The Potty Boot Camp is a remarkably successful new toilet training method developed by Dr. Suzanne Riffel. It combines a number of well-known techniques into one unique and EFFECTIVE program. Learn a LOT more by visiting our website at www.ThePottyBootCamp.com.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Help! My Toddler is Refusing to Use the Potty!


How can you make your child use the potty or toilet when they refuse. Our son is three years old, he will wear undies all day until his nap time or bed time, at that time he lets his bladder go during that time. He will physically hold his bladder for seven hours at a time until he is allowed to go to bed and then will go in his bed. He will not have anything to do with the potty, he will not use the toilet. If he is wearing a pull up, he would sit in the wet or soiled pull up for hours and cries when we try to change him into something dry. We are trying to be consistent with the undies, but it is hard to watch be in so much pain with holding his bladder. Do you have any suggestions on how to make him use the toilet instead of holding it?


I wish there were some easy way to make you child stop refusing to use the potty. Short of physically restraining them (which I would NEVER advocate), you will need to find a way for him to decide it is his idea.

One thing you can try, although it doesn't work for every child, is to reward the child for cooperating and taking away privileges for not cooperating. This technique usually works in a few days, as long as you can remain calm, unemotional, and stubborn - don't give in! Also, ALWAYS make the child clean up their own messes. (At first making them clean up might not seem like it's working, but trust me....it gets real old quickly.) After having to disrupt playtime day after day to clean himself up I bet he'll finally realize that it's just easier to use the toilet.

Here is something else for you to consider:
What does your son REALLY love? Does he love the backyard? Does he watch TV? What are his favorite foods? Is he allowed to eat dessert after dinner? What would he really, really miss out of his daily routine? Those are the items you need to use to motivate him. For example, my daughter loves to watch the Noggin channel, play in her sandbox, and have dessert. Figure out two or three things that you know he’ll be upset about if he loses them.

He’s 3, so he is capable of understanding action and consequence. The very first thing I would do is have a very serious discussion with him. (Try to be VERY matter of fact during this 'talk') Explain to him that you know that he has been learning to use the potty, but that he simply must try harder. Pee and poop belong in the potty and it is simply unacceptable that he keeps having accidents. Let him know that Mom and Dad now expect him to use the potty every time. Use the same tone of voice and conviction that you would use to tell him that he can't eat candy for dinner or run into the street alone. You are the parent and some things are not negotiable.

Explain to him that from now on, he must not put his pee or poop anywhere but the potty. It is now his responsibility to use the potty - and if he does, he gets his rewards. (Whatever you've decided to use for 'Prizes') If not, he will lose a privilege. Make sure he stands to lose something if he has an accident. It's not punishment, it is just life! Play by the rules and be rewarded...don't play by the rules and you will usually be faced with something unpleasant. It's incredibly hard, but try to not show emotion. You might have a couple of days of him testing you to see if you will follow through so hang in there. Tell him that the next time he does not use the potty, he can’t watch TV/eat candy/play outside/etc for a certain length of time (make it long) – like six hours, or ‘until tomorrow.’ (Until tomorrow works best if you can stand the whining for the rest of the day.) And, when he asks for his privilege back, shake your head sadly, and say ‘I’m sorry – but you can’t. You didn’t use the potty. Those are the rules. Maybe tomorrow you’ll do better and you can have your ‘X’ back.’

This usually will get some great dramatic cries from your child, but most parents tell me that after this final ‘last standoff’, it takes about three days to realize that you are serious. Then they FINALLY give in.

Post by Suzanne Riffel, author of "The Potty Boot Camp: Basic Training for Toddlers" - a new, fast, easy toilet training method that produces remarkable results.

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