Kids, Motherhood

Potty Training Tips for Boys Over Age 3 Who Won’t Poop

A year ago when my first was potty training, I was madly hunting for potty training tips for boys because we had been failing for months.  I NEEDED him out of diapers because our third was just born, and three in diapers is just no fun you guys!  While potty training was easier to conquer for us, poop training was not. So stick around to see what made each of those possible at a desperate time.

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Potty training tips for boys

I was sure we would be out of diapers in 3 days like the masters on Pinterest. Nope. I was sure candy would work as bribery or those cute sticker charts…also nope. Potty training was easy for us, but poop training…o man. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be on the other end of it now! If you are frustrated that your son won’t potty (and poop) train or if he simply doesn’t care to be bothered, then read on!

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There is no perfect age, but for this to work you will need 2 things:

  1. Your boy has to be interested. Something’s gotta motivate him to want to.
  2. You have to be committed.

There are some huge pros and cons to potty training, and for me personally I didn’t mind waiting to potty train my boy till he was 3.5, even if I could have done it sooner. While I loved the idea of saving money on diapers and not wiping up as much nasty squished poop, it’s also way harder to leave the house because because you are always searching for the nearest bathroom everywhere you go.

Desperation kind of led us to do it because my third baby just came home from the hospital. Ironically, my 3.5 year old boy and 2 year old daughter both potty and poop trained that same week, when my third baby was one week old. Sigh, that time was insane!

Benefits of waiting to potty train

1. Shopping is easy in diapers!

For the first 6 months after we ditched diapers, we had to use the potty before leaving, when we got to a store, and about 1 hour later when leaving a store. With 3 kids under 5, this is no fun, but unavoidable!

2. Flights and Road Trips are easy in diapers!

Like I said, you just have to stop more when someone is out of diapers. This lengthens trips for us now, and to be honest I still throw a diaper on my 3 and 4 year old for “just in case” moments when we are flying. Like sometimes you can’t get to a bathroom in 2-3 minutes after they tell you they have to go at the airport.

3. Parks bathrooms are often closed.

A lot of parks close their bathrooms in the winter. When you have a kid in diapers you don’t even think about that. Now that we have potty trained it’s always on my mind, and I’ve had to throw a diaper on them before at a park, leave, or find a secluded spot 😉

Signs your son is ready to potty train

  • He can hold his pee for a while and pee larger amounts.
  • Be able to pull his pants up and down
  • Poops about the same time every day
  • He seems interested
  • He can tell you he has to go. This will just make it easier.

In general boys take longer to potty train (for us a whole 1.5 years later than my daughter!). If he really doesn’t care and will just pee all over the house or won’t tell you he has to poop, you can also try waiting or up your bribery game 😉

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When NOT to potty train

One of the biggest frustrations we had is that they want it to happen but are not consistent. If your son seems ready, you also have to be. And if you are not sure if you are committed too, then just wait! I was not prepared to be stuck at home for so long, and that was just as hard!

If you have a big trip coming up in the next couple months, or will not be at home much during a period of time, it may be good to wait. One of the reasons we failed so many times to poop train is because we kept getting frustrated and putting diapers back on when we HAD to be somewhere.

Kids are opportunists man and they will wait to poop till in that diaper if they know they have it on. If you have to throw diapers on them then do it but prepare for some setbacks like we had.

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Should boys pee sitting or standing?

For boys, you have the choice and there is no wrong answer. Tons of moms, including myself, start with sitting down for a couple of reasons.

  1. They need a stool to be tall enough.
  2. It’s less messy at first when they can’t be still well.
  3. It’s what they see mom doing, and I’m with him all day.
  4. It’s simpler to just learn to recognize the urge than to do that AND learn to aim at the same time.
  5. It’s one less step for them at first when they don’t have to put up a toilet seat.
  6. You can transition any time to standing.

When potty training a boy I’d be sure to remove any rugs around the toilet for a while too so they don’t get peed on.

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Should you buy Pull Ups?

We didn’t. They are just “diapers” that cost twice as much for half the absorbency. My kids knew that as soon as a Pull Up went on, they could go back to their comfort zone and pee or poop one time. So I stuck to diapers till we used undies and just used underwear once they could go a whole day without an accident on the floor

If I HAD to go out, I’d either do a diaper to be completely sure of no accidents or if I was feeling brave, then undies. Either way I’d still stop and take them potty ( I say them because my 3 year old boy and 2 year old girl potty trained at the same time).

What you will want to buy first

This is super important because their knees need to be a little bit higher up to make pooping easier. Most kids go out and squat in a diaper before this, and pooping on a toilet will be much harder to learn if their feet can’t touch. I like this one by Baby Bjorn because it has a rubber non slip Bottom and top, so it won’t slip if it gets wet.

This was our personal favorite and most used item. It sits nicely on the toilet and my son could place it on himself. With this on, he knew he couldn’t fall in and we would bring this to people’s house if we visited. I liked this better than bringing a potty seat because I didn’t have to wash out pee or poop from a potty seat at someone else’s house.

We didn’t have great luck with a portable toilet, which some people’s kids love! I did buy one though and many of my friends said to keep it in the car for “just in case moments” when you are out an about. Also, for a lot of kids, a smaller toilet is just less scary and they don’t need a stool to get on it.

Tip: I would also grab plastic potty seat liners because cleaning out poop from this  and bleaching is no bueno. I remember that being a sad surprise about poop training.

Things to try when potty training boys in the day (and poop training) 

I’m going to share a ton of stuff to try with your son if he shows no desire to leave the safety and convenience of diapers. Not every tip will work for every kid, but something will! So if one of these isn’t working after a few days move on and try something new. Ask yourself if you have what it takes, not just your kid. If you can’t do it, then let it wait a while.

potty training tips for boys, everything you need to know plus tricks for when it's not working. boy wearing a superman costume.

What motivates your boy?

Use it as mega leverage baby! We had to try a few things. I thought chocolate ice cream would for sure do the trick, but it wasn’t enough to get him over the fear of pooping on the toilet. Wait till you see what did!

Let them watch mommy and daddy

Kids model what they see and this makes it very normal for them. (and lets get real, they already watch mommy!).

Explain that they can never get flushed down the toilet.

It’s a real fear for some kids! Mr. Rogers Neighborhood has a great episode on this you can watch for free on Amazon Prime.

Leave the diaper off at home

This was significantly easier in the warmer months and will depend on your house temperature obviously. Having no diaper on just forced the issue of running to the potty. Because my reluctant boy was older, he could sense he had to go and make it in time. With younger boys you will have to literally set timers for yourself and take them every 30 minutes for a few days.

If he’s outside, it’s even easier because you can show him where he’s aloud to go. (Sorry if you don’t or can’t do this, it’s the country girl in me!)

Let him pick out super cool undies

Get him special undies he can wear if he can go a whole day of no accidents on the floor. We found this extremely motivating with my 3 year old that he got the privilege of wearing undies if he could make it to the bathroom.

Plus, lots of little kids don’t want to ruin or wet their super cool undies.

No shaming for accidents

It’s really helpful to keep potty training positive for them, as doing new things can be so scary. If an accident happens on the floor, we would say, “O no, you had an accident. Potty goes only in the toilet. Let’s clean it up.” But we wouldn’t shame him or tell him how he should be better at it.

Tell him which of his friends go on the potty

I’m all for leveraging friends here! Our son really looked up to some boys just a tad older, and he was pretty excited to know they went on the pot. Hey man, whatever helps!

Watch him

Signs to look for are crossing legs, squatting, holding themselves, or if they are older they may even tell you. If you see it help them get to the toilet fast! Potty training is tiring for parents because it really does require a lot of attention!

Stock up on prizes

I don’t know what will do it for your boy, but try everything and see! We kept a treat jar in the bathroom and he got one every time he went potty. My mom said she used to do that with Cheetos when she potty trained kids at a day care so I copied her. Other ideas:

  • M&M jar
  • Gum-ball machine
  • Fruit snacks
  • Cheetos
  • Skittles
  • Mini marshmallows

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Wiping a bottom

I don’t know why, but this was really confusing for me at first! With diapers you always use wet wipes which gets the poop off easily. Once your kid is on the toilet, I found I liked wet wipes better than toilet paper, at least at first till it got easier for me.  Do whatever you like! I eventually used toilet paper.

Tip: If you are like me and don’t flush even “flushable wipes” down the toilet, have a plastic bag handy you can toss the wet wipe into and then tie it up and toss it. Doggy poop bags or grocery bags are perfect for this.

Don’t stress if he’s way older than other kids

It’s ok. He won’t be pooping in diapers at age 7, we hope. Some kids just haven’t learned to recognize the feeling or they feel it and hold it in because they are afraid. Your goal is to try and motivate them!

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Our biggest mistake with poop training

I would leave the house after a long stretch at home before he had pooped.

This was my pitfall, and probably made it way harder and prolonged the process. My 3.5 year old would literally pee fine in the toilet but not poop for 4 days because he was afraid of pooping on the toilet! Usually by that time I was stir crazy or didn’t want to miss another play date so I’d put him in a diaper and do my thing. Sometimes I’d put undies on instead.

He used those opportunities to poop while we were out, even if he was in undies! Every. Time. And not just a normal amount, like a mind blowing 4 days worth of poo-nami. Soooo gross. So if you are poop training, give yourself a good week at home, keep them naked as often as you can, and feed them lots of fibrous foods to get things going!

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What finally worked to get him to poop on the toilet

Giving him privacy… and a trip to Goodwill. He picked out 3 toys that were awesome to him, and I put the helicopter across the toilet on the towel rack for him to swoon over. We told him he could play with one as soon as he pooped.

Maybe it was toys, or maybe we just so happened to bribe him with toys while he just so happened to be ready to poop on his own. Who knows! I’ve just heard over and over again you can’t force boys to poop before they want to. Maybe the toy made him want to. LOL!

It sat there a whole day with him begging and even trying to sit and go a few times. He wasn’t even allowed to hold the toy. On day two, he finally sat and did it after months of nothing else working! We gave him his prize right away, and put up the next one, a dart gun.

The next day around the same time, he went again! Each day seemed easier with less fuss. The thing we noticed was his confidence grew each time he went. It wasn’t as scary as he had convinced himself it was. By day 4 or so it was no big deal. Sitting on a big toilet is just different then squatting in your favorite back corner, I guess!

What didn’t motivate him to poop:

  • Candy didn’t work.
  • Ice cream didn’t work.
  • Telling him he could watch a show didn’t work.
  • Giving him the Ipad to watch on the toilet to “relax” didn’t work. (FYI, he just sat there and watched a whole show, haha)

I was so frustrated. If this is you, I’m so sorry. Just keep trying to find ways to get around their fear of pooping.

potty training boys by finding what motivates them

Potty training methods for night time

Don’t feel pressure to do it at the same time as potty training. I loved doing it later because it kept our nights normal for me, and I found it didn’t harm my son’s ability to learn to pee on the toilet in the day at all. Most kids aren’t fully able to hold their pee all night till ages 5-7, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There are two main ways to approach wearing diapers at night.

  1. Cut them off cold turkey, put a washable waterproof cover on their mattress, and wake up in the night to help them go pee, until they are able to hold it all night. Also eliminating drinks after 7 pm is helpful with this method. This is great for some parents, but it wasn’t for me.
  2. Eliminate diapers in the day time and just use them for nights. That’s what we did, because I had a new third baby and couldn’t fathom disrupting my older two kids 12 hour night stretches. I did not want to rock the boat at this time of my life. It literally would have sent my anxiety through the roof!

After doing diapers at night for about 1 year after potty training, I noticed their diapers were dry in the morning and we just took them away after that. Doing it this way has made it so we have literally had zero nights of peeing the bed at night. Sure, my son wore a diaper to bed till 4.5, but it was stress free for everyone and obvious when he was ready.

Hand washing & Potty Training Tips for Boys

The last thing is that this is the perfect time to introduce regular hand washing. Kids need to know how to do this before going to preschool often times, and it’s a great habit to start. If you have a hot and a cold knob, it may be helpful to put a blue sticker on the cold knob, so they know which one to turn. We also had to teach him how to move the stool to the sink.

Good luck in this crazy journey and if you loved this post, please share it on Pinterest!

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potty training tips for boys, how to motivate them to go on the potty!

10 thoughts on “Potty Training Tips for Boys Over Age 3 Who Won’t Poop

  1. Thank you for your tips! My son is almost 3 years old with NO desire to potty train. I just can’t believe how different he is from my daughter! It’s nice to see helpful input without feeling like a failure- it’s all relative. I am definitely going to use your suggestions!

    1. Hi Marybeth, I think a lot of moms feel similar where they have a three year old boy who has no desire to potty train! “Late” potty training can in some ways be easier because they have better control. At that point, potty training can almost seem like a motivational issue! Good job mama!

  2. Thank you for this! My son just turned 3 & today was his first day in underwear – we leave Sunday for a week long trip, too 😬 I would’ve been fine waiting as long as I could honestly but diapers are really irritating my son now & no matter what we try, the rashes & redness just keep coming. So potty training it is! Ahhhhh! 😲

    1. Heather good luck with potty training! If your son has to go back in diapers for the trip then you can start again when you get home. I really hope some of the things that worked for us will help you out! Boys can be tough to potty train but you got this 🙂

  3. This article came to me at the EXACT MOMENT I needed it to! Thank you, SO MUCH, for this! Reading your story was like reliving a day in my life with my training 3 year old! Every single thing you said that didn’t work for you doesn’t work for us. All the “mistakes” you made are the same I am making at this very moment. Tit for tat, this is a chapter out of my life book! I am going to try the toy on the shelf thing for pooping. I laughed when you said your son sat and watched a whole show while sitting on the potty to poop. One day I saw my son doing is tell-tale “I’m pooping” faces so we ran to the potty. He sat there and wouldn’t go. I brought books and he made me read them repeatedly. I brought up his grandma’s tablet (which he RARELY gets to play with so that was a huge incentive – or so I thought), nada. No exaggeration…I sat on the floor of that bathroom for almost 2 hours. The moment I gave in and put a diaper on him he ran off and pooped. Ugh. Thank you for making me feel better and giving such amazing tips!

    1. Katherine good luck! I really hope the toy on the shelf will do it for him. I know with my son, he was just so fearful of the toilet or sitting or something. So after the first time he did it, it was almost instantly no big deal by the 2nd and 3rd time. If anything you find does get him to want to…I’d LOVE it if you would come back and share what worked so other moms in your shoes can try it too!

  4. Great read! My sons 3 yr, 7 months. He goes pee pee on his terms. Normally at night before bed. Nothing has worked as far a bribing. I’m going to try the $tore toy idea. 🙂

    1. Great Michelle! Let me know if you find something that works…I’m sure all the potty training moms here will appreciate it too!

  5. It is so encouraging to read about a boy who wasn’t potty trained by age 2! My son is 3 years 3 months and doesn’t show much interest in being potty trained. The comments I’m getting from his grandmas isn’t helping. Thank you for sharing your story and tips!

    1. He will eventually go on the toilet. Keep trying, try new ideas, but some kids are just happier to pee and poop in their diapers longer and sometimes we are not ready to potty train on our end when they are 2! But know that a TON of other moms have 3 year olds that poop in their diapers…you are not alone.

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