Q: I’m desperate! I’m unable to potty train my almost four-year-old son. We have gone to the store and purchased underwear of his choice, but he doesn’t want to wear them. On one lucky occasion, when he decided to wear the underwear, it didn’t matter how much reminding to use the bathroom, he just urinated where ever he was at the time (we did this most of the day until I was tired of doing laundry, then the diaper went back on). He told the teacher the other day at preschool that we all wear diapers at home. At this point, neither he nor I want to make any more attempts to potty train. Please help!
PS: I do have nine-year-old daughter and was quite successful at potty training her, so it’s not so new—just new with a boy.
A: Ah, the joys of potty training!
Before assuring you that your child sounds normal and is okay (which I will do in short order), I must emphasize, although easier said than done, it is best to be relaxed about toilet training and avoid anxiety. The last and least helpful position you should take in such a situation is one of desperation. This creates a power-play where junior will always have the upper hand!
There is no set age at which toilet training should begin, but without signs that your child is ready, you are generally setting yourself (and child) up for frustration. Lighten the pressure and let him set the pace. Although some achieve bowel and bladder control earlier, most show daytime success by four years, and nighttime dryness months or years later.
As you suggested, girls are a bit easier—most will be able to stay dry at night by five years, whereas over twenty-five percent of boys take their sweet time. Add the factor of a second, much younger sib who most likely is the “baby” in the family, and I’m not surprised of junior’s “diaper” stories.
Don’t fret … you’re almost there. Before long, your little boy will proudly wear his new undies!
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