Why Won't My Toddler Pee on the Potty?

Boy peeing in the toilet
Potty training advice. Chaos / Getty Images

It's an uncommon problem, even if your toddler has been showing signs of potty training readiness for months, but sometimes a toddler has trouble peeing on the potty. When a toddler is having problems urinating, but is pooping on the potty without ​a problem, seeing a health care provider first will rule out any type of infection. It's also important to check if your toddler is going pee in his diaper without pain or any discomfort. If your toddler is able to pee in a diaper, then it shows he is capable of going. There are a few other possibilities that are causing a toddler to refuse to pee in the potty: First, a young child may want more privacy than a potty chair in a main room (not the bathroom) provides him and second, if you have a boy, he may not want to sit to go pee.


To remedy these issues, try moving the potty to another location (like the bathroom) and be sure to give him some space and time alone. Whichever spot you choose, make sure it's child-proofed so he's safe and doesn't get into any mischief. Then, instead of instructing him to sit down to go, encourage him to try standing up. It is possible that he may not like the way it splashes back or he may not feel like he's able to control the stream yet when he's sitting. He may resist letting it out because he's afraid it's not going to go into the toilet. If, on the other hand, he insists (on his own) that sitting down is the way to go, try choosing a potty chair that has a splash guard.

You might have some difficulty at first since if your toddler has already resisted peeing on the potty and it's been a situation fraught with tears and stress. It might be tempting to just give him the diaper and let him do his business in it. However, if your toddler is able to go poop in the potty without any issue (congratulations, because it's usually poop that is the potty training problem) that means he's not resistant to wearing cloth training pants. Instead, get rid of the diapers completely and only put your toddler in cloth training pants.

If he is still upset, let him know that the potty is the place to go pee just like it's the place to go poop which he already does so well. Remain calm throughout, gently lead him to the potty and give him some privacy. If he wants to go in his training pants, then he's free to do that, but let him know he needs to be in the bathroom, standing next to or sitting on the potty. Also let him know that he will need to clean up and get changed into new, clean training pants. Then, if he pees, don't be upset, but help him go through the steps of cleaning up and keep verbally reinforcing that the potty is the place for pee. I don't think it will take long after for him to feel more comfortable and start going pee in the potty.

Definitely don't pressure him too much or express too much outward disappointment with him or he's likely to keep on withholding it. Part of being able to urinate is being able to relax and let it flow, so you don't want him to be worked up. He will be unable to relax if he feels like there's a lot of pressure on him to go or if he thinks that you are upset or worked up over the situation. And rest assured that your son will experience more success at potty training in time. You're halfway there already.

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