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Potty problems and approaching four

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

My son will be four in February and we are still having so much trouble with potty learning. I haven't had much time to be on these forums, so I feel a bit guilty for posting and asking advice but I am at the end of my rope. He is a really great kid, he has his moments like every three-year-old, but this potty business is just getting ridiculous - and is seriously getting on my last nerve!

 

He never had an easy time with potty training. Until this September (3 1/2 +) he would not even go near the potty! He just decided that he wasn't going to, and was in diapers or training underwear for months. Now he is in underwear all the time, and for a while things seemed to be going okay. The only issue is that he didn't want to go in public washrooms, which I found understandable because they can be loud and he has always disliked loud noises. But the more I tried to make him comfortable, the more resistant he has become to potty training in general. He had a couple of accidents at preschool because of his refusal to use the bathroom anywhere but at home, so the teachers asked me to encourage him more, so I was trying to take him into the bathroom every morning when I dropped him off. They also insinuated that if he peed himself again he would have to wear diapers to school :( Even the 2.5 year olds at his school are potty trained - not that I should be comparing. He is only there for 2.5 hours and would generally hold it and wait until we got home, but I tried explaining to him that pee was what our body no longer needed, that it wasn't healthy to hold it in, etc. etc. Now instead of going potty during the day at home, he just holds his pee and poop in ALL DAY LONG! Today he went to the washroom at around 8am no problem, and then REFUSED to go again! I told him that if he wouldn't go when I asked, the it was his responsibility to go when he felt like he needed to pee. Around 5pm he of course had an accident. I got very upset, but tried to be calm and asked him to go to the bathroom and undress while I went to get him some new clothes. He refused to get undressed! I told him he could stay in the bathroom until he undressed, then I would help him wash up and put his new, clean clothes on. He stayed in the bathroom until his Dad came home an hour later (shortly after 6pm).

 

What am I supposed to do with this strong willed child? I just get so mad at him, say and do things I regret, and then sink into a depression for the rest of the day. Obviously not a cycle I wish to continue with. I just can't be June Cleaver and clean up his pee and poo all day every day! He is starting Kindergarten in September, and my god I just want him to have a good childhood. I worry about him being picked on :(

 

I also wonder if this is a medical thing? But... if he is holding it for so long, surely he knows he has to pee? It's just that EVERY stage of this process has been so much harder than I have ever heard before. Maybe the next step is the see a doctor about it? Even if it isn't physical, maybe she can help with the psychological barriers?

 

Any help is appreciated. I feel so discouraged and hopeless, and all over something so basic.

post #2 of 9

When my dd was 3.5 and newly potty trained, she wouldn't use public bathrooms, at all. This potty saved us: http://www.amazon.com/Cool-Gear-Travel-Potty/dp/B002RAYVKG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1323462006&sr=8-3

 

At first, we used it outside the bathroom and then she let us move it inside the bathroom, and then eventually she was willing to sit on the actual toilet. If your son's teachers are willing to use it, it might remove the power struggle element, until he is willing to use the regular bathroom.

post #3 of 9

Sounds to me like it's become a power struggle.  I went through something similar with my DD when she was a little younger but not much.  She was out of diapers just under three and then DS was born...cue potty regression :-/  She did not want to go potty when she was asked to, constant accidents which she didn't tell me about, fun and games all around.  I tried to make her clean up after herself and she didn't want to do it and then there would be tantrums.  Luckily she thought pooping herself was icky so poop always made it into the toilet - at least I had that.

 

 

I tried everything but around 3 1/2 I had had enough.  She peed herself twice while we were on a playdate and took off and threw her wet underwear in full view of our hosts.  That was over my line on so many levels.  

 

I had read that you are supposed to drop any issue that has become a power struggle, let the emotional stuff blow over, and try again in a few weeks.  I hadn't tried it at that point because it sounded like a lot of accidents to clean up, plus I didn't want to admit that what I was doing wasn't working.  Well when I saw the underwear come off at the playdate I realized that she was completely sidetracked form the learning process by trying to show me who was boss. 

 

 

 

For me and DD the crux of the issue was that she did not want to do as I said, and I often asked her to go potty before we went out or before meals or if I saw her looking uncomfortable.  She didn't have any objection to the potty in principle.  So I sat her down and told her that I didn't want to fight with her anymore and I would not be telling her to go potty at all anymore - it would be her responsibility to listen to her body.  I also stopped making her clean it up, because she was reading that as a punishment.  I also told her I would not be carrying extra underwear when we went out anymore, because I wanted her to take it seriously and make it to the bathroom every time.  However if she had wet pants she had to change them and if we were out we would go home.  

 

Then I really did it and I stuck to it.  I never told her to go or asked her if she had to.  I tried to be really encouraging about accidents and say things like  "That happens when you're learning.  Next time you will get there on time!"  I only had to clean up accidents around the house for a couple of days and then she got the hang of it.  When we went out and she wet her pants we went home, even at a children's concert only 10 minutes in.

 

After a few weeks she was pretty confident and it stopped being a power issue.  Only at that point did I start asking her to go when it was practical, i.e. leaving the house.  Since it wasn't a power struggle anymore she was willing to cooperate, and I tried to ask her as little as possible and let her learn from her own mistakes.

 

Anyway, your situation is different so your exact solution will be different, but my suggestion would be to first drop the power struggle and let go of your fears about health and social/developmental issues for now.  He is not four yet, so it's a little early to worry about wrecking his whole childhood.  My DD had an accident or two in preschool at that age.  One of my friends, who is super-laid-back, just sent her child to preschool in pullups.  I'm sure she isn't the first.

 

 

 

post #4 of 9

If his issue is loud noises in the bathroom, what about getting some noise cancelling headphones for when he is in there?  

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

edited to say - Thank you, Thank you, Thank you so much for responding!

 

sarahr - Bringing a potty with us to preschool might be a good idea! He is weird about how he goes potty too (of course, because everything has to be a PITA) - he stands up to pee at the big toilet and sits down to poop on the little potty. The toilets at his preschool are directly off the coat area where all the kids get changed before going into the classroom, so we would have to start right in the door of the washroom I suppose. It's definitely worth a try!

 

ninayyc - I definitely agree about it being a power struggle. The thing is, I would gladly give over the power! I have tried countless times to let him take the initiative - hence the holding it all day long and then having an accident after 8 hours or so. To be honest though, I always have reminded him throughout the day, even when I wasn't telling him to go at certain times I would remind him that he was in charge and needed to listen to his body and go when he needed to. Maybe I should stop all reminders all together? He does tend to listen to me when I tell him to go before going out, probably because his fear of public washrooms outweighs his desire to thwart me. That is actually one thing that makes me think it is a physical issue - because even when I stop asking, he will hold it and then have an accident. It just blows my mind how cavalier he is about it. I think I also need to drop the anger when he has an accident. I struggle with that a lot.

 

leighi123 - That would be a great idea, but the toilets we use aren't actually loud haha. There is never any one in the toilet at his preschool, and the flush is very quiet. But he has had a bad experience at a mall with one of those auto-flushes, which was very loud and flushed about 3 times while he was going pee. As if we needed one more thing to make the process harder. I only assume that this is what he is afraid of, but after countless explanations and demonstrations he is as afraid (or more-so?) as ever. 

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoJournMama View Post

But he has had a bad experience at a mall with one of those auto-flushes, which was very loud and flushed about 3 times while he was going pee. As if we needed one more thing to make the process harder. I only assume that this is what he is afraid of, but after countless explanations and demonstrations he is as afraid (or more-so?) as ever. 



When you're back to a point when he's willing to use public bathrooms, make sure to block the auto-flush. I know people who carry post-it notes to put over the sensor; I'm not that organized, so I just stand there blocking it with my hand. I don't let it flush until dd is safely out of the stall.

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoJournMama View Post

I always have reminded him throughout the day, even when I wasn't telling him to go at certain times I would remind him that he was in charge and needed to listen to his body and go when he needed to. Maybe I should stop all reminders all together? He does tend to listen to me when I tell him to go before going out, probably because his fear of public washrooms outweighs his desire to thwart me. That is actually one thing that makes me think it is a physical issue - because even when I stop asking, he will hold it and then have an accident. It just blows my mind how cavalier he is about it. I think I also need to drop the anger when he has an accident. I struggle with that a lot.


Accidents are really frustrating.  It is hard.

 

I am just curious though why you think there is a physical issue here?  If he often gets told to go to the bathroom, maybe he is waiting for you to tell him?  Or maybe he has always gotten lots of reminders and he needs more practice managing on his own?  A lot of kids wait until the last minute.  It took my DD a few days to sort out the timing.  She had to learn from her mistakes.

post #8 of 9

I dont have a lot of advice, but HUGS!!  My middle child was in diapers til after he hit 4... i just couldn't take the issues so we'd try for a bit, and then when I couldn't take it we'd go back to diapers. (I think his problem,honestly, was just laziness...he didnt want to take the time out of whatever he was doing to go potty).  One day, it just clicked and when we tried it just worked... and we've never looked back.  So... he WILL eventually get there!!!!  HUGS!!!

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarahr View Post



When you're back to a point when he's willing to use public bathrooms, make sure to block the auto-flush. I know people who carry post-it notes to put over the sensor; I'm not that organized, so I just stand there blocking it with my hand. I don't let it flush until dd is safely out of the stall.

 

Wow, that is such a good idea! Thank you!
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nina_yyc View Post


Accidents are really frustrating.  It is hard.

 

I am just curious though why you think there is a physical issue here?  If he often gets told to go to the bathroom, maybe he is waiting for you to tell him?  Or maybe he has always gotten lots of reminders and he needs more practice managing on his own?  A lot of kids wait until the last minute.  It took my DD a few days to sort out the timing.  She had to learn from her mistakes.

I just think that maybe it is a physical issue just because he has only ever once or twice said he needs to go to the bathroom. I am just at a loss, honestly, and thinking - if he still is so resistant, maybe it isn't just that he is difficult. We have tried lots of reminders and no reminders and neither seems to be working haha.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by happy1nluv View Post

I dont have a lot of advice, but HUGS!!  My middle child was in diapers til after he hit 4... i just couldn't take the issues so we'd try for a bit, and then when I couldn't take it we'd go back to diapers. (I think his problem,honestly, was just laziness...he didnt want to take the time out of whatever he was doing to go potty).  One day, it just clicked and when we tried it just worked... and we've never looked back.  So... he WILL eventually get there!!!!  HUGS!!!

Thank you for sharing your experience! It is really helpful to know that I am not the only one who has been through this!

 

A little update - We stopped giving him reminders during the day, hoping that if it was a control issue or an issue of never having to pay attention because I was always telling him when to go (even though he would refuse almost every time) that would work itself out. Well, It's been three days and he has had about 2-3 accidents a day and so far no pees in the toilet other than one before going to preschool when I did remind and once his Dad asking him to sit on the potty while he cleaned up an accident (he pooped on the potty). So that's pretty dismal and discouraging. I will try to give it a few more days, but we have company coming this weekend and I would love to spend the time doing something OTHER than cleaning up his pee and poop. Also, it's my in-laws who will surely be doing a lot of the child-minding and whom he will listen to more than boring old me!
 

 

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