How to Toilet Train a Five Year Old

By five years old, most kids are fully potty trained. For those who aren’t, the delayed training can have a physical cause like urinary tract infections. It can also be caused by a developmental delay. But by far, the most common cause of delayed training is a child who simply refuses. He knows how to use the potty, but decides to wet or soil himself instead. He’s a willful child engaged in a power struggle with his parents, rebelling against the constant reminders to sit on the toilet. What’s a parent to do, especially since the bigger the child, the bigger the mess? The first step is to focus on daytime training.

  1. Take your five-year-old to the store and let her choose some underwear with characters on them she likes. Then remind her that Dora or Diego don’t like getting poop or pee on them. If she’s holding her stools and becoming constipated, allow pull-up-type diapers for pooping only.

  1. Tell him the poop and pee belong to him, and it’s his job to get rid of it. This transfers the responsibility to your child. Tell him you’re sorry for nagging him about it, and that from now on he doesn’t need any help because he's a big boy. Then stop talking about it. Pretend it doesn’t bother you whether or not he uses the toilet. When he stops getting negative attention for failing to perform, he may start using the toilet for some positive attention.

  1. Avoid reminding her to use the toilet. Let her decide when and if she needs to go. She knows how it feels when she has to go and she knows where the bathroom is. Reminders feel like pressure, and pressure will keep the power struggle going. Allow her independence, and don’t accompany her to the bathroom (unless she asks you to.)

  1. Reward him with incentives every time he uses the toilet, such as access to a video game, doll, a bike or remote-control car. Give him this incentive immediately, but only give him access to it for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. The incentive is a reward, not a possession (at least until potty training is complete). Limiting his access to the incentive will help maintain its value.

  1. Give her lots of positive reinforcement when she uses the toilet, showering her with hugs, kisses and high-fives. Tell her she's such a big girl, and you're proud of her.

  1. Tell him to change and help you clean up the mess. Make sure he knows people can’t walk around with messy pants. He can change his clothes himself if they’re wet, but help him clean up if he’s pooped his pants. Don’t scold him for accidents.

  2. Tips

    It’s a good idea to have your child examined by a physician to see if there’s a physical reason for his delayed toilet training.


    Don’t withhold affection or time spent together if he has an accident. These social reinforcers are essential for his emotional and mental health.

Related Articles

  1. How to Potty Train a Child With Low Muscle Tone
  2. How to Teach Your Child How to Take a Shower
  3. How to Teach Children to Put Feelings Into Words
  4. How to adjust a soft close toilet seat
  5. Can Medical Problems Cause Potty Training Problems?
  6. How to Get a Toddler to Stop Pinching
  7. Cleaning Tips For Toilet Training Accidents
  8. How to Stop Your Toddler From Spitting Out Juice
  9. The Best Way to Change Goodnites
  10. How to Adjust the Seat Height on a Safety 1st Grip 'N Go Walker
  11. Long-Term Effects of Bad Potty Training
  12. Lucky the Wonder Pup Directions
  13. When to Start Using Time Outs
  14. How to Change a 4-Year-Old Girl's Diaper
  15. Appropriate Punishment for an 8-Year-Old for Hitting
article divider