Is your little boy showing signs of being ready to pee in the potty? Or are you just hopeful that he is?
Either way, YAY! Time to stop changing those diapers. This is a BIG step for both of you. It is very exciting thinking of days without diapers, but it may not be such an easy task.
The #1 thing to remember with potty training is to let him tell or show you when he is truly ready. If you try to force it, he may push back and resist more, and it may be months before he is willing to try again. He has to be mentally and physically ready.
Stock Photo 123RF.com/justmeyo
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The average age for boys to potty train is around three or a little after. Try not to compare your kid to another who may already be potty trained. Every kid is different, and boys usually take longer than girls do. There are some rare exceptions where kids train early. My cousin’s son decided at 18 months that he was ready to be potty trained, and pretty much trained himself. He was day and night trained in a very short time. Boy, was she lucky!
This isn’t about getting them to potty train in 3 days or over the weekend, but a gentler approach. Some kids do that, and it is great. There are plenty of resources out there to help you if that’s what you want.
Although, when my son did start peeing in the potty at 27 months old, it probably only took a few days for him to get it with few accidents. However, it was another 3 months before he pooped in the potty and another year before he was able to stay dry at naptime. We’re still working on staying dry at bedtime. That is a total hit or miss most nights, and is more related to whether his body is ready than it is about training.
My godson potty-trained at three, so he was older than my son was. However, he was fully potty-trained, day and night. So waiting until he is older to try and potty train may not be a bad idea. His body was ready. Every child is different, so, again, do NOT force the topic until they are ready.
Some signs that your son may be ready to use the potty
- He shows interest in others using the potty
- He wants to wear big boy underwear
- He can stay dry for a couple hours, especially at naptime
- He can follow directions, such as “pull your pants down/up”
- He goes off to the corner to hide, or wants privacy when pooping in his diaper
- He doesn’t like being in a dirty diaper or tells you when he wants to be changed
If your son is showing some of these signs, he may be ready to use the big boy potty.
Potty training tips for boys to make the whole process easier on you and your son
Introduce the potty early and make it accessible
If you plan to use a small portable potty, you can have it in the bathroom where he can see it and choose to sit if he wants.
We had the Fisher-Price Custom Comfort Potty Training Seat in my son’s bathroom when he was around 18 months. He would sit on it with his diaper and pretend to pee before bath time. No pressure, just showed him what it was for and how to use it. We liked this one because it had handles that he could hold onto as he lowered himself down. And it helped with standing up, too.
Around the time he was two, he was showing more interest. I’m not sure about your son, but my son would pee in tub as soon as he got in, Every Single Time, and usually while he was still standing up. Something about the warm water, I guess. So, we just started asking him to sit on the potty without his diaper on before he got in the tub. He didn’t have to do it at all. Then sometimes he would sit for a second and sometimes he would last maybe 10. We just told him that big boys pee in the potty and not in the tub.
I even tried putting the potty in the tub once just to see if he would use it. Ha ha! That didn’t work. He just wasn’t ready yet.
Once he did finally use the potty a few times, we moved it downstairs in the living room and put a towel under it (we have hardwood floors, so it was easy to clean up messes). This way if he needed to go, he would just go over to the potty and pee.
We also had the Summer Infant My Size Potty in our bathroom. Although this was the first potty he used, he preferred the other potty. However, some kids love it because it looks just like the one mommy and daddy use and it makes real flushing sounds.
If you plan to just use a portable potty seat that fits on the big toilet, just make sure you have a stool of some kind for him to use to climb onto the potty. Be prepared to help more to get him on to the potty if you go this route, especially if he is young and small.
Another great option is the toilet seat that has the little child seat already on it like this one. So, you can lift it up when you need to go, and put it down when he does. Less mess. The smaller seat makes the hole smaller so your kid won’t fall in
We used this one on our toilet upstairs in his bathroom. However, we used it too late and he preferred to go on the big potty at that point. He would get on the potty and scoot all the way to the back to keep from falling in. I guess that’s how he was taught at daycare, so that’s how he would do it at home. It always looked like a lot more work to me, but oh well. It worked for him.
Read him a book about potty training
This will help prepare him for what happens. There are books that will describe and show the whole process. Books that have characters that look like your son or that show his favorite cartoon characters, such as Elmo, would work well.
Some popular potty books include:
We read my son, Cam, the Prince of the Potty at night before bed. We tried to make the story about him, so we substituted his name and his friend’s name so he could relate to it. And I just found it funny because the underwear they describe the dad, grandpa and friend wearing, are actually what they wear
I do think the book helped show him what to do, including washing his hands after and that accidents are okay
There are also videos and apps about potty training, if you think he would pay more attention to those.
Some popular videos and apps include:
Daniel Tiger’s Stop and Go Potty (app)
Potty Time with Elmo (app)
Potty Training with Animals (app)
Let babysitter/daycare/family member (if someone other than you are watching him daily) know that you want to try or get him to show interest
Your childcare provider can be good about catching cues before you do on when he is ready. Is he showing interest there? Are there some older kids that are potty-trained or are working on it? So, he sees other kids using potty and also getting to wear big boy undies.
Younger kids like to do what the older kids are doing. Therefore, if your son watches other big kids use the potty, he may decide he wants to try it, too.
My niece decided at 18 months that she was done with diapers. Which is very young, but impressive. Her babysitter had potties all lined up, where each kid had their own. So, she saw how other kids were doing it and decided she was a big girl, and wanted her own potty. No more diapers after that!
Let him follow you into the bathroom
Of course, the little ones will likely do this already. Who here hasn’t had their son watch you and talk to you while you pee or even take a shower? Privacy is likely a thing of the past, at least for a few years, anyway.
If I try to shut the door, he comes beating on the door saying, “Mommy let me in!” Ha Ha! Or, I see little hands peek out from under the door. It is cute. But, please, just give me a minute of peace to do my business!
So, every time he followed me into the bathroom, I explained to him that I needed to pee, so I had to come sit on the potty. The more he sees you do it, the chances are he will want to try it, too.
Now, the first time he actually peed in the potty, he had followed his daddy into the bathroom. Cam sat on the potty while his daddy used the big potty. He was not expecting him to go, so it was a surprise for both of them.
My son came out of the bathroom saying, “Mommy, Mommy, Cam pee in potty!!” (It took a while to get him to speak in first person instead of third. It was cute, but had to be corrected as some point). He was so excited. He got a little candy treat for that, and put a sticker on his potty chart.
Put him in underwear
Boys learn that underwear is a sign that they are a big boy now.
Being a big boy will make mommy and daddy very happy! It is one more milestone to cross off the list. But, it does have its sad moments. We want him to grow to be big and independent, but that means he is not a little baby anymore. WAAAAAAHHH!!!
Mine is a Momma’s Boy, so I will hold onto that for as long as I can.
Cam felt like such a big boy wearing underwear. Around 15 months, we started letting him wear underwear for about 1 hour before bed since we knew he didn’t pee much then. He would wear them around the house with just a t-shirt. After 20 to 30 minutes, we would ask if he needed to pee. We didn’t do this every night, but on nights we did, we let him pick out the underwear he wanted to wear.
Little boy underwear is just the cutest thing. They are so small. He loved Thomas the Train, so I found underwear in size 2-3T (which were still a little big) with Thomas and Friends on them. He wore them while he watched Thomas, of course! They still fit him now, over 2 years later.
When he started showing more interest in potty training, we let him wear the underwear for longer intervals before bedtime.
We also made the switch from diapers to pull-ups around this time. We used the Pampers Easy-ups, which had Thomas the Train on the front, since he had always been in Pampers diapers and we knew they fit him well. So he felt like a big boy with finally being out of diapers.
Let him pee outside (if you live out of view of neighbors)
Peeing outside is something all boys (and men) love to do. It is easy and no worries of making a mess all over the potty.
So, if you live in the woods, or away from neighbors, let your boy pee outside.
This can help give them confidence on knowing when to go. If he is outside playing and acts like he needs to pee, or if you know it has been awhile since he last went, ask him to stop and pee where he is. Or, take him behind a tree or shed, so he gets used to at least doing it out of the way of people. He can even pee on a tree. He will love that!
We live in the woods. Therefore, to get our son to pee outside, we would often say he could pee on a tree. He gets excited and pees all over it. We have all kinds of wildlife on our property, so I am sure every tree has been peed on at some point anyway.
If we were out on the deck, we would say he could pee between the rails. He always got a kick out of that, too. This was also easier to do then have him run inside to use the potty. He doesn’t do this much anymore, but it worked really well when he was first learning to use the potty and learning when to go.
Sitting down vs standing
Whether your boy sits or stands at the potty will be up to you and your son to decide. I asked my son’s babysitter what she thought since she had taken care of boys for over 10 years. She suggested teaching him to sit on the potty at first so it doesn’t confuse them when they have to poop on the potty. It is also easier to tell them to sit on the potty and see if they can go versus just standing in front of it.
Remember to show him how to point his penis down when he is sitting, so pee doesn’t go flying everywhere.
When they get the hang of it and after they learn to poop on the potty, then it will be easier to transition to standing.
They now have these child size urinals like the Joy Baby Boy Urinal that you can attach to the big potty for them to pee into if they prefer to stand.
Cam didn’t really start standing to pee (except for when he went outside) until sometime this year. Therefore, it was several months after he first peed in the potty. There is no rush on this. They will stand when they are ready.
Once your son starts standing to pee, be prepared for pee to be EVERYWHERE!! If you have other males in the house, then you are already aware of this. It will be all over the toilet and even the walls. They just can’t seem to get it all to go in the hole.
Pooping on the potty
Getting your boy to poop on the potty can be a little harder than peeing. Some kids will do both when they train without any problems. Others it can take a few weeks to months longer. This could be due to anxiety about using the potty (especially in public restrooms) or because it is easier to just go in diapers or pull-ups.
Cam would run off and hide and try to poop in his pull-up. Sometimes it would take him hours to be able to go, where you could actually see that he was trying. And, sometimes it would seem like he tried for a couple days. At least that’s what we thought. So, we had given him children’s suppositories a few times. We knew he needed to poop when he started doing the “potty dance”.
A few times after he pooped in his pull-ups at home, I took the pull-up and emptied the poop into the potty so my son could see that that’s where it belonged. He loved to flush it down the hole.
So, we usually had to put a pull-up on so he could poop. This is obviously not ideal, and some moms will tell you not to do this. But, my son had to poop somehow and I really didn’t want to clean out underwear. Luckily, he didn’t have to go when we were out in public because that would be a pain to switch into pull-ups fast enough so he wouldn’t poop in his underwear.
It took 3 months before he finally pooped on the potty. I don’t know why he was hesitant other than it was easy to go in the pull-up. He told us one day that he needed to poop and we got him to sit on the potty. Well, to my surprise, it came right out! All this time he had seemed like he was struggling. But, I guess it is harder to poop standing up, like lots of kids do in their diapers, than it is when sitting.
So, now he still sometimes does a little dance or goes off to himself for a minute, but then runs straight to the potty and poops. Of course, he likes his privacy and asks me to shut the door. I’m only allowed in when he says he’s done. Which I find very ironic since he doesn’t let me go in peace and always wants in when I’m on the potty. Go figure!
Teach him to wash his hands after he goes potty
This is a very important lesson! Germs are spread so easily among young kids, especially if they are in daycare or in school. Washing hands will help keep them from getting sick and from spreading germs to other kids.
This is often how stomach bugs are spread. This goes for adults, too, who don’t seem to know how to wash their hands, so they spread their germs everywhere.
Have a little stool by the sink, so they can reach the water. You can even have some special soap with a character they like to encourage them to use it. You are supposed to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap to be effective. You can have your kid sing the “Happy Birthday” song two times, which takes 20 seconds.
They definitely need to wash their hands after using a public restroom, which is a germ-fest. And, little kids love to touch EVERYTHING, even when you ask them not too.
Teaching how to wipe
Stock Photo 123RF.com/nataliyadorokhina
So, he can now pee on the potty. Learning to wipe by himself can take longer depending on how old your boy is when he learns. Mine is 3 1/2 and has been potty trained for over a year. He can wipe himself some, but can still be messy, so I do most of it. We will be working more on this this year since he’ll start preschool next year.
I also have flushable wipes in every bathroom in case he needs to go. I actually prefer using them, too. You just get cleaner. Otherwise, he ends up trying to use a lot of toilet paper. I used to use the Huggies and other kid’s brand wipes, but now I just use the Equate brand from Wal-Mart. They are hypoallergenic and break apart easily, making them more septic friendly.
I would suggest teaching him to wipe front to back, just like girls do. That way he doesn’t get any poop under his balls or on his penis making an even bigger mess.
Nighttime potty training
Unless your son has been consistently dry at night, you may want to hold off on night time training.
His body has to be ready for it to work. It can, unfortunately for you, take years for him to learn to control his bladder at night. It isn’t just about staying dry at night. He also has to know when to wake up and go if he gets the urge in the middle of the night. Many kids are very heavy sleepers, so it can take time for them to realize they need to wake up.
However, if your son has been staying dry most nights, then he may be ready to try wearing underwear at night.
Trust me when I say, this is a BIG deal for kids! My son HATED having to wear diapers and pull-ups at night. He fought me every night to get them on him. Even before he was ready to potty train. Once I finally let him wear underwear to bed, no more fighting! One less night time battle.
So, if he is ready to try night time training, here are some tips to help him be successful:
- Limit fluids an hour before bedtime.
- Make sure he pees before getting into bed.
- If he wakes up at some point or is one of those kids that keep getting out of bed (like my son), have him pee again even if he says he doesn’t need to.
- Do NOT make a big deal out of it or punish him if he pees in the bed. It was an accident.
- DO make a big deal out of it if he stayed dry all night. Tell him how proud you are of him.
- Use a waterproof mattress pad on his bed to keep the mattress dry in case of accidents. And have an extra pad and sheets on hand if you need to change them in the middle of the night.
- Let him wear underwear. If he doesn’t show any improvement in 2-3 weeks, you can go back to pull-ups and try again later.
As I mentioned before, we are still working on this. Some nights he’s dry and others not. He’s like me and gets really thirsty at night when he’s finally calming down, so we’ll have to start limiting how much or how late for the last drink.
He likes to come to my bed in the middle of the night when he wakes up, which is a whole other battle that I’m not fighting right now. So I made sure to take him to the potty that first night he did this after he wore underwear. I told him he needed to pee in the potty before he comes to my bed. That first night he didn’t want to and fought it for several minutes before I gave up.
But the next night, he went to the potty all by himself, without me reminding him, before he came to my bed. So, despite the power struggle from the night before, he had remembered what I had told him.
Some nights it doesn’t matter what we do as far as limiting fluids and sugar and having him pee multiple times before bed. He still pees in the bed, and sometimes even in my bed when he comes in there in the middle of the night. So, we still have a ways to go with night time training. Unfortunately, he will not go back to pull-ups. So I have to change the sheets often. I don’t make a big deal about it and just change his clothes and sheets. I don’t want him feeling ashamed that he can’t stay dry.
UPDATE: As of January 27, my son was dry for 26 nights in a row!! YAY!! He had a couple accidents after that, but he has been dry for most nights. I think his body has finally figured it out. He still gets up and pees and then comes to my bed every night. That’s okay. I love my snuggles!
Make a potty chart
Potty charts are a good way to track progress. You can use stickers or a dry erase board. We used stickers and every time he used the potty, he got to pick out a sticker and put it on the chart. I got stickers from $1 tree because you get a bunch for just a dollar and they come in a large variety. I think I had Mickey, monster trucks, smiley faces, and animals for him to choose from.
Since he was obsessed with trains, I drew a train with tracks on a small piece of poster board and had it on the fridge so he could see it. I recorded the date by each sticker, or the range of stickers, so I could see how he was doing time-wise.
You can also offer treats or incentives. This can be a small piece of candy or small toy like a Hot Wheel. After using the potty and putting the sticker on the chart, Cam got 1 M&M for each pee and 3 for pooping.
They are so proud when they do it. And, instant rewards can help them want to do it again.
Once the potty chart was all full of stickers, I took him to the store and he got to pick out a small toy. He chose a motorized James of Thomas and Friends. He was so happy to get that toy. He played with it all day.
So, some final notes on potty training boys. Remember NOT to force the issue. Your son will let you know when he is ready. You can help him along by showing him what to do and encouraging him. Also, remember that it may take more time for him to learn to poop in the potty and wipe himself. It may also take more time, even years, for your son to be able to stay dry at nighttime. You are asking him to control his bladder for up to 12 hours, which is a long time. I cannot even hold it that long, so I do not expect my son to do it right away either.
You will need to be by his side throughout this process being his biggest cheerleader. He will need confidence in himself to be able to potty train successfully.
And, there is nothing wrong with a little bribery to get the ball rolling.
Good luck! Let me know how it goes or if you have any other tricks that work.
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