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Potty Training Standstill – What to Try When You’re Not Making Progress

This parent started potty training, made some progress, and then hit the proverbial wall.  See below for some suggestions about what to do when your child seems to have stopped making any progress while potty training and you feel you're at a potty training standstill. This will apply to the child who lacks motivation, doesn't mind being wet or dirty, or who simply isn't very interested. 


I've been potty training with my son for a while now. He did pretty well (with reminders from me, not a lot of self- initiation) for five days, but never got to the point where I thought he could go on an outing without a diaper.

He pees frequently, only a little at a time. Makes for many opportunities for success at home, but difficult when out as I also have a 3.10 yr old and a 15 yr old!

It doesn't seem to bother him to have his underwear or shorts wet. I went back to bare bottomed when at home. Still not much self initiation and peeing on himself doesn't seem to phase him much, although he will usually sit on the potty to finish the last bit. He's not particularly stubborn, but carefree.

Was interested in the potty at first til I made the mistake of offering jelly beans for using the potty. He did better when the reward was lots of praise. I have stopped the full time potty training, but let him go bare bottomed for about an hour a day. He doesn't like to be "made" to sit long periods on the potty now.

He has told me a few times in restaurants that he has to go and has no fear of the big toilet, actually preferring it to the potty. Any tips on getting back on track? 


Since he only pees a little bit at a time...have you tried the bathtub technique, by any chance?  That sometimes teaches kids how to 'fully' release their bladder.  When kids aren't fully letting go, it definitely increases the number of accidents they have....instead of 3-4 full pees during the day, they tend to have 4-8 'mini' pees....that that makes it harder to catch them all on the potty. So perhaps work on working with him to fully empty his bladder - start with the bathtub, and then you can reward for 'squeezing out' a few more drops! 

As far as the sure sounds like he knows EXACTLY what to do based on the fact that he has initiated in restaurants.  He just isn't interested enough in the process to do it all the time or at home, etc.  Are you making him clean himself up when he has an accident?  How does he respond to clean up?  

Kids with a 'lack of motivation' sometimes do really well when you make potty training a game.  Since you have older kids, can you enlist their help?  For example, you can have 'contests' - Who can pee first?  Who can pee longest?  If you have boys you can play 'sink the cheerios' - who can sink the most cheerios?  Get creative.  Also, some kids don't do well with 'instant' rewards such as jelly beans but do better when working toward a bigger reward.  For example, you can use a sticker chart and when he gets a certain number of stickers gets a special reward - a new toy, an extra dessert,  or a free pass from eating his veggies.  It sounds to me like keeping him interested will be the key.  

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