A little background, we've had some difficulty potty training our 3.75 year old boy. He's definitely made some progress but generally isn't that self motivated to go by himself. We've tried a few different approaches, including rewards, but nothing seems to work. My wife has also had some communication issues that haven't helped.

Finally we talked to our family doctor who recommended that we put him back in diapers for a couple months. And she said that where we're at is within the range of normal.

My question is: how do we approach potty training again once we're done the break? What would re-introducing him to potty training actually look like, given that he's resistant to everything and will only go when we bring him to the toilet or prompt him?

2 Answers 2


With a three year old, you know that as soon as they have detected you want them to do something, they decide they definitely don't want to do it! So, your child really needs to decide its in their interest to potty train. Maybe his friends are all using the potty like big boys/girls? Maybe he hates nappy changes - he'd not have to have them if he used the potty! Maybe he'd like to wear particular underwear with his favourite characters on it, or underwear just like daddy?

As to only going to to the toilet when prompted or taken, that's pretty normal, think we had about 6 months of that (or he'd only take himself when he could no longer hold on!) and he's mostly independent now, though we do sometimes have to insist he goes (e.g. we're about to get in the car for a long journey, so he needs to go first) We tend to all go "do you want to go with mummy or daddy?" "Do you want to be first or second?" "Who is going to do the biggest wee?"

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    To add: We occasionally still need to prompt our 5yo, especially when we see signs like crossed knees. And we sometimes insist he goes with "Show us that nothing comes out when you try to pee." Commented Feb 12 at 8:25

We spoke to our physician who mentioned something similar to the other response. She made a few recommendations:

  1. Since our boy is pretty independent, that we include him in the conversation on potty training and give him a sense of agency / autonomy about it

  2. She mentioned that we could try the Oh Crap potty method, if he's willing. But we've found that he isn't really willing on this point

  3. That we keep things as neutral as possible with regards to training and just let him figure it out

On the whole, when we first started all this I was expecting a binary 'he can do it now'. But in practice it's really been a slow, and gradual process. He's making slow, choppy, but consistent progress.

The other thing we're doing is just taking him for breaks throughout the day. For quite a long while we were giving him the agency to decide himself, but it just wasn't happening. Now we're trying to just get him into the habit with more structure.

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