Potty training is always a chore, but when you potty train little boys, there is an extra step to the puzzle. To train a little boy easily, wait until he is ready and then work consistently toward the final goal – standing while going potty.
The Right Age to Potty Train Boys
There is no magical age to potty train either boys or girls, but in most cases, boys aren’t ready to train until after your friend’s little girls are well out of diaper. This is not the rule, but rather a statement of caution. Look for signs your child is ready – the potty-training status of others, especially girls, is not any indication of what your child is ready to do.
That being said, boys can start showing some signs of readiness as early as eighteen months, but the more signs of readiness there are, the less work potty training will be. It is not unusual to wait until a boy is three years old to begin potty training. Boys with older brothers might be ready to train earlier as they often have a desire to be just like their idyllic big brother and have a front row seat to how things are done.
Starting the Potty Training Process
When you decide the time is right to begin potty training, prepare ahead of time. If possible, you should have a master plan ready – be it a sticker chart, candy rewards or some other prize system. You should have at least one training potty and possibly more if you plan to have your child train in a large house or at two separate locations. Toting a potty back and forth is less than ideal.
Lay the Foundation for Fast Potty Training
True potty training is the system of rewarding or encouraging your child to use the potty all the time. Anything before that is simply groundwork. When your child first shows an interest in the potty and what his big brother or you are doing on it, buy him a small one of his own. Praise him for sitting on it like a chair and don’t worry about teaching him to use it right away. Let him “practice” buy pulling down his diaper every now and again, but there is no pressure or rush to actually use it. At this stage he’s just getting familiar with how the potty training system works.
Make it a point to start asking him if he needs to go potty and helping him “try” whenever you go to change his diaper and find it dry or before bath time when you’ve taken his diaper off. The hardest part of potty training is the first time he urinates into the potty. Once he understands that it’s okay to do so, your potty training groundwork will be perfect.
Babies younger than eighteen to twenty-four months, however, can’t fully understand the complexity of potty training. They can be “trained” to sit on the potty and go at certain times, especially if they naturally have a bowel movement at the same time of day, but for the potty training that will make your child into a “Big Boy,” he won’t be completely ready until he can “hold it.”
Starting the Training
Once your child understands how to go in the potty, you can encourage him to do so all the time. Because you’ve laid a nice foundation, it might take only a week or less to go from diapers to underpants completely with few or no accidents. Show him your chart or make it clear that there will be rewards for going in the potty. Then, gear up for a long few days of “trying.”
Try, Try Again on the Potty
A child in diapers, unless they are cloth, can’t feel much when he has an accident. But a little boy in underpants can feel a lot. Leave the diaper, even the pull-ups, and opt for underpants. There are thicker training pants you might use or even training pants with a plastic shell to help keep accidents off the rug. If you do use plastic or vinyl in your training, however, be sure to remove them as soon as possible to avoid rashes on little bottoms.
Grab an egg timer and set it for twenty to thirty minutes at a stretch. If you have more to do in the day than watching the clock, the timer will help you remember when it’s time to run to the potty and “try.” When you think of it, ask if your child feels like he needs to go potty – even his time isn’t up yet. When the timer goes off, make it fun to run to the potty to see if any pee-pees are in there ready to come out. Every time he urinates, reward him, even if it’s just a tiny amount. It’s the action, not the volume that will be rewarded.
If he doesn’t need to go, tray again in twenty minutes or less to try and avoid an accident. As your child gets better at feeling the urge to go ahead of time, you’ll be able to relax on the timer and instigate the trips to the potty far less than you are forced to in the early days. Over time, your little boy will be making it on time with no accidents and feeling very proud of himself.
Sitting to Standing at the Potty
There is one more transition for little boys to make, and it’s one that is challenging for a mother to explain. Boys younger than two don’t truly understand gender differences, but older boys will start to wonder about standing up at the potty the way they see their father or brothers do. It’s very likely that your little guy will be ready to try standing without you rushing him into it. Don’t rush him into anything potty related. Once the basics are done and he’s out of diapers, the rest will fall into place on its own.
The Lesson of Standing
Standing to go potty is a bit complicated for a newly trained boy. If you’ve been using the little training potty, you’ll need to switch to the big potty for lessons in standing. The small potty has too small a target to hit and the shallowness of the bowl almost guarantees splashing which is no fun to clean up every time he goes.
Ask an older brother, your partner, a cousin, uncle or very close family friend to explain to your older child how to urinate standing up. The lesson should include all aspects including lifting the seat (if necessary), pointing and aiming, wiping up drips and washing hands. There might be small tutorial in shaking as well. Then, once the lessons have been learned, your child will need a lot of practice – and this kind of practice can be grating for a clean-freak.
Practicing the Art of Standing
The biggest complaint of mothers with little boys is the appalling lack of aim when they are standing to use the potty. Considering how close they are to the potty, there isn’t much room for error, but under or overshooting is a common problem, but one that can be resolved with a bit of target practice.
Use a grease pencil and rubber glove to mark an X on the back of the bowl of the toilet. Then, encourage your child to always aim his stream at the X. You might encourage your partner, too if necessary. By giving him something to shoot for, the hope is avoid splatter and poor aim. Another option is to throw a small handful of Cheerios or other O cereal into the toilet bowl. The goal here would be to “sink” the ships using his urine. After some practice, the issue will just work itself out naturally.
A Gradual Transition
There are certain aspects of potty training that can take a bit longer to put in place. The potty training you’ve done during the day will work from the time your child wakes up until the time he falls asleep, but night training is different. In fact you don’t really potty train your child at night. Simply move beverages earlier in the bedtime routine and go potty before crawling into bed. Most children wear a pull-up to bed for some time after they learn to use the potty during the day. This is because most children are heavy sleeper and they must develop to a point where they can wake up to a full bladder rather than just sleeping through a bedwetting accident.
Encourage your child to use the potty first thing in the morning when he wakes up. If his pull-up is dry, you’re on your way to being fully trained, but don’t be discouraged if its wet night after night. Staying dry all night long can take years, and that is perfectly normal as well.