My boy is 3years and 3 months and have been doing all the things charts, stickers, rewards, singing, dancing, high fives and videos you name it I have tried it! He goes all the time when I bring him but just won't ask to go potty!!! I'm at a loss. He just won't ask...I know they say when he is ready he will just ask but is there anything else I'm missing? They are going to ask him to leave school and I'm trying to not pressure him

  • My son was 4 yrs, 8 mos. The school is an issue; you may have to change to one where he can just change clothes or have a friend he can go with. Montessori schools are a little more forgiving. – Stu W Feb 6 '16 at 19:48
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    Are you sure this is a language issue? Does he have the self-awareness to know he needs to go? – James Youngman Feb 7 '16 at 0:15
  • Does not seem like a language-development issue to me either. BTW are we talking about peepee, kaka, or both? – hkBst Feb 10 '16 at 11:17

It's a complicated and difficult thing for kids to learn on their own. If you think about it from a cognitive perspective, they need to go from:

Clueless that I'm peeing --> I am peeing --> I need to pee --> I should tell an adult that I need to pee (adapted from Oh Crap Potty Training)

Where is he on this spectrum? If he goes when put on the potty, he is likely aware that he is peeing. So the question is, has he already reached the step of "I need to pee"? I'm assuming from the details you've given that he hasn't.

How to get a child to anticipate their need to pee:

  • Model it: Say throughout the day, hmm. I wonder if I need to pee. No, my bladder doesn't feel full. Or yes, I feel like I should try to pee.

  • Prompt less/not at all: Put a potty within easy access, or multiple potties throughout the house, have a naked (or pants-less) day or two and have some towels on hand. When he starts to pee, if it's somewhere other than the potty, physically move him to the potty and say "pee and poop go in the potty." This will slowly build the awareness of "I need to pee" and his body will give him more warning time.

  • Make the setup at home like the setup at school - if he needs to ask to use the potty at school (if the potty is inaccessible to him) then make sure you follow the same at home so he gets used to the idea of asking

  • Make sure he knows who to ask at school if he needs to go school can be a scary place, with a lot of people. Go with him and show him, naming names, who he can ask if he needs to use the potty.

  • Have confidence in him: let go of any worrying, sense of urgency, or even wishing about him going potty. Toddlers have the healthy (and developmentally appropriate) inclination to resist pressure and crave autonomy. So, when we truly back off and mean it, it usually frees them up to do all the things they are capable of doing. Say something like "I know when you are ready to go on the potty, you’ll tell me you need to go, you'll sit and do it,” and really believe that. Believe in him. It will pay off. Adapted from Janet Lansbury

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If he's still in diapers/nappies, then you could try changing him to undies. Nappies are so absorbent that the child can wet himself and barely notice it. This is great for keeping the child dry and comfortable, but very counter productive for potty training. He needs to be able to feel it. The suggestion about some pants free days is also a good one.

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