren’t any poop or boy eating monsters in the toilet, and he actually had one poop in it, he realized it was actually more pleasant than sitting in a poo diaper. He also got a lot a positive attention, and a story read to him while pooping, since he can’t read the books on his own like daddy.

    Good luck, and I totally know what you mean about the artificial potty deadline.

  41. We faced the deadline as well, albeit several years ago. Stubborn was INDEED the label that could have been used on our almost three-and-a-half-year-old son.

    Finally, frustrated beyond frustrated, my husband stood before him in the bathroom. He held a bag of Skittles in one hand and a flyswatter in the other, and told our little Bohemian, “You choose.”

    Son was completely potty-trained the next day.

  42. I agree with the poster who said to get him mostly potty trained and then send a change of clothes. They are used to accidents, and peer pressure IS a wonderful thing! My son took forever to potty train too. Boys are harder than girls evidently — all we had to do is put my daughter in panties and say “we don’t pee in big girl panties” and that was it. Never an accident, never a wet bed. My son, on the other hand, wet the bed for quite some time. (I’m happy to say that at 15 he is now completely potty trained though! ;-))

    NOT using pullups seems to be a big help to the kids in figuring things out; the pullups are nice for the person doing the cleaning-up-after, but they don’t reinforce how icky it is to sit in wet underwear. We finally just put on the big boy undies and let him suffer the consequences. Surprisingly, that worked very well. Also as several people have said, being outside will save the floors adn carpets when the accidents happen.

    Good luck!

  43. This is snarky of me, but I’d tell the preschool to kiss off. I’d also tell them that because their arbitrary, stupid deadline wasn’t in the contract and in fact appeared on my doorstep two weeks before pre-school was supposed to start, they’d be giving me my entire deposit back. Yesterday.

  44. Wow, AM, you opened a 50 gallon drum of “advise” with this post!

    I know you are trying everything that you can think of – we all have, and any more “advise” may just make your head explode.

    However, there’s just this irresistable urge to share the “this is how it worked for us” story. Once you cross the potty training hurdle, don’t be surprised to find yourself divulging your successful tactics to any forelorn mother that will listen. It’s beyond our control.

    So, to pass on some advise that only worked for MY child and probably won’t work for yours: She wanted to swim and roller skate – something her slightly older cousins were getting to do. I informed her that the places where she could swim or rollerskate would not allow diapers or pullups. Only girls who use the potty and wear undies are allowed to go. I just said it in a matter of fact way. There were rules that had to be obeyed and I would be happy to take her swimming and roller skating as soon as she was able to say goodbye to the diapers.

    After some soul searching she became very interested in going to the potty. Each time we talked about how fun it will be to swim and skate. After several days of dry undies I held up my end of the bargain.

    Now at 4yo, she is going through a stage of getting so occupied with things that she pees in the floor, on the couch, etc. I’m back to constant reminders, lest I have a couch that must go to the dump!

    Keep the faith my friend. Soon they will be fully trained and changing OUR diapers!

  45. I like the part about how you’d hang up on yourself if you were a telemarketer…LOL….It reminds me of my teaching days…suddenly my mother’s words would roll off my tongue out of nowhere!

  46. AM,

    I totally understand your need for him to socialize with others than you. That makes you a smart Mommy. Being an AM is harder I think. My triplets will be three in October and we too are struggling with potty training. I feel like got one up on them though. I enrolled them in daycare and they go an extra two hours in the day. Hence, since in daycare, they roll right into a preschool program. I did not do only because I’m struggling with PT, they eat lunch with other kids and play with other kids, and have thrived and grown in ways that I couldn’t give them. I am 50 now, and it’s harder than when I was younger and had a lot of friends with kiddo’s themselves and had playgroups. I just don’t feel like I fit in with the playgroups since I’m old enough to be the other Mommy’s Mommy.


  47. My son loved Thomas the Tank Engine (Thomas was very helpful when we were learning to follow teacher’s directions at school). We were unable to afford the engines, so we created a “Thomas the Tank Engine” notebook and Andy was allowed to download and print information on one engine everyday that he completed the task we were working on. Creating the notebook allowed him to have the pages altogether and he and I would talk about the engines and freight cars and their different personalities.

    — Bottom line: if you can’t afford the engines, use the website!
    here’s the webaddress:

  48. I’m not there yet with Miller but Madison was trained at 2 with no problem. BUT…boys are harder they say. Controlling the world…….now that is a new one….

  49. I’m so glad you wrote about this – we are facing the same deadline, though our school starts a little bit later so we have about a month from today to get through this…

    For those who ask “why” the schools have this rule – I believe it is because they are licensed as schools and not as daycares, so they actually are not legally allowed to diaper the children. At least, that’s what our Waldorf school told us, and they are nothing if not all about the child’s development & pace. They did say they would hold our place in class until he was ready if we weren’t ready for the start of school, and they also recommend keeping your child at home for a semester or two if he/she just isn’t ready for weaning and/or potty training. (Yes, there are still some kids who are nursing in our class.)

    Anyhow – I love all the advice here. I think we are going to try the au naturel approach in about a week… please write about how it’s going with you as there are lots of us out here in your same boat!

    Good luck to all of us!

  50. I tried putting Cheerios in the toilet and having him aim for them. No good, he liked flushing them better. I tried adding red sugar to the bowl and telling him that the water would be orange if he peed enough. No good either. Scared my husband though. He thought he had a bladder infection. I tried toys, candy and money. The only thing that worked was time. When he’s ready he will do it.

  51. You know I couldn’t just let this one go.

    The bottom line (no pun intended, but I’m just full of crap like this[hee, hee]; I’m killing myself over here.) is that they won’t do it till they’re ready. You can help them decide to be ready if you can find the right motivator, but otherwise it’s a “battle of wills” and you know, those kids they got nothing but time and they know all your tricks already.

    DD#1 heard my mom & I talking about it one day when 18 months and wanted to use the potty, I put her on it and OMG she used it. But that was the novelty of it. If you asked her if she wanted to go she would, but she never initiated it by herself. Six month later we spent the summer on the patio NAAAKID as a jaybird w/a training potty for her and one for her dolly, who she “taught to go.” At some point I realized she not only had it, but she was now using this as a way to get more time with me. So bye-bye diapers, but I knew she got it already. We had to resort to negative and positive reenforcement to convince her not to pee on the floor, but it was only for a couple weeks at that time.
    So she’s been daytime potty trained since age 2 (other then the back slide we had the first month DD#2 came along).

    We just eliminated pull ups at night two weeks ago and she’s 4. We do stickers on the calendar (special princess stickers that are ONLY for this and they go on MOMMY’S CALENDAR-which is a big deal I guess. I think she likes the idea that she can cover my appointments and such.) The deal was orginally 10 in a row equals a prize. She could more or less pick the prize…we hadn’t truely found her kryptonite yet. She’d go a whole month and then pee her bed the first night w/out a pull up. A few weeks ago we stayed late to watch a “grown up movie” at a friends house and we put all the kids to bed together. The next day I pointed out to her that “Ivy” gets to wear big girl panties to bed. Her ears picked up. So listed off all the other friends who also wore big girl panties to bed. Hands clapping, “I want to wear panties to bed!” 10 days I reminded her. No accidents since, she’s been in panties at night for a little over a week.

    I found the motivator and she decided to be ready.

    I’ve seen the peeing on the plants to be a huge motivator for boys–screw the joggers if that’s his kryponite who cares, he’s 3 after all.

    I’ve also noticed that setting a “schedule” often works. At 10, 12, 2, 4 he has to go use the potty. Even if he just stands there and says he can’t go he still has to go try….and when you’re going somewhere has to try before you leave (good habit to start period). Don’t act too interested just tell him this is the way it is now, like you go to bed at 7 every night. You may hit some resistance, but a few days into it and he’ll accept it and move onto something else.

    Good luck, I’m w/all those who said to just send him in underware and with extra clothes. “He must be backsliding due to the change in his schedule, I’m sure he’ll be fine in a day or two.” And if you aren’t up for nakid in the backyard I’d still lose the diapers…just hang outside a lot. People tend to work to the expectations given of them…he’s a smart kid expect a lot.

  52. I can’t imagine changing a 3-year-old’s diaper. Yuck! My daughter trained (mostly on her own) at 2. My son was about 2-1/2. Both times, especially for the boy, I let them run around without a diaper at all. He never had an accident. Without the security of the diaper, he would run to the bathroom and go potty! It probably also helped that they wore cloth diapers.

    If you know that he can control his bowels, I’d do the naked thing. It means close supervision, but they train quickly (a few days) this way. 🙂

  53. Claire, I don’t mind changing diapers one bit, it’s not an issue for me at all – three year old poop is the same as one and two. Now cloth diapers, to me that is gross, but it’s a personal choice. Besides all that, he is my one and only baby and the days that I have left to care for his physical needs are dwindling rapidly. We did the naked thing a bit with some success. We’ll get there. One way or another. Sooner or later.

  54. I’m usually a lurker but I felt like I wanted to share with you what has helped my son. He is 3 and I ordered this cheesy chart reward system for him.(pottytrainingrewards.com) He absolutely loved it! Something about pressing the button and hearing someone say “Great job! What a big boy you are!” plus getting the chocolates worked. It was really cheap and totally worth it. I’m sure you know what is best for Sean but this worked like a charm for me!

  55. Paul is 3.5 and we are still working on it. DD was all done on her own at this point – with the exception that she would get a pull-up on herself to poop in until she was 3.5. What is currently working for us is to let Paul go commando under his shorts. He pees in the toilet almost all the time, except for when he’s playing computer games and at nighttime (we haven’t even gone there yet). Maybe you could talk to him and get him to poop at home either in the am or after school and he could do it however he wants.

  56. Oh, the horrors of potty training. I have a son who announced the day after his second birthday that he wanted Daddy to take him to the bathroom & that was it. Eighteen years later with child #7, I really thought I had this down. I really did. I was so wrong. Little Miss Attitude showed this Antique Mama a thing or two. She was 4 before she decided it was time. Nothing we did worked. Nothing. She decided when, where and how. I was really stressing when she turned three & wasn’t potty trained. The more stressed I got, the more she dug in her heels. I can’t wait until the make-up battle begins.

  57. Wow, do I remember going through this! My son wasn’t really fully potty trained until 4 1/2…seriously! I’m hoping that stereotype is true and girls really are easier to potty train than boys…because if not, I am in BIG trouble with my twins. :oP

  58. If he is wanting to go to school with the big boys, I wonder if letting him know that there are no diapers there. That all the kids use the potty and never wet their pants. Perhaps just knowing that this is the way of the world…might make him want to join the crowd and use the potty?

    My kids were bribed with skittles too. Once he peed in the potty, I placed a call to Superman who praised him. Another time we called Bert and Ernie who were equally impressed.

  59. The brave, the proud, the mommy of boys! Checking my boys every 5 mins got them a reward (M&M) if they were dry. Then it went to 15 mins then 30 it eventually clicked. But my youngest wanted nothing to do with it until we told him all the other kids were using the potty. That worked for him. Peer pressure!
    Didn’t mean to give you advice – I’m sure if I named a few other ideas you would nod your head been there done that. Rant on! I agree with MoneyDummy! Just know you’re not alone.

  60. toss some cheerios in the toilet and tell him to sink them! hey it works, boys, being boys, like that kind of stuff! something about the ability to point and aim. good luck my dear!

  61. No advice, but soaking up all the other ideas as i am in the midst of dealing with a strong willed three year old also it is soooo good to know there are other intelligent, wonderful moms who are reduced to bafflement by the whole potty thing! For THIS I went to college?

  62. I used jelly beans. The only way my child could receive a “bean” was to “go” in the potty and then my child had to tell me the color of the bean. But, again, I had it very easy. My children practically trained themselves by the age of two with only a small effort from me. Good luck!

  63. So…how many hours is preschool? He can probably hold it in till he gets home, can’t he? As some others have mentioned, peer pressure is an amazing and often useful tool. When he sees all his new friends going potty, it may move higher on his agenda. I say throw him in some undies and send him on his way.

  64. As a veteran of five children who are all potty trained—Finally— Every kid is different! My oldest was the easiest because he was in a day care situation where the other kids were older and potty training and he just imitated them and trained himself. My youngest who with all of siblings toileting example should have trained himself by one year old…. He was the worst to train! Don’t know whether I was more preoccupied with other kids, household chores, part-time job and was more lax on training, or he was more stubborn! Probably both. He was initially ok with the pee, but forget the poo-poo….he would go hide and do his business, rather than put it in the potty. What did work was the fact that he really, really, really wanted a green power ranger (those of us with older children remember this toy craze) So I bought the power ranger and put it up on the kitchen wall….no amount of engineering and manipulation could get him high enough to get the coveted toy. (believe me he tried to get it) When I would catch him looking at it I would matter of factly tell him what he needed to do to get it off the wall and in his hands. One night I caught him trying to go in his pants and put him on the potty. He was resisting….I got the green power ranger and put it in his hands and told he could have it if he went in the potty… he did. So he got the ranger. The older kids got a laugh and call the green ranger “poo-poo power ranger” It got to be a routine that my son would go and grab the poo-poo power ranger and head for the toilet for a short period of time. As for fears of your son starting kindergarten in pull ups….I have a very good friend who had 2 out of her 3 kids start kindergarten in pull ups. They are all teenagers, potty trained, honor roll students, and very socially active in their peer groups–oldest is starting Rochester Inst. of Tech in Electrical Engineering. Sometimes the smart ones are the quickest to train…..sometimes they are the worst because they are so smart and come up with creative ways to do things their way. Think in terms that five years from now you can look back and laugh at this period. Also enjoy chapters about your Aunt Janice. Very good, well written–albeit very sad.

  65. Reading all the comments and divers could-be -your-answer stories, it seems that every child-parent combination is unique and therefore potty training is unique for each. But all the ways are worth thinking about and then try those that would fit your little guy’s personality AND yours, and your lifestyle etc…
    One thing for sure, these adorable small persons, know in a second flat when the grown ups are frustrated, stressed etc… and it works in reverse in the department of cooperation. Don’t let anyone make you fell like it’s the end of the world and look on you with a frown. It will all come together!!!

  66. Only the world? Really? You need to teach that boy to shoot higher, really go after what he wants. Good luck with the training. I NEVER want to do a pressure potty-train again. Not in this lifetime.

  67. My oldest was mostly trained when he started school. He didnt want to poop and the first few weeks he had accidents. I had to go to school to change him etc several times, but then he got it all of a sudden and there was no going back. my boys were the opposite of most tho. both were dry thru the night by 18 months. daytime was what was a PITA. my youngest was happy as a clam to go anywhere but on the potty or in his pants…he would strip and go anywhere and i do mean anywhere. it was definitely a blessing during that time to live in the middle of nowhere with other neighbors who have similar aged kids and really didnt care if mine were out back peeing on the grass. or the trees, or the deck, or the dogs, (thank God for water hoses)….T even marked the tires on the blazer while imitating the dogs but in all he trained completely once i took the pull ups away in like 3 days.
    good luck!!

  68. Good luck on the training!
    We always had Brandon make “bubbles” in the potty, he enjoyed doing that and we quite frankly thought it was hilarious, I would say, “See how many bubbles you can make!”

  69. My daughter was nearing four before she was potty trained and I was about ready to crawl into a hole and give up.
    The pediatrician finally gave me this method. Prizes are just not important enough to kids. I had to take away something she already had, that she wanted every day. In our case, it was tv and going outside. She had to try to potty 3 times in one day before she got tv or outside time. Even if she wasn’t successful, three genuine tries got rewarded. To get the reward quicker, it took one “poo poo” in the potty. It was worth three tries. Peeing only counted as a try because the dr. said if she could poop in the potty, peeing would follow on its own.
    This worked very quickly for us after over a year of other bribes and insanity.
    Good luck! I understand that horrible pressure, but hopefully it will be over very soon!

  70. just out of curiosity, is the new wearer of big boy underwear in a big boy bed yet? you know the big boy pants and the big boy bed probably should go hand-in-hand. just mentioning…..

  71. I have to say peeing in nature was the turning point for my son… he said he wanted to potty train but we sat for hours on the pot reading books with no success. One day we were outside and it was too far to get back inside, so I asked if he wanted to pee in nature… boom, it shifted something in him and we’ve been going like gang busters ever since.

    Shame on your preschool for instilling some arbitrary rule regarding potty training. My son’s preschool takes the kids back down to the younger kids room for a change.

  72. I have to laugh! I’m on boy#3 in the potty training game…He’s 4…He refuses to poop in the potty. Good luck! I hate that they make it mandatory for preschool…kids are all so different.

  73. Somehow I get the feeling that we forgot how it was when we were kids (us older girls out there). It was a trip to Switzerland looking for Pampers that started them in that region. All they had were some kind of pads to fit inside the cloth diapers. What I am saying is that there wasn’t all that pressure about potty training or walking in that matter. Well that’s another subject…

  74. I wish you much success with the potty training and if you succeed you MUST share with me how you bent that will of I R O N!

    My granddaughter who will be 3 on 9/9/07 refuses to go potty. She will sit there forever and not go. The minute you give up…she goes.

    We have tried the bribery…Papa will get you a swing set and slide when you start going to the big girl potty…nada, nary a dribble.

    Papa will get a puppy when you start wearing big girl panties…sure she’ll wear them…and then promptly pee all over Tinkerbell! or Dora, or Cinderella and then wanna know when we’re gonna go get the puppy. Uhhh…never?

    I’ve tried Reeses Pieces (the only candy she likes) popsicles, new books, coloring books and crayons…you name it, I’ve tried it. Still no go.

    I just keep telling myself that she won’t go to college in diapers…at least I hope not, she is awfully stubborn *sigh*

  75. I’m going through some of this right now. My son has encopresis so there is medical stuff involved. I’m afraid he’ll get “kicked out” for an accident at school. That will make for some positive school memories (sarcasm).

  76. It is difficult when preschools have this requirement–I am an early childhood director and it is not the philosophy where I work. That being said,one of my very experienced teachers swears by the book “Toilet Teaching” Keep at it, and Sean will get there. If the school is completely intolerant of accidents, you might want to look at other preschools.
    Sheila–if your son gets kicked out of school for encopresis, that could be considered discrimination. There are schools that are more inclusive and will work with you to increase success and dignity for your child. I recieved a call the other day from a parent who told me about a preschool that charged extra for children who were not totally trained or had mild disabilities.
    This is not the philosophy that I hold–we are inclusive. Anyone want to join us the ‘burbs of Chicago?

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