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Trouble Potty Training a 4 Year Old

Ever since my daughter was 3 she used the potty with little effort. She did use a diaper at night. She always waited to poop until I put the diaper on her.


Now at 4 1/2 she refuses to sit on the potty. She says she is scared. After trying everything from rewards, to talking to her, I held her on the potty for 45 minutes, she screamed the entire time, I started to get worried someone would think I was hurting her and gave up.

There are also a lot of changes we have been going through lately. I do not know what to do to help my daughter use the potty. Please help.

By Dawn from Myrtle Beach, SC

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August 28, 20100 found this helpful

Have you asked him why?

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August 31, 20100 found this helpful

Maybe he's afraid to sit on it. Do you put him on an adult toilet or a child's 'potty' ?

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August 31, 20100 found this helpful

My daughter uses a chart hanging in the bathroom and when her child goes she gets a sticker to place on the chart. after a certain number of successes she gets to have a small prize. So far so good.

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September 1, 20100 found this helpful

I am not sure if this would work well for pooping but it worked well for my some with peeing. We set a timer alarm on the computer that would go off every two hours just for him to try, whether or not he had to even go. We gradually lengthened the time between the alarms and this worked so well for us. This way it was the "alarm" telling him he needed to try and not us. There were no hard feelings or getting upset that way. I am not sure if this would help in your situation but it might be worth a try. Best of luck.

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September 1, 20100 found this helpful

My 2 1/2 year old runs around with no diaper, pants or underwear while we are at home. If he says he needs a diaper, I know he needs to poop so I make it fun and say don't you run to the potty, I have to go first, don't beat me to it. It's working.

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September 1, 20100 found this helpful

Try putting him backwards on the toilet. Buy a few hot wheels {or some special car he wants} but ONLY allow him to play with them on the toilet tank while he "going" and no other time.

You can also add some special books that he only gets to read/play with when he is on the pot. A lot of kids feel like they are going to "fall in" when they sit on the toilet forward and by putting him on the pot backwards he can lean against the tank and feel secure. He will also be able to climb up onto the pot by himself this way, it worked for my son and my nephew.

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September 2, 20100 found this helpful

I like Coll3's method. Games are a lot more fun than nagging!

My daughter used the "sticker method" with her son because that was what worked for him. She added an extra layer, though: if he regressed badly, he'd have to peel off a sticker and give it back to Mama. He didn't like that!

My daycare folks used a different method with my youngest that may not work for your little one: he had a "potty buddy." Since there was another boy my son's age, they had side-by-side potty chairs. They may have used a schedule too. The point is, my son and the other boy didn't mind sitting awhile because it was their little social time as well. Frankly, if you're not too shy to be seen on the toilet, you may try setting your boy's potty chair near the toilet and the two of you can chat while you, he, or both of you "take care of business." You can teach him about handwashing at the same time.

Best to you and your son as he conquers this challenge.

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October 5, 20100 found this helpful

At 4 1/2 (barring any developmental delays) your child should be able to tell you why the toilet is so scary. Until you understand why it is so scary, it may be impossible to make it better for your daughter.

My oldest was scared that the toilet would overflow. It never had before, but that was her fear. To get her past it, I had her stand at the door where she could hear and see the toilet flush, but not be near if it did. She cried the first few times, but soon she did come closer and eventually got over the fear.

You also stated there are other changes at home. Little kids don't handle stress the same way adults do, but they do get stressed none the less. She may not be scared of the toilet so much as the change has bothered her to the point that for whatever reason her fear/stress is attached to the toilet.

Both for my own children and the children I have worked with in day care, the best method I found to potty train any age was to put them in the clothes and panties for the day. If there is an accident, THEY not you are responsible for changing their clothes and getting the clothing to the designated location (hamper, laundry room, etc) You can assist, but they have to initiate the actions. At first kids don't want to slow do to go to the bathroom, but they soon realize that it does take longer to change than do the right thing.

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October 6, 20100 found this helpful

Delicate subject, but this has to be asked. Does your daughter feel afraid to potty because it hurts? If this is a yes, is it possible someone has been hurting her? Talk to her about her fears. Something out of the ordinary has happened.

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February 12, 20110 found this helpful

If she likes to primp, let her put on lipstick or make-up after each successful poop! It worked for my grand-daughter.

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