Potty training is a rite of passage for both you and your child.
The anticipation of no longer having to purchase diapers, the excitement you show your child for getting big-kid underwear, and the fact that when your aunt asks you if your child is “still in diapers” at Thanksgiving, you can proudly say no!
I thought I was ready for the potty training process and ultimately potty training success!
I was so ready to not deal with changing a dirty diaper several times a day. I thought I had done all the research possible to fully develop this new skill of helping my little boy conquer this thing that was a big deal!
The potty chair was purchased, we were stocked to the brim with toilet paper and disposable training pants, and I had a game plan.
My child had different ideas and our first foray into potty training was…very messy and full of tears for both of us.
Looking back now, I realized that while I thought it was a good idea to start potty training, my son had shown no signs of potty training readiness.
I questioned myself on what I had read about the average age for a boy to be potty trained.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children may show signs of readiness at a year and a half (18 months), be ready to start their training at two years old (24 months) and stay dry during the day by age two and a half to three years old (30 to 36 months).
Up until this experience, I was very focused on the right time to cross off these developmental milestones for my son and based them off of the average age I would find during internet searches or talking to other parents.
This did not serve me well.
While it’s absolutely possible to potty train before age two, at the end of the day, he is not going to do it until he is really ready.
Be gentle with him and yourself as far as your expectations go. Do not fall into the trap of trying to keep up with everyone else or what society tells you is the “right time”.
He will get there. You will get there together.
While some potty training methods are similar between potty training boys and potty training girls, such as looking for signs of readiness, the use of pull ups and positive reinforcement, there are also a lot of differences when it comes to this process for your little guy.
I hope that this article will help you with toilet training methods that will help you ease into the potty-training process.
The good news is, you are here and you want to do a good job helping your son complete potty training!
Tips For Potty Training Boys
1. Make Sure That Your Son Is Ready To Potty Train
I don’t know about you, but when my son was a toddler, he was constantly following me into the bathroom!
Privacy went out the window and he would talk to me or play with whatever toy he happened to bring with him while sitting on the bathroom floor.
I did notice a change when he wanted to help me with hand washing, like turning on the water and asking about the toilet bowl and where “things” went after flushing.
These things seemed encouraging.
Then he started going to the same place by the bottom of the stairs to “do his business” in his diaper.
In addition, he started asking way more questions about the bathroom process and how everything worked together.
His motivation to understand the inner workings of the bathroom process clued me in that he was on his way to developing readiness skills for going to the potty.
2. Allow Your Son to Pick Out His Own Big Boy Underwear
A great way to make this a really fun part of the potty training experience for your son is to turn the search for big boy underwear into an adventure!
Make this an event for him and really do what you can to make him feel like he is in charge of this choice.
Perhaps find underwear that features characters from his favorite show, or animals, whatever your little one may be into at this point in his life.
3. Start When You Have Little Else To Do
Life can be very busy, but the best time to make a start is when you have several consecutive days in a row where you have little to nothing planned and certainly no family members on their way to your house (unless they are helping with potty watch!).
This puts less stress no only on your son, but eases the entire process for you.
Remember that you are running this whole mission and your child can often take those cues from you.
So, if you’re cool as a cucumber, chances are, your son will also stay calm and that is some emotional support that will benefit you both!
4. Allow Your Child To Go Naked
When I first thought about this, I thought I could get away with simply putting my son in some loose-fitting clothes and call it good.
After doing a load of laundry that rivaled the days of blowouts and general bathroom mayhem when he was a baby, I realized that naked was the way to go.
Or, if that feels like it is too much, or it is a colder time of year, then go with the shirt but no pants look and talk about how he’s like Winnie the Pooh (or any of the various cartoon characters that only wear shirts!)
5. Teach Sitting First
This step is paramount and, if you make it a game, might be the easiest part of this entire process!
I started by placing the training potty in our bathroom next to the regular toilet. I sat down and waited for my curious son to arrive.
We talked about how the potty is a kind of chair that we use when we need to use the bathroom.
Trust me, this is important to clarify because the last thing you want is your son associating chairs with going to the bathroom!
I asked him if he could show me how you sit down on a chair and as there was only one place to sit, he found his potty seat right away.
Now that he was comfortable and knew where the training potty was, I would randomly stop in the middle of a task and say “Potty race!” and he would giggle and race me to the potty and sit down, kind of like musical chairs.
This was fun for both of us and as we know, children often retain information better if they had fun learning it in the first place!
6. Use A Training Potty That You Can Move Around The House
To most of us, it seems logical to place the training potty in the bathroom.
However, during training, it is a good idea to place it in an open area if possible.
This gives your son easier access to it when he feels ready. I feel like this should go without saying, but if you are able to place it in an uncarpeted area, do it!
The cleanup is so much easier!
7. Keep It Clean
One thing I did not plan for when I started this process with my son was the many cleanup opportunities I would be given during this time (insert sarcastic tone here!).
After several misses and me doing a shuffle between grabbing paper towels and telling my son not to step in the pee, I decided to create a little cleanup kit that would stay very close to the action.
In it I included paper towels, spray cleaner for the floor as well as carpet (just in case!) and wipes for my son because sometimes toilet paper was not enough.
In addition to that, I put several puppy training pads under the actual potty to keep small spills at bay and also so that I would not have to clean every time there was a mess.
The pads also doubled as an extra layer for him when he sat down on the floor to play or sat down at the table to eat.
8. Don’t Ask, Tell
If you ask your son if he has to go potty, he will say no. One-hundred percent of the time!
And then he will proceed to pee right on the floor and you will feel like you need to go find your happy place.
So just tell him it is time to use the potty. Make him feel like this is his new amazing job to complete.
I started using a timer to remind myself, but that started to feel very unnatural and I think my son picked up on that.
We had a lot of accidents in that one hour, and did amazingly better when I relaxed.
9. Make The Process Fun!
Be silly! Dance around the house together. When it’s potty time, you can say it in a funny voice.
Taking a fun approach to this will ease any feeling of stress for you both.
Also, your son will feel way more motivated to continue the process and achieve success!
10. Consider Using Rewards
The first time I started trying to potty train my son, it was a massive fail on my part. He was not ready.
The months went by and when he seemed to show emotional readiness, I thought about how to keep him motivated.
Why should he put in extra work when he could just continue on with the status quo? Then one night I had a eureka moment and remembered how much he enjoyed dinosaurs.
While I did not want to reward him with huge toys every time he used the potty, I found little dino toys that were like gold to him.
I have to say that you really have to find what motivates your child specifically and how much you are willing to contribute to the reward.
There are tons of potty training reward ideas to choose from.
My son is delightfully stubborn, so I upped the anti for this adventure, but cheerios or fruit loops or your child’s favorite little snack will work too.
If you make it sound special, they will believe that it is special!
11. If It’s Not Going Well, Stop And Try Again Later
Definitely stop the second you feel like there is a lot of resistance.
If you are not getting your child’s buy-in, he will stop and there will be tears for both of you. Step back and give it a few days, weeks or months depending on you and your child.
12. Stay Calm
While many aspects of potty training are laughter inducing, there are also points at which you will feel like you want to pull your hair out.
When you have cleaned the carpet for what feels like the millionth time, despite the fact that the potty is nowhere near it, it can be easy to lose it.
Find yourself a mantra you can say to yourself or a place in your home you can go for a few minutes to cool off.
I remember saying “we’ve got this!” a lot! Then have some grace for yourself because we are all human.
It is also good to remind yourself that this is also a big change for your little one and he needs just as much support as possible.
13. Don’t Rush The Process
Training will take as long as it takes. If your son feels like there is a rush, he might shut down completely and then you have to stop anyway.
He will eventually get the hang of it and then there will be no stopping him!
Remember that he is taking in all of this new information and has to process, so give him the time to do so.
14. Start With Only Daytime Training
As with most things, one thing at a time applies to this process.
It is better to help your child gain confidence in their ability to use the potty on a daily basis before you dive into nighttime training.
Finally, remember that each child is different and will work and learn at a different pace.
As soon as you know this about your child, you will have a much easier time navigating the potty training process.
And as always, you’ve got this!