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7 Tried-and-True Potty Training Tips for Boys


Potty training is a major step in any child's development, and it's a special time for you and your child. However, boys can be notoriously difficult to potty train compared to girls, so they sometimes require specific strategies to make the experience a positive one.

According to the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS), boys and girls are often ready around the same age - between 1.5 years or 18 months and 2.5 years or 30 months - to take this important developmental milestone, yet boys are often trained at 31 months compared to girls' 29 months. It can be hard for parents and guardians not to worry if it takes longer to train their child, but the Mayo Clinic suggested families not rush into potty training. Before starting training, the Mayo Clinic advised parents and guardians to first ask themselves if their son is able to follow directions and if he tells you he doesn't like his wet diaper. Making sure he is ready is perhaps the best potty training tip of all. 

a boy sitting on a toilet ready for potty trainingKnow when your son is ready to move on from diapers.

Here are seven strategies you should adopt when toilet training your child. 

1. Stay positive

It can be easy to become negative when your child, after days or weeks of constant work, is still fighting you about using the toilet or just doesn't get it yet, but remain as positive as you can throughout the entire experience. UMHS noted children usually take three to six months to become potty trained, and having a positive attitude and tone about using the toilet can help your child be successful. In fact, UMHS suggested parents even avoid using negative words about poop, such as calling it "stinky," as children know that poop comes out of them and may see it as something shameful.

"Some boys need more motivation than others."

2. Praise - and bribe

Toy cars, gummy bears, cheerleading chants - whatever motivates your son best is a tool you should consider utilizing. Some boys need more motivation than others, and potty prices can range from picking a sticker from a sticker jar to calling grandpa on the phone. You don't have to spend a lot of money - or any money - if you utilize praise instead of toys or food, but you want to make sure whatever reward you use is a smart choice for your child. 

3. Go in sessions

Head to the bathroom at regular intervals - such as every 15 to 20 minutes - to prevent your child from having accidents and to help him understand he needs to go in the toilet. However, attempting this strategy right at the beginning of potty training can result in you and your child becoming exhausted and fussy early on. Parents can adopt a strategy from Caroline Fertleman and Simon Cove's book "Potty Training Boys the Easy Way: Helping Your Son Learn Quickly - Even if He's a Late Starter."  Fertleman and Cove recommend potty training in sessions; for the first day, follow the interval rule for a two or three hours in the morning and at night but let your son wear a pull-up the rest of the day. Slowly reduce the amount of diaper or pull-up time so that by the third day, you can attempt an all-day session.

4. Adopt underwear time

This strategy works best for boys who can hold it for a few hours, as underwear time is exactly what it sounds like: time for your little one to try on big-kid underwear. Jen Singer, author of the Stop Second-Guessing Yourself parenting guides, says that underwear time functions as a reward for boys because they get to actually wear undies instead of a diaper or pull-up, and it continues to train boys as they still need to pull them up and down to go to the bathroom. 

a boy sitting on a toilet ready for potty trainingReward your little one for going to the bathroom with his favorite activity.

5. Help him remember to go

Little boys have a lot to do during the day! Between play time, naps and food, children can become uninterested in mastering going to the bathroom. Heather Lebeboer, a mother from Idaho, told Parents.come she bought her son the Potty Watch, which is a special watch that lights up and plays songs in regular intervals. It entertained her son every time it went off while reminding him it was time to head to the bathroom. The Mayo Clinic suggested families celebrate the time when their son picks out his big-boy underwear. 

6. Make it into a game

Tap into your child's love of play and competitive spirit by making going to the bathroom a game he can win. Give him something to aim at in the toilet, such as cheerios, if you are training him to stand, or read him a book about going to the bathroom. suggested parents buy the book "Everybody Poops," written by Taro Gomi and illustrated by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum. 

7. Have a man model

Children learn best when they can see someone they look up to do something first. Dads, big brothers, grandfathers, uncles or another trusted male figure in their life can model how to go to the bathroom for young boys, which Singer told can help reduce the amount of time it takes to potty train. 

"On average, boys take longer to potty train, largely because mom is usually in charge of the process," Singer said. "And try as we might, we can't model peeing while standing all that well."

Remember, it's OK if your son takes a while to become comfortable using the toilet! Potty training boys can take a bit more time and effort, but it pays off in the end for you and your son.

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