After yesterday’s toilet training post about how
we N did it, I wanted to share my top tips on toilet training boys. Ok, so really toilet training any toddler, but slightly more relevance to boys given that’s what I’ve got experience of. So here’s my 7 tips.
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1. Get everything ready
You might need it earlier than you’re planning, as you can never be sure when they’ll want to start toilet training. Friends have been surprised at their children being ready to potty train well before they were ready for the child to do it.
If your child is younger, if older they might just want to go straight to toilet. Some people swear by potties that are like seats with a high back and higher from the floor, and there are definitely some high tech potties around.
We had a Pourty which is brilliant. It’s really easy to empty, and seems to have a deeper bowl area. We also had a cheap Ikea one which was ok. It was the one that N took to nursery (although he didn’t really use it much). My only issue with it is for older children, their bottoms get vacuum suctioned in (never thought I’d write about things like this before I had children!), so if they stand up without someone holding the bottom of it down, the potty will lift up with them…possible mess ensues.
Get one of the fold up steps as they’re higher for children to get able to get themselves over the toilet trainer step. Look in discount stores for them or places like Dunelm or Wilkos.
- Toilet insert/seat
Some people say padded ones are best, ours are plastic and are fine. With a boy I’d suggest plastic as they tend to have the lip at the front which stops splashes all over the place.
- Loads of pants
For travel, we have a car seat fleecy insert to mop up any accidents, but you could use a small towel, with plastic underneath. Or you could cut up an old waterproof sheet and put it underneath for a homemade solution?
And we’ve found a Potette portable fold up potty/toilet seat handy. Less so using it as a potty as N’s older and it’s very low to the ground, but great for using public toilets when out and about as it’s so small to put in a bag.
2. Don’t force the issue
There are potty training readiness checklists you can use to check whether your child’s ready, but don’t assume that they’ll want to use the toilet or potty all the time even if they can tick off everything on the list. We’ve been able to tick off everything on the lists for about 6 months, and N could repeat back exactly what he was meant to do. He just flat refused. If you’ve got a child who’ll be guided and led, then worth trying at a time that’s good for you. If you’ve got an obstinate, independent child who wants to choose when they do everything, then you might find you’re at their mercy.
3. Understand what motivates your child
Some people thing bribery is a bad thing (and I’m sure dentists everywhere might despair at the amount of sweets some crafty children who get wise on the reward system, might have). But if your child likes a certain item that they’re not allowed to have usually, then use it for a reward system.
A friend of mine had her little girl toilet trained at just over 2 with a simple sheet of paper, and the girl could choose whatever sticker she wanted. And that was it. No big prize at the end. It worked fine for them.
N on the other hand, likes stickers, but couldn’t care less about seeing them in a row heading towards the completed level. Even when he knew he’d get a Tractor Ted dvd when he got so many, he wasn’t fussed…well, he’d tell people he’d get a dvd, but didn’t care about the stickers at all. He also had the offer of sweets off Granny, and since he started using the toilet way back of his own accord, he’s had a lot of jelly babies. But it still didn’t seem to motivate him to do more than morning and evening on the potty.
The system that worked better was a button jar. He had a spice jar, and for every wee on the toilet/potty he got one button, every poo he got two. When the jar is full he got a new Tractor Ted dvd. The day to day, N wasn’t that bothered about chasing the buttons up, but he loved telling people that he was going to get a dvd when it was full. He had 2 DVDs, and Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child soft toys (with the 2nd jar and latter coming once he’d moved to pants). After he’d filled a few we stopped the jars.
4. Don’t assume that the child being wet/soiled will mean they learn faster
Lots of people say that children need to get the sensation of being wet or soiled and have to have accidents to really understand what they need to do. I don’t believe all children think like that. N doesn’t seem to be the only child I know who never really minded being wet and would quite happily sit in a mucky nappy until someone noticed, even when he was getting the concept of what he should be doing for potty training. He was the same with soiled pants. He would carry on playing until I could smell it or noticed a wet patch. The only thing he didn’t like was wet socks, but as he’ll quite often remove them indoors, that didn’t really help.
The only thing that seemed to help him was knowing that he could do it on the toilet and the acceptance that he was a ‘big boy’ now. Previously he always used to say ‘I too little’ when we suggested it.
5. Get everyone involved
Everyone in the house needs to be on board. The OH was keen to get N trained early and kept going on, but he wasn’t the one going to be doing any of the cleaning up. Nursery were happy to be led by N as they believe it’s less painless that way, but also ensure they know what system you’re using, so they can continue the similar rewards or report back to you at the end of the day.
And if the child is slightly older, then get them to help in clearing up any spills. I wouldn’t personally recommend getting the toddler to empty the potty, just because they get a bit over excited, but if N had an accident, he wanted to be the one to get out the mop and clean the bathroom floor. I also asked him to put his wet clothes in the washing machine as well. It means he knew the implications and he could be involved. I also think it made him feel proud of what he’d done (even if it was down to a near miss).
6. Use the right language for your child
Every toilet training expert says praise is essential for encouraging a child to display the behaviour you want, and toilet training is no different. You want them to be encouraged to keep doing the good things, and less of the bad, so it’s definitely about focusing on what they’re doing well.
N wasn’t bothered by me clapping or dancing around the room when he did his first poo on the toilet. To him, it was just another thing. He was more excited about getting to flush the chain. So a ‘good job’ or ‘you’ve been really clever knowing when you needed to go’ etc, worked fine for him.
Sometimes before bed, I’d just say something about how well he’d done that day, getting all his wees in the toilet, and that I was really proud of how well he was doing. I wasn’t even that sure about whether he’d taken it in, and whether he knew what it meant. But one day I picked him up from nursery and his key worker told me that N had been sitting on the toilet and told her that I was proud of him for using the toilet. So sweet, and those simple words obviously resonated with what he wanted to do…and that was impress Mummy and Daddy.
7. Teach them to aim inside the toilet
I’m not even talking standing up wees here, but sitting down. Think back to newborn days where removing a nappy could result in pee going everywhere, and a flannel or tissue was required. It’s the same now. Thankfully we only had one mad flying wee (surely little boys willies should have been more crushed up in nappies than pants! Watch out for odd direction and sticking issues. Oh, just my son then?!). We encouraged N to make sure he was pointing his willy down.
Overall, it’s about keeping positive and using whatever tools work for you. Plus of course, trying to avoid anyone else pressurising you to try before the child is ready.
What tips would you add to my list?
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