3 yo still in diapers, help me undestand - Mothering Forums
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The Childhood Years > 3 yo still in diapers, help me undestand
natashaccat's Avatar natashaccat 08:17 PM 09-20-2006
Hi all,
I've started babysitting a 3 yo who is still in diapers and it's kind of freaking me out. Both my dd's PL before they were 2 yo and it just feels wierd to diaper a child this old, it's definately pushing my cultural comfort zone of hygene and personal privacy, kwim?

The mom tells me that he simply isn't interested and she doesn't want to push and I totally respect that. What I need from you guys is a little help in not feeling wierd about it, like perhaps some insight into what this child might be thinking and feeling. I'm sure that he can sense my discomfort with diapers and I don't want to do or say something that will hurt his feelings or make the situation at home worse.

FWIW his home situation is kind of bad, lots of sibling fighting. His parents are very loving but they are struggling with an older special needs child and both parents have difficulty with basic stuff like consistant discipline.

IfMamaAintHappy's Avatar IfMamaAintHappy 08:27 PM 09-20-2006
my two girls both PL'ed at 3 yrs 2 months. Boys in particular seem to be trained later considering the experiences we have with friends.

Since pullups cost more than large diapers, if he really just isnt taking to PL right now, there's really no point in letting him wet and soil big boy pants or use more expensive pull up diapers.

He sounds like most boys I know, but again, its my experience, and not anyone elses. If yours were trained by 2, and most other kids you know were also, then its not your experience.

Does it help to know that I think its very normal? Or that other people do?
canadiangranola's Avatar canadiangranola 08:31 PM 09-20-2006
LOTS of little boys don't PL before three. My ds is 39 months old. He is very verbal, intelligent, charming, funny and generally wonderful to be with. He pees in the potty. He is completely uninterested in pooping in the potty. We have a loving, relatively non chaotic (as much as is possiblt with two young kids) home life, we are stable, good marriage, etc.). He just doesn't want to poop in the potty. He knows when he has to poop. He will go outside and do it on the lawn if the dor is unlocked and he is naked. I think he is normal (well...maybe not the lawn thing? lol)

Let it be. Change his diaper, offer the potty if he wants it, and whatever you do, don't shame him.
4evermom's Avatar 4evermom 08:52 PM 09-20-2006
If a child is truly not interested, there is not much one can do, IMO. My ds is 5 and today he used a toilet for poop for the third time in his life, the last time being over a year ago. He is not comfortable with the sitting position and prefers to stand with a diaper. He has not routinely worn diapers since he was 2 1/2. He tells me when he needs one for poop and I put one on at that time. I think that our relationship is more important than toilet training and would rather not coerce, manipulate, or bribe him (not that it would even be possible to bribe him. There is nothing he wants more than what he wants).
bobica's Avatar bobica 09:06 PM 09-20-2006
from my experience, 3 is the average age age for beginning PL. there are kids on both sides of that age range, but 3 is pretty well within the typical range.
hottmama's Avatar hottmama 10:29 PM 09-20-2006
I have heard of lots of 3 yr. olds still in diapers, too... but I will admit it would probably make me uncomfortable to change a child that age's diaper. I guess you'll get used to it, though!
UUMom's Avatar UUMom 10:49 PM 09-20-2006
If I were the parent of this child, i would want to know what the caregiver is thinking. You can pass a lot 'stuff' onto a baby and so the parent needs to know you're not OK with this.
Flor's Avatar Flor 11:06 PM 09-20-2006
I thought 3 was average? My son pl'd around 3rd bday. You can't force them, obviously, so if they aren't interested, what can you do? They'll become self conscious soon enough.
lisac77's Avatar lisac77 11:45 PM 09-20-2006
My son is 3.25 and he is now pee trained, but still poops in his underwear or a pull-up if he is wearing one. I think this progression is typical, especially with boys!
kati6110's Avatar kati6110 02:37 AM 09-21-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by canadiangranola View Post
He knows when he has to poop. He will go outside and do it on the lawn if the dor is unlocked and he is naked. I think he is normal (well...maybe not the lawn thing? lol)
I am so relieved to hear that someone else's children do this too! ds will just rip his clothes off and poo in the yard while he and ds1 are outside playing. The only way I could keep him from doing this is if I literally followed him around all day long.
annethcz's Avatar annethcz 03:06 PM 09-21-2006
I know what your mean. My DD has taken a LONG time (IMO) to PL. She wasn't consistent with using the potty until she was over 3, and at 4.5 she still wears a diaper to bed. To be honest, I'm becoming more and more uncomfortable with putting a diaper on her- she's just so big. But in my DD's case, I truly believe that she is just not physiologically ready to be dry at night. She really does want to be done with diapers, but her body isn't cooperating. She has no idea that she's peeing in the middle of the night. And on the few nights she has stayed dry, it's been a surprise to her.

I know the general wisdom is that girls are easier to PT than boys, but that hasn't been my experience.
mmace's Avatar mmace 03:14 PM 09-21-2006
My oldest daughter was completely done by her second birthday.

My son didn't potty learn until he was four years and three months old.

My baby-girl just started last week, and she is three years and five months old.

Seems pretty normal to me!
rainbowmoon's Avatar rainbowmoon 03:14 PM 09-21-2006
I think the question you need to ask yourself is WHY does it make you so uncomfortable? what is your cultural comfort zone anyway? not trying to be snarky just trying to understand a bit further.

or is it just seeing a child so big in diapers? because I can certainly understand that! (DS is 2.5 and not a bit interested in PL atm) also do you think they just don't have time to work with him on it? from your post it sounds like there might be other issues at play here.
P-chan's Avatar P-chan 03:35 PM 09-21-2006
Please don't feel weird about it. The little guy is probably thinking and feeling that he's just not ready yet. My son turned three in May and is still in diapers. For boys especially, it's definitely within the range of normal.

What is it exactly that's pushing your comfort zone of hygiene and privacy? Even if he were putting everything in the potty, you'd still likely be highly involved with wiping, re-dressing, other private acts of the toileting experience, no? (I ask in all sincerity, as I'm still doing the diaper thing). Maybe what's unusual for you is just being so involved in another child's diapering, esp. as it's a boy when your experience is with your daughters (of course, if you've got loads of experience with child care, that's not it either).

If it's just that it feels unseemly to you to be putting a diaper on a 3-year-old, please remember that by changing his diapers, you're meeting him where he is developmentally right now. And that's something to take pride in, not feel weird about.
~member~'s Avatar ~member~ 03:45 PM 09-21-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by natashaccat View Post
Hi all,
I've started babysitting a 3 yo who is still in diapers and it's kind of freaking me out. Both my dd's PL before they were 2 yo and it just feels wierd to diaper a child this old, it's definately pushing my cultural comfort zone of hygene and personal privacy, kwim?

The mom tells me that he simply isn't interested and she doesn't want to push and I totally respect that. What I need from you guys is a little help in not feeling wierd about it, like perhaps some insight into what this child might be thinking and feeling. I'm sure that he can sense my discomfort with diapers and I don't want to do or say something that will hurt his feelings or make the situation at home worse.

FWIW his home situation is kind of bad, lots of sibling fighting. His parents are very loving but they are struggling with an older special needs child and both parents have difficulty with basic stuff like consistant discipline.
I understand your discomfort. All six of my kids knew how to use the toilet by the tim ethey were able to get up on it. No child is going to wake up one day and decide to use the toilet. I really don't understand why parents would put that kind of responsibility on a child, anyways.
The toilet is the most sanitary and hygenic place to urinate and defecate, when living inside a city/house.

Since you are watching this child, can you help him learn to use the toilet?
It does become difficult when they have spent their entire life using diapers, but most children would rather not defecate/urinate on themselves.

Hope something gets resolved for you.
MidwifeErika's Avatar MidwifeErika 04:04 PM 09-21-2006
Well, you can always offer him use of a potty while you are watching him. Then you can see for yourself if it is just a matter of his parents not seeing that he is ready or if he really just isn't developmentally ready yet. I am not saying to push it, but just to offer it a few times a day to him.

The age thing doesn't seem to weird to me. My daughter was 2.5 when she was pee trained, but nearly 3 before she stopped demanding a diaper to poo in. My son turned 2 in June and is just now starting to show real interest in the potty. While he is awake he does all his bathroom business in a potty, but I wouldn't consider him potty trained because he wets himself during nearly every nap and cannot stay dry at night at all (usually actually leaks out a diaper too).... oh, and if we go anywhere he needs a diaper as he gets too distracted to use a potty. So, I still can see we have a long ways to go... he may be 3 or 4 before he is fully ready to use the potty at all times. I make the potty very available to him, but I don't push it and I never, ever, ever get after him or get frustrated by him wetting his pants. He just isn't totally there developmentally yet.

So, I don't think it is unusual that a 3 year old may not be developmentally ready yet. However, it doesn't hurt to leave a potty sitting out and let him know that he is welcome to use it anytime he wants and then just see what happens.
natashaccat's Avatar natashaccat 05:23 PM 09-21-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by rainbowmoon View Post
I think the question you need to ask yourself is WHY does it make you so uncomfortable? what is your cultural comfort zone anyway? not trying to be snarky just trying to understand a bit further.

or is it just seeing a child so big in diapers? because I can certainly understand that! (DS is 2.5 and not a bit interested in PL atm) also do you think they just don't have time to work with him on it? from your post it sounds like there might be other issues at play here.
Oh yes this is an issue with me, I'm not judging the parent's choice to respect her child's timeline.

I don't really want to get into a debate over diapering but just so ya'll know where I'm coming from I've used Eliminication Communication principles with our children so it just feels not age appropriate to diaper a child of this age. Anyway, it's good to hear that this is very common and that I'm not contributing to parental neglect.
newmommy's Avatar newmommy 06:36 PM 09-21-2006
What does "PL"stand for?
Ellien C's Avatar Ellien C 06:54 PM 09-21-2006
No child is going to wake up one day and decide to use the toilet. I really don't understand why parents would put that kind of responsibility on a child, anyways.


You don't think? This hasn't been my experience. In my experience children do wake up one day and decide to: use the potty, walk, learn to eat with utensils, wean, etc.

My DD is 3 and she wears pull-ups to bed, so she's not fully potty learned (PL for the PP). But she can change her own pull-up, get a new one, throw the old one away etc. She requests help wiping her but for poop - because she's done it incompletely before and found it on her underwear.

So, I agree with the other posters who suggested that even if he was using the toilet, you might have to help him - either by wiping or getting his pants back over his but or making sure he washes up well.

I suspect he may not be thinking or feeling a whole lot about it right now, save that this is his routine. My Dd thinks nothing of yelling "I need someone to wipe my butt" when she's done.

As far as encouraging it, I think being around a slightly older boy who uses the toilet would do wonders. He needs someone like him that he can relate to in that respect - not all you big grown-up who can drive cars and use the stove.
jillmamma's Avatar jillmamma 06:56 PM 09-21-2006
PL = potty learning

DS just NOW is finally consistently going both in the potty at 3y9m. I admit to not pushing it much at all before 3 as he was afraid of sitting on the potty for a long time before that and I was either pregnant or had a newborn the whole time he was 2. I had not really heard of EC or thought of it as a viable possiblity when he was a baby. But just in the last couple of weeks something "clicked" in him and he realized he could do it.

Does the little guy even want to sit on the potty? For us, initially a reward system worked to get him to try it (stickers, later m&ms and matchbox cars), but after awhile he did not seem to care. By that point, he knew how to go, and could hold it till he got to the potty, just did not WANT to. So then, I started making sure we were going to fun places and doing fun things a lot, but we could not leave or start the fun thing till he went potty first. That has seemed to work best for him. Does the mom want you to help work with him, like try sitting him on it every diaper change or certain times? I can see why she would not want to clean up pee and poop off her floor and off underwear all the time though too.
fuller2's Avatar fuller2 06:44 PM 09-23-2006
My son started using the potty when he was about 18 months old, and I also have been occasionally babysitting 3-year-olds who still use diapers.

At the risk of inviting much displeasure (and knowing that my experience is unusual in our culture) I have to say that it seems that kids potty-learn much later these days then they used to. A day care provider I know who's been doing for 20 years says that kids start using the potty a year or two later than they did even 10 years ago--she blames disposable diapers and especially pull-ups, because they are so absorbent the kid can't really feel the 'outcome' of what they just did. Another problem is the day care environment--providers just aren't, in most cases, going to work on potty training because diapers are a lot easier that dealing with 'accidents'--and then when mom and dad come home from work, they are ALSO too tired to deal with accidents--so the diapers stay on.

A HUGE light went on when I understood the principles of EC, which I did use with my son to help him get out of diapers. (I didn't read about it in time to do it earlier.) The big one is that we *teach* kids to pee and poop in diapers--it's not just a natural thing that happens with all kids everywhere. There are millions of people in the world who do not use diapers--huge parts of India and China are an example. There kids learn to pee or poop in the appropriate spot from a very young age; baby clothes are often like long open shirts so they can just be lifted up--kids are naked underneath. The idea that kids muscles or whatever are not physicially capable of holding it before age 2 or so is just a myth, one that we value very much in our society. In societies without diapers, you learn one way of going from the time you are a baby--you don't have to suddenly make this huge conceptual leap from peeing/pooping wherever you happen to be standing or sitting (which is how it works with diapers) to going in the 'right' place in the house.

So--the reason potty training can be so hard is that we have to teach kids to poop and pee in a TOTALLY different way than we have been teaching them to go until that time. It's just a weird thing to do--like if we taught kids to eat at the table sitting down until suddenly, at age 2 we started telling them that really you are supposed to eat standing up outside. Kids who just seem to suddenly 'get it' have LEARNED to do it by watching other people--there isn't anything in a child's brain that suddenly says "Use the toilet" at a particular stage of development. (After all, no one had flush toilets until around 1900.)

I think most kids really do have to be taught to use the toilet, and yeah, I do think that a big reason so many kids train so late these days in the U.S. is because of this idea that they will do it when they're "ready" and because parents don't push it. This idea is very popular in AP circles partly because there WAS a horrible time in the U.S. when kids were expected to poop on a strict schedule (I have read baby care books from the 1940s that say to TIE THE CHILD TO THE POTTY AND LEAVE THEM THERE at specific hours of the day!!) and obviously that's not what I'm talking about.

But I personally think we have gone too far in the other direction and because of our fear of making our kids neurotic, have instead 3 and 4-year-olds who still poop in their pants--something that would be unheard of in many parts of the world. (and unheard of in 'tribal' societies like those APers like to emulate...)

Using a toilet is unnatural in many ways. (When they were first introduced, plenty of people thought it was very bizarre and unsanitary to poop inside your house.) Sitting down to poop is not the way people do it when they don't have toilets. The kid who goes outside to poop, who squats down on the ground, is behaving in a really natural, organic way!!

I don't know what the answer is, but I think that yes, there is something weird about a 3-year-old who still poops in his or her pants. But I don't think it is the fault of the individual parent (I think few parents of non-trained 3-year olds are happy about it)--I think it is a cultural thing we have going right now. So much of infant-rearing is based in culture, not biology--everything from sleeping arrangements to BF rates to how many people take care of the child. (For instance, I bet potty learning is a lot easier in an environment where more than one adult is primarily responsible for the kids). How kids learn to poop and pee is just a part of this.
littleteapot's Avatar littleteapot 09:26 PM 09-23-2006
There is always such harsh judgement on threads like these. Sometimes it's really subtle, but it's definitely there... the idea that it's "weird", "wrong" or "bad" if a child who is of the average age to PL is still PLing!
But I bet if someone had a child who was 6+ and having problems everyone would be very sympathetic and not think it was "Weird" and "bad"

My DD didn't have a bit of interest until about a week after her third birthday. Then she PL'd herself (pee) in a day. Poop took another two weeks. She's had one accident and so long as we wake her up once to use the potty at night, she has a dry bed 90-95% of the time. Although I personally think we're pushing the dry bed a little since we can't really expect that to follow immediately, kwim? That's much harder. So she has padding under her sheet just in case.
In reality she's only been using the potty since mid-August, so like... a month.
savithny's Avatar savithny 01:13 AM 09-24-2006
My son didn't train until 3yrs 8 mos -- what's that, 43, 44 mos?

My experience with him led me to a certain mantra:

You can lie down with them - but you can't make them sleep.
You can put food in front of them - but you can't make them eat.
You can put them on the potty - but you can't make them poop.

In other words, you can show them what YOU want them to do, but you cannot FORCE them to biological actions just because YOU want them to.

My son, it became clear, had a number of gross motor issues that were part of his potty delay. We got referred to a neurologist. I got every speech in the book, many from random strangers -- "watch for 'poop face' and put him on then," "try putting him on every 30 minutes...." Well, he never made 'poop face,' probably because he really had no idea of what was going on down there for the longest time. He could clamp down and hold, but he could *not* release of his own accord. And all the pressure on *me* led to some bad, bad places and power struggles.

When it clicked for him, it clicked overnight. He had maybe three accidents after the day he firstsat down on the potty and went.

When it came to his little sister, I determined to relax and not get stressed. When she showed interest, we got a little potty chair. She had free access to teh bathroom, and knew what was supposed to go on in there. We talked up using the potty and how fun it was to wear big girl underwear. ANd she decided at 3 years 1 mo that it was time. ANd she's had 2 accidents since then, both near misses and trouble undoing clothes. Yeah, "late" according to the definitions of several on this thread, but stress free for us both. We didn't leave it entirely to her - we let her know what the potty was, what it was for, and that we expected her to use it.

But you cannot *make* a child release wastes when and where you want. You can encourage them to *want* to do so, but that's a very different thing. Yes, later training may be a cultural thing - but different cultures have different approaches to it - and there are many things about American culture that make some of the early PL approaches not feasible for *most* people in this country - work schedules, childcare issues, the fact that we spend much of our days indoors on carpet...

One thing I'll say about the OP, though -- kids can pick up on being judged. And it doesn't help. Being judged and shamed will not make a child decide to start using the potty. I sometimes thing every stranger that made a comment to my son extended the time he stayed in diapers based on his reaction to their judgement.
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial 01:35 AM 09-24-2006
It's really very common. Especially in boys. Irritating though, isn't it.

I wont wipe a child's bottom after about 4 &1/2. It makes me very uncomfortable. I have had six year olds ask me to wipe them.

Give him time, and slowly encourage him to be potty trained when he is ready.

BUT beware.... if you don't have boys in your house... BOYS ARE PIGS when they first learn. That little thing can squirt farther than you ever dreamed!!! You can hold it down, they can hold it down, and still it squirts UP. You will be amazed at where you will find pee.

So, don't encourage too hard.
mother culture's Avatar mother culture 01:36 AM 09-24-2006
I seem to have a different View of this subject. I have 3 boys and all were introduced to the potty from birth and I used cloth diapers. All of them were PL'ed at 23 mos but still wetting at night occasionaly. I think parents in our scociety teach their babies and toddlers to use their diapers as a potty and then wait for readyness and then begin changing behaivior by talking about potty and visiting the potty. I think this is the problem. I personally am uneasy when I see a 3 year old in a diaper. They should at least be able to pee in the potty or outside by this age and out of diapers. Underwear are not much harder to change if poop happens adn it sends the child a clear lesson. I would talk to the parents and say can you please bring a stack of underwear with the little boy because he may surprise them.
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial 01:43 AM 09-24-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by fuller2 View Post
At the risk of inviting much displeasure (and knowing that my experience is unusual in our culture) I have to say that it seems that kids potty-learn much later these days then they used to. A day care provider I know who's been doing for 20 years says that kids start using the potty a year or two later than they did even 10 years ago--she blames disposable diapers and especially pull-ups, because they are so absorbent the kid can't really feel the 'outcome' of what they just did.
That I totally agree with. I can potty train a cloth diapered child much faster than a disposable diapered child. The newer diapers are comfey even if they are wet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fuller2 View Post
Another problem is the day care environment--providers just aren't, in most cases, going to work on potty training because diapers are a lot easier that dealing with 'accidents'--and then when mom and dad come home from work, they are ALSO too tired to deal with accidents--so the diapers stay on.
I agree a LITTLE with this. I am willing to work with a child as long as his/her parents are working on it at home. But, sometimes we providers feel like it is only getting done at day care. I will send a child home in panties, only to have them come back in pullups. Or even worse, I will have them in undies, and before the parent leaves, they will put a diaper on the child.

So, in those cases I don't try so hard. But, eventually I will decide "I have changed your last diaper kiddo, you are potty trained as of today" and then we will switch to panties, and I won't put a diaper back on them again.

BUT, those kids are always ready. I already know that it will be successful before I say that.
Sylith's Avatar Sylith 01:49 AM 09-24-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by littleteapot View Post
There is always such harsh judgement on threads like these. Sometimes it's really subtle, but it's definitely there... the idea that it's "weird", "wrong" or "bad" if a child who is of the average age to PL is still PLing!
But I bet if someone had a child who was 6+ and having problems everyone would be very sympathetic and not think it was "Weird" and "bad"


As the mother of an almost-4yo who still wears diapers about half the time, I can tell you I certainly feel judged and defensive when reading threads like this.
Roxswood's Avatar Roxswood 01:55 AM 09-24-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies View Post
No child is going to wake up one day and decide to use the toilet. I really don't understand why parents would put that kind of responsibility on a child, anyways.
I disagree, plenty of children decide for themselves one day that they don't like wearing diapers anymore, or they see other children using the toilet and decide they want to do that too. I've seen it over and over with children I've nannied for, and just like every child will decide one day that it is time for them to stop nursing they will also decide when they want to stop wearing diapers if you can bear to wait long enough to allow them to.

This is not to say that we shouldn't encourage children if they seem ready however, just that no child will willingly go to college wearing diapers even if you never do anything about it.
Kerry's Avatar Kerry 01:59 AM 09-24-2006
I just want to say that I REALLY liked Fuller2's post.
straighthaircurly's Avatar straighthaircurly 02:26 AM 09-24-2006
My son is 37 months and he has shown intermittent interest in the potty but mostly he insists on wearing a diaper. he refuses any suggestions or direction from me so I just stay in the background and cheer on his sporadic efforts. He has just started preschool where they don't demand that the kids be out of diapers and it is their experience that there are always a number of the under four year olds still use diapers. They say that usually within a few months of school starting and watching other kids their age use the potty, they are ready to do it. This is not unusual, especially for boys. I'm glad you reached out for a reality check since this wasn't within your experience.
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