I’ll admit that I was terrified at the idea of potty training a boy. I had heard all kinds of horror stories, from little fingers getting smashed by toilet seats to pee spraying all over the bathroom. Besides, what did I know about standing and aiming?
We’re three months into our potty training journey, and, thankfully, it hasn’t been as scary as I had thought. Inspired by the Big Kid Academy, I thought I’d share my top 5 tips for potty training boys.
Although we began potty training Levi in May, we started laying the groundwork for success several months prior. His grandma bought him a book about transitioning from diapers to underwear and a pile of undies to keep in his dresser.
The Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode on bathroom routines played in heavy rotation (“When you have to go potty, stop and go right away. Flush, wash, and be on your way!”), and, per his pediatrician’s recommendation, we let Levi in the bathroom when we used the toilet.
2. Watch for signs of readiness.
Boys usually potty train later than girls, around 30 months, so we weren’t in a huge rush to begin. However, we did have a goal: Levi needed to be out of diapers for one full month in order to move into the 3-to-6-year-old classroom at his Montessori school in July.
The Big Kid Academy suggests waiting until your child shows two or more of the 10 signs of readiness for potty training before starting. To get Levi in underwear by the beginning of June, JB and I held off until Levi was 33 months old. That’s when he could stay dry for several hours and showed an interest in the toilet and “big boy undies.”
3. Use a reward system.
Repeat after me: It’s not bribery, it’s an incentive.
I’ve heard that M&M’s are a common reward for going potty; however, we wanted to avoid using food as positive reinforcement. Instead, we used money — one penny for peeing, two pennies for pooping. Levi made a big production about collecting his money and depositing it in his “money jar,” an empty plastic container with a hole cut into the lid. Eventually, when he had accumulated a handful of coins, we made a big deal about letting him pick out a piggy bank to hold his money.
4. Dress for success
Fashion takes a backseat to practicality during potty training. We swapped Levi’s skinny jeans (or anything with a button, snap, or zipper) for elastic-waist shorts and sweatpants that he could pull down quickly. Anticipating innumerable trips to the bathroom (and many close calls), we wanted him in clothing that was easy to take on and off — especially in the beginning.
Whenever possible, Levi wouldn’t even wear pants. When we were home, it was easiest to keep him in just a shirt and undies, and on chilly days, he thought it was silly to also wear leg warmers.
5. Be equipped
I understand the benefits of potty chairs — they’re just the right size for a toddler to pop a squat — but neither JB nor I wanted to deal with cleaning it out after each use. We bought a toilet trainer (with a splashguard — key for little boys!) and a step stool so Levi could climb up by himself and have some place to rest his feet. Did you know it’s easier for kids to poop when their feet are grounded?
Potty training doesn’t stop when you leave the house, but instead of bringing the toilet seat adapter to restaurants or stores, we’d sit Levi backwards so that he was facing the tank. And the first thing we’d do whenever we went somewhere new was point out to Levi where the bathroom was located.
While looking for a solution for nighttime, I found the Big Kid Academy’s library of potty training tips and advice from parenting experts and medical professionals. I also enrolled at the Big Kid Academy for activities and articles customized to Levi’s location on his potty training journey: managing setbacks and keeping him motivated.
My next move is to switch Levi from diapers to Pull-Ups for naps and bedtime. Since he can pull them up and down like his big boy undies, perhaps he’ll treat them like underwear and try harder not to wet or soil them.
Need help with potty training? Sign up for the Big Kid Academy! Got any brilliant potty training tips? Share them in the comments below!
Thanks to Pull-Ups® for sponsoring today’s discussion. For more potty training activities and advice, enroll at the Big Kid Academy today!