How To Potty Train A 4-Years-Old? – (Complete Guide)
It may feel like a frustration if your 4-years-old is not potty trained because of some reason. (You didn’t have time to do the deed?). It can also be the case that you have been trying, but you have got a defiant child who won’t potty train even at the age of 4 or even more.
Don’t worry! You are not alone. Hundreds or even thousands of parents go through this situation but they eventually solve their problem.
Have you ever seen any person around you (not a kid) who wets his pants? No, right? So, at some point, every person is naturally potty trained.
It just looks like it can’t be done but it is totally doable. Let’s discuss your 4-year-old’s potty training issues.
Is It Normal For A 4-Year-Old To Not Be Potty Trained?
It is totally normal for a 4-years-old not to be potty trained. There is no benchmark. Every child is different, and every household is different. In some countries, potty training is not even a thing. Children learn to use toilets with age.
Can a 4-year-old be potty trained? Yes, a 4-years-old can definitely be potty trained. Even potty training an older child should be easier. Because kids have enough control over their bladder muscles to hold the pee at this age. 4-year-olds are also able to understand their body signals. You just need to build up their interest and help them overcome their fear of the toilet (if there is any).
Possible Reasons A 4-Year-Old Is Still Not Potty Trained:
There are multiple reasons:
- The child was not ready
- The parent didn’t have enough time (or, let’s say, stamina) to start the training.
- Parents have tried, but it didn’t work.
- The child has any medical condition (go see the doctor)
- The kid is just so stubborn
- It’s just a delay
Signs That Your 4-Years-Old Is Ready For Potty Training:
A 4-years-old is physically ready for the potty training (unless he is suffering from any medical condition). You need to check the behavioral signs like:
- He wants to be independent.
- He loves to copy adults and doesn’t like being called “small.”
- Praises or rewards make him happy.
- The diaper is dry after naps (it means he can hold it)
You must build his interest before starting to potty train.
How To Potty Train A 4-Years-Old?
First of all, throw your stress away. There is nothing wrong if your child is not yet potty trained. Gather all your supplies and start right away.
There are plenty of potty training methods, but with a 4-years-old child, the process should be simple and straight away.
How to potty train a 4-years-old? First of all, build your child’s interest. Get your supplies and choose a weekend for potty training your 4-years-old. Make him spend time without wearing diapers and keep the potty seat near him. Ask him after every few minutes if he needs to go. Whenever he does it right, he is rewarded with praise and prizes. If he was unable to make it, just patiently clean up and try again.
Here’s the detailed step-by-step process.
1- Talk To Your Child And Build His Interest: (Most Important)
This is the most important part of potty training 4-year-olds. They have enough control over their body; they just need to “WANT” them.
Talk to your child and tell him how big kids go to the bathroom to do the deed. Build his interest by showing him some youtube videos themed on potty training (you will find plenty).
Tell him how everyone is going to be happy, and he is going to get a lot of presents & treats. Get your child a few interesting potty training books like, Let’s go to the potty, Cocomelon J.J.’s Potty Time, and Big Girl Panties.
You know your child better; you know what works for him. Just deal with him calmly.
2- Get Him To Choose His Favorite Potty Seats:
Show your child some super cute potty seat that he could use. Ask him which one he wants. You can either take him to the market or show him some good options online.
Letting him choose will build his interest, and the training will be a lot easier.
3- Choose A Weekend And Start Training:
Choose a weekend actually to start potty training. Prepare some meals and freeze them. Finish your grocery shopping, and don’t plan any other thing.
Spend time with your 4-year-old in a place in the house where it is easier to clean the surface in the case of potty accidents.
Place the potty chair nearby (or spend time where your kid has easy access to the potty seat in the toilet) and let your child play there without wearing diapers. Ask him after every few minutes if he wants to use the toilet seat now. Say that your new seat is waiting for you.
If your child goes on the seat, that’s cool! If he doesn’t, then it’s okay. Just stay calm. (Calmness is the key).
If the child has an accident, don’t shout or yell. Be patient and engage your child with cleaning.
Tell him that next time do this thing on the potty seat, and he’ll get a surprise.
4- Reward For Trying (Avoid Yelling And Scolding):
You should notice if your little one is trying to do the deed in the right place, you must reward him with praises and love. Tell him that you know that he is trying and you are very happy with that.
Avoid scolding or yelling as it will make things worse. Your child will lose confidence or he might become stubborn that he won’t do this.
5- Put On The Diaper When Your Child Is Sleeping Or Tired:
When you see your child is tired and wants to go in the house, put his diaper on. It’s not a big deal.
Some training methods require you to throw the diaper away and never put it back, but I’m not in favor of this concept. You should not create a challenging situation for your 4-year-old.
When he is tired or sleepy, give him rest. Don’t make him hate the process.
When I started potty training my girl, she was not happy; first, I put on her diaper (no question asked). She gained confidence.
(The funny thing is, we were sitting on the porch, waiting for her to use her potty seat. When she felt the urge, she put one hand on the seat and sat down on the floor to do the deed)
The next day, when we did the training again, she didn’t ask to wear the diaper. She felt in charge of the process, and she left using diapers on her own.
It was only her fear that she won’t be able to go to the toilet. With only a few successful attempts (and getting prizes), she had confidence, and that was when everything started to become smoother.
6- Repeat The Process:
It’s just not a one-day task. Potty training may take anywhere from 3 days to weeks. It varies from child to child.
You must train your child every day until he tells you he needs to go or starts to go on his own. Keep rewarding for following the guidelines.
4-Years-Old Potty Training Tips
Here are a few tips to follow when you are going to potty train your 4-year-old.
1- Set Your Expectations Realistic:
This is one of the most important things. You must understand that your child is new to this “potty training” thing. He will take some time to understand and follow the guideline. So, instead of yelling, you must help him.
Also, understand that potty training is not a linear process. One day your child will show good progress; the next day, every attempt is a failure.
You might start thinking that now my child is potty trained, but he ends up wetting the carpet.
It’s just how it is.
2- Increase Liquid Intake:
Instead of decreasing the liquid intake to avoid potty accidents, you must increase it, so your child gets more chances to learn.
You can reward your child with something liquid too, like juices.
3- Take Care Of Fiber Intake:
Some kids hold their poop, and that can cause constipation. Taking care of fiber intake can help with normal bowel movements.
4- Let The Child Decide:
Make the child in charge. Let him decide which potty seat he wants. Make a gift basket and let him choose one prize for every successful attempt.
Before removing his diaper, ask him, “Are you ready for using your new potty seat and wearing your new big boy pants?” (make it exciting)
5- Don’t Start Nighttime Potty Training Right Away:
In order to get good results, you must make sure that your child is well-rested. Starting nighttime potty training right away may cause disturbance in your child’s sleeping hours.
So, put the diapers on at night and let him take some rest.
6- Don’t Start Training If Your Child Is Not Well:
Potty training your 4-years-old when he is fussy, tired, or sick will not bring any results.
7- Rule Out Any Medical Condition:
If you think that your little one is having problems like bladder dysfunction etc., you must visit the doctor first.
8- Make Your Child Uncomfortable In The Diaper:
If your little one is not interested in using the potty seat and he wants to spend his life in diapers, then trick him.
Start using a little bit smaller diapers; he won’t be comfortable in them anymore. Stop buying cute diapers if you are using them.
Make diapers boring and uncomfortable.
9- Stock A Lot Of Pants And Treats:
Expect a lot of accidents at the beginning and stock a lot of pants to change every time. Also, stock up on treats and prizes to motivate your kid.
8- Make Toilet Training Fun And Avoid Frustration:
No matter what, don’t make it frustrating for your 4-year-old. Keep everything fun for her. This is what worked for us like magic.
What we did is:
- Play pretend play games with dolls using the toilet.
- Created a driveway to the potty seat.
- Filled a basket with treats, stickers, bubbles, and chocolates. (she could get one with every successful attempt)
- We hung a small whiteboard, and with every successful attempt, we would draw a happy face, and with every accident, we would draw a crying face. (with every 5 happy faces, she was getting an extra treat)
You must know how your child feels happy; deal with him in that way.
9- Never Shame Your Child:
Shaming the child for still using diapers and making him feel gross about himself will only hurt his self-esteem and delay potty training.
Nighttime Potty Training Of A 4-Years-Old
Nighttime potty training should come after their daytime training. Once you see your child is totally comfortable using the potty seat in the daytime and he hasn’t had an accident for like a few weeks, you can start nighttime potty training.
This is just putting a mattress protector sheet on your 4-years-old bed, waking him up to go to the toilet 1-to 2 hours after he goes to sleep.
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Essential Potty Training Supplies
Here’s the list of tools and supplies you will require during the process:
|Potty Training Pants||Check Price On Amazon|
|Potty Seat||Check Price On Amazon|
|Potty training books||Check Price On Amazon|
|Step stool||Check Price On Amazon|
|Cleaning supplies||Check Price On Amazon|
|Disinfectants||Check Price On Amazon|
|Potty Training Dolls||Check Price On Amazon|
|Travel Pots||Check Price On Amazon|
Best Potty Seat For 4-Years-Old
An extension to an adult toilet with a built-in step stool is a great choice for 4-years-old. My daughter loves this kind of potty seat. Check out the picture:
711TEK Potty Training Seat (Click Here To Buy On Amazon)
What To Do If Your 4-Year-Old Is Being Stubborn And Won’t Potty Train?
Your child can become stubborn and won’t potty train because of these reasons:
- He has been shamed about using diapers
- He is just fearful of using the toilet
- It feels like a lot of “work” to go to the toilet. Diapers are just easy.
- He just does the opposite of what his parents say.
In any of these cases, deal with your child accordingly. If he is being shamed, don’t try to potty train now. Give him some time, start creating a friendly environment, and deal with him politely.
If he is afraid of the potty seat, let him decorate it with stickers. Or sing potty songs together, get him a few potty training books or maybe take him to the toilet (if you think it’s okay).
If he feels like going to the toilet is a lot of work, pick him up and take him to the toilet seat. Give him scented soap or handwash to enjoy his time in the toilet.
Some kids are just so stubborn that they would do the opposite. Trick them. Say, “This potty seat is not for you; it’s for the doll, don’t pee on it.”
Not a single trick works for every child. You are the parent; you know your child. So, deal with him according to his very own nature.
What If A 4-Year-Old With Autism Is Not Potty Trained Autism?
I might not be a lot of help when it comes to potty training an autistic child. All I know is autistic kids are visual learners, so getting them some visual aid might work, like potty training books, and taking them to the toilet every time.
Stories of pretend play toys might also help a lot.
Takeaway – (4-year-old not potty trained)
Figure out why your 4-years-old is still not potty trained. If it is a medical condition, go see the doctor first. If it’s just a delay, then start building your child’s interest today by telling him stories, showing youtube videos, and letting him choose his potty seat and big kid underwear/pants. Make potty training fun and avoid creating frustration for the child.
Let him spend his time near the potty seat (without wearing diapers) and reward him for doing the thing right.
Avoid yelling if he has an accident. Just engage him to clean the mess and give him another chance.