If you’re counting down the days until you can ditch the diapers, and finally start to reclaim some of your time, then rejoice! You’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about potty training boys.
There seems to be a misconception out there that potty training boys is far more difficult than potty training girls. That’s not necessarily the case. I think each presents its own unique challenges (I’ll tell you my own funny story toward the end of this article!).
But as long as you know a few tips and tricks, it really doesn’t have to be all that complicated at all. Here’s what you need to know.
Try To Get the Time Right
There’s no magic quotient for figuring out when your child is ready to be potty trained. Your boy needs to know how to communicate his needs, be aware of his bodily functions, and know approximately how much time he has until he really needs to “go.”
This timeline varies for every child – even two children in the same family. Even two boys in the same family! The process isn’t always smooth and it isn’t always fast, but it will happen when your child is ready.
How do you know if your child is ready? There are a few telltale signs you can watch out for. If your son can walk to and sit on the toilet, pull his own pants off and back on again, stay dry for a couple of hours at a time, and follow basic instructions, those are all good signs.
If he can communicate that he needs to use the potty and seems interested in it (or seems interested in wearing regular underwear), those are good signs, too.
Be patient with your child, and be patient with yourself. You may find yourself needing to bring your child to the potty every five, ten, fifteen minutes.
It can take a lot longer to master number two than it does to master number one, so be prepared for some setbacks. Try not to get frustrated if things take longer than you think they ought to.
If your son has frequent accidents, try not to lose your head. Don’t shame or scold him, but instead get your child involved in cleaning up the mess and move on. Keep praising him whenever he goes in the potty.
Remember that even after your child is potty trained, there still can be some bumps in the road. An accident every now and then is not a regression!
Once you’ve realized that your son is ready to be potty trained, decide which day you’ll start and jump right into it. Mark it on the calendar, and make it fun! Leading up to the day, read books about going on the potty or watch potty-related episodes of your child’s favorite show.
While you don’t want to obsess over it, you should make sure your child knows what’s coming so it’s not a major surprise.
If you can, get your son involved in choosing the potty! This will make him feel more included and excited about the process. The same goes for buying big kid underwear.
Routine is Key
As is the case with just about everything else in your child’s life, routine and consistency are going to be essential when it comes to potty training. Keep in mind that the routine should not end just because you aren’t at home.
If your child likes to read a book on the potty, talk to your daycare provider and see if you can send in your favorite book for him to read while he’s “working on things.”
You need to be consistent, and make sure you put your child on the potty at the same intervals each time you think he might need to go. For some people, it helps to start with one time each day.
You can start by putting your child on the potty while you run his bath in the evening, for example. Once that time is mastered, you can move on to other times throughout the day.
Give it Five Minutes
Sit your son on the toilet for five minutes. If it doesn’t happen after five minutes, take a break and try later.
Practice Good Hygiene
Make sure you teach good hygiene at the same time you’re potty training your son. Some people do this in separate stages – but you really need to teach it all together. Going on the potty and handwashing are part and parcel to each other!
Don’t Be Afraid of a Little Bribery
Some positive reinforcement goes a long way when it comes to potty training your child. Consider offering your child his favorite treat (in moderation, of course – a couple of Skittles or M&Ms will likely do the trick) every time he goes to the potty. You can take on additional rewards for things like wiping.
Sometimes, that positive reinforcement might not be anything tangible but instead, just come in the form of verbal praise. Provide your child with plenty of undivided attention, love, pride, and affection when they are successful at going to the potty, and they’re more likely to do it again.
Start Sitting Down
When it comes to potty training boys, it’s a good idea to start sitting down. Some people assume that’s just because of the “mess” factor, but the reality is that there are many different variables that need to be considered, and that can be overwhelming for a little child.
Knowing whether to sit or stand can cause hesitation when it comes to using the potty – and just a few moments of hesitation can be crucial.
Some parents find that it’s easier to encourage their son to start using the regular toilet by facing backward on it. This helps alleviate some of the common fears little boys have about falling in. There’s also no aim required!
For boys, getting the aim right can be another challenge that needs to be conquered! Peeing standing up can be hard, so consider turning it into a game.
You can put something dissolvable in the potty (like a couple of Cheerios) and have your son aim at them when he pees. Every time he does it right, you can reward him with a small prize.
Try “No Clothes” Time
This technique doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try. The idea is that allowing your child to go without clothes at home will encourage him to use the potty since there’s no diaper to go into.
Don’t Flush Right Away
Some children are frightened by the noise of the flushing toilet. Don’t flush immediately and wait until your child has gotten the hang of going potty. Once they do, let them flush for themselves! They might learn to have fun with it.
Make it Fun
You may have already gathered this by some of the other tips I’ve included in this article, but a good way to potty train your boy is to make it as fun as possible. Using the potty shouldn’t be scary – it should be fun!
Whenever possible, turn things into a game. Help to reduce your child’s fears about going on the potty and you’ll find that the process comes a lot easier.
Keep in mind that you might have additional challenges to conquer when it comes to going potty on the road.
Some children fear the automatic flushers in public restrooms, so you might need to block the sensors until your child is done. You can also bring a removable seat to help your child feel more comfortable on the larger toilets in public restrooms.
Use Food Coloring
Another technique that many parents swear by involves a simple little magic trick. Drip some food coloring into the toilet (any color is fine, but blue tends to show up best). Your child will be amazed at how he can make the water turn colors when he goes potty!
Toss the Diapers
Sometimes, just knowing that there are diapers will cause your child to keep having accidents – they serve as a crutch. Instead, consider ditching the diapers and just going cold turkey.
Make sure you’re stocked up on underwear so that you have several pairs for every day of the week (and keep some on hand for naps and nighttime for a while, too).
Give a “Potty Demo”
Get your child’s favorite stuffed animal or doll in on the fun! You can use it for potty demonstrations by acting out the motions with the toy.
Your child might learn better this way than by you telling him what to do. You can even construct a makeshift toilet for the toy so that the toy can go potty at the same time as your son!
Try Reverse Psychology
Sometimes toddlers do best when they can do the exact opposite of what you’ve asked them to do. Potty training is sometimes easier if you use reverse psychology.
You could start by asking your son if he would rather stay in diapers even when he is a big boy. Likely, he’ll start going to the potty all on his own after that!
Work on Nights Last
Potty training, as you probably can expect, is much easier during the day. You’ll need to potty train your son in two phases – daytime and nighttime.
Daytime usually comes first with diapers coming in handy for naps and nighttime sleep. They should be able to stay dry at night by the time they are five to seven years old.
You can help your child stay dry at night by limiting water and other beverages before bed. Make sure they use the potty before bed and consider using a mattress protector in the meantime.
You Don’t Have to Use the “Big” Toilet
Many parents struggle with getting their children to use the regular toilet when they are first potty training them. It can be intimidating, and since they usually need a step stool, this can create a delay in getting to the toilet that leads to accidents happening.
Instead, consider using a miniature potty seat that you can keep wherever your child spends the most time. You can gradually move the potty closer to the bathroom, and then move your way up to a full seat that goes on top of the regular toilet.
If it’s night time potty trips that your child is struggling with, you may want to introduce your child to the potty first by putting it in his bedroom. That way, he can get to it faster in the morning and at night.
Find a Buddy
Another way that many people potty train their boys is by tag-teaming with a buddy. There’s no better way to convince your child to do something than to show him that all of his friends are doing it!
Toddler boys especially are influenced by their peers, so having someone learning this new skill at the same time can be a very helpful tool.
At the very least, rely on dad or brother to help teach your little guy how to go. Toddlers will want to mimic the “big boys” in their lives and this will also help show your son the idea of standing.
Boys have a slight advantage over girls when it comes to potty training – and that is that they can be potty trained outdoors!
If the weather is warm and you have a private yard, you may have an easier time potty training your son outside because there’s no anxiety about the toilet to worry about.
Don’t Always Rely on Pull-Ups
Pull-Ups can be helpful when it comes to transitioning from diapers to regular underwear, but the major problem many boys have is that they can’t tell the difference between diapers and Pull-Ups.
They’ll continue going through the motions and peeing and pooping in their Pull-Ups until they realize that’s not the case – and that can take forever!
If you’re having this problem, you may just need to make the cold-turkey transition to underwear. You’ll likely see your son having fewer accidents than you might think.
Potty Training Boys: My Funny Story
My 2 yr. old Titus is almost completely potty trained. He has been going all day in his undies staying dry, even through his 3-4 hr. long nap! I’m so glad he’s picked it up so well, ’cause I really have no idea what I’m doing trying to potty train a boy!
The other day I heard my husband in the bathroom with Ty, helping him off of the potty. Titus kept saying, “Daddy, can I have a dab-dab?” Jerry obviously didn’t understand. Ty kept repeating himself, and Jerry kept saying, “What, buddy?” Of course, being Mommy, I knew what he was asking for.
I stuck my head into the bathroom and said, “Jerry, he wants some toilet paper to dab himself off with.” My husband looked at me like I was crazy! He turned back to Titus and said, “Dab-dab?! Boys don’t dab, they shake!!” He turned to me and added, “Girls dab!”
We both got a good laugh out of that one. What do I know? I’m a girl. I dab. Seemed like the logical thing to do! Poor little Ty. Now he’s all confused.
Just like me, you’re probably going to find your own bumps in the road when it comes to potty training your little guy. Take it in stride! They won’t be little like this forever and if you can laugh at yourself, you’ll have a much easier time with the whole process.
Try not to get too hung up on the regression and the less-than-successful attempts. How many college students do you know that are still in diapers? (Ok – maybe don’t answer that!). There’s a lot of pressure to potty train your boy, but it will happen when your child is ready.
Oh, the memories you’ll make!
updated 01/22/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.