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How To Overcome a Final Obstacle To Potty Training

By Emily |

My son spent the weekend using the potty at home without any accidents. He would even get up from playing, without being reminded, and run to the potty when he had to pee. Once, I was sitting at the table, and I looked up and thought, “Where’s Bren?” When I called to him he answered from the bathroom, “I’m going potty!” Wow! That is music to a toddler parent’s ears!

And when he had to poop he would tell us and we would go with him and help him get settled, and then he would announce, “I need my privacy!” So we’d let him do his thing until he needed help being wiped. It was a great weekend of only having to change a few diapers at home before and after nap time and bedtime, and when we went out of the house.

So, you would assume that my son is basically potty trained right?

Well, yes, I guess. Except for one minor thing.

He wasn’t wearing any pants or underwear while we were at home.

Yep, that’s right, we let him run around half naked all weekend and he used the potty without any issue.

But, now the problem is, how do we get him to continue to use the potty without accidents while he’s actually wearing underwear and pants?

Because while he’ll use the potty regularly and consistently as long as there’s nothing covering his bum, as soon as you put underwear on him, he’ll pee in them like 5 minutes later.  Even if he just went to the bathroom.

He can consistently hold it for an hour or more, but for some reason, feeling that cloth against his skin makes him feel like he’s wearing a diaper, or something, so he doesn’t remember to go to the potty. But, obviously, I can’t let the kid run around naked forever just so he’ll use the potty, and I definitely can’t take him in public that way.

We had the exact same issue with my daughter, I trained her that way on purpose thinking that it would be easier, and she was pretty much potty trained by about 22 months, but as soon as we tried to cover up her bum, it all went downhill and she regressed to the point where she didn’t end up fully potty training until she was almost three years old — practically a whole year later!  That was NOT a fun year of changing diapers.

At just 2 1/2 I know my son is young for potty training, especially for a boy. And this weekend was kind of an accident. We didn’t really plan to let him run around naked all weekend, and we definitely didn’t expect that he would actually use the potty without any accidents. But once he went the whole morning on Saturday without an accident, we just wanted to see how well he could do.

So, now I know that he can physically do it, if he wants to. It’s just a matter of teaching him to use the potty even when he’s wearing underwear and pants. And that just makes me really want to get him over this final hurdle so we can put the diapers behind us for good. (Or at least for 6 months until the next baby comes!)

The truth is that diapers are expensive, and toddler diapers are so gross to change! I would be more than happy to be done with the diaper stage and move onto the potty stage, but I honestly just don’t know how to make the transition from naked bum to underwear and pants.

Have you potty trained your toddlers by letting them run around naked? How do you make the transition to them wearing underwear and pants without accidents? Any tips or advice you have for me would be greatly appreciated!

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About Emily



Emily McClements is passionate about caring for creation while saving money at the same time. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, and blogs about her family's journey toward natural and green living on a budget at Live Renewed. Read bio and latest posts → Read Emily's latest posts →

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10 thoughts on “How To Overcome a Final Obstacle To Potty Training

  1. Christine says:

    Would wearing boxers instead of briefs help?

    One PTing tip I read was don’t put on undies when leaving the house, just let them wear loose fitting pants. Feels more freeing. I do that with my 2 y/o from time to time when I don’t want to find new undies or she’s complaining of owies on her bottom (I think she has sympathy pains for her little sister’s persistent diaper rash).

  2. Naomi says:

    I have NO idea if this would work, because I’ve only PT one kid so far, but what if you start having him wear just underpants around the house (with the expectation that they will get peed in) so he gets used to the way they feel?

  3. Emily says:

    Thanks Christine, I have tried just putting pants on him with no underwear, thinking that maybe if it’s not so close to his skin it won’t remind him so much of a diaper, but still, he pees in them every time. And it’s annoying to change pants that often.
    Naomi – I have put underwear on him and just changed it every time he peed, and maybe I just need to keep on doing that, but I just got really tired of cleaning up pee! Thanks for the thought though!
    We’ll get through this somehow!

  4. Jenn says:

    Id love to find an answer to this also. I’m going through the exact same thing with my son! But to make it worse, he does great at school. It doesn’t matter if he’s wearing a diaper at school, no accidents! What the hell?!

  5. Mae says:

    So I just tried the 3-day potty training method with my almost 2 1/2 yr old son… a friend of mine swears by it. It didn’t work for us at all. With this method, you stay at home for 3 days straight, and your toddler wears underwear and a t-shirt, and you don’t ask them “do you have to pee?”, you tell them constantly, “tell mommy when you need to go pee or poop”. We had 2 successful pees and 1 successful poop in the potty and the rest was a bust. He’s back in diapers for another month or so until we try again. I think it all just depends on the kid. We can’t force them to be ready. BUT, I do like the philosophy behind her method, maybe check it out:

  6. Summer says:

    I didn’t start with the oldest until right before he turned 3 because he had some delays. I did the naked thing whenever possible and used pull ups if we had to leave the house. Then I did pull ups during the day and slowly progressed to underwear. We have a few minor accidents but he transitioned really well. I did pull ups at night for a while just in case he has a hard time with night training and when after a few months he consistently woke up dry we went to underwear and he has had maybe 4 accidents total. Took him about 6 months from start to finish. My youngest…errr started early and was a rock star at going potty. Did it at daycare and home, everything’s find and boom…poop regression. Doesn’t matter if it’s a pull up or underwear. The only time he won’t poop is if he’s naked. Now I’m stumped and don’t know what else to do. He just turned 3 at the end of November so I’m cutting a little slack but I was soooo excited about not changing diapers.

  7. Paula says:

    You parents of 2.5 y.o. boys trying to potty train them is hilarious to me. My older son kept having pee accidents until he was five and wears a pull-up at night. My second son is almost four and looks like he’s on the same trajectory.

  8. Liz says:

    Both my boys were dry day and night at 2 years old. My second boy has had accidents occasionally only at home or at my in-laws(where he spends a lot of time). I think it’s because of using only cloth diapers, they feel the wet and have a better understanding of how their bodies work. Friends that I have that used cloth have had similar early potty training. Maybe using cloth undies instead of disposable pullups will help?
    We have had both boys naked a lot while training, and also have had them in the bathroom when a bigger person is using the toilet. That helped a lot. Also encouraging both sitting or standing positions for peeing. Good luck!

  9. Amber says:

    I am having the EXACT same problem with my 2.5 year old. Since you posted this a few years ago I’m thinking your son is now potty trained and maybe you have some answers? Can you help us get past this stage. You’re right, we can’t go everywhere naked!!

  10. wren says:

    Im potty training a 2.5 yo boy. Hes actually a billion times easier then my daughter was!

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