Potty Training Older Kids : Tips, Tricks and Threats

potty training older boysI wasn’t planning on sharing more stories on potty training boys because it has been a huge failure (at least in my opinion). We have a 4.5 year old boy who refuses to potty train and we’re at our wits end. However, I keep getting messages asking how the potty training process is coming along and it seems there are other parents with older kids struggling, just like we are. Potty training the first time around was a breeze and Little Monkey was out of diapers when she was 2.5 years old. Baby Boy has been absolutely frustrating. He showed signs of wanting to train very early but then we encountered some setbacks and before our big trip, we thought we were in the clear. Sadly, that was not the case. Chris even threw out the diaper genie and has refused to buy one since our return! Potty training an older child is not a task for the faint of heart, that’s for sure!


Why Are We Still Struggling with Potty Training?

Baby Boy absolutely refuses to get rid of the diapers. We’ve tried going cold turkey and have ended up with mess after mess. He says he doesn’t feel the poop/pee coming out and can sit in it for hours at end. It just doesn’t bother him. We’ve tried every trick recommended and have had no luck. When he’s at home we’ll remind him to go to the bathroom and 6 out of 10 times he will but not without a fight. We’ve tried to talk to him and figure out what exactly is going on but there seems to be no logical explanation for any of this. The daily arguments and tantrums are oh so exhausting and after yelling more than a few times, we all get frustrated and just give up. For the most part we’re still using the Pampers Baby Dry but we did buy a box of Pampers Easy Ups and sadly didn’t see any improvements in terms of transitioning to “big boy underpants”. We’re still going through 2-3 diapers a day with our 4.5 year old and he says that he’ll be out of them when he turns 5. I don’t believe him because he said the same for when he turned 4 and see where we are now! At the end of the day, he’s not ready for whatever reason.


potty training older kids

Why Won’t We “Lay Down the Law”?

This is a question I get quite often and honestly, it’s not that we haven’t tried everything in our power short of full on banishing him to a life of ridicule. We’ve seriously tried it all (see below) and it hasn’t helped us any. I don’t prescribe to the wishy washy rules of parenting but with this one, I don’t see any other solution beyond letting him take control of this process. Dealing with diapers is a lot easier than having to clean up the mess off our couch and throwing every single pair of pants out (been there done that) and so, here we are! If you have other ideas on how we can “lay down the law” please do share. I’m willing to try ANYTHING (well, within reason).


Potty Training Tricks and Threats

We’ve received some great suggestions and I pride myself on being crafty, so I’ve come up with some stellar ones I was SURE would work, but sadly, no luck. However, each child is different and if you’re still struggling and have an older child potty training, maybe one of these will work for you.


  • Setting a timer and forcing him to go to the potty ( he never remembers on his own, we have to FORCE him each time and there’s only so much energy I have to keep at this)
  • Running around with no diaper all day (urgh…disaster. We only lasted 4 days before I gave up)
  • Taken away his ipad (4 months and counting…)
  • Promised him a McDonald’s Happy Meal when he has gone 3 days straight with a clean diaper (no luck hitting this milestone yet)
  • Giving his sister a quarter every time he needs a new diaper (we’re getting poorer and Little Monkey is getting richer by the hour)
  • Denied play dates with his favourite friends (aeh.. he doesn’t mind)
  • Made him hang out with potty trained kids who he looks up to (he tends to go to the potty more often in these scenarios than not)
  • Shamed him for wearing diapers (works in some instances but mostly it doesn’t bother him)
  • Rewarded his sister with ice cream (really pisses him off and a full on tantrum needs to be dealt with but doesn’t entice him any)
  • Pointing out younger kids who are diaper free (he just shrugs it off and says ‘well he/she is still a baaaaaby’)
  • Who will be first -race (he and I race to see who will be first to pee and I always let him win as it’s pretty much the only way to get him on the potty without much of a fuss)


We’ve been trying the above tricks for months now and some work and some don’t. Nothing has helped us with long term solutions but we’ll keep trying. Oh and yes, I know I really shouldn’t be shaming him but I’m only human and occasionally it totally happens. Going to hell for that one, yes I know! One thing we need to do is take him back to the family doctor to see if there might be some bowel issues as he says he doesn’t feel the poop/pee coming out. Hopefully a simple scan can help us with that. The other thing we’re wondering is if he might be lactose intolerant as we’ve had some stomach aches lately and loose stools, another thing to monitor.

Do you have any advice for us? Misery loves company so do share your stories with us and who knows, perhaps one of your tricks/threats might work for us even if it didn’t for you!!

Send wine.


Update : We met with our doctor in early 2019 and they determined that he may have a dairy allergy which MAY have been contributing to the lack of bowel movement feelings. We stopped dairy and it helped him immensely. He quickly moved out of diapers in Feb  2019 and while he does have occasional accidents we’ve been diaper free!

Potty training older kids, Parenting struggles tips tricks and threats

  • melissa
    June 17, 2018 at 7:32 am

    WOW we are going through the same thing, I hope you are having success. We are good when we are in the house but leaving the house is a HUGE challenge. I have tried everything, including having a potty in my car. My son will be 3 in July and I really want this to happen before he starts daycare. Please do an update soon and let us know how it is going! Wishing the best of luck on the journey!!

    • Yashy
      June 17, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      Thank you for sharing that Melissa! I promise to update as soon as we have some progress!!

  • kathy downey
    July 6, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Oh,I hope you get it all figured out.We just started,wish me luck!

  • Crystal Bogart
    October 6, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    You finally got your 4 year old potty trained I did took longer than expected but it was a success

    • Yashy
      October 18, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      wohooo!!! Congrats!

  • Jennifer Wilson
    December 5, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Some kids just have to do it on their own terms. Just let him be the one to decide, don’t even talk about it anymore. I know it is hard because you feel like you have failed but I can assure you he will be potty trained soon.

  • Adam C. Fallert
    March 8, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    It has been several months sense you have posted about “baby boy’s” progress using the toilet. Given the fact that he potty trained himself as you posted in another post a couple years back, He does know how to use the potty/toilet. At this time he just simply chooses not to and prefers to use a diaper (and perhaps may be scared of the toilet). Or a bigger reason is that he just simply feels comfortable in diapers and is what is called a “Diaper Lover” or DL.

    If he is a DL, that is something he will never outgrow and you will have to find a way to work with him on it. Look up ABDL/TBDL on the internet. Given your postings of trying to get him to ditch the diaper and the fights you have had with him, i am guessing he is a DL Yes it does start at a young age..

    • Yashy
      March 16, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Hi Adam

      Realized you may have missed this update we did on Youtube! We’ve been diaper free for a while and currently on our first trip with NO diapers! wohoo!!! https://youtu.be/Z2C8LDqLNZQ

      • Adam C. Fallert
        March 21, 2019 at 12:34 am

        Awesome that you are diaper free now and yes I missed the video. I had a foster child that went until about 3.5 years. My adopted son was a bed wetter until about nine years of age. Pampers pull-ups or Huggies pull-ups are not stopping the leaks. Only Pampers Cruisers size 7 stopped the the leaks. I was researching “bedwetting”, and that is how I found out about ABDL/tbdl and your site

  • Kate-mom
    June 14, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    I have worked as a daycare teacher and babysit a lot. No news for me that many kids like to be in diapers and feel comfortable in them and are not interested in potty at all. Some just kinda seem to like that warm squishy feeling if they poo and pee in them and don’t wanna get changed. Your son seems to like it too I guess, no doubt. Annoying for parents, indeed, but that’s what kids do. Good luck with potty training anyway!

    • Yashy
      June 24, 2019 at 12:34 pm

      Thank you!!! He finally got out of them in March!!

  • G1234
    April 13, 2020 at 10:12 am

    I JUST came across your post and it sounds like our struggles with our almost 5 year old. I’d love to hear an update on what happened! I clicked your youtube link above but the video showed as removed. Did you do a post on an update?

  • Aaron
    September 2, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    This is exactly where we are right now…thanks!

  • danny
    November 15, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    so what age was he potty trained and is he still potty trained day and night

    • Yashy
      November 16, 2020 at 10:36 am

      Yes he’s been trained since he was 5.5 years old

  • Denise M
    December 21, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    All useful tips. However, I often think that it will happen when the child is ready. It becomes frustrating for the parent when the kid doesn’t want to do it – believe me!

  • Samantha
    January 14, 2021 at 5:18 am

    Hi. I see the update, congrats to you and your son!

    When he was still potty training, was he allowed to wear/bring diapers to school and did they help with accidents?

    Also did he stop wearing diapers altogether in February of 2019 or did he still have accidents at night and wear diapers to bed?

    • Yashy
      January 14, 2021 at 10:57 am

      He wore diapers to school but had to deal with everything by himself. He was truly old enough so there was no issues. Few accidents here at there at night but nothing consistent and it was short lived

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