Of all the responsibilities that parents have, potty training has to be one of the most dreaded. And if you are raising a boy, not only can it be frustrating, but also quite messy! If you are beginning to potty train your little one, these tips for potty training boys will hopefully help make the process go more smoothly as your child starts the journey of becoming diaper free.
Potty Training Boys
There is nothing more exciting and frightening than the thought of no more diapers. Exciting because, obviously no one likes changing diapers, but frightening because getting kids to use the toilet is not an easy task and no one wants to clean up the mess that a diaper-less ‘accident’ can bring. Plus, once you start potty training boys, your bathroom will never be the same. Make sure you have your bathroom ready for potty-training before your start!
As a mother of 4 boys, I have only experienced what it is like to potty train a boy. I know each child is different but each of my four boys had a very similar process that they went through before finally being able to ditch the diapers. Many moms I have talked to have said that their boys have taken longer than their girls to train and are in diapers longer, but there are some simple things you can do to make the process go more smoothly.
Watch for Potty readiness
Starting the potty training process before your child is ready will only end in tears for your child and possibly for yourself. So before breaking out the potty chair and sticker charts, here are some of the signs that your child is ready to potty train.
Signs of being ready to potty train
Your child may exhibit some or all of these.
- Can stay dry for longer periods of time
- Wakes up from nap dry
- Starts to “hide” when going to the bathroom and wants to be changed right away
- Tells you when they have a wet or dirty diaper
- Shows interest in others’ bathroom habits and may want to watch others or wear underwear like their siblings or parents
- Bowel movements become predictable and happen around the same time every day
- They are able to dress and undress themselves and pull pants up and down easily
Once they show signs of readiness, they also have to have the desire to potty train. This is where I struggled the most with my boys. Quite frankly, they just didn’t care if they had to sit in a wet or dirty diaper. So potty training for us, involved a lot of encouraging but also being patient. All of my boys were three when they potty trained but we did it without any messes or frustration. It just clicked one day for them.
I know that every child is different, but this is what worked for me:
For my boys, I would introduce the potty to them when they started showing some of the signs listed above. I would also take them shopping to purchase some new and “awesome” big boy underwear. (We made a HUGE deal of this!) And we also picked out a toy that sat up on the shelf in the bathroom until they were diaper free. And we used a potty chart that they could put a sticker on and earn a trip to get ice cream. I never forced them to go.
These potty training charts were super helpful with my boys. Different charts worked for my different boys. Some liked the punch cards and others the sticker charts. They ALL loved earning stickers and prizes.
But, with each of my boys, it had to be their idea to be done with diapers. My oldest turned three and decided he was “too big” for diapers. He potty trained over night. The situation with my others was very similar. My youngest was pretty stubborn about going to the bathroom, even though he was able to. So I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I just let him know his toy was up on the shelf waiting for him to be done with his diapers and when he filled up his chart we could get ice cream. . He didn’t seem to care much until I read him the book, No More Diapers for Ducky!. He took his diaper off and was done with them. He pretty much potty trained over night as well.
What to Buy for Potty Training Boys
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- Potty seat – You may want to purchase a potty seat when you first start. With my boys we used a potty seat that goes on the actual toilet. It worked great for them and then the mess can just be flushed. Score!
- Some type of reward – Help them get excited to earn a fun new reward when they are done potty training.
- Training Pants – Either cloth Training Pants or disposable training pants can help keep down the mess as your child learns. I only used them at night until they got the hang of staying dry.
- Potty Chart and Stickers – This may help to motivate them to go. My boys loved their sticker chart!
- Toilet target – I know a lot of moms that have put a toilet target inside the toilet bowl for their boys to aim at. Or I have heard of others who keep cheerios neerby the toilet and their boys throw one in before they go and use it as a target.
Potty Training Boys:Books
We had a few different Potty Training Books over the years and they really helped to get my boys thinking about going to the potty. From my experience, they really just need to decide on their own that they want to be potty trained. Like I mentioned above, my youngest read No More Diapers for Ducky one time and was done wearing diapers. We had been encouraging him to potty train for some time, but for some reason that book made it click for him. 🙂
Of course every child is different, but here are some potty training books your boys might love:
Advice for Potty Training Boys from Moms of Boys
Every child will have a different potty training experience so I asked my Moms of Boys Community and The Joys of Boys Facebook Community to share their best potty training tips. Here’s what other moms of boys had to say:
“Don’t Rush it. One day a light bulb will come one and they just get it. (And buy TONS of Lysol wipes…. Boys have BAD Aim!!!!)”
“I found trying to force potty training with my son was useless. We both stayed stressed out. So I finally decided to let him decide when he was ready. Sounds flaky I know but he trained himself with no stress a short time later.”
“Consistency is key, once you decide to potty train and they’re in underwear, keep them in underwear (with exception of nap and bed). Avoid pull ups and the potty seat. Find a seat that sits on the toilet. If they potty train on one of those plastic seats it’s another transition when they move the the toilet. Also, the summer is the best time because they’re wearing lighter clothing. And most importantly. .. be patient and make it as positive as possible!”
“We started my son after his second birthday, he is just now potty trained one year later. We rushed it! Won’t do that with my younger son! We will wait till he is three!”
“Don’t force it. When you notice yourself getting frustrated, step back and realize it’s not worth yelling and losing your temper. Learned the hard way.”
“Cloth diapers help tremendously. Our oldest potty trained at 22 months, our middle at 18 months and our youngest is 14 months and is starting to be highly upset as soon as he is wet/soiled in his cloth diapers. They really aren’t that bad, honestly.”
“Patience, patience, patience!!! Mine was so tough but … it all of a sudden clicked!”
“My 2 boys started training at 2 years, they were fully trained (#1 & 2 in toilet) by the age of 3. Encouragement, constant reminding if they have to go potty. Making it a big deal when they go, (yay, you did it! Alright!”) helps as well.”
“I have 3 boys. Don’t make a huge deal out of it and they won’t either. For me charts and treats was overkill and it didn’t motivate them one way or the other. High fives and ‘good job’ were wonderful! Letting them pick out underwear was great too, no one wants to get ‘cool’ underwear dirty.”
“I waited til my son was ready, no fighting in this house. He sits when he goes for now. When he is ready to stand then we will start working on that.”
“They will do it on their own….no “training” needed.”
What Tips Do You Have for Potty Training Boys? Leave a link in the comments so we can share your ideas with other moms and dads as well.
And if you are just at your wits end and just want to be done with diapers, I recommend Potty Train in a Weekend by Becky Mansfield. She shares her secrets on how she potty-trained her four kids in one weekend! Where was she when I was potty training! Click here to view more details.
What additional tips do you have for potty training boys?
This post is a part of our series 31 Days of Tips for Raising Boys. Each day throughout the series we are discussing a different topic regarding raising boys. I’d love for you to follow along and share this series with other parents of boys who may need some support or just to hear that they aren’t alone in their journey of raising boys.
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