"Don't see me!"....this is what my little boy tells me a few times a day. Sometimes it is because he is drawing on the wall, other times it is because he wants to hide and eat fruit snacks. Usually, it is because he has to have a bowel movement. He just turned three and we have attempted potty training a time or two before, but resorted to waiting a few more months because we were hitting roadblocks. We would get him to use the potty daily, willingly, although not every time he needed to go. We would have him run around without a diaper (pretty normal for him), watch his siblings, bribe him with M&Ms and cookies (yes my kids eat some sweets), but with a few steps forward, we would move a few more back. We realized he is simply not ready. Yes he can stay dry for a few hours,

does not have a bowel movement overnight, can pull down his pants/pullup, is proud when he does peepee on the potty, but he is not ready. Like many of your kids, he is physically ready but not emotionally ready. He still refuses with a stern "no" most of the time when we suggest potty time. So, we will wait, despite the strong desire to have only one child out of four in diapers. It's exciting just to think about it!

I often advise the parents in our practice to potty train without stressing out. Don't put a time frame on things. It only adds pressure for all involved, especially your kiddo who responds to these milestones in part related to how you respond. Sure we would all love to have them out of diapers by the time the poops get unbearable:) Truth is, being too forceful with potty training, or any milestone for that matter can emotionally damage a child. It can affect their personality later in life. It will happen faster if we wait for the time when he/she is truly ready. So what are those readiness signs again? 

*physiological signs: are the elimination muscles mature enough?

no BMs at night

stays dry for a few hours (over a long nap,etc)

regular BMs

aware of the need to go potty

*are his/her motor skills advanced enough to potty train?

can undress himself/ herself....underwear down/pants down

*verbal and cognitive signs of readiness?

understands the words associated with potty training (poop, peepee, body parts, wet, dry)

can follow 2-3 step commands (potty training involves many steps, see below)

can imitate behavior

*emotional signs?

wants to be a "big boy" or "big girl"

wants to please mom and dad or caregiver

wants to master his/her own body "I can do it"

does not protest when you suggest going potty (if they say "no", LISTEN to these little ones, give them the credit they deserve)

does not hide when pooping


So, keep in mind, each child will potty train at their own pace. Try not to compare them to other siblings, cousins, friends. Also remember that they may not have every sign listed above and in no definitive order. Use your "mommy or daddy judgement" and follow my advice of "potty training without stress". And know that I too, as some of my parents say, "are in the trenches" with you:)

Lastly, here is what potty training involves. We sometimes don't realize the complexity that it is for a little one. 

They have to be familiar with their body and it's functions, associate physical sensation with the proper response, think about what they need to do, make a plan, get to the potty, pull down pants, have the memory and concentration to stay there, and not be afraid of the new experience, the loud flush, the feelings that they have.

Be patient. They WILL be potty trained and someday they will love going potty (like some of our husbands).


Dr. S