Common Reasons for Not Being Toilet Trained

Picture of Renee Collins

Renee Collins

Clinical Director & Behaviour Consultant


Toilet training is a normal part of childhood development, but some children may experience difficulties and may not be fully toilet trained by a certain age. Here are some common reasons for not being toilet trained:

1. Physical Delays & Medical Conditions:

Children who have physical delays, such as a weak bladder or poor muscle tone, may have difficulty with toilet training. Certain medical conditions, such as urinary tract infections, constipation or bladder problems, can make toilet training more difficult. In these cases, it may be necessary to address the underlying medical issue before progressing with toilet training. Common red flags include your child not being able to hold urine for longer than an hour, urinating more than 8 times per day, urine leaking, sudden, unexpected need to urinate, small or hard stools that are difficult to pass or other symptoms that you might have observed such as stomach pain, poor appetite, crankiness, and bleeding from a fissure (tear in the anus from passing hard stool). Please discuss this with your child’s GP, paediatrician, continence nurse or gastroenterologist. 

2. Emotional and Behavioral Concerns:

Children with emotional and behavioural concerns, such as anxiety or sensory sensitivities, may have difficulty with toilet training because they either don’t understand the expectations or do not want to participate in the process as there may be a component that they do not like. This is more likely in children with a developmental delay. Children with sensory sensitivities, for example, may have trouble with the sensory aspects of using the bathroom, such as the sound of flushing or the feeling of wet underwear. It is possible to support your child to overcome this and teach them to be calm and confident through behavioural interventions. 

3. Poor Toilet Training Techniques:

Inconsistent or ineffective toilet training interventions can also contribute to difficulties with toilet training. This can include using punishment or shame as a means of motivation, or not providing enough opportunities for children to practice using the bathroom. If you’re not having the success that you’d expect, then it is important to seek additional assistance to make sure that toilet training is a positive time for both you and your child. 

There are many reasons why a child may not be fully toilet trained. By understanding the common reasons for difficulties with toilet training, parents and caregivers can better support their children and work towards a successful and positive experience. Check out our free Preparing for Toilet Training guide for more information about what you can do to help prepare your child.  If toilet training continues to be a challenge, it may be helpful to seek the help of a professional, such as your child’s GP, pediatrician or a behaviour analyst with experience in toilet training.

0422 457 363

9/56 Buffalo Rd, Gladesville NSW , 2111

0422 457 363

9/56 Buffalo Rd, Gladesville NSW , 2111

Super Kids acknowledges each individual’s personal preference to use identity-first or person-first language to describe themselves or their loved one. We interchangeably use both language conventions and therefore refer to both Autistic children and children with Autism.