Back to School at FamilyEducation.com
Home > Babies and Toddlers > Toddlers > Toddler Growth and Development > Toilet Training > Trouble Potty Training a Three-Year-Old
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Trouble Potty Training a Three-Year-Old

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: My son is three and a half years old. He has shown some signs of potty training readiness and seems to be interested in trying, but he has had no success. He can sit on the potty for an hour, and it seems that as soon as he gets up, he wets his pants. As many times as he has sat on the potty, he has never gone once. I am wondering if there could be something wrong. Do you think we should see a doctor about this?

A: It does sound as if you may benefit from talking with your child's doctor about toilet training. There are no hard and fast guidelines for when a child should be toilet trained. In general, parents provide the encouragement and guidance, but when a healthy child is ready, he will do it eventually. Your child's doctor should be able to offer suggestions that will be helpful in getting your child over this hump.

Staying dry for periods of time during the day (daytime continence) is usually achieved between 36 and 48 months of age, with nighttime continence coming months to years after that. By meeting with your child's doctor, you can assess your child's signs of readiness for toilet training and identify potential barriers that may be slowing his progress.

There are many reasons why a child may be resistant to toilet training -- stress in the home, illness, hard stools, and parental pressures are common causes. The key for parents who are dealing with a resistant child is to stay positive and to reinforce all signs of progress. Sometimes a child even benefits from taking a break from toilet training. The "time off" can be helpful in decreasing the pressure of the experience for both parent and child. Talk with your pediatrician for the right approach for your son.

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!