What do you do when your  three-year-old won’t potty train?  You ask other moms for advice, of course! While many people can potty train a toddler, by the time they are three, children have their own ideas and potty training might not be one of them.  So we’re sharing some ideas from our readers (there are some great suggestions!)

potty-train-3-year-old on toilet - text: my three year old won't potty train - tips and advice from moms - Kids Activities Blog
What if your 3 year old won’t potty train?


We asked our Kids Activities Blog & Quirky Momma community to help answer this question about kids avoiding bathrooms and the joys of potty train refusal and the good news is you are not alone! This is a common issue that does have a solution…or a bunch of them!

Related: When 3 year old won’t poop on the potty

1. Take the Diaper Off

“Take the diaper off, but leave the pants on. If the urine  gets the pants wet, it goes down into his socks, it feels yucky. It worked with my daughter.  Oh, and if it leaves a wet spot on the  floor, get him to help you clean it.. He won’t like it so eventually time potty may seem like a great idea! Each child operates on a different speed.” ~Dagmara Lamek

Bye bye nappies!

2. Wait Until Ready for Potty Training

“My son was awful to train but the more I pushed the harder it was. My doctor told me to leave it alone and he would do it when he was ready. He was close to four but he did it on his own.” ~ Kim Diaz

3. Water the Trees…

“Now that it’s summer, allowing him to “water the trees” is always fun for them. If you live out in a rural area, potty train him outside.  My 3 year old has been completely potty trained for a couple months now, but he still loves peeing outside!” ~Crystal Bainbridge

4. You May Not Want to Hear this Potty Training Advice

“Patience and more patience. As mum of 4 I know it is less hassle and less mess to let them do it in their own time. Don’t stress about it or worry what friends’ kids are doing.”  ~Debs Frazier

5. Boxers vs. Briefs

“My son was almost exactly like this. He will be 4 at the end of July. He has been *knock on wood* fully potty trained, day and night, no accidents for two months now. Try to let him think it’s his idea. I bought him boxer briefs (like dads, also I think they feel less like diapers) with his favorite characters on them, let him see me wash them and helped me put them away. I told him big boys who used the potty got to wear cool underwear. He thought about it for almost two weeks, came to me one morning and asked to wear them. He took right to it, with some poop issues for about two weeks, but soon  he got on board.” ~Jenyfer Taylor

6. Persistence Won the Potty Training Battle

“Our son  was like this! I think it took him a few extra months to process what I was asking him and the one day he just did it, no questions or problems! I basically just left him to it, reminding him a lot  about the potty and toilet. I bought a toilet seat which he really liked using which I think helped and rewarded him with a biscuit or something if he went in the toilet. Now 3 months later he goes no issues. Hasn’t had an accident in ages and is beginning to be dry through the night. It just sorta clicked out of nowhere, and months of frustration. ” ~ Kirsten Mabon

7. Target Practice

“My aunt told me with my son to make kinda a game out of it and put cheerios in the potty and have my son use the cheerios as a target.. It worked for him..maybe it will for your son.”  ~Spring Numean

8. Tick Tock Goes the Potty Watch

“Buy the potty watch on Amazon!  My daughter loves it….She wears it everywhere and goes all the time without a fight now!  She’s been trained but has overactive bladder so we got the watch because you can set it for 30, 60, or 90 min intervals. It plays music’s lights up and now she’s emptying her bladder more frequently for less accidents when her bladder spasms!! She loves the independence without me “nagging” her.” ~ Erica Bell

9. Potty Train in a Weekend Book

” We used  Potty Train in a Weekend (a book about training them in 3 days without making the child feel stressed).  It worked for us.   We read it on a Thursday and started on a Friday.  By Sunday he was trained.  He was three, so we weren’t sure that it would happen and we were afraid we would be sending him to Kindergarten in diapers!  Thankfully he is diaper-free.” ~Brittany Johnston

10. Off to School with You!

“Going to preschool is what ended up working for my oldest.  Being around other kids that weren’t in diapers, but were using the potty instead really helped.” ~ Jen Knapp.

11. Make sure Constipation isn’t an issue

If your child is ill or constipated, it can complicate adding ANYTHING new. Talk to your pediatrician and find a solution while putting potty on hold. Your doctor may also check for infection…like urinary tract infections or other diagnosis because potty training regression or delay can happen from any illness or stressors.

12. Choose the best potty chair for your situation

For my kids, we used the potty seat that went on the regular toilet with a small stool for their feet. I found that if they weren’t comfortably seated, they couldn’t concentrate on toilet training. Many moms and dads like the stand alone potty chairs and there are many character and themed ones that might overcome potty training resistance in even the most stubborn child.

13. Rewards!

It is easier to get kids on a potty training routine with the introduction of praise and rewards. Stickers will often do the trick, but you know your child and what can help motivate them to get invested in the toilet training process.

More Potty Training Help


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