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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Potty Training

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Question: My son is 3 1/2 years old, and does not show ANY interest in potty training, which is driving me crazy. I have been working with him for a year, and he has had only a few successes on the potty, but only if he's in the right frame of mind. Usually when I ask if he needs to go, or suggest that he go, he refuses. Then 10 minutes later, his Pull-ups are wet or dirty. I have tried giving small treats as rewards for each time, a sticker on a calendar for each time, with the reward of a video when he earns 10, I have bought a toy he loves, and have promised it to him when he stays clean and dry for a day. He constantly gets praised for successes, and I try to say very little when he goes in his pants, but he knows it is bugging me. We have tried having him watch Daddy, or his friends at daycare. I tried putting real underwear on him, and giving him reminders to go to the potty, but that was a disaster: he said he didn't need to go, then went through 4 pairs of underwear in 30 minutes. Should I put up with that for several days? I know I need to be patient, but it just seems like he doesn't care, and I'm getting annoyed with him, because he knows exactly what we want him to do, but doesn't care. My husband says to show no reaction either way, and he will one day do it for himself. WHEN???? Can you suggest something I haven't tried, or tell me what I'm doing wrong?

Answer: Some children are just slow. Boys tend to be slower. In general, he should have the neuro development to do this if he had the desire. The trick is to focus on the desire. Does he want a puppy? Do to day care? A useful book is Toilet Training in Less than A Day. This book focuses on learning techniques. I absolutely would not have him watch Daddy. Some children will be intimidated by Daddy's size. Good luck.

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