Our Not-So-Independent Weekend.

July 5, 2011 at 6:23 am | Posted in milestones | 16 Comments

A while back, we decided that we’d take the fourth of July long weekend and do a weekend of underwear only.

Because O is not interested in the potty, though all of his caregivers, including J and I, believe he’s capable of potty training. We thought maybe that he just needed a push.

So we started prepping him that soon we’d say goodbye to the diapers. And he seemed excited – said that the diapers would “go on an airplane and then I wear underwear and go pee-pee and poopy on the potty!”

He was about as prepped as he could be.

We had plans on Saturday – swim lessons then a BBQ – so we decided on Sunday morning when he got up, we’d say goodbye to the diapers.

We gathered them all up, and put them in a bag, and then put the bag in the car so Daddy could “take them to the airplane.”

That morning? O wouldn’t sit on the potty at all.

Three accidents later, I got home from my run and managed to bribe him to sit. Every 20 minutes, we’d have to overcome the “NO POTTY!” resistance with M&Ms, a matchbox car, and a promise of a sticker for his sticker chart so he could get his racetrack. Which we put on top of the dryer so he could SEE every time he went to the potty.

Even worse? He was acting out. Throwing things, yelling, screaming, not listening, the whole nine yards of Age Three.

Finally I sat down in the living room and told him I was there if he needed a hug. He yelled a bit, threw something halfheartedly, then came over and sat on my lap. And I soothed him as best as I could, told him he was doing really well, even if he didn’t think he was, and that I was really proud of him for trying something new and scary like going wearing underwear.

His response?

But Mommy, I don’t want to wear underwear.

I just reiterated that I understood and that I was so proud of him for trying.

Saturday night, just before bed, we saw a sliver of hope. He sat on the potty, and peed a very little bit. He pointed it out to me, and I told him he was peeing, and did he think he could squeeze some more out?

He did.

Sort of excitedly.

So okay, yeah, maybe this would work.

And then Sunday came.

It was worse than Saturday. Outright preschool stubbornness. He refused to change when he had an accident, including a poop accident. He wouldn’t sit and screamed “NO!” when we came near him.

That was it. J and I threw in the towel. We asked him the next time the timer went if he wanted to wear underwear or a diaper.

He chose the diaper. And then proceeded to turn back into the awesome kid he’s been.

So yeah. That was our potty training weekend.

I know we have time, and kids ALWAYS potty train, and I won’t send him college in diapers, yada yada.

But I’m pretty disheartened today.

All I hope is that eventually he will WANT to wear underwear. That time is definitely NOT now. But maybe someday.



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  1. The more stories I hear about other 3 year old boys not potty training easily, the better I feel about our failures.

    So I will share with you that neither of my 3 1/2 year old boys are out of diapers yet. We have tried bribes, rewards, nagging, ignoring, talking about “big boys”, sticker charts, everything. We have tried putting on underwear (complete with the refusal to get changed after a pee-and-poop accident), we have tried taking breaks, we have tried pull-ups and cloth training pants.

    You know what? I quit. One of them is showing signs of being tired of diapers, so we might try him again soon-ish, the other is very underwear-resistant, so meh. I have perfectly intelligent (male and female) friends who didn’t potty train until the summer before kindgergarten. I’m SURE my kids are capable of potty-training, they have both proven they CAN, they just choose not to.

    And I’m pretty sure that potty-training is literally the ONE thing you cannot force upon another person. Anyone who says anything about their diapers is invited to come over and try their hand at it.

    • You know my experience, I have to say, I love Cathy’s comment! Spot on Cathy! Sorry it was a hard weekend Serenity.

  2. Hugs. I have no experience in this area, but I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for you. I have heard that little boys can be more problematic/resistant in this area than little girls.

    I think you have to choose your battles. He’ll get there eventually. I like the previous commenter’s idea that anyone who wants to critique his diapers can come over and toilet train him for you. šŸ™‚

  3. My son did not potty train (successfully) until 4 1/2 years. I was at a restroom the other day with W, and a mom with her toddler son was in there (she was actually just washing his face). We struck up a conversation about potty training and we both talked about how hard it is to train little boys (and she said hers was not trained until 4 1/2 too). At least you tried and he tried. šŸ™‚

  4. Man, we are supposed to be doing potty training next week and I am not looking forward to it….thankfully, my MIL will bear the brunt of it. Our little guys will develop on their own schedule and I guess there isn’t much we can do about it! Sigh.

  5. I am sorry you are disheartened and I know how frustrating it can be to know your son is capable of doing something that he flat out refuses to do.

    My son showed ‘interest’ in the potty at 18 mos. The potty chair we bought him collected dust for the next 18 mos. He started preschool at 26 months and they began putting him on the toilet hourly while he was there. Never once did he pee or poop in the toilet in 10 months. We tried many techniques at home to get him to go but “NO!” was always the response.

    I took the laissez faire approach of ‘it’ll happen when it happens’ only it still hadn’t happened by 38 mos. I knew, too, that sometimes boys take longer than girls but I also knew that I was raising a strong-will child and sometimes that required stronger measures. His school recommended Lora Jensen’s 3 Day Potty Training Method. I read the 40 pg e-book and thought, “No way! No way are we doing this and no way will my son comply”. Eventually, though, I knew we had to try something different and after weeks of holding out, we decided to take the plunge.

    The thing about her program that I finally understood was that my son needed to make the connection between the urge to go pee or poop and getting to the toilet. HE needed to make the connection and we just needed to watch for signs of him ‘going’ to get him to the potty.

    You can read more about how she developed her program here -> http://www.3daypottytraining.com/pages/about.htm in case you are ever so inclined to give it a whirl. (She recommends a 30 day break in ALL potty training measures prior to starting her program).

  6. My mom had an incredibly difficult time potty training my brother compared to me, and I think (supposedly) boys are a lot harder to potty train than girls. It must be that whole “boys can deal with ‘yucky’ and girls can’t” thing. šŸ™‚ Best of luck to you. I hope you have success soon!

  7. Hoo-boy. That just sounds so, incredibly frustrating.

  8. GIRRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLL – I can’t believe this – we are in the EXACT same place. We did the EXACT same thing (used the 3 day weekend to start underwear) with the EXACT same result…tantrums galore. I have been crying off and on all day, because my son is 3 and a half – and is THAT KID – the one still in diapers at playgroup. I have no idea how to help him, I have no idea if he needs a push or if I need to totally back off. I am lost. He is in pullups now – because I figured they would be easier for him to pull down himself, but he is just treating them like a diaper. I even told him he could play with the iPad (the holy grail of rewards) and he still refuses. AAAAK! I feel like a failure – and I know he is going to go through some embarrassment when he starts preschool in Sept. as the only kid in diapers. I want so badly to save him from this embarrassment, but I am floundering. This sucks. Bad.

    • Ah, kateypie, yeah, I know your pain. And the feeling of failure. Which sucks because it’s totally NOT OUR FAULT. Kids just have minds of their own, darnit! šŸ™‚

      Seems like most of the PT gurus say that after a failed attempt, you should back off for a month – as in drop it completely. So that’s what we’re doing – no mention of the potty from us as it relates to potty training him unless he brings it up.

      I have no idea what we’re going to after then, but it does seem like It Is What It Is had success with the 3 day training method. I’m going to spend some time doing research in the meantime.

  9. Well, that’s frustrating as hell. I know that no one goes to school in diapers, but still, it sucks when everyone is asking and comparing. And boys do take longer than girls. A lot longer. A lot, lot longer.

    I’m kicking myself because I. was more interested in the potty months and months ago, but N. was completely indifferent so I wanted to wait for her. Now N. has far more stickers on her chart. I think I’ve mentioned the Stress-Free Potty Training book (not sure of the title offhand) that is personality based. The running-around-naked method seems to be working with N., although I thought it wouldn’t because she liked to pee and stomp in her puddle. But I don’t think the preschool teachers would go for the naked approach. : P

  10. That is very disheartening and stressful too.

    Linnea wasn’t much opposed to the potty, she just never wanted to stop whatever she was doing to sit on it. Must play!
    I was worried when she went to pre-school, but there she seemed to get the hang of it quite well. Then of course, they see the other kids go to the toilet and the teacher makes all the kids go to the bathroom at set times.

  11. In theory, A has been daytime trained for a while, and we STILL have our frustrations. Some days it seems like she just couldn’t be bothered getting to the potty, and she has multiple accidents even though she’s fully able to avoid them. As parents, we just have to do our best to teach them, but we clearly can’t force them. It can be really disheartening, but they’ll get there. I know our pedi isn’t the least bit concerned about where we are at this point, so I try not to worry either.

  12. Ugh, that sounds like an awful weekend. It also sounds like O can probably do it he just doesn’t want to do it right now for whatever reason. I don’t know if this is O’s personality too, but when there is something TK can do but just doesn’t want to do, nothing I try will make him do it until he decides he will do it. in fact, if I keep pushing him TK will resist even more. Which is why I’m not actively potty training him right now even though I think he is probably ready. I am so not looking forward to it!

  13. Oh wow. That sounds frustrating. I am thanking our lucky potty training stars right now. I think you’re absolutely right about it will happen and it’s not your fault he’s just not into it.

    Now, you’ve written a lot about what you’ve tried here so forgive me if you’ve been over this one before (or if you haven’t written about it, but been over it just the same). The thing is, PB refused to use the potty, ever, at all. We ended up going straight to the toilet (briefly with a special seat, but he pretty quickly started refusing that, too – he wanted to do exactly as I did). Our potty got sold second hand having never been used. I have heard of other boys who will only go standing up, right from day one. Just throwing ideas around in case one of them happens to help out. And if it doesn’t, well, sooner or later he’ll get the idea, and I suppose you just have to keep repeating that to yourself at these frustrating times!


  14. He must has a very deep association with diapers…and why not? Little guy’s spent several years going in them. Habit is an incredible motivator. We set ourselves up for failure in this country when it comes to things like pacifiers and diapers. I truly believe you either gotta get them out of diapers and pacifiers incredibly early (like before 8 to 12 months) or wait until they are completely ready and can call the shots themselves 100%. Yes it is possible to have a diaperless infant (see every other non first world country in the world) but only if you have a caregiver(s) willing to make it their job to hold a baby over a toilet 10x a day for a year or more. I don’t know any parent in this country who does that, even those who stay at home and devote 100% of their time to their kids.

    The point is it is not your fault–it is a cultural issue. It is more convenient for our lifestyles to keep babies in diapers for longer, thus ensuring their attachment to them. Nor is it his fault–O is doing exactly what he should be doing as a human–wanting to poop and peep where he always has, where he is most comfortable doing so. And the idea of going elsewhere probably causes him incredible anxiety, the same way it would cause us anxiety if someone told us we can’t use toilets anymore. Eventually, the anxiety will shift when his peers are all going in toilets and he realizes he is doing something different.

    If I were you I’d set you and him up for success–and don’t mention the potty anymore, don’t attach any value to it, and just let it sit there so that he knows it’s an option. Don’t give him a reason to think you are disappointed in him for not going and don’t give yourself a reason to be disappointed. Let him know that he is in complete control of when he uses the potty and that you aren’t going to mention it anymore–that he should bring it up to you when he wants to try it again. With that being said, I wouldn’t be afraid to use a little “carrot”…lsaying things, very matter-of-factly without any value, like “well, we can’t go there [insert any fun place he likes alot] until you’re using the potty cause it’s too difficult to change diapers there now that you’ve gotten so big.” Good luck!

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