Q&A: Why does my 3-year-old refuse to potty train?
My daughter is a bright, very verbal, quick to learn 3-year-old, but for one area: she has refused to toilet learn. Rewards,and treats don't work, and she will do everything to make sure that I don't know that she has to go. I have never used negative reinforcement or tried to make her feel bad for going in her pants, but she is resistant even to the idea. Any suggestions? Will she just decide to train on her own? Preschool is coming up in September!
Unfortunately when it comes to toilet training, it’s often easier to get it wrong than right. So far, you are taking the exact right approach: plenty of praise and neither punishment nor threats. Though the majority of children are trained by three years, many don’t complete the process until later. Temperament, family dynamics and developmental readiness all affect the timing of training.
My advice to you is to continue the laid-back approach, recognizing that it really is up to her to decide when she is ready. You can begin, however, to appeal to her rational side. Find out if there is a particular part of training that makes her reluctant (there may or may not be). Emphasize that at age three she is becoming a big girl and mention other kids of that age who have mastered the process. Talk over what preschool will be like, with and without diapers or pull-ups. Let her know that you will wait until she is ready, and that you’ll be there to help her when she is.
You may also want to make the bathroom (or toileting area) a likable place for her–some books, a tape player or decorations of her choosing may help. If she begins not on a child-sized potty but the standard one, make sure there is a stool at a height to allow her feet to rest flatly while she is sitting. Your patience will pay off eventually!