We just started potty training a 3 year old boy when we got him 2 months ago. He poops on the toilet but he does not understand the concept of when he needs to go. When prompted, he will use the potty all by himself but will constantly ask for our assistance. We are trying to wean him off of assistance except for wiping when he poops because he has a genetic disorder that affects his joints (but not his bowels at all) so it is hard for him to use enough pressure to wipe. He refuses to get off the toilet without our permission. A month into training, he would go on his own without any assistance or prompting from us (and without our knowledge) until he had a poop accident and missed the toilet and got poop all over him. He has back slide a bunch and will frequently go in his pants even when we are prompting him to go (and he visits) the bathroom every hour. We have modeled the steps of going potty on his own and I know he knows how but he will sit on the toilet and cry because he wants us to physically take him off the toilet. He will get dressed as best he can by himself and wash hands by himself. I am having the most difficulty teaching him to go potty without being prompted and to get off the toilet when he is done (Despite having modeled and guided practiced this with him 100's of times going on 3 months now and the fact that he was doing it HIMSELF only one month after we started potty training him). I understand that it is a process but we are at a point where he has backslid and isn't progressing. Any ideas would be appreciated.

  • Hi and welcome. If he is having joint issues, is it possible that it hurts to get up? Sitting down is easier on the joints than getting up. Is there a rail next to the toilet that he can use to pull himself up? Also, listed on the right side of the page are potty training questions. Have a look at them; there might be some great ideas there. Thanks. Sep 3, 2017 at 1:41

2 Answers 2


Is there something preventing you from being willing just to do it the way he needs it done? He is only 3. I have kids of my own and watch other people's children, so watching kids in this age range is also very common for me (most I have watched are 2-5 years). I have never expected any 3 year old (mine or theirs) to go to a toilet alone for pooping. I just expect that I will accompany them, wait and assist when they are done.

In my personal experience the best thing you can do while teaching a child to use a toilet is to be loving, kind, patient and supportive. I just work with wherever they are at as best I can to help them move forward. If he can be successful if he is prompted and helped to get down after, then I'd just do that for now and make no issue of it. It's only been 8 weeks, which isn't long at all and I have known many children at 3 that aren't doing this well and have no physical impediments and are from stable loving homes with no major issues. I would say he is doing incredibly well really.


I know this can be rough, and your dead on that it's a process.

My guess is that your fighting fear. Without know all the details in the resource jacket its really hard to say, but it seem clear by your post that the back slide started with the poop going all over.

That may very well be a trigger for him. Making a mess that is. It's certainly embarrassing and "a failure". He was such a good boy, when he was doing it him self, then once accident and now he's a "bad boy", so he's afraid to get into trouble.

The largest problem with my theory is that there isn't a good fix. He needs to learn that "poop all over everything" isn't a "bad boy" problem and is just a try again thing, but your can't very well smear poop around and go "see it's no big deal"

Before anything I would recommend you reach out to your FDS (Your advocate/licensing agency) and see if they can offer any advice. They may be able to recommend something.

Aside from that, my advice to is really downplay the "poop everywhere" the best you can. Fart, and that make a joke about it. Laugh about it smelling bad. Maybe watch some cartoons with pretty bad toilet humor. Again it sounds like he is afraid to make a mistake, but unlike a kitchen mess, or you can't just fling poop. But you could try other "messy stuff" like putty, finger paints, and stuff. Just in case it's "making a mess" that's the trigger.

Keep on the same path though, it's a process, and because of the situation he is learning later, so it's gonna be rough. Just make sure when accidents do happen, that your response is more joking and less formal. Seems odd but it could help him realize that it's just not that big of a deal.

  • Keep in mind it could also be because he is starting to feel comfortable with you, and last time he was comfortable "he made a mistake and lost everything" Unfortunately that's a tough one to fight.
    – coteyr
    Sep 3, 2017 at 2:32
  • I will not make a joke about it, because I don't want him to think that it's funny to get poop everywhere. I do, however, act like it isn't a big deal and help him get cleaned up and let him know that accidents happen and keep reiterating to ask for help when he needs it. He has not pooped in his pull ups since the first week of training and then the accident.
    – June B.
    Sep 4, 2017 at 0:32
  • Yeah, every kid is different. What I do when I kid is scared they have been "bad" and will get in trouble after, say spilling a drink. Is to spill a bit of my drink (that is conveniently water) and go "oops no big deal". But that doesn't work with poo.
    – coteyr
    Sep 4, 2017 at 2:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .