Working Parent Parenting & Child Care by Stage Child Development Education Family Health Family Life In the News

Potty Training: How Do You Grow Interest?

Potty Training: How Do You Grow Interest?

My 3 years, 4 months old son has absolutely no interest in potty training. It wasn’t always the case. Last summer, before he turned 3 years old, he showed signs of being ready to go on the potty and even went on it fairly often. I dove right in buying him superhero undies, reading potty-themed books, and rewarding him with stickers and chocolate chips. I thought we were on the way towards a diaper-free house.

Potty training a boyJust as quick as he took interest, he lost it. “No” became the answer of choice when asked if he wanted to try using the potty. Not wanting to engage in a power struggle, I accepted that answer with a simple “okay!” Days passed then weeks and months and always the same “No, I don’t want to” response to my daily “Do you want to try the potty?” question. My now 8-year old daughter was a later potty trainer but she took a lot more interest in it. Starting on her 3rd birthday, she started sitting on the potty daily. Never a drop went in but she sat every day for 5 months when, one day, she decided she would completely train herself both pee and poop. We never looked back. I marveled at how easy it was and became an advocate for child-led potty training.

But with Owen I’m starting to doubt this approach. He’ll take interest for a day and then…nothing for weeks. Owen has a strong personality and wants to have control over most aspects of his world. It’d be fairly easy to fall into the power struggle hole with him so I’m trying to be careful about focusing on it too much. Yet I fear that we’ll be managing diapers until well into grade school at this rate. I’m trying to cling to the rationale that every child develops and advances at their own pace. Diapers, however, is one part of the growing up process that I’m eager to say “goodbye” to.

So I’m reaching out to my parenting community. I’m desperate for potty training ideas. How do I grow interest in potty training especially for a strong-willed boy?



  1. Kris-Ann January 29, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Max was the same–no interest. We just went cold turkey on his 4th birthday and took him out of underwear. It took about a year until he was fully trained day and night. I’m a firm believer in they’ll do it when they’re ready but he showed zero signs being soiled bothered him so I knew something had to be done. He’s 7 1/2 now and going potty is still a struggle. Good luck with O.

  2. Media Mom January 30, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    I’d just sit back and relax. My daughter, our poor first child, was a potty training disaster, and we are still dealing with repercussions of that and she’s about to turn 8. With my son, we just decided not to do anything. Of course, I couldn’t QUITE do that, but just like you, we bought underpants when he seemed to take an interest, and just as quickly, he lost interest. But at age 3 yrs. 8 months, he just did it himself. I think it helped that a few months before that, he started pooping exclusively on the potty, but it was all his own choice and he’s not had more than 3 small accidents. He has great bladder control and is dry at night — all without bribes, cajoling or any drama.
    We have experienced the easiest and the most challenging, so I’m not sure that makes us experts, but I guess in the end if you can think about potty training as the child’s job and responsibility and relieve yourself (no pun intended) of the burden, it may be better for everyone. At least that’s our family story.
    Good luck.

  3. K February 2, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    We used a three-day method with our son when he was 2.75. What I love/loved about it was that it was all based on him TELLING US when he needed to go. Instead of asking if he needed to go (which sets him up to say NO! over and over), we would frequently say, “Tell us when you need to go potty” or “Remember, tell us when you need to go potty.” In other words, there was no battle about when and if to sit on the potty because it was his choice when to do it. It is a cold turkey method (she recommends nighttime too, but we’ve kept pull ups for nap and night), and it really helped our son learn what the urge was when he needed to go. Within a day, he realized that if he wanted to stay dry, he needed to tell us to go potty. He turned three last month and is fully trained for pottying and rarely has poop accidents (they do sometimes occur or, more often, he’ll wait until he’s in his nap pull up to poop). Good luck! Hope this helps!

  4. Kate February 2, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I’m all for the child-led approach, partially because the idea of changing the number of accidents friends and family who decided to train their children early seemed completely unappealing and impractical and partially because Liam has proven to be stubborn enough that only a plan he’s on board with is effective for anything. We started undies a few weeks ago and short of a handful of accidents the first day or two hasn’t looked back. It was late and I was starting to get impatient but it was only recently that he showed interest (the past few months he’s been in pull up and we’ve basically treated them like undies with an insurance policy). A few months ago he definitely wasn’t ready and then BOOM, he was. Keep encouraging, and maybe give it a few more months and see what happens. Liam was about the same stage when I was starting to really get anxious but things turned around quickly!

Please Log In to Comment