My son (who is turning 3) has his own potty, and is quite content to sit on it, sing his "potty song", stand up, and "flush" (it's a plastic training potty that plays a sound when you pull the lever).

However, he will generally only sit on the potty fully clothed.

If we ask him if he'd like to take his pants off to sit on the potty, he'll politely say "no thank you".

He has allowed us to take his pants off for the potty a handful of times, and he apparently takes his pants off to sit on the potty at daycare (he's actually urinated in the potty properly once at daycare).

We offer him treats (M&M's candy), and have told him that he can have a pet fish once he's fully potty trained. We explain to him that he can only have the treats if he actually pees or poops in the potty, and that he has to take his pants and diaper off to do that. He also understands that the fish is a long-term goal, and won't happen until he stops wearing diapers altogether.

This has been going on for 3-4 months now, with no apparent progress (aside from the single successful use of the potty at daycare, about a month ago).

We've taken the approach of using treats as incentive to be consistent with what happens at daycare, because quite frankly his daycare provider has had more success than we have had.

Is there anything we should be doing differently, or that we can add to our approach, to help our son be willing to move forward? Or should we just wait until he's ready?

3 Answers 3


Don't know how verbal he is, but have you sat him down and quizzed him about why he doesn't want to use the potty? I mean, as in throw out different possibilities (some serious, some silly) and see what he responds to? He may know why he's reluctant to use the potty, but unable to sufficiently verbalize it for y'all.

We had a different issue with our daughter: she was afraid to actually use the potty, because as it turns out she didn't know what happened to the pee and poo when they left the potty. We were only able to figure this out after a few of those quiz sessions I mentioned.

Two books REALLY helped her get over that hump: Everyone Poops (Amazon), and Where's the Poop? (also Amazon). It helped when we were able to figure out why she didn't want to go, and then these books showed her other kids using the potty (sans britches!) which helped normalize it for her more than just our words or seeing the grownups on the potty.

Another thing that helped our DD was a reward chart. She got a star every time she went potty, and when she saved up enough stars, she could trade them in for a trip to the prize box (which we keep stocked with stickers, small cars, like that; Oriental Trading is your friend when it comes to stocking up cheap prizes).


Have you tried to let him walk around the house naked? That way he can see and feel when he's missing on the floor (when that happens, simply say - "oh, you peed on the floor, next time you can do it in the potty", clean it and don't make a fuss), being naked at home also means he'll be naked while sitting on the potty. I think the best time for this approach is while the weather is still nice and warm.


In daycare, kids see another kids using the potty. I guess that helps.

Our kids also started using the potty more often in daycare. We also offered M&M's for poops in the potty. However, our boy wasn't comfortable pooping in the potty.

We bought a toilet seat reducer (that we called "little zero" in portuguese) and after seeing that we also used the "big zero", he was able to try the "little zero". We told him that using the toilet was big boy stuff and we cheered a lot. He never used the potty again since he tried the toilet seat reducer.

Maybe it worths a trial.

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