top tips for toilet training boys

7 Tips for Toilet Training boys (part 2)

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.

top tips for toilet training boys

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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.

You’ll need:

  • Potty

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.

Pourty potty blue
Pourty (*affiliate link)
  • Step

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.

Dunelm mill fold up step

  • 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.

potette travel potty

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.

Gruffalo training reward

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?

Why not take a look at these similar posts.

toilet training myths reward charts swimming accidents

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  1. I am SO with you on these tips – and in particular number 2. I think I would also add don’t give up! So many people start, give up and start again. Just persevere and your little one will get there. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

    1. Ah, now the whole giving up thing is a minefield. After hearing of lots of friends who pushed on for the best part of a year, I think in many cases the child is nowhere near ready. In that case I’d definitely stop and leave it a bit. With N, we tried near Christmas, he was ok at home but all prompted. One day at nursery and it was a nightmare – he just wasn’t ready for pants. So back in pull ups, gradually encouraged him to use the toilet on occasion, then by Easter he chose to do it himself. He needed to do it himself.

      But others, if they’re older, then definitely it’s a case of keeping going once you’re in the pants.

  2. Great tips! 2 and 7 resonate particularly. Little Chap toilet trained at 2 3/4. Tried at 2 1/2 but he just wasn’t having it, despite, as you say, showing all the signs. Ultimately, little boys are more interested in living life than they are in taking care of the essentials, whether that be brushing their teeth, wiping their nose or weeing in a toilet, as opposed to their shorts! Even at 5, I had to reintroduce the sticker chart to positively discourage Little Chap from wetting his pants/trousers through sheer laziness. He’d just leave it to the last minute and then spray himself in the toilet ‘cos he couldn’t sort himself out in time. I played real hard ball – only stickers for clean, dry pants at the end of the day and only a prize for a week’s worth of stickers. I made it a good one and it seemed to work. We kept it up until he’d got three straight weeks mess free and it became a new habit (yay!). Trying same technique with him staying in bed until his GroClock changes colour in the mornings & touch wood is having same effect. He realises I mean business, understands what’s expected as we’re only focusing on one goal. I have boundaries so I keep my cool and refrain from nagging/whining at about the issue and touch wood, we’ve been several months now without stickers and wet pants…(I just jinxed it didn’t I?)…#PoCoLo

    1. Fingers crossed it’s not been jinxed. First time round after Christmas, because stickers/rewards weren’t bothering him, we even tried telling him we’d take a toy away each time he wet himself. He was happily handing over his favourite toys to me out of choice! Little tike. But definitely boys are more concerned and focused on their play – guess it’s the lack of multitasking ability vs girls!

      We seem to have cracked it now – dry at nursery and home the last week (although came home from both nurseries on 2 days having had a change of clothes – not because he’d had an accident, but he’d forgotten to hold his willy pointing down in the toilet when he was sitting there, and it went everywhere. Oops!)

  3. Really interesting tips, Monkey is 2 in a few weeks and I had hope to potty train him this summer before new baby comes, but he’s a late talker so think I’ll wait a bit longer yet. This is great though as I find it quite a daunting prospect at the mo! #pocolo xx

    1. It is probably the most scary part of having a toddler because you never know what’s going to hit you, it could all work in a couple of days, or it might take months if you don’t pick the right time – but then how will you actually know. I think when it comes down to it, the child will give some pretty obviously clues or just choose to do it themselves (probably before you’re ready).

      I hoped to get n done last summer when he was 2.5, but he wouldn’t entertain the though of weeing outside, unlike his cousins who would be weeing all over the garden when they were doing toilet training!

  4. Very useful post, I am through this stage with my 3 year old boy but remember the poupette days well. Suction bottom though, that’s a first! #pocolo x

    1. Suction bottom isn’t good. He has got a bit of a peachy bottom, but suppose a lot of children would be smaller when potty training so less chance of getting a vacuum bottom!

  5. I started a bit late in potty training my son not because I dont feel he is ready but I felt that I am not. I am so confuse as to what to do make him sit or make him stand up? These things that no one teaches you. Eventually I made him stand up when he wees and sit down when he poo. In less than a week everything fell on its place. We have no accident at all. Things on yoru list are spot on! #pocolo

    1. He did well then to manage the difference between wee and poo. It’s definitely one of those things that parents don’t really know how they’re going to do it or how the child will respond.
      Thanks for commenting Merlinda

    1. Good luck when it comes round then. Can be relatively painfree, and guess it’s really important that the parents stay calm about it too

  6. All good points. My little boy would never use a potty,he used to scream if you tried to put him on it, so he went straight to using the toilet.

    1. It’s all down to the child, but hopefully some of the tips come in useful, if only to prove that following the books doesn’t always work however ready the child is!

  7. Emma this is so perfect thanks for all the great tips and what works for you. We are in full potty training mode with Buba. He has had no accidents in weeks but we still can’t master the poo only goes in the middle of the night in his pullups. So frustrating. I have tried bribery rewards etc. Nothing seems to work at the minute. Might need to try the buttons. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. I love reading your post and seeing your blog. #sharewithme

    1. Hard to solve if it’s at night, as really need to get it when it’s daytime so that’s when the toddler’s aware and making the choice. Some of my online friends swore by the ‘Pooland’ story. Evidently there is a book, but essentially it’s talking about where the poo lives and where it needs to get back to – ie the toilet. Sounds weird, but did work for some of them.

      Hope he gets it soon.

  8. Ah, this takes me back. I’ve got a good six months till I train my third and last baby and I’m going to enjoy those lovely contained wees for the whole time! Great post, good tips and info!

    1. Ah, you’re a pro then. It’s funny as when you first have to change nappies you think it’s disgusting, but as you say at least it’s (generally) contained.

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