My Potty Training Saga: Why Potty Training is Making Me Crazy


My son is four years old and still wears diapers… and not just at night. We are in a potty training stalemate. 

My son, G, is four years old and absolutely refuses to potty train. G can’t be bribed: king sized candy bars, new toys, gummies, fancy underwear, lollipops, promises of endless episodes of Daniel Tiger. I could offer him an entire toy store and it wouldn’t sway his stubborn little heart.

At this point, I would rather have a root canal than attempt another round of parent versus child in the porcelain throne arena.

We began this drawn out potty training process shortly after G’s third birthday. He was adamantly opposed to using the potty. We instantly backed off and gave up on any attempts for many months. Soon, G started to show a slight interest in the toilet, so we gave it another attempt. This round we pulled out all the shots; the minion underwear, Elmo potty books, sticker charts, a box of new toys, candy, bells, and Netflix.  I purchased a new potty seat because, according to G, the one we had was too “hard” for his tush. Nothing worked. G hated wearing underwear, so we compromised on pull-ups and training pants. He would sit on the potty but refuse to go. We set timers and G sat. Moments after he got off the potty, he would go in his diaper. We continued the bribes, but he would flat out refuse to go on the potty even if meant not getting a new toy or a candy bar the size of his face. We backed off again. However, we continued the subliminal potty propaganda through PBS shows, books, and songs.

Geared up for potty training
    Sticker charts and underwear!

I sought out advice from his pediatrician, teachers, other parents, family, friends, and even strangers. I read blogs, parenting websites, and books. Everyone had something to say about the subject: he will do it when he is ready, have you tried cheerios or food coloring in the toilet, m&ms, cut holes in his diapers, thrown away all of his diapers, stopped putting him in diapers, made him change himself?  

The advice was endless… but I tried almost all of it! Was I frustrated? You bet! My husband and I constantly wondered- why was this so hard?

Round three, we decided to go cold turkey on diapers and pull-ups. We planned and plotted. We made it a huge ceremony and had G put all of his diapers and pull ups in a box to give to the “babies”. We explained to him that he was a big boy and they were no longer needed. With slight reluctance, he went along with our game. He wore underwear for over a week, and not once peed or pooped on the potty. Yes, for a whole week all we did was pull soiled underwear off our child, who seemed to care less. It became a comedy act. G would sit on the potty for 5 minutes every 30 minutes, during those 5 minutes he wouldn’t go but within moments after getting up he would soil his diaper. Go ahead and laugh!

Everyone says “don’t worry, he won’t go to college in diapers” at this point I am beginning to doubt this statement.

Our potty training saga has gone on for over a year and yielded no results. We have tried and backed off, tried and backed off. G’s preschool teacher told me that going potty is G’s last form of control, he doesn’t want to go on the potty because he doesn’t want to lose that control. I think she has a valid point.  However, can someone please tell me how to take away that control!  At this point, I am scared that we are going to completely scar G. I have received so much advice over the past year.

Pull-ups be gone!
I keep buying the small packs of diapers in hopes each will be the last!

Do I want your advice; short answer: no! We have literally tried everything, so don’t even suggest it. But do I need your advice? Sure, fine… please tell me something I don’t know, and please tell me that it will all work out. I need potty training help! 

If you need me, I will be sitting on the edge of the tub, watching my toddler watch Daniel Tiger while he sits on the toilet for the 100th time with no success.


  1. Great luck! ‘My little guy will be 5 in June. He started peeing on the potty abut a month after his 4th birthday (he randomly decided he was ready) but he still WILL NOT poop on the potty. He gets a pull up & goes in there. Hang in there. Every kid is for sure different. Although super frustrating I’d say back off & see what happens.

  2. Hi Emma! I want to say I feel your frustration! I was not all that long ago and I remember all the tears, all the failed attempts, all the worrying. Boys are really hard in the potty training realm overall from what I hear and my son held true to that too. Honestly, in the end we backed off altogether because being told when to use the bathroom created all too much anxiety for my little guy. We went on vacation six months later (he was over 3.5 years old at the time) and he just decided that day he wanted underwear, no more diapers, and started going himself. It just happened. Obviously, every kid is different and I have no idea what your son will do. But I wanted to say there is hope!


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