How exciting that your little boy is showing signs of readiness to use the toilet! Oh, you’re not sure? That’s okay. Let’s take it one step at a time.
Once your little one can walk confidently, he is able to control the muscles needed to “hold it”, meaning the ability to wait to release urine or waste until he is at the potty. This alone does not signify readiness, however.
Interest in using the toilet is key. If your child is experimenting with “No” and using diapers as an area to exercise power, wait a few weeks to see if this passes before trying to incorporate toileting into your routine. Let’s avoid the bathroom as an arena for a toddler-style battle of the wills.
In the meantime, here are some tips to inspire interest and boost confidence — for you and for him! Potty training a boy? We got this!
Let your child take the lead on toilet learning.
Create opportunities to get to know about toilet routines by placing a floor potty in your home; reading books about potty use; and using language with your child, including telling him when you use the bathroom. “I feel like I need to pee. I’m going to sit on the toilet.”
Place a basket of underwear within sight and explain that when we don’t need diapers, we wear underwear. Let your child explore these new items.
We call it toilet learning instead of potty training because it is a period of discovery. Your child’s abilities to do the tasks associated with using the bathroom will unfold as you gently teach them. They are actively learning, not being passively trained.
For example, practicing taking pants on and off is a big part of using the toilet and cleaning up after accidents. You can make a lot of progress in that area, as well as hand-washing, before arriving at The Big Day.
(The Big Day is what we like to call the first day in underwear.)
Be sure your little boy can identify the difference between wet and dry.
Take notice and invite him to share the contrast between wet and dry when he feels a washcloth or towel. You’ll be relying on these definitions!
Aim for a neutral mindset and tone of voice about wet underwear.
Let any negative thoughts you have about pee and poop go down the toilet. Ha ha!
Check in with your own expectations about potty training a boy.
Were you hoping you could go to sleep one night and wake up with a toilet-using child? Us too! But, no, the learning process is full of small steps and experiences with wet underwear.
So instead of hanging on to unrealistic expectations, set up an environment that will support the process. The basket of underwear is on hand because we know we’ll need to change from wet ones to dry ones. We like to keep a hamper in the bathroom for a while, too!
The first week will be full of ups and downs as your little one learns all about how it feels to use the toilet, both physically and emotionally.
Normalizing the process and all its parts is an important step in removing all shame from the equation.
Prepare for pee on the floor. And the walls.
So, yes, the penis can be a tricky tool. Guide your son to push it downward, once seated, to aim his urine into the potty.
Some parents show their son to sit backward, straddling the toilet, in order to naturally tilt his pelvis downward. This will help ensure that your little one’s urine makes it into the toilet, rather than rainbow arching over and onto the floor.
You might want to remove any bathroom rugs during this period.
Independence is the reward, for boys and girls.
That boys have a more difficult time learning to use the toilet is a common assumption, but the fact is, success in bathroom independence is not gender-specific and varies from child to child.
The attitude of the adults, however, is a deciding factor in the process. It’s important to remember what a profound step toward independence toilet use is. Your son will be intrinsically motivated to adopt this new habit, and success is the only reward he needs.
While managing a new toilet user feels harder at first (diapers offer us so much security when we leave the house!) it does get easier. Sticker charts and other rewards are not necessary because using the potty offers a great source of pride and accomplishment.
We’ve designed a toilet learning kit with this in mind.
With a floor potty that can be accessed independently, a special book to introduce the process, a basket for supplies (undies!), routine cards, and a unique faucet extender to make hand-washing easy, you’ll find everything you need to get started.
Montessori Toilet Learning Kithelps in the transition from diapers to toilet independence
- Floor Potty for independence
- 8 Illustrated Routine Cards to introduce self-care
- My Toilet Learning Journey board book
- Faucet Extender for easy handwashing
- Cloth Basket for supplies