Dear Bundoo: My Preschooler Won’t Potty Train!

What is a parent to do when one child isn’t potty trained by 4 years old and is about to start preschool? Is there a way for a parent to handle a publicly flatulent grandmother who is showcasing bad manners to their young child? This week’s Dear Bundoo answers both dilemmas.

Dear Bundoo,

Our oldest, now 4, never took kindly to potty training. She refused to give up her beloved diapers, and my wife and I have gone along with it. Our youngest is 2 years old and has already started potty training, but his sister has made her unhappiness known, protesting that we should always wear diapers—all of us. She starts preschool this fall and I’m afraid of how to broach this topic with her teachers and administrators. How do I make sure she’s diaper-safe in school?

Potty training tragedy 

Dear Potty Training Tragedy,

Potty training can be one of parenting’s most difficult challenges, especially for those children who are resistant to it. While it is true that every child develops at their own pace and a parent cannot force a child to be potty trained before they are ready, the majority of children are potty trained by age four. I would recommend a visit to the pediatrician to make sure there are no medical or developmental reasons why your child is not potty trained. If your child is healthy, you will need to be firm and consistent in your efforts to potty train her. Positive reinforcement tends to work best—sticker charts with small rewards at the end of each day for staying dry tend to motivate many children. Your motivation for being consistent will be the fact that she may not be able to go to preschool if she is not potty trained. I would suggest explaining the situation to the school administrators to see if she is allowed to attend if she is not yet fully trained while you work on the process. Perhaps you can even use this as a motivation for her by explaining that all other children will be wearing “big girl undies,” she may have a change of heart.

Answered by Dr. Kristie Rivers, Bundoo Pediatrician

Dear Bundoo,

My child’s grandmother passes gas and burps openly in front of others, including my daughter. I’ve taught my daughter to leave the room if she can to pass gas, and if she can’t help it, to say “excuse me” afterward. The fact that she is learning otherwise is driving me crazy. How can I teach my daughter what I feel is acceptable without attacking her grandmother’s behavior?

Pass Gas With Manners

Dear Manners,

We all cringe when our children witness someone doing something that goes against what we are preaching in our home. It is doubly worse when that individual is someone whom your child admires and looks up to, like a grandparent. When teaching manners, it is important to be consistent and persistent, no matter the environment. I would suggest you not make a derogatory comment about grandma, instead keep the focus on the behavior itself. Even in the presence of grandma, you can ask your child to excuse herself in the event she burps or passes gas. I do not suggest you correct grandma. In time, the silliness of passing gas and burping in public will fade, and her manners will meet your standard in that regard.

Answered by Raquel Anderson, Bundoo Behavioral Health Specialist


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About Jon VanZile, Bundoo Content Director

Jon VanZile is the Content Director at Bundoo, where he edits the weekly Dear Bundoo column.


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