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4 year old won't potty train

I have a 4 1/2 year old son that is somewhat potty trained. He knows how to poop and pee in the potty but doesn't do it consistently. He is in a daycare and they are telling me that he will get kicked out of the daycare if he keeps peeing and pooping in his pants. Last week he really excelled at "being a big boy" but this week he wants to be a baby. I don't know what to do. He is also not behaving at daycare. He goes up to any kid and will just hit them for no reason. I have tried to get him professional help but no one will take him until mid summer or I don't qualify for the program. Any ideas what I can so to get him on track? I'm afraid he'll get kicked out of daycare and I'll lose my job. Please, I'm losing my mind and don't know what to do.
2 Responses
189897 tn?1441126518
Well, those are a few signs of ADHD, but would need a lot more info.  However, your local school district might be able to help.   They will do testing.   Most schools have found that it is better to get kids into programs early rather then later.   So try calling up your local school district.  It is possible that your day care might also be able to give you some advice?
I've applied for a few programs in the school district and they say that I don't qualify or they don't do testing at the school that we would be going to. I have tried talking to the daycare about these matters but they don't seem to have any other ideas for me.
Avatar universal
Hi there,

I'm not sure there is enough information here to suggest that he would be right for an ADHD diagnosis or assessment. I would hold off thinking about that until you have things in place consistently then think about it if nothing improves. It might be worth going to the GP to determine that there are no underlying health conditions leading to accidents if you haven't already done so.

With regards to toiletting, It would be useful to know what has already been tried to support with toilet training? Does he use the potty at home willingly? Does he need to be reminded to use it? and what he is given as a reward when he uses the potty?  Reward charts- i.e. getting a special sticker and putting it on a chart (whilst on the potty) and praise whilst he is on the potty will help him associate using it with praise and positivity making him want to use it more.

Consistency is really important here whilst he is learning and  this needs to happen at home and in daycare, they need to take some responsibility or supporting him too. He needs to be prompted to use the toilet or potty fairly regularly even without asking to use it (ideally the same potty in daycare as at home). This way he will develop an association and it is more likely to end up in the potty/toilet than on him. When there is something left in the toilet he should get loads of praise and rewarded with the same sticker chart as at home (or whatever else you use). I also wonder how they are responding to him when he does have an accident. If he is being told 'no' or 'thats bad' when he does have an accident it's likely that he will begin to find it an aversive experience, making him even less likely to tell someone he needs the toilet. If he does have an accident it should not be made in to a big song and dance, do not comment on it (unless he is distressed and crying, in which case he needs comfort), he should be supported to change himself (in the bathroom where the toilet/potty is kept) and then directed back to the activity he was doing before.

I am unsure from your post whether he minds using the potty or if he might be a bit reluctant, or if he even understands fully what it is for. I have used loads of story books to help children understanding the toilet- 'poo goes to poo land' is particularly good for children who are scared - if you google it will come up. There are lots of different ones available online so you can see what is likely to suit him best. On top of this to help his understanding you could do some role play with his toys- so for example when playing you can say 'Ooh I think teddy needs the toilet- what should he do?' Then support him to take teddy/ another toy to the toilet, talking about how clever teddy is. When he starts doing this you can ask him how teddy knows he needs the toilet and then teach him about feeling it in his tummy.

In terms of behaviour at daycare in order to support him you could do with working out what he gets from hitting out- is it access to toys or objects? He doesn't understand not to do that? He needs interaction from them? He wants them to get away from him? It may take a while to work out and initially it may not be clear, but once you understand this you can find a way to help him show more appropriate behaviours to get his needs met. Also think about the environment- is it just happening at daycare?

Sorry for the lengthy post I hope this gives some new ideas- it can be hard to potty train!

Very good points by Cmaccy.  I also should have mentioned that there is a set of books aimed at his age group that could be helpful.  You might look into "Hands are not for hitting" and you will find other ones to help with anger listed below that one.  Check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Hands-Hitting-Ages-Best-Behavior/dp/1575420775
Thank you for the advice. We have tried doing the sticker reward system and we found out that he hates stickers. Anytime he gets one, he rips it apart. He will sometimes goes willingly but he always tells us he has to go potty and waits for us to respond before going. It's the same if he poops but wants us to sit with him while he goes. We tried using his stuffed penguin to do the "oh Mattie needs to go potty. Where should she go?" He'll take her and then pretend she went. The latest endeavor has been that I will reward him with a hot wheels car when he successfully poops and a piece of track if he attempts to go in the toilet. He did this wonderfully for about 1 week then didn't want to "be a big boy" anymore.

As for behavior, he does get angry very easily. He and his older brother get into hitting fights for no reason. My youngest will attack my older son if he has something that he wants and my older son has. It sounds like it's somewhat the same at the daycare. He will hit someone who has a toy that he played with yesterday saying that it was his first. He apparently hit a girl in the ribs on Monday because she was looking at the pet turtle and he didn't want her doing that. He also has screaming fits at the daycare. He'll yell 'no' to the teachers and just scream to the point they have to take him to the front office to calm him down. He does this at home but we put him in timeout when this happens.
That sounds like really good strategies- especially the hot wheels car and rail track- like you've noticed with the stickers you have to be really careful with rewards and keep finding things that are highly motivating for him. Maybe the rail track and car got a bit boring after a week and is not motivating enough to keep him doing it any more? I also think that consistency is absolutely key , it needs to be the same approach in day care and at home or it will not work. If he got a great treat at home then tried at day care and didn't get anything and didn't get as much verbal praise he won't bother doing it again. It sounds like he is half way through the process of toilet training and that's really great! It's good that he can tell you- presumably he knows he needs to go then. So once he is consistently using the potty with rewards I would then start to think about ways to help him understand that he doesn't need to ask permission to go (through stories, role play).

Based on what you say, by completing the behaviour he is aiming to access tangible items ( hitting to get toys) or escape (yelling at teachers to escape doing something he doesn't want to do and then getting to leave to go to the office). The basic things to put in place here is to make sure he's not gaining access to objects by hitting (which he probably does more in day care as they aren't able to see every time it happens) and that he's not completely escaping a situation or demand by yelling and screaming. If at daycare they are asking him to do things that are hard for him or stressful they need to put things in place to make it easier for him- like turning demands in to games (like let's see how fast we can tidy up) or using stories or pictures to help explain what he needs to do in very small steps. If he needs to go to the office, once calmed he should be supported to complete the demand that was placed on him.

After a while he will realise that these behaviours have stopped working and he's not getting the same response any more. Because of this you need to teach him different behaviours to get what he needs- Sandmans suggestion about kind hands stories will be really good to introduce the idea. Try and teach him about how he can show angry feelings in a different way (like telling someone he feels red). You could practice sharing things at home through games.
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