Potty training – waving the white flag


I ended up in a battle of wills with my 3 1/2 year old and that was not where I wanted to be. I give up. He will go in the potty when he’s ready and there’s nothing else I can do. I’m going to keep this post bulleted to keep from boring you to tears.

Why we waited until he was 3 1/2 to start

  • We did a little elimination communication with Hugo when he was a baby. He pooped on a little potty from maybe 6 – 9 months of age. When he started walking, he wanted none of it. So the potty was not novel and interesting to him as a toddler.
  • I was pregnant and really tired last year. I had a job that was an hour away. I slept a lot and he watched a lot of TV.
  • New baby meant he needed to get out of our bed. I concentrated on getting Hugo to sleep all night in his bed, which he did! And no longer does. I’m so tired.

What we tried

  • One M&M (or Unreal equivalent) per potty success
  • Stickers on a chart
  • Long term goal of a Hot Wheels play set once he’s in underwear
  • Stickers on a phone app
  • Bottomless (resulting in replacement of one dining room chair and needing to replace our carpet)
  • Underwear
  • Pull-Ups (and the huge drama of which characters are featured on each pull-up)

So, his new preschool director wanted to place him in the Pre-K class a year early. But those kids are 100% potty trained and get no help from the teachers or staff. I thought two months was plenty of time to get it done, and I guess I pushed too hard. He had several days of total success, so I thought he was ready. Instead, we now have a three year old who changes his own diaper.

I have no intention of pushing Hugo into kindergarten early, so it’s not a big deal that he’s with kids his own age in preschool. He seems to be enjoying his class.

I think peer pressure will end up helping. After all, he actually ate and enjoyed broccoli at school yesterday. It will happen.



14 thoughts on “Potty training – waving the white flag

  1. I’m sorry to hear that potty training has been so hard. I remember my sister (seven years younger) took a looong time to be out of diapers too. She got to a point where, she too, was changing her own diapers. She’s now 22 and fully trained 😛 so there is hope!

    I’m sure Hugo will let you know when he’s ready and you’re likely right: peer pressure will probably be the trigger.


  2. We did the potty every 10 minutes, then 30 minutes, then every hour. M&M’s, lollipops as a reward. At the 10/30 minutes trials we stopped the pull-ups during the day. It took about two weeks, with a few misses. We still bring the little potty with us everywhere we go, just in case. The oldest is not a fan of port-a-potties. Good luck.


  3. My so. Was this way… He needed to go back into diapers and restart and come around to it on his own terms. He is totally trained and it all works out ok. You are a super smart mom to listen to your child’s needs and go at his pace. This too shall pass (pun intended lol.). Xo


  4. I, too, am waving the white flag when it comes to #2 on the toilet. JD wears underwear but absolutely refuses to poop on the toilet so when he feels he has to go, he uses a pull-up. He went maybe three times on the toilet then decided that wasn’t for him. One time back in May, he held it in for a few days that we had to give him a suppository which was downright awful for all involved. I also tried bribery, stickers and any reward I could think of and nothing worked. I’ve been told when he’s ready he’ll do it so I bet the same with Hugo. JD just started two half days at preschool so maybe that’ll help. I’m comforted by the fact that he’ll eventually realize what to do and I’m sure Hugo will too!


    • Oh my gosh, I can’t believe he held it for that long! Hugo is struggling to come up with a pooping system now. Constipation throws everyone off 🙂 I would be more specific, but I worry about what his friends will read in a few years.


  5. I feel bad that you’re going through this. I went through it with V. This time, I had my nanny potty train my twins when they were about two years old. For a couple of weeks the kids roamed the house with no bottoms on whatsoever to make it easy to go to the potty. I have no idea what else she did but it worked. They started telling me when they had to go. One thing was clear, the diapers were in the garbage. it was not a discussion or a bargain. I think part of it was the peer pressure between them, and part of it was that it was strictly unacceptable to use a diaper after awhile.They just were not available. There were plenty of accidents and some soilings I think were intentional and the product of laziness and stubbornness. Notably Hank once took a dump in his pants on the playground at about 3 and half years old (my sister was there, a rare event, and it was embarrassing and bizarre) for no apparent reason. And Hank was wetting his bed once or twice a week until about six months ago. He has a small bladder and sleeps very soundly. We got rubber sheet liners, and went through a couple of mattresses, so what we did was not complete but also there was no war of wills. It might be worth it to tell Hugo “Your time in diapers is over. You are not a baby like Jack. Your time to sleep with Mommy is also over. Just please deal with that.You get to do other things because you are now a big boy.” Give him some examples. Let him cry about it in his room for awhile and then go in and talk to him about his toys or his favorite TV shows. Hugo can learn how to experience loss and change and soothe himself. If he doesn’t learn it now, he’ll suffer later learning it. Henry learns these lessons quickly, but can be very willful. Charlie wants to be compliant and tries very hard but he cries and throws tantrums when anything changes. It’s demanding and upsetting. I isolate him for a period and then go to him with a distraction but I never let him have the thing he’s crying for. I respectfully suggest that you not wait till he is “ready” — kids in China are ready at about a year old– What’s “ready”? And what does how he feels about it have to do with it? He’d eat candy all day if you let him. Three-year-olds don’t get to make major decisions. You’re a working mother of two kids under five. You have to call the shots. You can throw the diapers in the garbage– or save them on a high shelf for Jack. Clean up the ensuing mess but never let Hugo go back. That’s my best advice and it’s kind of the opposite of the AP method and what you’ll probably do but this worked for me.

    I had a first kid, too… and I waited….”Waiting till she was ready” meant my daughter had been in diapers until FOUR years old. I believe that has caused her to be really OCD about cleaning, but I’ll never tell her that. 😉


    • Thanks for commenting, G. If I didn’t want advice, I wouldn’t have asked! And for sure, I feel that I’ve made mistakes here and not been consistent because I expected it to be easier. Once he had a couple of perfect days, I thought it was over. But I don’t want to get into a war with Hugo now. He actually did poop on the potty as a baby (EC they call it) and off and on throughout toddlerhood but he just wasn’t interested and I never thought to have a “do or die” time for it. When I pushed last month he really freaked the hell out. I hear you saying that Charlie does too, and believe me we do yell at the poor kid and put him in time out too. He’s really defiant these days and I’m hoping it’s a phase. Jack does also pee and poop on the potty so I guess I haven’t learned my lesson :-). I think the time was probably right when he was still agreeable last year and not a terrible 3 but I was so pregnant and tired I just wasn’t up for it. Thanks for responding.


  6. Pingback: Sorting out 2015 | Long Live Go

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s