My son has not been willing to potty train at all. He won't even sit on the potty - no matter what incentive we try to give him (candy, tv, etc). We have even taken to telling him that he will receive 1 m&m or a show if he just tries to sit on the potty. We even got a sticker chart (with a star wars movie as a reward - something he really wants) and yet he still refuses to even sit on the potty (or toilet for that matter) or try underwear. I'm not sure what to do anymore. He knows when he has to poop; he goes to a corner of his room and then hides afterwards. Any suggestions?? I feel like he will never potty train. :(

4 Answers 4


I'm no professional, just a dad.

Try using the potty yourself. This can help your child to see it's easy and they will usually like to copy you.
Don't make too much of a big deal. Be like, OK, if you don't want to use it that's fine, but when you do, I will be very happy, you will be a grown/big boy like dad/brother and you can have ...something nice.

Leave him on his own with the potty, maybe no nappy/pullups on and have the thing you said he can have if he uses the potty within sight.

Try getting a small seat for the toilet. Some kids don't like potties, but will use toilet first(Special seat just for him... etc.).

Make it fun. Get him to take one of his toys to the toilet/potty and get him to reasure the toy, as you would to him.

Persevere... Some kids take longer than others.

  • I will definitely be trying some of these suggestions!
    – user108363
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 15:04
  • 2
    +1 for the toilet seat. Our little one also never really took to the potty, but a toilet seat worked well.
    – sleske
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 12:25
  • The last one "perservere" my daughter went from "Heck no!" to being potty trained almost over night - something clicked and she was ready, also at 3.5. Commented May 5, 2020 at 14:01

At age 3 1/2 you may want to talk this over with the child's doctor. On the other hand, another few months of maturing might do the trick.

There are various signs of readiness you can watch for.

On of my children was all trained when it came to peeing, but was not comfortable pooping on the potty or in the toilet (even with the special smaller seat on top). When he felt a poop coming, he would go in a corner and be rather quiet. Then he wanted me to change his pull-up. I knew he was ready, but he was used to using the pull-up and was resistant to change. This was right around when he was turning 3, early summer -- warm weather. Here's what we did:

I told him he was welcome to use the pull-up, but then it would be his job to pull it down and put on a clean one. I said I would help him with the clean-up but he'd have to take that first step. He did not like that idea. So I suggested that he pull down his pull-up BEFORE pooping, and then just go out to the yard and squat down. Our yard was quite private and that worked fine. He was very proud of himself. I got him dressed again and then we excitedly went to get a garden trowel, and he scooped up the poop and carried it to the compost pile. Our inspiration in all of this was that occasionally our cat would poop in our little vegetable plot, and when we found her poop there, we would carry it to the compost bin with the trowel.

We did the same procedure the next day. But on the third day, there was a light rain after lunch when the urge came. I said he was welcome to do things the same as yesterday, and offered him a raincoat. He decided to give the seat that goes on top of the toilet a try instead. It went great and he was able to wear his Lion King underpants, which he had selected at the store, all day every day from then on.

Sometimes you just have to be a bit creative.

  • 1
    In many third world nations, the little kids run around outside naked from the waist down. Perhaps you hit on an age-old method. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 19:43
  • 1
    @ZaydeinNY - True, true. Sometimes it can help to just find what feels comfortable for the child, as a transitional step. Apparently my son had some sort of initial aversion to the potty and the toilet. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 20:33

My son had similar issues with bowel movements (BMs) around that age. We used several "Potty Power" books to set our expectations, had a small child toilet he could use, the inner child seat for a regular toilet, and even taught him how to sit on a regular toilet. But while going pee in the toilet was progressing, he steadfastly refused to have a BM in any toilet (usually by not telling us he had to poop and just going in his pants/diaper. He had peer aged role models from family and day care.

Then, one day, he came out of the bathroom all happy. He had a BM in the toilet all by himself! He excited declared that "it didn't hurt at all" (we were not even aware this was a concern for him) and ever since he has used the toilet exclusively.

My point is that you may just need to have patience and gentle persistence, he may just start one day, like he flipped a switch!

  • lol, that's one of those great parenting moments that come out of nowhere and makes everyone happy. It reminds me of the Look Who's Talking, "pee-pee in the pott-ay" scene.
    – theDADDY
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 14:15
  • Thanks for the advice! My son told me today that he was worried that it would hurt him. I didn't even realize that was a concern for him. After I talked to him about it, he tried the potty!
    – user108363
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 15:04
  • @user108363 Awesome! I bet having a BM in a diaper is kinda uncomfortable since it has to push against the diaper. So it shouldn't surprise us that they think a toilet would feel the same way.
    – Jason K
    Commented Nov 4, 2016 at 16:35

I completely "feel your pain" on the potty issue, so I wanted to provide details of our own experience for some context for you.

Our oldest boy Elijah is currently 4 (nearly 5) and he has still not mastered the art of the potty yet. He certainly has the ability to go and knows when he needs to - for example, he will go when he wants to get a reward, etc. However, he will flatly refuse to go and sit on the potty if you ask him to do so, to the point of full tantrums. At other times, he will know he needs the potty, but if it means stopping what he is doing, he will much rather just go and then try to hide from us afterwards. We tried everything from "star-reward-charts" to "bribing with sweets", but nothing seemed to help.

For a long time we worried what the cause might be until he started at school and it was picked up upon by his teacher.

We then came across something called PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance): http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/pda.aspx and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder): http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/oppositional-defiant-disorder/basics/definition/con-20024559

Don't be alarmed at the names, however. These are relatively newly discovered behaviours and are starting to be noticed much more but they are things that can be observed in children.

It is worth mentioning these to the child's teacher (if at pre-school), though they will likely not be acted upon until the child starts reception year. Essentially, the PDA part is the most important to understand. Sometimes the child can find themselves incapable of following the simplest of requests even if that request is something tiny (we have had problems even with things like picking up a pen from the floor!). The trick is to identify when your child has become stuck in a refusal to comply and help him/her find a way around that refusal.

The reason I mention all this is because potty training was the first area we really started to see traits of these things occurring. Elijah still struggles with the potty, especially in school where it is less familiar - but now that people are aware of his needs, it is definitely getting easier.

It's definitely worth simply asking someone for advice. :-)

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