Potty Training for Boys


Q: Hello, I am the grandmother of two beautiful children--an almost-7-year-old girl, and an almost-3 1/2-year-old boy. My grandson has been having trouble "getting it" with potty training, although he has urinated and defecated (peed and pooped!) successfully in his home potty, as well as our regular toilet with a portable potty seat. The problem is inconsistency. You see, Caleb's parents both work odd schedules, so I take up the slack (we live 5 mins. away in the same town). I am with him for 2 or 3 days per week. His eating, potty, and sleeping schedules vary, due to the schedules of his parents and me, as his sole caregivers. His sister had no trouble being potty trained at around 3 years of age; Caleb is having some real issues, and my daughter has tried nearly everything--stickers, colorful big boy pants, treats, potty songs, and just letting him go without saying anything unless he goes on the potty. He has a little potty upstairs and downstairs at his house, as well as a removable potty seat for the big toilet downstairs. Do you have any advice or suggestions for odd-schedule parents and caregivers? Also Caleb doesn't have any problem with peeing or pooping (consistency is normal, unless he has a food that doesn't agree with him or he has the flu...), so I don't think there is anything medically amiss.

Symptoms:  Resistance to the idea of peeing/pooping on any of his various potty devices; however, he does know how to pull up and down his Pullups, often leaving them on the floor of his bedroom, in the bathroom (along with used toilet paper when he attempts to wipe himself!), and he knows about flushing the toilet, using a stool to stand at the sink and wash his hands. He often "sneaks" away to do his poop in his pullups, usually doing so in his bedroom near his changing table. He will also go behind a chair in the living room or under the dining room table. My grandson is smart and can follow directions, work puzzles, as well as communicate with us. His older sister really tries to help him with his potty training, but she is away at school all day.

A:   Hello,
Thank you for your medical query at AskTheDoctor.com

I understand your concerns.
From your history, it is evident there is nothing medically wrong with your grandson, he just needs more time. Some children take up to 5 years to get properly potty trained.
Regarding the odd schedule, there is nothing much that can be done, apart from fixing his time for food and potty both. The child needs to have a set routine for him to learn it easily, otherwise there will be a delay.

I can only advise you give him some more time. And I appreciate what you're doing for him.

Hope this was helpful,

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