Should we force our 3yo to potty ?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2003
Should we force our 3yo to potty ?
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 8:16pm
My 3 yo son has no interest what so ever in the potty, he's not afraid of it. He just would rather not use it. We've tried everything, books, taking things away. Now my husband wants to lay the law down? Any thoughts?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 6:18am
There are three things you can't force a child to do. Eat, sleep and use a potty! Kids potty train when they are ready. Boys normally don't train until 3 or later. It's normal!

Trying to force him will accomplish two things. You and dh will be miserable always fussing and punishing. And most likely your ds will become constipated from holding it in and then you are in a real mess! You can NOT force him to use it! When kids are forced they often hide to have bowel movements or hold them in. I had a friend whose ds would't have a bowel movement unless he had a diaper and he would hold it for a week!

My advice is to keep the potty out and keep encouraging him to use it. Don't push, but suggest. Buy him some cool undies with his favorite character on them and tell him when he is ready to try to potty train, he can have them. But ONLY then! Keep suggesting it, but don't belittle him or shame him. When he's ready, he will do it!!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 7:39pm

First of all, I wouldn't use the word "force." Forcing children to do ANYTHING isn't a wise course of action.

Having said that, I'd like to say that, yes, you DO have to train your child to use the potty! Potty-training should be parent-led, NOT child-led, so in that respect your husband is right.

Put cloth training pants on him. They are uncomfortable when wet, unlike Pull-ups, which whisk moisture away like a diaper.

Set a timer at regular intervals during the day. (e.g. wake-up time, after breakfast, after lunch, before nap, etc.) Choose what works best for your child's schedule. When the timer rings, it's potty time. PERIOD. Your son MUST sit on the potty for at least 10 to 15 minutes. If he doesn't "go," that's okay. Calmly tell him it's time to get up, and we'll try again later.

If he has an accident (and he will!), DO NOT make a big deal out of it. Clean him up (have him help as much as possible) and remind him to use the potty next time.

You will have to be firm and consistent. I used this method with all 4 of my children and I strongly advocate it.

Hang in there! If you stick to your guns, your little guy will be trained before you know it.



Jill Schafer Boehme


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Mon, 04-07-2003 - 3:05pm
I tried to get my son used to using the potty chair and bought him all the books/videos, although he liked the books and video, it really did nothing to help him with the potty training. It wasn't until after his 3rd birthday, while at a store, he decided he wanted big boy pants. We bought them and them it was only 2 weeks before he was potty trained and another 3 weeks before he was completely trained and off the potty chair and onto the Adult toilet. My advice is to just wait until he shows signs of wanting to use the potty. Good luck and don't worry, he'll come around.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 12:44pm
Forcing your three year old to go to the potty doesn't work. My son is three months shy of his fourth birthday, and was potty trained as of last month. We still have occasional accidents, but he has finally "gotten it," after almost a year of trying. I tried bribing him, pleading, yelling, nothing worked. The truth is, it's just like talking, they will do it when they're ready, not when you are. I got to the point where he would refuse to go, as his pull-ups worked perfectly well, and why should he stop playing when he can simply go in his pull up? It was hard to argue with that logic...and as far as I'm concerned, pull-ups are just another word for expensive diapers. Kids know they have a safety net, and if they are stubborn like my son did, nearly every single time. What I did to finally get him past it, was work with his pre-school teachers to help him go regularly. Next, I invested in big-boy cartoon underwear, and about five or six cheap pairs of sweatpants. I told him we were no longer going to wear pull-ups any more, that he was a big boy and ready for big boy underwear. It took about a week, maybe a little longer than a week, but he finally realized that unless he went on the potty, he would have uncomfortable wet pants and a big mess to get cleaned up, and he would have to stop playing anyway to deal with it. I highly recommend my strategy to anyone.