Potty Training Boys in 6 Simple Steps

potty trainingPotty training isn't for the faint of heart, but moms of sons may be in for a tougher time than those with daughters: Experts agree that boys tend to take longer to toilet train than girls. The exact reason isn't known, though most agree that these three factors come into play: Moms are the primary potty trainers; boys tend to be more active than girls; and the fact that boys have to learn two things (learning to pee in the potty and learning to pee standing up).

But don't worry if your son still hasn't mastered the art of using the toilet, he'll eventually get the hang of it. (Learning to put the toilet seat down, though, is another story.) Here are 6 tips to help your little dude ditch the diapers fast.

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Step 1: Teach your son to pee sitting down. Since pee and poo often go hand in hand, it's smart (and less messy) to get little Billy started sitting down. Also, if you're the one doing the toilet training, as opposed to Dad, you likely don't have much choice. "Children are likely to learn from whomever they watch," says Helen F. Neville, BS RN, and author of Mommy! I Have to Go Potty. "In single mom homes, boys are used to seeing their mom sit down, so they'll likely do the same." Once your son has the hang of getting to the toilet on time and peeing in the potty, then you can introduce standing.

Step 2: Have a male show your son the ropes. Since mom can't demonstrate, have a male show him how to pee standing up. "This will all go more easily if they learn from Dad, or other male relatives, or from the other boys at preschool," explains Neville. "They learn more easily and naturally from watching a male than hearing about it from a female."  

Step 3: Take off his clothes. "Nothing shows clear consequences of not going to the potty like being naked," says Neville. "Some parents therefore train in the summer when boys can be outside, while other parents have hardwood or linoleum floors that are easy to clean indoors. Don’t have them go naked if you’re going to be upset with accidents on your rugs, because it's bound to happen!" Watch for cues that your son has to go to the bathroom, such as wiggling or clutching himself, and suggest taking a trip to the potty. If you work, it's a good idea to start this technique on a weekend when your son will have a few consecutive days in a row to heed the message.

Step 4: Go shopping for a fun pair of underwear. Superheroes? Sports? Animals? Whatever your son is into, try to pique his interest by letting him choose a cool pair of underwear. "You want him to be dying to wear the underwear," says Jane Morton, MD, a clinical professor of pediatrics at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Stanford, California. "Before you go to the store, get him excited. Talk about what he's going to get on his big boy pants. Then wait until he's begging to wear the underwear, and let him him know that if he wants to wear them, he needs to be able to pull them on and off by himself and go in the potty." His desire to wear his new underwear will likely motivate him to use the toilet so he can ditch the diapers.

Step 5: Play the "target practice" game. Once your son is getting the hang of peeing standing up, show him exactly where the pee goes (AKA not on the wall!) by placing a small piece of colorful paper or a few pieces of cereal in the toilet. It will show him exactly where to aim.

Step 6: Don't give up. It may not feel like it, but your son won't be wearing diapers when he's taking the SATs. Have patience; approach potty training with a positive attitude; and never scold your little one for having an accident or not getting the hang of things -- that will have the opposite effect of what you're trying to accomplish. Remember, accidents are all part of the process.

Do you have any tips to add?

 

Images via © Frank Muckenheim/Westend61/Corbis/© HKPNC/iStock

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