May 12, 2015  •  In Aerin, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

My 3.5 Year Old Still Isn’t Potty-Trained

I know that she’s ready, both mentally and physically. She meets all the requirements for potty-training, and more.

But at 3 years and 6 months old, my Aerin is still in diapers.

It is not for lack of trying. Books and videos. Pretty underwear she chose herself. Setting schedules. Going without diapers or underwear. Going full-on nude. Having her older sister (whom she shadows and copies all the time) demonstrate. Bribing. Begging. If you’ve seen it or read it online, I guarantee I’ve given it a go.

By this point, I know that it’s just a battle of wills. Because on the few occasions I have made her sit on the toilet — for up to FIVE hours — she still refused to go. And as soon as I gave in? She stood up and gleefully peed everywhere.  😕 


I’m frankly embarrassed, because I do not know any other kid in real life who still was not potty-trained at this age. Granted, she was developmentally delayed due to her illnesses and hearing impairment. And she is small for her age, clocking in at the 13th percentile for height and 8th percentile for weight. But this shouldn’t matter that much at her age, no?

This is honestly one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do as a mother — it’s just taking so long with no progress!

And I’m exhausted. I’m not doing so well physically myself with a bunch of health issues, one of which may involve surgery.

Aerin currently is, and has been for the past few months, full into her “threenager” phase. As such, she can get pretty sensitive and overly emotional even with the most mundane tasks and events. And I do not want her to associate the potty with negative emotions or memories.

So my plan for now is to keep trying, once a week. Let her go at her own pace. Hopefully in the near future, she will realize that peeing and pooping in a toilet is preferable to soiling her diaper.

That’s all I can do, right?

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12 Responses to “My 3.5 Year Old Still Isn’t Potty-Trained”

  1. Rosemary says:

    hang in there! My first born was almost 4 when he decided on his own that he was finally ready to be potty trained. It was almost like someone flipped a switch and he was just ready.

  2. Rachel G says:

    My oldest JUST got the potty training down the last week or so. He is 3 years 8 months old. He has been mentally and physically ready (showing ALL signs) for the last year. I didn’t push it for a while because I had my second son around the time he was truly ready and I knew he would regress (and was exhausted with a newborn). What I didn’t expect was the last six months of fighting him on the potty stuff because he just didn’t WANT to do it. Nope no way he wanted diapers like his brother and wanted to be a baby. I left it alone for about a month, talked a lot about big boys vs babies and then let him start to show/encourage the potty again. It was a battle of wills with the threenager and I realized that to win I had to switch tactics. You are her mom and know her better than anyone- maybe switching tactics and ignoring it would work for her or maybe not – either way I empathize with you and just got out of those trenches myself!! You are doing great and I know you don’t feel that way now but when you look back after its all done you’ll realize that you were doing the best for both of you. Best of luck — there’s light at the end of the tunnel!!!

  3. dd says:

    Why do anything? She’ll get there. I’m the oldest of 6 and none of us were actively potty-trained. Our pediatrician said not to bother, that “they won’t go to kindergarten in diapers.” And of course none of us did. Just take it off the list of things you’re stressing about, seriously.

    • Interesting that this popped up in my Facebook feed this morning not soon after I read your comment:

      I didn’t realize this was a growing trend! I think that for Aerin, no pressure is better than any, but some nudging probably is required, as she LOVES getting dirty (including dirty diapers). Additionally, there are some activities we want to sign her up for but we can’t because they require the child to be out of diapers. 🙁

  4. MH says:

    I knew my son knew HOW and WHEN to use the bathroom around age 3. Like you, I tried everything. Even his preschool recommended I send him to school in underwear – assuring me it would only last a day or so. Wrong – after 2 days, they asked me to put him back in diapers. He literally was just not interested in stopping his playtime long enough to use the bathroom. When I asked the pediatrician, I’ll never forget his response: “you will not win this one.” He told me to wait until my son decided he was ready. Sure enough, on his 4th birthday, he woke up and decided to start using the bathroom on his own.

    I have a theory about kids with medical issues and this kind of power struggle – I think something like potty training might be the only thing they have control over. My son had some pretty serious medical issues and was in the hospital/doctors/getting shots a lot. Once I realized this gave him a little bit of control, I felt a lot differently about it and just decided to let him decide when he was ready.

    Not easy, though, changing 3+ year old diapers. Hang in there.

    • That’s a GREAT theory about kids with medical issues. I know that Aerin is lucky to have overcome most of her problems, but she still remains the sickly one in our family (not unhealthy but gets sick more often than the rest of us and has had the most medical problems) and I can completely understand how frustrating that must be for her. Especially at this age, when she is seeking to be more independent. Thanks!

  5. KB says:

    My son was 4 when he finally decided to cooperate with potty training. I learned the hard way with him that if you let it dissolve into a battle of will, you will lose. They have complete control over potty training, and will not hesitate to exercise that control if they feel they’re being pushed into it. When he reached 4 and still showed no signs of interest in potty training, I told him 4 year olds do not wear diapers, and switched him to underwear. Then I told him if he went potty in his underwear, he had to help clean himself up, and reminded him that he could keep the underwear clean by going in the potty. It took a little while, but once he realized he’d have to help clean himself up (which he HATED), he figured going in the potty would just be easier, so he did it on his own. When he went in the underwear, I was very matter of fact with him and walked him into the bathroom to clean up, even if he was freaking out on me. Good luck!!

    • Linda says:

      Yea, my pediatrician also recommended that she be responsible for throwing out dirty diapers. And that we empty poop into the toilet and explain that that’s where it belongs (although we had fewer issues with getting her to poop in potty as she hated being dirty). The more involved she was in the clean-up process, the better was how he explained it.

      • Linda says:

        Also, she thought it was pretty funny when I told her that Dora, Elmo or whatever other character was on her underwear didn’t want to get pee’d on. “Don’t pee on me!”

  6. JOYCE says:

    I used to do what you did when trying to potty train my daughter. Then, I just left her alone for a couple months and one weekend I asked if she wanted to just wear underwear. She agreed and since that time, she never had a daytime accident and only had two night time accidents. It all happened at once.

  7. AmandaT says:

    My son was almost 4 1/2 when he potty trained. One weekend the switch flipped. After that he never had an accident, never wet the bed. In a couple weeks, he’ll be graduating high school still fully potty trained. No worries.

  8. Linda says:

    My daughter and I were also in a major power struggle. Finally potty trained at 3 years and 3 months, although we were/are not without accidents 3 months later. I do think size matters a little bit (she’s also ~10th%) but my pediatrician said I was over-offering, to apologize and tell her I won’t offer any more and that she can just tell me when she is ready. That along with M&Ms worked! We had been doing star charts, schedules, M&Ms, etc already so I think laying off really was the pivotal breakthrough…. Although my dentist said chocolate chips are probably better for her teeth (saliva melts away chocolate better than with the candy coating).

    Good luck!

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