Best Way to Successfully Potty Train a Boy in 2023: 10 Secret Tips

How to potty train a boy

Hey there, parents! Here comes one of the most feared, yet triumphant toddler milestones! But how do you successfully potty train a boy? It may feel like a bumpy ride but hold on and you’ll soon be looking back at the relief and joy it is to be free of diapers and having a child officially potty trained!

Having 3 boys of our own and no girls yet, this article is for potty-training boys, however, we imagine many aspects could be applied to potty-training girls as well. Many people believe that potty training a boy is harder than doing so with girls, however, that is a big myth. Potty training boys can feel easier simply due to the hassle of traveling. Let’s be real, it is a whole lot easier for boys to go on the side of the road than girls!

Potty training your little boy might seem like a big challenge, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Teaching your son to use the potty is an important step in his growing-up journey. It’s like teaching him a new skill, just like riding a bike or tying his shoelaces. It shouldn’t be something to be scared of but rather try to keep the mindset that it’s just another milestone!

We’ll share the steps you need to take and some tips and tricks to help you successfully potty train your boy. We’ll talk about when to start potty training, what supplies you’ll need, and how to make the process fun and rewarding.

Not to say you won’t have hiccups along the way.  To be completely honest, potty training our boys has been one of the hardest things we have done in raising toddlers!  Nobody likes poop and pee all over their house!  In our desperation, we have researched and used several strategies and tools which we will share with you.  All in hopes that your potty training journey will be much smoother! 

10 Quick Potty Training Tips for Success!

  • Get them familiar and comfortable with the potty training supplies
  • Set aside a fully dedicated 3-day weekend at the beginning 
  • Go full commando, totally bare bottom, for the first couple of days
  • Avoid tight-fitting pants 
  • Don’t use underwear until the child is going without accidents 
  • Have multiple potty chairs to use throughout the house in the beginning 
  • Celebrate every single win no matter how small
  • STAY CALM,  bladder and especially bowel habits are tied to emotion 
  • Be united as a team with your spouse or partner
  • Be consistent and don’t give up

Step-by-step Guide for How to Potty Train a Boy

Here are 6 easy to follow steps to come out triumphant in the battle of potty-training boys.

Step 1: Educate yourself!

Oh Crap Potty Training book

Jamie Glowacki is a potty training expert who trains parents on potty training for a living! We never knew there was such a thing until learning about Jaime from our favorite parenting course Positive Parenting Solutions!

Jamie has years of experience working with a variety of different ages, stages, and situations regarding potty training, and her strategies work wonders! She has a very popular book titled, “Oh Crap! Potty Training.” Highly recommend reading her book and watching her YouTube videos as a way to educate yourself and get ready to potty train!

Learn more about the Oh Crap potty training method from our review!

Step 2: Recognizing Readiness Signs

boy sitting on potty with stuffed bears

There are numerous kinds of signs that you can see with your child that show they may be ready to start potty training. Sometimes as obvious as asking if they can use the potty like you and other times as subtle as going into another room to have privacy while pooping in their diaper. 

Signs that your child is ready to start potty training can include:

1. Showing interest in the toilet or potty chair.

2. Staying dry for longer periods.

3. Expressing discomfort with dirty diapers.

4. Ability to communicate their needs, like saying they need to go.

5. Coordination to pull down pants or diapers.

6. Demonstrating awareness of bodily functions.

7. Regular bowel movements at predictable times.

Keep in mind that every child is different, and readiness varies. It’s important to be patient and responsive to your child’s cues and not rush the process. 

On the flip side though don’t put off potty training because you are looking for your child to show every sign of being ready! Looking back we probably waited too long with our last boy who was 3 when we started to toilet train. If you wait until your kids are too old (Jaime says the ideal age range to start training is 20-30 months old) you can make it harder. Those toddlers start to become pretty stubborn!

Step 3: Preparing for Potty Training 

potty training sign

Ready or not here we go! An essential step to success is getting all the needed supplies! 

1. Potty chair 

This is probably the most important item! Definitely a toddler essential! Plan to make it a normal day with your boy.  If you will be in multiple rooms throughout the house it may be wise to invest in multiple potty chairs so that regardless of which room you are in at any given moment you have a potty chair immediately available!  Those first few successful potty attempts are monumental (for your boy and YOU)! 

We will be honest, we didn’t want to buy this item and have to worry about cleaning it out after every bathroom run. We wanted our boys to learn how to use the “big potty” from the get-go, however, it didn’t take long for us to realize that the independence and ownership the potty chair gave to our boys is what really made a huge difference! They didn’t need our help getting up on the toilet and could run to the potty chair on their own. 

2. Underwear 

Let your boy pick out some cool underwear.  This gets them motivated to be successful because they get to wear their very own underwear with their favorite paw patrol dogs once they go to the potty.  Anything you can do to get them excited and feel empowered in this process is a must! 

We personally used this as an incentive for them to want to potty train, so they could be excited about ditching the diapers and feel grown up with “big boy underwear”!

3. Cleaning supplies 

If you follow the potty training steps perfectly then that means you won’t have accidents right? WRONG! You will have times you may want to pull your hair out as you are cleaning up poop and pee from your carpet!  Accidents are normal and very expected through this potty training journey! Vinegar has been a lifesaver for keeping our carpet clean after accidents.  You will also want to be stocked up on Clorox wipes, mopping supplies, and enough laundry detergent to last you until you die!  

4. Potty training watch

In the beginning, using a tool like a potty training watch will get the child excited about trying to go potty at regular intervals.  The potty training watch is a timer that helps your child make potty attempts on a schedule which will provide for a higher chance of success in the beginning. Once they have experienced what it feels like to poop and pee in the toilet it becomes easier and more natural! 

Keep in mind that the potty watch may not be for every child. The benefits is that it gives the child more independence and allows for the watch to tell the child when they need to go instead of nagging from you as the parent. However, you know your child and you can determine if this tool is best for your child!

Step 4: Get mentally ready! 

woman calming her emotions

You need to set some realistic expectations for yourself and your child.  Have a conversation with your boy about what the next three days are going to look like.  Get them pumped up for becoming a “big boy”! 

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids has some great episodes to help teach children what going on the potty will look like and will help make potty training fun! There are songs associated to help in learning the toilet training process. Highly recommend showing these to your son before you start potty training!

Accept the fact that you will have accidents!  Your boy has spent the entirety of their life in diapers and is completely used to just letting the poop and pee come out freely.  Becoming conscious of the poop and pee cues is a major developmental step.  Then they have to learn to control their bowel and bladder muscles to hold it when those potty ques come. The more you stay calm at all times the easier this will be in the long run! 

Step 5: The Potty Training Process 

mom giving boy a potty chair

Let’s get down to the nitty and gritty!  Here are the specific components of the day-to-day process of potty training a boy.

Introduce your child to the potty chair and let them become familiar with it. Some parents believe setting it out way in advance will help the child get used to it, however, Jamie Glowacki recommends not pulling it out too soon or the novelty of it will wear off and it will become more of a toy than a tool. Pull it out shortly before starting the process.

Explain the process to your child.  Children learn best with very simple and positive language. Boys especially tend to want straight-to-the-point and simple conversation instead of flowery and lengthy explanations. Stay positive and help your child get excited to learn something new!

Starting the Process

  1. Naked Time: Begin potty training by allowing your child to go without diapers or training pants for a few days, preferably at home. This naked time helps your child become more aware of their bodily sensations and cues.
  2. Prompt and Observe: During naked time, watch for signs that your child needs to use the potty. Prompt them to use the potty chair when you see cues like squirming, holding the genitals, or facial expressions indicating they need to go.
  3. Introduce Clothing: After a few successful days of naked time, gradually introduce clothing back into the routine, starting with underwear. Continue to prompt and observe for potty needs.
  4. Developing a routine. For the first few days, it is important to set consistent and regular trips to the bathroom. Here is where the potty watch may be beneficial. Let the watch/timer dictate to your child when it’s time to go. Never ask your child, “Do you need to go potty?” This allows the child to argue with you. Instead say, “It’s time to go potty.” For our boys, if they refuse then we will say, “Would you like to go right now or in 1 minute.” Giving them the ability to choose helps them feel empowered. 

Reinforcing positive behavior. One of the best parenting advice we have learned from our favorite course Positive Parenting Solutions is to use encouragement instead of praise for our children.  Whenever your child has moments of success, no matter how small, acknowledge them with encouragement such as, “Wow look how hard you have worked! You are growing up! You should be so proud of yourself.”

Small rewards and incentives are also an option! Although Jamie Glowacki doesn’t recommend using rewards, you do what you feel is best with your child to have long-lasting effects! We admit that we have used small rewards on occasion, but some of our greatest success has been rewarding our sons with wearing fun character underwear instead of the boring white training underwear. Encouragement and helping your child feel empowered is often rewarding enough! 

Dealing with accidents is common and expected. The number one key to success will be to stay calm and supportive! It can be so hard and frustrating when your son has accidents, however remember they aren’t perfect and it takes practice, practice, practice! No new skill is perfect, and being calm will be the best way to help your child build the confidence they need to succeed.  

Another great way to handle accidents is to have your child help you clean up the accident. Cleaning together will be an additional incentive for them to want to go in the toilet so they don’t have to clean up all the time, not to mention it helps teach them how to clean!

For our boys, we had them pee sitting on the toilet first until they were tall enough for their little boy parts to be above the toilet. Once they were tall enough we transitioned them to standing to pee. The transition is pretty simple once they are tall enough to stand.

Step 6: Nighttime Potty Training 

boy sleeping

Helping your boys learn to stay dry at night during potty training can be a bit different than daytime training. Here are some tips:

1. Limit Fluid Intake:

Reduce the amount of liquids your child drinks in the evening, especially a couple of hours before bedtime. Our boys are always trying to sneak an extra drink in. Especially avoid sugary drinks.

2. Potty Before Bed:

Have your child use the potty just before going to bed. Make it a regular part of the bedtime routine.

3. Use Protective Bedding:

Use waterproof mattress covers to protect the mattress in case of accidents.

4. Nighttime Training Pants:

Consider using training pants designed for nighttime. They are more absorbent than regular underwear.

5. Wake-Up Checks:

If your child tends to wake up at night, take them to the potty before you go to bed. This can help prevent accidents.

6. Positive Reinforcement:

Praise and reward your child when they wake up dry. Positive reinforcement can motivate them.

7. Be Patient:

Nighttime dryness can take many kids longer to achieve than daytime dryness. It’s normal for many children to continue having nighttime accidents for a while after they’re potty trained during the day.

8. Consult a Pediatrician:

If your child consistently has nighttime accidents well beyond the average age when most children are dry at night (around 5-6 years old for most boys), it’s a good idea to consult a pediatrician to rule out any underlying issues.

Remember, staying dry at night is a developmental milestone, and it can vary widely from child to child. Patience and understanding are key during this process.

Conclusion 

Wow!  What a journey that was!  Learning how to potty train a boy can be one of the most rough weeks of raising your child up to this point. In the end, it is totally worth the effort.  Having a game plan that includes proven processes is key to making this milestone a success! 

Another resource we have recently come across is the potty training module created by Big Little Feelings.  Whatever you do, research a good potty training plan for you and your child and commit!  You will be glad you did! Before you know it your sweet little boy will be going potty completely independently and ready for preschool!

Frequently Asked Questions

The average age for boys to be potty trained varies, but many children begin potty training between 2 and 3 years old. Some boys may start earlier, around 18 months, while others may take longer and begin closer to 3 or even 4 years old. It’s important to remember that every child is unique, and there’s a wide range of what’s considered normal. The key is to watch for readiness signs in your child, such as showing interest in the toilet, staying dry for longer periods, or communicating discomfort with dirty diapers, and then starting the process when they seem ready.

There is a common perception that boys might be harder to potty train than girls, but this isn’t necessarily true for every child. Potty training challenges can vary widely from one individual to another and aren’t solely determined by gender.

Boys and girls may have different approaches or behaviors during potty training, but it’s important to remember that each child is unique. Some boys might take to potty training quickly and easily, while others may need more time and patience. The key to successful potty training is recognizing your child’s readiness signs, providing consistent support, and maintaining a positive and patient attitude, regardless of their gender.

Potty training can present various challenges, and what’s considered the hardest part can vary from child to child. However, some common challenges that parents often face during potty training include:

  1. Accidents: Dealing with accidents can be frustrating for both parents and children. It’s important to stay patient and not make a big deal out of it.
  2. Nighttime Training: Nighttime training can take longer, and it’s normal for children to continue wearing diapers or training pants at night even after they’re potty trained during the day.
  3. Resistance: Some children may resist using the potty or express fear or anxiety about it. This resistance can be challenging to address but usually requires patience and gentle encouragement.
  4. Regression: It’s not uncommon for children to experience setbacks or regress in their potty training progress, even after they’ve been successful for a while.
  5. Independence: Encouraging a child to go to the potty independently, including wiping and washing hands, can be a hurdle in the potty training process.
  6. Public Restrooms: Some children may be uncomfortable using public restrooms, which can make outings a bit more challenging.

The hardest part can vary based on your child’s personality, readiness, and unique circumstances. Patience, consistency, and a positive attitude are essential for overcoming these challenges and successfully potty training your child.

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