Potty Training Boys
There’s nothing quite so fun as potty training your children! They say potty training boys is especially tricky (I wouldn’t know the difference). It may surprise you to hear that potty training doesn’t always make your life easier (at first) and it certainly doesn’t reduce the amount you have to deal with poop (at first). Just today I got to rush all three children from the depths of Target (while 36 weeks pregnant) to the bathroom at the very front of the store…after asking about 6 times if anyone needed to pee. It almost put me into labor haha. I’ve also done more laundry in the last two weeks than I have in the last three months.
Our approach to potty training has been more about our individual child’s readiness than about our convenience, because honestly at the end of the day, diapers (while expensive) are actually pretty convenient. Both older boys potty trained near the end of their third year. Each time we asked them if they wanted to start using the potty they vehemently refused. We tried around 3.5 and with both boys. The first try was an epic fail. Lots of crying, refusing to wear undies, being afraid of the potty, and lots and lots of accidents. By day two it was a full-blown battle of wills that was not going anywhere so we decided to stop. A few months later we tried again and it was almost instant overnight success, fully potty trained in 3 days. This is true of both our older boys; exact same scenario.
Here’s what we did:
Hype potty training for 2 weeks. Yes 2 weeks. For two weeks every morning when putting on a fresh diaper we would talk about how exciting it was that in ___ days they would get to wear undies instead of diapers. The countdown gave them an opportunity to mentally prepare and made it less of a shock. They had time to process the change. We also were able to gauge their readiness by their reactions to these conversations. (Both first attempts that were failures we skipped this step and regretted it, it does make a big difference)
Let them pick out all their prizes. The day before potty training was to begin we took them to Target and let them pick out stickers, candies, undies, small prizes, and talked about the big prize they would get to bring home when they finished potty training.
Morning of potty training all diapers are given away to younger sibling/friend and hidden away. They are no longer an option. We wear undies now.
Skip the pants (less laundry, easier to get off for quick runs to the potty
Push juice. We had them drink juice and water basically non-stop all day long. It makes for more accidents, sure, but it also makes for way more opportunities to run to the potty and practice.
STAY CALM. I personally think this is the biggest factor in success. There will be lots and lots and lots of accidents. How you react to those accidents (calm or frustrated) will have a huge impact on your child. We would usually react by calmly saying “whoops, that’s ok!” and help them get new clean undies and sing the Daniel Tiger potty song (when you have to go potty, stop and go right away).
Celebrate like crazy when they have successes. All the cheering, clapping, and prizes. Even for pee. You can wean them off the over celebrating and expectation of gummy bears once they are actually potty trained. It’s worth it to go all out to get them excited.
Have lots of spare undies, throw away towels, carpet cleaner, and laundry detergent on hand. You will do a lot of laundry and carpet cleaning.
Wait until you have a long stretch of days where you can stay home all day. With our oldest we waited until a long weekend so we had three solid days of being at home. With my second we actually started on a Monday during summer vacation. We had nowhere to go, it was hot outside (so they could run around naked and pee in the grass). Usually I’d say wait until the weekend when dad can be home to help tag team, but this worked really well for us (and all our weekends were crazy booked).
Bring the little potty with you everywhere. We’d drag that thing into whatever room we were in and then ask them every 5 minutes or so “do you need to potty?”. If they hadn’t tried in 15 minutes we would have them sit and try for 1-2 minutes.
*Something to know, them figuring out pooping can take quite a bit longer. Luckily my second was very very regular and picked it up really quickly. He actually only had two accidents total since we started 3 weeks ago. My oldest took a few weeks to really figure that aspect of it out though.
The biggest take-away we had from the whole process though is that when they’re ready they’re ready and it won’t be a crazy battle. They were a bit late to potty train and part of me felt slightly embarrassed, like I was a bad parent. But the amazingly easy time we’ve had potty training honestly made it worth it. So let me release you of some parenting guilt, they will figure it out eventually and whether you potty train at 18 months or 4 years old, you don’t get a parenting trophy the earlier you potty train. It’ll all work out and your best intentions are what matter. There is no perfect timeline. Good luck!