another kind of training

January 11, 2017

Cameron is approaching 3.  It’s probably time for him to leave diapers behind, at least in the daytime. I don’t particularly want to write anything in vivid detail, lest his elementary school classmates find this post someday and taunt him with it (although kids – you all know you potty trained at some point, too, so what’s the big deal!?).

BUT.  I will disclose that nope, he’s not on the accelerated track in this department.  He’ll be 3 in a month (WHAT) and has yet to have his first successful uhh, bathroom episode.

I’m definitely not going to push it.  However, at some point, I’m probably going to have to move onto less subtle tactics — i.e. letting him experience more accidents.  I blame diapers and their soft, cottony comfort.  I honestly don’t remember much dread (on my part!) when Annabel was going through this.  She seemed much more interested in meeting this milestone, which is kind of funny because you’d think he’d want to be grown up to keep up with his big sister.  But maybe he’s just used to being the baby . . . and we’re all being played.


Anyone else have a kid at this age who is just . . . not that into it?  He’s so into being independent in pretty much every other way, so I’m wondering if he just doesn’t physiologically ‘get’ it yet?  Of course boys tend to lag behind girls in this realm, but man.  3.


  • Reply nicoleandmaggie March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    If he hasn’t experienced pee/poo diaper free much he may not actually get it. I remember the look in DS’s the first time he peed in the shower. Like what is happening to my body.

    The diaper free baby has tips for gentle potty training for older kids in the second half of the book. Step 1 is awareness. You may also want to start cloth pull-ups to get the experience although that is unpleasant to clean so you may not. Diaper free time someplace easy to clean is good.

  • Reply Angie March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Our son was 3 and 7 months. It became a power struggle and we had to pull back. His Peditrician recommended a book. The main thing was not asking if he had to go but asking if he was dry and praising him. The first day was rough but by the end of the day he got it. I was frustrated that I didn’t read the book sooner but I’ll never know. Hopefully his younger brother will potty train sooner.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      thank you Angie!! it really helps hearing stories of kids that were older than 3!!!

  • Reply xykademiqz March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I have three boys who all went to daycare (three centers in two states). Daycare teachers basically uniformly say, "With boys, don’t even bother before age 3." So we didn’t. At some point they became more interested, at which point the teachers said to bring lots of underwear and changes of clothes to school, and bam! — they are trained within a couple of weeks. They all had different hangups, though. The first one got trained fully within two weeks and never had an accident since. The middle started peeing on the potty right away, but for some reason pooping was an issue and he wouldn’t poop in the toilet but only in a small potty for the longest time. The youngest one had no issues with poop, but did have an occasional peeing accident for a few months after being formally trained (mostly getting caught up with playing and then not making it to the potty on time).

    Some kids at daycare were in diapers at 4, but all were fully trained by kindergarten.

    So don’t worry. It’s not like C will grow up and still wear diapers. It’ll happen soon.

  • Reply Susannah March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Kids are SO different with this. Three boys here and my older two couldn’t have been more different. Oldest was so, so hard. We tried everything. Total power struggle that we eventually had to cede until he was ready. Second child saw his brother wearing underwear and toileting and did it himself. No training. Just asked to put on underwear and done. I agree that many boys aren’t ready until three. My second was at barely two though. Temperament comes into play with this, too, I think. Hang in there!

  • Reply Tyra March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I’m glad you posted about this, I am definitely going to come back and read more comments!

    Ted will be 3 in August, and so many people have told me that I should toilet train him before his little sister arrives at the end of March. I don’t want to rush it though, changing his nappy a couple of times a day seems much easier than potentially dealing with lots of accidents! We do heaps of nappy off time (he plays outside a lot), but that’s it so far.

  • Reply Sophia March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Kids are really different and I’ve heard (anecdotally?) that girls are faster potty training. We pushed my son after age 3 and it was frustrating for everyone but when he was >3.5 something clicked and he potty trained easily before age 4. He still sleeps in a pull up bc he likes to drink 20 oz of water with dinner but our pediatrician says that’s developmentally appropriate until age 8.

    My daughter is younger and will probably potty train earlier. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but my son never minded being in a wet or dirty diaper, we’d have to wrestle to change him and he never wanted to stop what he was doing to potty. My daughter hates wet or dirty diapers and wants to be changed immediately as it seems like it’s more uncomfortable for her.

    This is all to say that C may be on the later side of "normal" but he will potty train when he’s ready. If you start training him before he’s ready, you will spend longer potty training and the end result will be him diaper free at the same time.

    He’s adorable.

  • Reply Cara March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    My son was at same point at that age. I kept pressure off and didn’t do anything that would probably even remotely be considered toilet training (just undies/nothing on at home more and more of the time) and he slowly started to get it. By 3.5 he was fully toilet trained and has never had an accident out of the house, and really only had a few at home in the early stages when he would realise a little too late. A couple months later he was consistently dry overnight and stopped night nappies too. I’d say don’t worry about it and just go at his pace.

    I 100% agree w Sophia, and I tell this to my clients all the time. The length of time toilet training takes is how long it is between when you start and when they are actually ready.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Thanks Cara!!! I love hearing these stories!!!

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    There is actually science on potty training.

    There are many windows for potty training and the average age for boys before disposable diapers was 18 mo. (Now it is over 3.). There’s nothing wrong with waiting and it does take less time for older kids usually but circumstances do have an effect on age of training and earlier starting ends earlier even if it takes longer. Brazeltons signs of readiness come at exactly the wrong time leading to defiance and prolonged diapers. He was also working for pampers.

    Diaper Free Before 3 was written by a doctor who summarizes surprisingly extensive research on potty training.

  • Reply Amanda March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    My son decided at 3 and 1 month he was done with diapers and started peeing in the potty, no problem. He’s 3 and 7 months now and still won’t poop in the potty, but he does wait to be in an overnight pull-up. We’re working on that, but pushing it didn’t work well, so I just try to remind myself that I don’t know anyone over age 5 who isn’t fully potty-trained and that we’ll get there…

  • Reply Erica March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    We were lucky because our daycare did all of the potty training, at the same time as the other kids in his classroom, so G was potty trained before he was 3. That being said, it was a long process and at home we mostly provided emotional support and encouragement rather than training. I wouldn’t worry about it too much – I really think with older kids it just takes less time and is easier on everyone involved!

  • Reply Bethany Erskine March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Are you familiar with Oh Crap! potty training? Worked like a charm for both of my sons and there is a chapter dedicated to "older" potty training.

  • Reply Chelsea March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Scott was over 3 when he potty trained, and he did it quickly. I knew he was ready and just decided to let him be wet and uncomfortable as motivation to use the potty, which he was just too lazy to do before that. I really want Will to potty train before August (he turned 2 in November) so he can stay until late pick-up at their preschool (and Scott would never forgive me if he didn’t get to stay late). Otherwise I have to do a separate pick-up for each of them. But he has NO interest and actively resists any attempt to get him to sit on the potty so…. we’ll see.

  • Reply Angela March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    yes- my 4 yr old son really didn’t start doing well with potty training until he was 3. I kept wondering if I was being too lazy since I was still battling with my daughter over her poo problems (she’s 6 now and we still have holding issues with #2).

    Good Luck : )

  • Reply Brittnie March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    We just trained Camille over Christmas. She will turn three this week. No rush, girl. I knew I had to wait until she was ready and I finally felt it was time. So no guilt in waiting longer if needed. It helped that most of Camille’s friends were trained so she had that positive peer pressure (seeing them have potty breaks at school vs. having her diaper changed) and she was also super into fun/girl underwear. I’m so thankful I waited because it’s been a breeze!! Best of luck!!

  • Reply Kate March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    My daughter turned 3 in October, and she finally started being interested in the potty about a month ago. Before that, she just didn’t want to! I was beginning to think she wouldn’t be potty trained until kindergarten 🙂

  • Reply Brittnie March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I should say daytime only, not nights. 🙂

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Daycare started taking them to the toilet every 2 hours at age 2. Then around 2.5 they had us send in underwear and changes of clothes. Both were trained (daytime) by 3, but L had accidents (too caught up playing, couldn’t hold it on the way home) until about 3.5. B was out of nighttime pull ups by age 5, but L is 5 and just can’t do it. We tried, we failed, I keep asking him if he wants to try and he says "no, I can’t do it, I don’t wake up"—which fair enough, is 100% true.
    I do agree that the comfy absorbent diapers take a lot of the incentive out of it. You’re not wet and cold, you don’t SEE the elimination occurring…it just is very abstract for them.

    • Reply Caryn March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Ana. I am Sarah’s mother and want to mention what might be helpful to you and others. First,Sarah,herself,was not trained until just a little over 3. Perhaps there is a hereditary component to it,but also I want to make a point about the night-time ability. Sarah was about six at the time when we tried a device that was supposed to awaken her when she was starting to go during the night. Unfortunately Sarah was so startled when awakened that she tumbled down the stairs when she got up,a pretty scary experience for her,but fortunately she did not get hurt. What did happen after the incident,is she stayed dry every night since,but did not get up during the night. I think what we can learn from this,is that at least for some kids,it is not about needing to get up during the night but about something "clicking" physiologically. I don’t suggest such a traumatic treatment

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Umm, I forgot my whole point in that comment: we didn’t really "train" or put much effort into it, other than encouraging them to go. On the weekends they were in diapers so that we could leave the house and do stuff.

  • Reply Ali March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    My oldest son trained right before 3, have not tackled it with my 2 year old yet. For my oldest, we had just really talked up wearing underwear…I hadn’t planned to train until after 3, but he woke up one day and said "I wear underwear all day!" and that was that. I think I just lucked out? But I do think that talking a bunch about it positively helped. I say if you don’t have a reason to train now, don’t and one day he’ll wake up and decide. (I am nervous about my younger son…he is an Aug birthday and will be in the 3s class in preschool starting in Sept…has to be potty trained then, so a little more pressure on me with him!!!)

  • Reply Monica March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    My oldest was over three, and still had accidents well into elementary school, because he got so into what he was doing he hated to stop. We now know he has a rebel tendency and I our wanting him to stay dry mixed with his being too busy/not caring exacerbated the issue. Not exactly sure what I would do differently if I had that info back then (he’ll be 19 next week) but maybe understanding C’s tendency would help.

  • Reply Sara @runultrainspired March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Thank you for posting this! And the comments have been really helpful. My son is 3 and 3 months and we are in the thick of it. I’m really struggling with how best to approach this situation without adding stress on all of us! We are just ending our first full week of wearing underwear at school and I think I’m seeing some progress so I’m just trying to hang on and remain optimistic. Thanks for the great post!

  • Reply OrganisingQueen March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Hi, I’m the one with the twins from Instagram 🙂

    I wasn’t planning to do anything til mine turned 3 but then Kendra and the nanny potty trained without me barely noticing (I incentivised the nanny with extra money). And then we had this work thing where we could bring our kids to a kids care holiday camp but only if they were potty trained.

    The holiday camp started one week before their 3rd birthday so I announced to my twins that they could only come to work with me if they peed in the toilet. Kendra was completely fine at this point but Connor (like me) needs motivation and a deadline so he did it in a few days 🙂

    They flipped around because he potty trained at night first and she took about a year longer!

    All that to say, "relax……." He will do it when he’s ready!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      thank you so much OQ!!!! I have definitely kind of stopped worrying about it for now 🙂
      Maybe summer camp will be a motivator for him!

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