One of the most notable milestones of parenthood is potty training. While it could be challenging and frustrating at first, it always brings in so much joy and relief once accomplished. It is not just about being free of the hassle of cleaning up wet dreams or poop anywhere inside the house.
More importantly, knowing how to potty train a boy is the beginning of teaching your son to pay attention to his body and to be responsible for his needs.
What is Potty Training?
Potty training is when you teach your child to recognise signals for urination and bowel movement in his body and then use a potty chair correctly. It makes him more self-aware as he grows older and develops his thinking.
It starts with introducing him to where his potty chair is and training him to stick to that place only for his restroom needs during the appropriate times. The primary goal is for him to learn to control his muscles until he gets to the potty chair and to instil this in him as a habit already. The greatest challenge here is the transition from the use of diapers to the use of the potty, and also the use of regular underwear.
When is the Best Time to Potty Train?
So we could get things straight, there is no perfect age to begin potty training for boys because they develop at different rates. But just as a general guideline, children below 12 months old have no control over their urination and bowel movements. So there is no sign to look forward to in the first place. Some children wear diapers until they are around 3 to 4 years old.
From 12 to 18 months, children generally still show little control over their bladder and bowel movements. It would be a bit difficult to start them this young already because signs of readiness may not appear yet. On average, potty training begins after a child reaches two years old up until he becomes 3. However, note that this is not always the same for all children. Some even become ready for potty training at around 4 or 5 years of age.
How Will You Know that He is Ready?
The thing that you have to remember is that you should start potty training when your little boy has already shown signs that he is ready to be trained. You cannot force this. Otherwise, you will get stuck in a seemingly endless battle with your kid.
Various potty training tips would tell you to look for indicators when he is around two years old. A child that is ready to be potty-trained will start informing you that he needs to go to the potty. This behaviour means that he is already observant of his body signals and he recognises that he cannot just pee or poop anywhere he wants. That is why he is telling you about it.
Also, your son is ready to be trained for proper use of the potty when he already becomes uncomfortable whenever his diaper is wet or dirty. It means that he can gain more comfort when he already learns to use the potty. Aside from that, you may also notice that after nap times or overnight, your son's diaper remains dry and he only urinates when he wakes up. This behaviour is also a good sign that he can already control his bladder and bowel movement.
Perhaps the next thing that you would like to talk about after knowing when your son is probably ready to be trained for the use of the potty is that how long the potty training takes. Again, you should know right at the onset that the answer to this question is that it depends.
There is no best potty training duration. In reality, some may have it accomplished in three days, five days, one week, two weeks, or even months. They say it would take 21 days to form a habit. But inevitably, it changes depending on the person and the circumstances. It may also depend on the age when you do the potty training.
Also, note that it does not always come in one stretch. Sometimes, after about two weeks of training, your son may get the hang of it. But then a month later, he wets the bed again. That could still happen, and there is nothing wrong about it. It is normal for kids to continue experiencing wet dreams until they are well into their grade school years. You need to be patient with your son about it.
Is There a Difference in Potty Training for Boys and Girls?
Yes, to some extent. Of course, boys pee while standing up while girls pee while sitting down. This form does potty training for boys different from that of the girls. At the start though, it is recommended to train both girls and boys to use the potty while sitting down.
Once your little boy already learns to control his urine stream and aim accurately towards the potty, he can now switch to standing up. This way, it becomes easier and cleaner for him.
There is also some difference in the time children start to potty train. For young boys, it is common for them to start getting trained for potty at the age of three. For little girls, on the other hand, they begin to get taught at two.
Toddler boys tend to be more physically active, running around endlessly, and therefore are less likely to remain still. This difference makes it more challenging to potty train baby boys. But then again, this is only a general observation. Children have unique ways of learning at their own pace and timeline.
What are Specific Tips on How to Potty Train a Boy?
Have the Right Equipment
First of all, have a child-size potty chair at home for your son. There are a lot of available potty chairs in the market which varies depending on size, functionality, and design. Figure out what is the best one for your child. It would probably be best to bring him as you buy a potty chair then let him pick his choice. This way, he is already familiar with the potty.
Just as a helpful piece of advice for buying a potty chair for your son, pick the one with a removable urine guard or the one without it at all. Yes, its consequence is that you would have to wipe some stray pee. But the thing about urine guards is that it tends to scrape a boy's penis when he sits on it. It could discourage him from using the potty right at the onset.
Establish the Habit Through Potty Sessions
Do not bombard your son with one full day of just guarding how he would use the potty. Do it one step at a time. For instance, set schedules once in the morning or once in the afternoon to do the potty time. Otherwise, you can also opt to do it on a cyclical basis. Let them do their thing first – playing, running around, eating, etc. – then placing them in the potty for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Be Consistent with Your Potty Training Sessions
The key here is consistency. If you decide to train your son on an instalment basis, do it in regular intervals. Do not let your outside trips disrupt the cycle. When not at home, bring a portable potty with you or use clean public restrooms for your son. Do not let him revert to the old habit of urinating or pooping on his diapers.
Explain the Process Properly
Your son has to understand the need to go to the potty. He has to get that connection that when he feels the need to pee or poop, the potty is where he goes to do all that. Place the potty in the same place every time so that your son would associate that spot with pee and poop. Teach him that he has to sit down to do his thing and then flush it when done.
Be a Role Model for Your Son
For fathers, grandpas, or uncles out there, it would be best to show your little boy in the house exactly how to use the potty correctly. Visual examples are better and much more effective than just words and instructions. Children learn by copying what they see. It is especially true when your son is learning to transition from sitting to standing while urinating.
Use Books and Songs to Teach and to Entertain
You could buy your little boy some books with drawings and illustrations that correctly explain how to use the potty. For instance, a book features Elmo teaching his young friend how to use the potty when he needs to go pee. Aside from that, you can also have a potty song that both you and your kid would sing when it is potty time. You can even sing this with him as he uses the potty so he will not get bored.
Let Them Go About Naked at First
As you start your potty training, you can allow him to go around the house naked first before his bath time. Then slowly encourage him to use the potty when he needs to as he takes a bath. Soon enough, you will build in him the habit of going to the potty when he is naked or right before he showers.
Once he has mastered the use of the potty with no clothes on, slowly start putting him in underwear. Slowly also, he would learn the process of removing his underwear first before peeing or pooping. Soon enough add the shorts or pants. He would also eventually learn to take off the clothes first, and then do his thing in the potty.
When you are already in the third stage (with pants), you may also opt to use training pants in your son's potty training routine. These training pants are disposable and work like cloth diapers that easily pull on and off. Your son may use this instead of going straight to the use of his wardrobe. It can perhaps limit the effects of accidents and setbacks in your potty training.
Acknowledge the Fears so You can Address Them
A big adult toilet is often an object of scare among little kids. The rumbling sound they hear in the flush makes them think of monsters inside that could eat them when they sit. Some kids fear that the adult toilet would be too big for them such that they might fall in.
This fear is why it is usually better to start with a little potty chair first because it is more kid-friendly in terms of visuals and design. Soon enough, once your son is already comfortable with the kiddie potty, you can already transition to the toilet.
Let your son use the bathroom repeatedly and sit them there for a few minutes regularly during the day. This way, they would become familiar with the place and get rid of their fears.
Make the Potty Experience Interesting
Weird as it may seem, you can do this. There are a lot of potty designs out there that feature cars, robots, and superheroes. You can always pick your son's favourite character. Colours do matter too, so select his favourite colour.
Aside from that, it is recommended to throw in some fruity loops in the potty to teach your son to aim correctly. You can also put washable stickers in the toilet on which they can target.
To make things even more fun, you may try putting a blue colouring in your son's potty so that when he pees, the water turns from blue to green. These colours could help train your little boy to always pee in the potty instead of elsewhere inside the house.
Night Time Potty Training is a Different Phase
Potty training during the day is different from potty training at night time. It is not always recommended to combine them in one go as it might overwhelm your little boy. It is better to start with the daytime training first.
Once he already got the hang of it, including afternoon nap times, proceed with the bedtime training. Let him use the potty or toilet first before tucking him in the bed. You may also want to put a night lamp or dim light in your child’s room. This way, he can go to the comfort room when he wakes up to pee.
Limit Drinks During Sleeping Time
This step is essential preparation for bedtime potty training. Limiting the intake of liquids immediately before bedtime helps your child stay dry throughout the night. Suspend the milk temporarily for breakfast or give it to your son at an earlier time before he goes to sleep.
Do not worry. You are not depriving him of the nutrients because this will last only during the potty training time.
Use Various Tricks to Introduce Pooping in the Potty
A lot of parents have experienced this: potty training is easy for the peeing part, but it gets tough on the pooping. It seems like kids easily have confidence and control when it comes to urinating, but they still need more help when it comes to bowel movements.
If your son is experiencing this, it is entirely reasonable. Sometimes, the way to solve this depends on the creativity of the parents.
One parent taught his kid that all poop goes to the ocean to be eaten by fish, so if he chooses not to poop in the toilet, there would not be anything for the fish to eat anymore. This way, his son suddenly views pooping as his mission to save the fish in the ocean.
In another instance, a kid did not want to poop because he thinks that poop is part of his body and flushing it away means letting go of a body part. All it took was a show of a children’s anatomy book to explain that poop is actually like trash that the body cannot wait to get rid of. The next day, the kid willingly did poop in the toilet.
Sometimes, all it takes is a parent’s creative mind to make things easier for their kids to accomplish potty training for boys. The key here is to know your son’s thought processes, needs, and even fears. This way, you are in a better position to communicate with him and train him accordingly.
Encourage Your Son with a Real Underwear
Whenever you go shopping, you can show your son how real underwear looks like there. Focus on the cool designs like that of Batman or Spiderman to get him excited. You can also encourage him with swimming time in the pool. Only those who successfully use the potty can eventually wear those cool undies and swim in the pool with all the other kids.
Perhaps just as a head start, you can switch from the regular diapers to the pull-ups. It would give your son a feel of how it is to use real underwear. Encourage him more by saying that real underwear is more comfy and soft, so he gets the motivation to learn to use the potty.
Do Not Forget Proper Hygiene
Aside from just learning to transition from using diapers to using the potty, take the potty training for boys like a good time to teach your son proper hygiene. Introduce him to the concept of tissue and wipes. Teach him the washing of hands and make it a necessary habit.
Also, instil in him the habit of flushing, especially when he starts to use the real toilet. Make it a big deal by emphasising the swirling water and recognising the sound. Teach him that the whole potty time is only when the whooshing sound of the flushing water has finished.
Bring a Lot of Patience with You
As a parent, you need to be very patient with your son in his potty training sessions. It would not be an easy feat. Even when you try so hard and give your best to teach your son, setbacks do occur.
Remind yourself every time that these are entirely normal and that your son is not a failure for not getting it right the first time. Several accidents could occur, and you should prepare for that.
Remember that the way you treat your son while training him makes a huge difference. When accidents happen, do not shout at him, get angry, or punish him. He is only learning to control his muscles and to understand his body signals. He needs time for that.
Keep encouraging him and making him feel that you are there to guide and help him to learn the proper use of the potty.
Implement a Reward System for Potty Milestones
For a more interactive potty time, you can create cute charts with stickers which list down some potty tasks for the day or the week. The duties could include going to the potty once every morning or once before going to bed. You can also track your son's first successful bowel movement in the potty.
Once accomplished, let your son check the box or stamp the page complete. You can also give your son stars for performing potty tasks. In addition to that, when he gets around 4 out of 6 potty tasks done, you can give him candies or small toys. It provides the potty time some game wherein your son would undoubtedly want to win.
Potty training boys may not be as worse as what you would initially imagine while reading testimonials from other parents. As you read these tips and tricks on how to potty train a boy, always remember that your son does not need to conform to all the criteria stated here.
Be careful not to put too much pressure on him or force him to do things when he is still uncomfortable. Potty training boys should not come as a dreaded experience for them, but something that would teach them to be more independent and responsible.