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No interest in potty training

What can you do if your child wants to take a pass on the whole using-the-toilet thing? A pediatrician offers some advice.

The question:

When should my daughter be potty trained? How can I get her interested in it? She is 3 years old and is extremely bright, yet she shows no interest in going on the potty. Please help. – Bob in Michigan

The pediatrician answers:

Potty-training is one of the most sensitive and controversial topics among pediatricians. Who would have thought that the simple act of pooping could incite so many different opinions?


You’ve probably heard all sorts of differing advice by now, if your daughter is already three years old. The advent of disposable diapers in the 1970s helped to change focus and foster a less parent-assertive approach.


I would not be concerned at this point at three years of age, even though it may be frustrating to see other children achieve mastery at earlier ages. If your daughter shows absolutely no interest in the potty or even offers resistance, she may be demonstrating toilet refusal. Parents have to remember that there are only a few areas of life where toddlers have control, and pooping may be one of them.


I would not recommend engaging in poop battles. Instead, make sitting on the potty enjoyable as much as possible. Perhaps offer a book, purchase a special potty chair and allow your child to help decorate or paint it — BUT DON’T FORCE the issue at hand. Forcing your child to attempt to go on the potty may lead to withholding stool and constipation, which can be a very significant problem in toddlers.


Watchful waiting, I believe, is the best approach.

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