Sep 28, 2008

Toilet Training An Older Child

I don’t want to turn this into a potty training blog, but I figure there are other parents out there like me that have an older child still training. So much of the advice online is geared toward two year olds and it doesn’t work with a four year old who has begun to master the fine art of manipulation.

We have been trying hard this weekend (mainly because this week a 40 count pack of Huggies pull-ups was $16.99 at my supermarket!).
I started by just announcing that we were not going to wear pull-ups at home, only at night or when we are out. We were going to wear underpants. This weekend, the idea was ok with him. Over the past year I’ve tried going cold turkey on occasion and was met with complete refusal. He would just take them off and throw them across the room, then demand a pull-up.

So far I have washed 3 rugs, mopped the playroom 5 times, washed 7 t-shirts and 14,000 pairs of underpants! Not sure if I’m gaining anything at this point. I have also been writing this post for 8 hours now, because I have to keep editing it! I refuse to give up. So I will just keep washing and hoping at some point he thinks to tell me he has to go before he does.

I have been setting a timer and taking him to the bathroom every hour. He goes maybe one out of three times. The rest of the time he sits there, says nothing is coming and then gets off and 10 minutes later has wet his pants. I can not tell you how frustrating this is. I can’t tell at this point if he really doesn’t know when he has to go or if he just thinks it’s a game to see many times I can change his clothes in one day! I suppose the fact that he will at least wear underpants now is an improvement but I’ve got to tell you, I’m loosing patience.

It’s amazing to me that a child who gives me no trouble otherwise (and I mean that!) has been so hard to toilet train. He is smart enough to know that this is the only thing he really has complete control over, and he won’t give it up. I have friends who have suggested that it may be because I’m a single mother, but I also know plenty of two parent homes whose sons are not trained either. I also know that sometimes gifted children take longer, so I will keep at it.

Anyway, so far this is what I have learned:

1. New mothers, hear this, when you read in forums not to use disposable training pants because they are too much like diapers, believe it! I wish I had never seen a pull-up! My son never told me he was wet and didn’t care about carrying a full load around all day either.

2. Some children do not respond to rewards or charts. At two years old when I told my son he would get a sticker for his chart whenever he went on the potty, he just wanted to have all the stickers and the chart to play with. After all, we must fill in the chart and leave no square empty (he’s ahead in math and always finishes a sequence)!

3. I tried a potty video and he scream at me, crying, to turn it off.

4. Wanting to grow up and be a big boy backfired because thanks to some children’s show ( I can’t remember which one) an older child was going away to college and he thought if he grew up he would have to leave home.

5. I should have just started with a smaller seat attached to the toilet and a step stool, instead of a potty chair, because all he did was take that apart and play with it. Now he’s too big for it anyway.

6. I should not have even tried before he was 3 (This may only apply to boys)

I will keep you updated and if anyone has an older child still learning, feel free to share!
P.S. If there are typos in this post, I will edited later. I’m too tired to see them now!


TiLT said...

I am not the only one! woo hoo! sorry - mild elation at not being alone. Mine turned 3 in April. Just accepted pull-ups for the first time Tuesday (had to for preschool). But numbers 1,2,3, and 5 - all us. Except it's the books he yells about, not videos.
Tonight he said he wanted a prize at school. I told him he can have one if he goes on the potty. He stopped to think about it and said, "but I am all out of pee-pee". I told him that was OK, he could try tomorrow. He replied, "my pee-pee is at the store". Um. Huh? He told me that's where we go to get more stuff.
It was good for a luagh anyway - kept the frustration low.
Sorry for taking up so much of luck with the training - I'll keep checking in for good stories :)

kim* said...

as time goes on they will learn by example.

be consistent dont give up. one day he wont get out the bathroom and want to wash his hands all day.

remember to stay positive,say " i like how you pulled your pants down...

i like how you sat on the toilet then washed your hands etc.etc.

make sure to over exaggerate when you have to go. "oh no i have to go pee i will be right back. i am going to the toilet to go potty not in my underwear.... ew no way! ok gotta go see ya after i am done using the toilet to pee!"

keep trying and itll happen it always does...some just take longer to do it.

Nodin's Nest said...

@Tilt- I knew there were more of us around!
@Kim- I think I'll try to exaggerate more, I know I don't do that. Thanks

Mrs.Kwitty said...

It can be so frustrating! What worked for me was to switch from little tighty-whities to little boxers. I think the T-W's can also feel a lot like diapers. Good luck and don't give up hope!'
Smiles, Karen

Christopher And Tia said...

This post has absolutely scared the crap out of me. My daughter is 2, and not showing a lot of interest in potty training. With a new baby due in 3 months, I don't think we're going to be making any progress.


The Cabrelli's said...

I'm sure what I am about to say will be an unpopular view... but I say leave him in the pull-ups. He obviously isn't ready. We still have night time accidents at 10 and after spending 5 years cajoling, bribing, punishing, and washing many, many sheets we have decided that it has nothing to do with manipulation or maturity - she just sleeps too hard. Our doctor said they don't even consider it a problem until at least 12. Put the pull-ups back on, leave the underpants somewhere conspicous and wait until he asks you to wear them. Especially if you tell him that you aren't trying anymore because he isn't ready - he'll let you know when he is.

Art By MAR said...

Hang in there it will happen. My daughter was four and my friends daughter was 5 before being trained so it isn't only boys. What worked for both of us was leaving them for a whole day with someone other than you. In my case I had jury duty. She was with her Dad all day, in my friends case it was a grandfather. In both cases the "other" adult just casually mentioned using the toilet and in one day they both were trained. Worth a try!

Nodin's Nest said...

Wow, some great ideas here! Thanks so much.
@Christopher&Tia: sorry, didn't mean to scare you, but maybe you'll get ideas for future reference!

Mrs. Carrington said...

I will tell you what many experienced moms told me as I worried about potty training and other issues-I know it seems frustrating now but don't worry- he will be potty trained before college. Keep your sense of humor and keep being a loving and caring mom.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

I have wondered about the little seat on top of the toilet vs. a little potty. Thanks for sharing your ideas. The other commenters have great ideas too!

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

My thoughts:
My son basically ruined our couch at age 3-4. He had NO qualms about emptying his bladder while watching TV. Never told me he needed to go. Sounds like your little guy.

I wonder if the post about "giving up" makes the most sense. My son could smell manipulation a mile away, and he'd say no to something just because I reminded him to do it.

In this case, pull-ups on your son all the time for your sanity, with some kind of BIG reward for when he's done training might help. He WILL decide he doesn't want to be a baby eventually. And then he'll just do it.

FWIW, My son finally got it only after I gave up. He also found some big boy underwear that he really liked. Oh, and he preferred to pee standing up like Daddy. One friend and his son used to have "races" in the potty. (I know, TMI. But they're good friends.)

Good news: My older girl taught herself. My younger girl fought and fought the idea until I got rid of the pullups when she was 3. But I knew well enough to be REALLY casual about it.

Jacki said...

Every child is different. My first son who is now 5, started when he was 22 months old, but didn't finish til he was a few months after 3. As a matter a fact, he still has problems pointing into the toilet, if you know what i mean, and still wets at night. We are currently using an alarm at night and it seems to be helping a lot.
Now my 2 year old is another story. I gave him the same potty seat I gave the older one, and all he does is play with it. He has no interest. Almost like yours, likes to play with stickers but not associating it with the potty at all. So my guess is that he is not ready and I will just wit till he is. I'm hoping seeing his older brother will help a bit. Only time will tell.
Good luck :)

wm said...

I don't have an older child, but I just read something in a book I picked up (called It's a Boy) about a Booty camp, where desperate parents send older children to get potty trained. The parents are taught to not offer rewards, but to put the child only in underwear. When accidents happen, tell the child that is gross, smelly and unacceptable and the child must clean it up themselves. You can read the details in the book if you are interested.

Nodin's Nest said...

Some many great ideas from everyone! I have backed off a bit for now and will post again in a while to update you.
Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

my son is 4 and a half. he is well aware of going to the toilet to do his wee and poo and when we're at home he's actually pretty good and rarely has accidents. when he is engaged in play outside of home (kinda, childcare, playentre etc) or engaged in play at home with other children he won't come to me to tell me he needs to go nor does he go to the teachers at kinda and childcare. he will just do it in his pullups. i have tried everything to encourage him but he is sooooo layed back and doesn't care and will sit in is poo all day if he had too. suggestions are to take him out of his pull ups and just have him in undies but how do i send him to kinda in undies and expect teachers to clean up the mess!! he will be at 4 year old kinda next year and then school the year after that but i can't send him to school if he's still pooing and weeing in his pants.

TheXMom said...

I just found your blog and love it. My oldest son was not completely potty trained until he was almost 5, I had to go cold turkey DAY and NIGHT before he started to go on his own. It was a very stressful time but it only took me about a week before he was completely trained. At night I would stop allowing him food and drink about two hours before bed, then went to an hour... Like you I wish I had never introduced a pull up, my son would request a pull up instead of having to put any effort into using the potty, same thing happened with the potty chair too, he outgrew it and I had to get a seat insert. Best of luck to you, if you haven't mastered the task yet, I see the post was written in Sept.

Nodin's Nest said...

Xmom: We doing ok with #1, but no luck yet with #2. Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

My son was day trained before he was 2 and at night I would hear him get up and go see him in the bathroom; I would watch as he pulled off his diaper and drop it on the floor and then he would urinate in the toilet, pull up his pj pants on his own and go right back in his bed(not washing his hands mind you). He would wet his bed often later on closer to morning, and I would find a wet bed. This went on and I would try to get him to the toilet before morning so his bed could be dry ALL night....this was crazy because I was interrupting my sleep (he was my third child, close I felt like I was being stupid and torturing myself, because I was back at work now and like everyone--needed sleep!) I thought however, that I would have no problems with this child soon enough since his pattern seemed great so far. Almost every night since then, I have had the full complement of mattress cover all the way to comforter to wash. I had had my fill and still it continued like this. He would be very sad because sometimes he would like to come in my bed as my two girls occasionally would, and I would comment that I would have to change my bedding in the middle of the night, and change him. So, sometimes I would have to tell him sorry, but I did not have the energy to do that on a given night so I would come and snuggle him in his bed instead (he has a vinyl protector under his mattress protector)....then I gave in to pull-ups at night. He has never had more than two nights with dry pull-ups in a row. I had tried charting it with him and after 7 dry nights in a row he wouldn't have to wear pull-ups anymore and I told him I would buy him a present and he could help me choose it. Of course, I have been trying to limit his liquids in the evening and he cooperates with that.

How old is he now you ask......7 years and 9 months!!!!!!!!!! My dryer is running now with my bedding because he slept in my bed last night and a pull-up did not absorb all that he peed.Even the small mattress pad I had him lie on had moved during his sleep ( he had used the toilet at 11pm and by 4 am I was stripping my bed.
I am at the last straw...researching today I have one more idea before I get him to a urologist.......a website mentioned stretching his bladder by having him intake a lot of liquids during the day.

I cannot believe I am still dealing with this nightly. He is not proud of this and is extremely can it be physiology?

Don't let this worry you (this must be very rare)because I have no friends or family who have this problem.....I just want to can't hurt to see a doctor just in cast it can save you two or three years of what I have been going through. (My husband says it is common and that is why they make pullups for his weight of 60 lbs.)

Jenn said...

Right there with you guys! My little guy is almost 5! He knows how to do it, but he refuses. Says he's scared, which he may be, but I think he's just stubborn & lazy too. He screams at undies and the potty both. If I'm lucky enough to get undies on him, he'll literally hold it ALL day long. Almost never any accidents. Then when the pull up goes on at night, he lets it all out! There's usually so much in there that he ends up leaking. I wish my bladder was as big as his!

Maybe when he hits kindergarten in 8 months he'll realize he's the only kid in pull ups & not using the potty. Hopefully that'll help. Or maybe this summer I'll make him run naked 24 hours a day for a while & see if that does anything.

Anonymous said...

My little girl turned 5 in November and I am at my wits end. She goes to pre-school half a day. She wears pull-ups to sleep in at night, put os regular panties in the morning and then, after having a couple of acidents at school that embarrassed her, she holds her pee all day. When she gets home she sits on the potty every 30 minutes or so. Tonight she begged me for a pull-up and I knew she would pee the minute she got it on. She was dancing all over the front room. I finally let her get dressed for bed and sure enough she did not have the pull-up on 5 seconds and she flooded it. I had told her this week that if she peed in her pants and all over my floor that she would have to go in time-out because she did not try to get to the potty. After researching tonight I see that I should not punish her so I am not going to do that anymore. It is just so frustrating because she knows when she has to go. She asks for a pull-up. She has said she was scared of the toilet but I thought we were over that. She started potty traingin when she was almost 2 and was doing really well until she got a bladder infection and it burned once. Ever since then forget it... she tells her Grandma that she will NEVER go on the potty. She starts Kindergarten this fall and I don't know what I am going to do!!!!

Anonymous said...

I feel so much better after reading these posts. I have a daugher who is 4 years, 5 months. She understands the concept, cooperates when I take her potty, will wear diapers, pull-ups or panties, but just doesn't seem to care about her pants being wet or messy. She is a bit delayed in her development, but I am not sure that has anything to do with it. We are not overly consistant, either... which I am sure doesn't help... but still, at this point, she should get it! My older 2 boys were late trainers, not completely trained until 4, and still had some accidents (total power play with oldest) and they both had accidents at night for years... my 12 year old just now seems to have stopped, and my 8 year old only rarely has one... mostly because they sleep so soundly. I have been changing diapers for 12 year straight... is is getting OLD! I guess I just keep trying! (I am kind of from the school of "wait until they are 4 and say.. go potty in there" teehee maybe I try again at age 5!!! My only saving grace at this point is that she is in Early Development preschool, so they don't require her to be trained...thank goodness!!!

Anonymous said...

All 4 of mine were late potty trainers. It's a difficult thing for moms to relax about with all of the outside world pressures (even if we only hear them in our minds). I can relate too your list. Nothing could inspire any of mine. Quite frankly, I was angry a lot! And those with well-meaning advice made me even angrier. The only positive thing I can say is that they did eventually "get" it. Potty-training has been so far my least favorite part of parenting. So, I empathize.

Anonymous said...

I have a beautiful little girl who is 5 and a half and in school, who runs out to me at the end of the day stinking of wee. Wetting her pants everyday and everynight. Only when she is home she like to throw in a pooing her pants too. I cant take it anymore, my first two children were so easy. i have try charts, toilet clocks, everything

Anonymous said...

My son was 3 when this all started...I found a great article about having them be one weekend my 3 year old son spent it being naked and picked it up in one day. Then the fun started, he had to go to preschool because we work and after being there for about 2 days he started having accidents, now I'm not sure if he fell in the toilet because they had no stool, if the other kids saw him on the potty or what but needless to say I had to take him out. He went back to the person who is a friend of mine to watch him and she and I had a terrible time with him....screaming carrying on especially when she had to get him to change his clothes etc. etc. etc. I have tryed every tactic known to man, rewards like stars to get toys, a fish, punishments like taking away his computer time or game time. He is now 5 years old and this is still occurring....he does go when we are out in public like at a restaurant or store and he always has but when we get home the story changes completely...he will pee in his pants right in front of me, he will tell me he doesn't have to go when I can tell he does because he is dancing or moving around...I know it is now a power struggle with him...he always poops in the potty thank goodness....I am really at my wits end as well and I'm not sure how much longer his school will let him go if he keeps peeing in his pants. He is extremely shy and always has been and by that I mean he won't pee anywhere but a bathroom, we found this out once when he had to go and we were traveling he absolutely refused to go on the side of the road even in a cup not even getting out of the car. My son is extremely smart and I'm beginning to think that he is never going to pee consistently, because he does have is good moments but never a whole day anymore. I'm sooooo tired of doing laundry that smells like pee.....4,5,6 pairs of pants and underwear a day. So you are definetly not alone.....good luck to you too

DJ said...

@Everyone: Just thought I'd update this for new readers. We are still working on it. My son will be 5 this Nov. Most days he's ok with urine and makes it to the toilet now. However we still wear a pull-up at night. I did try a few weeks ago without it and he got up first thing for about 2 days and went to the toilet. After that, he was wet every morning. So I went back to the pull-up at night. As for poop, he will go in the toilet if I catch him at the right time, but if it's early am. before we change his pull-up, he usually goes in that. Sometimes he still says he's scared of the toilet, but usually now when I ask him why he didn't tell me he had to go, he say's he forgot or he just didn't want to.
So ladies, you are in good company and I know they will all get it eventually. It sure does make some things (school, outings, sleepovers etc.) harder than they need to be though!

Anonymous said...

My son will be 4 in December and I too, have late potty trainer. I am tired of all the comments from family and friends about him not being potty trained. They really have no idea how stressful this is. The kid makes me feel like a failure everyday. Pull-ups have been no help. He just uses them like a diaper and he really does not care that I call them baby diaper. I have tried reward charts where he earns a sticker and a prize out of a basket. He has other items that grandparents have purchased and are withholding until he gets potty trained. He could really care less. I am able to get him to pee if I tell him to go every 30 minutes or so. Sometimes he is resistant. He refuses to poop in the potty. I have tried to sit him on the potty and make him go, but after reading some other web pages I see that I should not do that. I am so worried that I am going to have send him to kindergarten in pull-ups. I am glad to know I am not the only one going through this right now.

red said...

I'm so glad I found this! My son is going to be 5 in June. We have had some good days and then all of a sudden he will just pee all the time and refuse to go in the toilet. I was so frustrated that it was making it difficult for both of us so I just put him back in the pull ups. "underwear diapers" We are trying still and most mornings he will go pee in the toilet and always poops in the toilet (if I catch him) I decided to just try and wait a little while until I wasn't as frustrated about it. He starts Kindergarten next Aug. and I'm a little worried about it. We'll just keep trying it's soo soo nice to know I'm not the only one!!!

Lindsy said...

Four year olds are testing the waters for five year olds. This is the stage where 'having fun' through games quickly become a favorite past time. I have a niece who LOVED a challenge and so in order to get her to do something, we turned it into a challenge or game to get it done. For example, she also had potty training trouble (and this is a girl who could count to twenty in japanese, spanish, english, hawaiian, gaelic (not sure if I spelled it right, considering I don't know what gaelic is) and german. Anyway, we would tell her "Oh, I don't know....I bet you can't use the potty" and she would say 'Yes, I can..." We would then look at another adult and say "I don't you think she can do it? I'm not sure if she can..." and she would march to the potty and amaze us all....

Anonymous said...

Just a note to parents...kindergarten does not allow children to attend if they are not potty trained. They do not have the time nor the staff to handle potty training. Most of the admin would insist that you hold your child back until they are six to give you more time to potty train your child.

Anonymous said...

My son turned 5 in December and still is not potty trained. He will pee in the toilet and has since he was 3 but absolutley refuses to make a BM in the toilet. He did it a couple of time when he turned 3 but then his little brother was born and since then he has refused. It is so frustrating. In October we threw away all the pull-up in front of him and told him he was a big boy and needed to use the toilet like a big boy. He refused to eat anything for 3 days and refused to poop for 9 days. By that time he was so constipated we had to give him laxatives. Then we were back on the pull-ups again. In November per our peditrians recommendation we gave him laxatives everyday for a week and no pull-ups. He refused to even sit on the toilet. The entire episode resulted in him becoming very nervous and misbehaving. We have tried just about everything and nothing works. The doctor says it is a phobia. I have no idea what to do anymore. He starts school in August and still is having poop accidents everyday.

I agree I never, never would have allowed the use of pull-ups if this was going to happen.

leanne said...

hi my daughter is 5 in september and i have been trying to toilet train for 3 long years , she wears underwear in the day as i didnt want to put her back in nappies or pull ups in fear of sending her backwards so i have constant battles with her everyday , she wets herself at least 3 times a day . i am forever changing her and washing her down . my worries for her are starting big school in september and not making friends beause of this problem as she finds it hard to make friends anyway and no child will want to play with a child that smells , i have tried EVERYTHING and i dontknow what else to do please help

Bec said...

Wow so interesting reading everyone is having similar problems to us. I was searching today for answers as my 5 yo girl who is at big school had an accident at school yesterday. This has happened a couple of times now. She knows when she wants to go but just holds on for so long that when it is dire it takes too long to get to the toilet. It's seems like she doesn't want to interrupt what she is doing. And I really struggle to get her to do a 'preventative' pee. At school of course I'm not there.

At night she wears pull ups and has never gone more than one night dry. If she does she demands a 'prize' as a result of sticker chart/reward stuff. Which NEVER worked for us.

I don't know what to do...

Number9 said...

Wow, some of these are really comforting and some are really disturbing... Especially that one about the potty training camp that tells you to shame and humiliate the child for having an accident. What was that all about?

I got lucky with my first. She was an overachiever in this area and has always had excellent bladder control. I started early dropping hints, watching videos, presenting potties for her consideration. I guess I was an over-achiever too. By the time her brother was expected she was 3 1/2 and still in pull-ups most of the time, until we realized she was getting rashes from the two glue strips fastening the elastic to the absorbent portion in back. We put her in panties and with few accidents we were done for daytime, and nighttime was soon to follow. Ah, those were the days.

My son didn't complete his until the age of 5. And he still wears pull-ups at night which does not bother me. It was a reality in my family that several of us would wake up wet in the morning. Genetic, I suppose. Also, heavy sleepers. To me, night pull-ups for older kids are nothing short of a miracle. I can save my son the humiliation I experienced for something I honestly could not help. I still haven't figured out why there are people who think bed-wetting is a wilfull act. How can you control something in your sleep?

Now my third, just four years old last week, is marching up and down the stairs in a stew because I set the panties she chose herself several months ago on the couch to see how she responded. She tossed them over the arm of the couch and told me (on the verge of tears, mind you) that she is NOT a big girl and will not go to the IKEA playroom (mentioned as an incentive). I can see that she is getting neurotic about it and this is no time to carry out my original plan of putting panties on her and seeing how it went. She has resisted potty training for a long time now. So when she said she was not a big girl and would not go to the playroom, I said, "That's okay. I'm not putting the panties on you. I just got them out." I told her it was okay if she didn't go to the playroom. And I'm going to have to be aggressive now... in the subtlest and most sly manner I can achieve, feeding her the sort of info and hints that gently thaw that fear... No cold turkey, no obvious potty talk. It's not going to be easy. But I know her. If she's afraid, she's afraid. The more you try to talk her down, the more freaked out she gets. She can hold it quite a while, I've noticed, even wakes up with a dry pull-up. No, this potty training is going to have to be all in her head.

Wish me luck.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

I commented almost two years ago and I'm back. My son is going to be four years old in a couple months and is great about #1 but not #2. I've had to throw away several pairs of underpants. Sometimes I am so discouraged I just want to put him back in diapers because I have been potty training him for a year and a half. What finally worked for your son? Also, I'd like to hear more why gifted children are later.

Andrea said...

It is so nice to know that other people have 5-year-olds who resist using the toilet. My almost-5-year-old wears underwear during the day and holds everything - until after 4p when he puts on a pull-up. He's not interested in rewards (or he's interested in them, but not about using the toilet to get them). I tried getting rid of his beloved changing table a year ago - it didn't work. (I got rid of an earlier potty chair because it was too small, and I heard requests for it for many months.) If I keep him in underwear he will soil the underwear rather than use the toilet. He's very resistant to my taking him to the toilet - he didn't use to be resistant, and I think that forcing him to stay there longer than he wants to backfired. Also, I'm ashamed to say that my husband and I aren't very good at being consistent toilet trainers. His older sister mostly learned on one weekend with a skilled overnight babysitter - I probably need to get her back with my 4-1/2-year-old. (She tried to help him a few years ago but said he wasn't ready.) Also, his younger brother is ready to be toilet trained, and unlike him doesn't resist being on the potty seat - should I train the younger without training the older? Should I disallow my resistant kid the use of his changing table? his pullups? We really need to deal with this. My son just doesn't want to use the toilet. I've told him that we will wipe him after he uses the toilet if he doesn't want to soil his hands. (He doesn't like soiling his hands - this could be part of the problem.) I've told him I am good at banishing bathroom monsters. I ask him politely if he wants to use the toilet. I force him on to the toilet and hold on while he kicks and screams. I've told him that I will give him swimming lessons, breakfast sandwiches, an ice cream cake, etc etc as rewards. Nothing works. My caregiver told me today that she was actually able to put him on the toilet without resistance yesterday when he asked for a pull-up (he didn't do anything though) - I almost fell over. And now he is beginning to have other kinds of trouble with his siblings.... He will be in transitional kindergarten next year, as he is an August birthday with a bit of a developmental delay. I guess I'll just hope that he stays dry at school. Perhaps I should get professional help. Comments? Thanks for listening.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think I have the oldest daughter is 6 1/2 and still will not go #2 on the toilet. She has been going #1 on the toilet since she was 3 1/2 consistently and has never had a nighttime accident, but I have no idea why she resists going #2. I have tried reward charts, extreme enthusiasm for when she will sit and at least try, but nothing works :( She was in kindergarten last year and thankfully, never had an accident at school, so I know she has some control ( but I am sooo worried about her starting first grade this year and being there a full day....don't know if she can/will hold it all day ). We have washed and/or thrown away so many pair of underwear. Our pediatrician suggested having diapers at home and telling her to request a diaper when she needs to go and then work on getting her to sit on the toilet with the diaper and eventually work on doing it without the diaper, but I am worried if we do that she will just start wanting to wear the diapers/pullups....she doesn't care if she soils herself and would go around all day that way if I let her :( It has made it so that I will not schedule playdates for fear she will have an accident. I don't know if it is a power struggle or not. When we talk about it she will promise me that she will go on the potty and seems to want to do it, but it just doesn't happen and I can almost never spot her going or I would grab her up and take her to the potty like I did when training her to go #1. Thank you everyone for your stories, I don't feel quite so alone and frustrated. Any and all suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!! Oh, she does have a speech delay ( mild ) and I have heard that some kids with delays do have a harder time training, but she is 6 1/2!!

Jennifer said...

So nice to hear that other people are in the same boat as us. My daughter is 3 and 2 months. She didn't show much interest until she was about 2 and 9 months. About that time she also suffered from a yeast infection then a UTI. We had to treat the UTI for 2 months and did not try to potty train and she became quite fond of her diaper at that time. Then she got a stomach bug and withheld her bowel for 2 and a half months. During that time I did try to potty train some because she was showing an interest again. We didn't go cold turkey from diapers because we did not want to encourage holding of either urine or bowel. I read in some of my extensive research to put the bowel in the potty and make them comfortable with it. That was great advice because soon after we did that she stopped holding her bowel!!! I am getting frustrated over the potty training because she is capable of holding her urine for hours and hours and doesn't have accidents. I don't want her to go too long without urinating because I am afraid she will get another UTI. I pray everyday for patience and hope that it will just click for her. My daughter sees pullups as another diaper too. Somedays she will be really interested in sitting on the potty and will take off her diaper or pull up to sit but most days she treats her diaper as a toilet. She is comfortable going around with nothing on or underwear but when she has to go she wants a diaper and will hold it until she gets one. I've resorted to doctoring her diapers. I've starting cutting the liner and taking out some of the absorbancy hoping it will either leak or be less comfortable for her. We shall see how that goes.
Rewards don't matter in the sense that they will motivate her. We started with rewarding for each step but are now to just rewarding for actually going but she doesn't care. She has only peed in the potty a handful of times. She is also very intelligent in some areas and I don't know if this could be a factor. She is also very tall and looks older than her age so I feel (self-imposed mostly) pressure for her to get out diapers. This is for sure the biggest challenge in parenting that I have faced so far. Good luck to all of you! Here's to hoping magical potty training to all the stubborn kids out there.

Anonymous said...

Yep, this all sounds like what we are going through. OMG its frustrating! my daughter is 4 1/2 and has no interest in going to the toilet. She was nearly fully trained (day time) at 3yrs for a few months and then for no reason that I can see she decided to stop going all together. I have tried sticker charts, star charts, putting a program together with her kindy, asking my mum and dad to help take her and talk to her and of course constant reminders!!! I have been patient and encouraging to the point of being almost sickly and have always been really loving and gentle with her. Well today I lost it! #2 in her knickers for about the 100th time, and my patience is becoming non-existent. I took her to our paediatrician the other day and she said she thinks she is just a really dreamy child (which she is) but its so inconsistent because she is such a good little girl in every other way and I don't want to get angry with her but I don't know what else to do. I am missing appointments and my elder daughter is getting to school late because of accident emergencies, everyone seems to think there is something wrong with her or my parenting because she won't go to the toilet, I have now resorted to making her rinse her knickers as a way of hopefully teaching her but I feel really bad about that. A friend told me that it will help her take responsibility for her personal cleanliness but it feels a little harsh... I have also resorted to not letting her wear anything on her bottom at all at home now that the weather is warmer so that she has nothing to poo or wee into except the toilet! and she is definitly not scared of the toilet as she can see the tv from it and she uses it as a lounge chair and sometimes plays the guitar on it... she just won't pee or poo into it! She also has to start school in 5 months which is a little scary. Thinking of maybe getting the paediatrician to conduct some physiological tests, havn't done so yet as apparently the are quite invasive. The other thing I am about to try is taking her off all sugar which also has a laxative effect (that includes all high GI carbs) am hoping this might help with #2's. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

just a thought . Read this am going to try tommorrow. If they are ok on #1 but do # 2 in undies or whatever else. Stay home all day -maybe two or three days. Put them in a longer shirt w nothing else. See if they arent more prone to pooping in potty. At least theyll ask for underwear or pull up when the time comes and youll know to take em to potty. Will hopefully have good news to tell!!

Anonymous said...

ok, so here's my problem
my son is 6 years old. He will pee in the toilet,will not poop in the toilet for the life of me! I dont understand why? I have taken him to the doctor and then some they tell me to use the reward system and stay positive!
How do you stay positive when your six year old boys is pooping his pant and doesnt care where you are! now at this point he will lie to me and his father. hide it under the bed and where else we will not find it. im so mad at this point i just dont know what to do. I put him on the potty every hour to two and he will get off the toilet.and ten minutes later will poop in his pants. Hes also doing at school, I just dont know what to do!!!

Anonymous said...

I was always of the school of "don't pressure them, it will happen when they're ready" but I am feeling at my wits end. I actually have feelings of anxiety over my youngest daughter, who will be four in February, and her lack of interest in being toilet trained. She has gone pee on the toilet, but could really take it or leave it. Sometimes she flat out resists it, and tells me that she does not want to go to the bathroom.

Like a lot of the other posts, she does everything in her pull-ups and doesn't tell me. It is only when I catch an offensive whiff when she happens to come near me that I know that she has pooped. And she hates having me change her pooped-in pull-up, screams and cries, and I tell her every time that if she pooped on the toilet I wouldn't have to wipe her down. She knows it in her head, but isn't interested enough to actually make the effort.

I really did think I was the only one with this problem, and I hesitate talking about it to other moms who I know have kids who were early learners in regards to toilet training. I feel like I will be judged or thought of as lazy, and I admit that I am inconsistent, but I thought my youngest would be like my oldest.

I never did any hardcore toilet training with my oldest, who is now six, and still wears underjams at bedtime due to her being a very deep sleeper. She began using the toilet when she was two, very rarely, for the occassional pee. The preschool she went to was very understanding that toilet training could be very challenging, and that the children were already dealing with changes and new transitions with beginning preschool, so there was no pressure to force her out of her pull-ups. So, in that relaxed atmosphere, shortly after starting preschool, and then turning three (she's a September birthday) she was out of pull-ups for daytime with very few accidents. I just assumed that it would be that easy with the next one, so I have just given her a lot of time and space...which right now makes me feel like I've been giving her too much time and space.

This blog and all of the comments have been a Godsend, as I realize that I am not alone in my problems and frustrations.

Thank you to all of you parents for your honesty and candidness. I really appreciate it, and am feeling more encouraged that this too shall pass, and with more consistency on the part of myself and my husband, with more encouragement, and with patience and understanding, she will learn to use the toilet.

Anonymous said...

My granddaughter is about to be 5 and is making NO progress in potty training. Her mom has been working with her since she was 3 with no success. And she has no problem with having wet or dirty panties on. I just don't get it. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. Suggestions can be sent to me at
Thanks in advance for ANY help.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is driving me insane. She is 4 1/2 and had been potty trained for a good year when she started wetting the bed. so i got sick of washing sheets everyday for a good month and started putting her in pullups at night again. Well in the last few months now she wets herself 4-5 times a day at least and thats even going to the bathroom often. I have no clue what to do about her but she is turning into the stinky kid!! Its awful

Anonymous said...

I have a Five year old girl who still wets and poos in her underwear even at school, I have no idea on what to do she is my fourth child and number six is on the way, she was born very early at 23 weeks but the doctors have said there is nothing wrong with her to explain the wetting and dirting of her underware, she was very good at going to the toilet during the day for about 6 months then she went backwards. Any ideas to help

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain and frustration. I've tried everything with my daughter and just when I thought she had made serious improvements, she just faltered backwards this week like she doesn't even care again. I started training her before 2 yrs and she is 3 1/2. Wish I could come up with the answers to help. I feel like a terrible mom and must admit I have become pretty depressed over this. You aren't alone.

Andrea said...

This is my update to my July 14, 2010 commentary (I had the son going into TK at that time; now he's in Kindergarten).
I finally solved the problem. How? you ask. Well, I cheated. I used my baby nurse's services. She trained my daughter a few years earlier, and earlier this year she trained my son. She was with him from Friday afternoon until Sunday night - when we got back, she announced that he was trained. And indeed he was. He hadn't made any BMs yet with her, but she said it would be no problem. It wasn't. I am happy to say say that my son goes to the bathroom by himself and does pretty well. Sure, he needs me to wipe him sometimes, although ususally he wipes himself. Sure, he sometimes has to be reminded to flush the toilet, or to wipe the seat. And sometimes he wets the bed at night. But these are little things. And I am ashamed to say that I didn't teach him. I still don't know how the heck to successfully potty train, and I've given up even trying. I'm grateful that I could afford to pay my baby nurse to potty train him - it was worth every penny. So, parents, there is another way: save up your money if you are able to do so, find a potty trainer you can trust, go away for the weekend, and let her work her magic.

Anonymous said...

I really feel for people out there trying to get their kids sorted, what a wonderful site this is! I have gained some insight that may help me with my next conquest! and hope to offer others some of my own (finally successful) daytime experience that may :) or may not :( help others, but hope it only helps.

After varying training successes with our other 2 boys, (our 1st son was potty trained day and night at about 2 and a half; and our 2nd son due to some problems with my 3rd son being hospitalised took until he was 3 and half yrs old3 and half yrs old); our 3rd son is now over 4 and a half and has just finally got the daytime sorted.

He had medical complications which resulted in the first year of his life spent in hospital. After 3 stomach surgeries and only 50cm of his bowel left, he was on a drip at night at home administered by myself and my husband after being trained and has a condition called short gut syndrome, which equalled to chronic diarrhoea and even on a good day in the earlier years up to 12 nappies filled with very loose number 2's . Potty training was the last thing on our mind and just was not a priority.

As he improved and came off the drip and signed off from various health professionals and starting full time school, the urgency to be independent on the toilet became an issue for others more than us, but this in time started to focus us on it.

We did the normal things potties, books, reward charts, making his toilet into a persona (calling the sneaky poo a name) and so on and on. We would have accidents on the floor at times, after this went on for some time I suggested to him that if he continued to do this I would make him cleaned it up as after all it his mess (professional advice suggested this was ok as long as he didn't enjoy cleaning up otherwise the child might still enjoy making a mess and see clearing it up as a reward- eeeww). Fortunately our son didn't, so this worked, after a while of making him clean it up he stopped doing it.

By taking him to the toilet every half an hour (even if he didn't want to); lots of praise if he did a wee or occasionally a poo; and a sticker chart, we got him semi dry during the day. He would mostly however refuse to do a poo on the toilet and would then of course sometimes have an accident and sometimes hold it. So when he came home he would look for a pullup and go off somewhere privately to do it. We didn't want to force him completely out of them until the main hospital said it was ok. Recently we had this appointment and they suggested that we did the right thing not forcing him, and they requested he had to come off soya egg and dairy again, which would help his bowel movement. After a week on this special diet I felt a motherly instinct to just get rid off the pullups and so hid them from him. He begged me for them and said the same old thing that 'it hurt' and so on, but didn't relent, even cried a few times about whether I was doing the right thing but felt I needed to be strong and continue. I just kept saying " you need to use the toilet, there are no pullups anymore, we all use the toilet and thats where you have to go". After 2 days of holding it he started to go for a poo on the toilet and had 2 accidents once when we were out, and once at school. He still reluctantly went (I might add with no pain whatsoever) and we bought him a lego figure each time for about a week, yes I know its a bit of bribery but it worked. He now goes without getting anything in return and will go to the toilet at school too. He also just takes himself off, wipes himself mostly etc. He is so proud of himself and I know he is happy about it all.

Anonymous said...

I am sure most people have tried all the tricks in the book but these are the things that also helped and was suggested:

lots of drinks during the day

plenty of fruit and fibre

a step at the toilet for his feet, so he can push down

lots of praise when successful

no critical remarks (although I was guilty of this at times)

Privacy-he didn't like us being there while he did it and still doesn't

We still use no pullups but we have the night time bedwetting, but feel this is ok but will not give in to the pullup as apparently it doesn't teach them to get the sensation and I just know he will use it to do a cheeky wee or poo first thing in the morning. I hope everybody who is struggling finds a way with their child to get them fully trained, as I found it very frustrating when I knew he could do it but just wouldn't! good luck and persevere they will get there in the end!

DJ said...

Hi everyone, DJ(blog author) here. I wanted to thank all who are reading and continuing to comment on this post. My son is now almost seven and is ok all night. He now uses the toilet with no problem except remembering to get up and go to it in time. I'm not sure how much of this is laziness or the fact that he gets too involved in what he's doing and misses his bodies clues that it's time to go. We are still working on not waiting to the last minute and going before we leave the house, etc. I know it's difficult for many to deal with this everyday for years on end, but you are not alone. There is not one answer that works for everyone and for some of us, it seems time is the only thing that does. So I wish you all a speedy passage through this messy and frustrating stage! :)

FlourGirl said...

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has commented so far! Our youngest son is almost 7 and has 'accidents' during the day...both #1 and 2, but especially #2. He also is afraid to get his hands soiled, so we keep moist wipes on hand.

I'm going to increase his fruits & fiber and get a stool for him to use so it's easier for him to go.

Sally HP said...

I just found this while googling 'potty training an older child', and I love that I'm not the only one! This is SOOO frustrating! I potty trained my first son at 3.5; boy #2 just DOES NOT CARE if he pees in his underwear, on the dining room chair, on the couch, in the playroom, etc. Trying so hard to just ignore the accidents and praise the successes, but it's SO hard! Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to everyone for these posts! I have been feeling SO alone for so long over this. My son is SIX years-old and in kindergarten and still refuses to use the potty for both BMs & urination. We have been seeing a behavioral therapist for about 9 months without any luck. The therapist is stumped. My son seems truly and genuinely afraid of the potty itself. He has no other learning delays or physical issues of any kind and, according to his teacher, is actually one of the sharpest and most social kids in his class. He has full control over his bowels and when he needs to go, he goes to the bathroom, puts on a pull-up, sits on the potty in the pull-up, makes a BM, empties it into the potty, wipes himself, disposes of the pull-up and washes his hands. However, he absolutely refuses to make a BM without the pull-up and will use a toddler sized urinal but will not urinate in the toilet. We have even tried floating those little flushable foam cheerios in the toilet to make it a game and also let him decorate the adult potty with stickers.

The only thing that keeps me from feeling even worse about this situation is that my younger son has been 100% potty-trained since age 2 years 5 months (he's now 4 y.o.). I just keep telling myself that my 6 y.o. will eventually do it but I am terrified about him starting 1st grade next year since it is a full day. Amazingly, he has never had an accident at school and just holds it until he has access to a pull-up or a urine receptacle besides a toilet (urinal or portable urinal). However, he has had some pretty awful constipation episodes in the past and we have even tried the Miralax route (at the pediatrician's suggestion) with no luck. So frustrating & worrisome.

Anonymous said...

My daughter will be 8 this fall and she refuses to use the toilet for any body functions. She puts on a pull-up, does her business - will change the wet ones, but not the poopy ones. We have seen many doctors/pediatricians and she has been taking counselling and nothing is making her change. She is a very smart child, and there is absolutely no reason for this. One pediatrician says it is a do I fix that?? Hopefully it's true, they won't go to college in diapers:(

Anonymous said...

My son was reading at 24 months, doing second and third grade level math in his head at three. Recently we even discovered he can play music by ear! But now at nearly FIVE YEARS OLD he might not be able to start kindergarten because he's not potty trained.

I've literally tried everything. Thanks for at least letting me know I'm not alone.

bohemeanne said...

I know it's wrong, but I find comfort in this blog! I am a disabled parent and I struggle with my son about potty training. He's 4 and everyone has been trying to pin the "autism" bit on him in my family because of it. I said that there are other children that don't get potty trained by this age but I know they don't believe me. It is very difficult for me to go up and down stairs every 30 minutes to see if I can catch the pee in the toilet. Like everyone else here, he won't go but then wets or has a bm within seconds of leaving the bathroom sometimes. Other days he will wear the underwear and we will go out to a store and come back and he'll be dry. I'll make a big fuss and tell him how great it is only to have him decide to poop later in the evening once my husband comes home which is the subject of fights. I'm putting him in 3 year old preschool in september hoping he'll catch up by the time kindergarden rolls around. In the meantime, I wish you all extra sleep because I know this is very tiring!

Kiza said...

Oh, my goodness. I'm so glad to hear that we're not the only ones going through this. (And so glad to see updates from those who have made it through to the other side!)

My son is nearing five and I'm at my wit's end. He is a smart, caring, attentive little guy...with absolutely ZERO interest in using the potty.

My husband and I were determined from the very beginning not to push him. We figured he'd get it when he was ready. He was actually about nine months old when he started getting really, really interested in the potty. We brought in a little potty for him and set it up in our bathroom, but didn't make a big deal about it or try to force him to use it. He was SO excited by it. He wanted to play with sitting on it for a little while, then kind of lost interest for a few months. But, somewhere between 12-18 months old HE decided that he wanted to start using the potty.

We were rocking right along until we moved when he was 19 months old. Neither my husband nor I were the least bit surprised or upset when our son lost interest in the potty with the move. It was to be expected. But, again, after we were settled into the new house for a few months, he started making overtures that he was interested and started trying again. We actually reached the point that he'd put on underwear right out of his nighttime diaper and he was really excited about it. (Granted, he'd pee through all of them pretty quickly if I wasn't on top of asking him if he needed to potty, but, still.)

I really thought he was RIGHT THERE and then, when he was 2.5, our world turned entirely on it's ear. There was a traumatic experience (not potty related), that ended with a hasty move halfway across the country. I was hugely pregnant with our daughter, we ended up all squashed into a spare room at my mom's house while we tried to find someplace to live, my daughter was born just a few days later and way too early so she was hospitalized for awhile, as soon as my daughter was home (to my mom's house), my sister was diagnosed with cancer and her husband left her with two very young children, and then we moved into out own house. It was a VERY stressful summer for all of us. Needless to say, potty training came to a screeching halt.

I'd like to say that I handled it well, but didn't. It was stressful for me to see him take such a big step backwards just as I had a newborn who needed so much extra attention. And it infuriated me that he flat out told me he wasn't using the potty anymore because he didn't want to. I did (and do) recognize that it's the one thing he had control over, though.

But now, he's almost five. Any mention of using the potty sends him over the edge. He won't wear underwear. He won't wear pull-ups. As smart as he is, and as much as he craves the interaction with his peers, he hasn't been allowed into preschool because he's not potty trained.

My smart boy has become a master at manipulation. Stickers and charts and bribes do NOT work with him.

My daughter has just turned two and started to get very interested in the little potty (which my son has outgrown) at about 18 months. My husband and I had taken all pressure off of our son by then and I was hopeful that seeing his little sister out of diapers would propel my son out of them, too. That was a great big fail. As excited as our daughter is about using the potty and wearing underwear, she's much more interested in doing whatever her brother does and he proclaims loudly that he will "never, ever, NEVER use the potty".

Wit's. End.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to find this site!! Like everyone else, I am so relieved to find I am not the only one. I hope it encourages someone to know that I am the mother of nine kids...all successfully potty trained, some quite early. Now for child number nine. He is four years old and absolutely will not poop in the toilet. He stays dry all night and no worries during the day, but the poop issue is driving me crazy! I've tried rewards, praise, taking away privleges, making him sit on the toilet, etc, etc. Just wanted all of you to know that you're not a bad parent if your older kid isn't getting it yet. Whatever worked with my first eight sure isn't working with number nine. Hang in there, and I'm so glad to hear from all of you!!!

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