Most of my mom friends make fun of me for this, but I truly believe that toddlers and dogs have more in common than many people would like to admit. Teaching your kiddo how to use the bathroom can be just as frustrating as it is to house-train a puppy. From secret stains to proud poops, transitioning your child out of diapers is one of the most challenging parts of parenting. If you've got a little boy about to embark on the potty-training journey, here are some potty training hacks for boys that will make your life so much easier — and so much cleaner. And just remember, you're definitely not alone in this mess.
Despite raising our child with a gender-neutral concept in mind, my partner and I still knew that potty training a child with a penis would present a unique set of challenges. The first, and most obvious, one is the fact that you're essentially giving a toddler a hose to play with. There are a host of other differences, expected or otherwise, that will present themselves throughout the process of potty training your tiny tot.
One aspect that caught me off guard were the stigmas about training boys versus girls to use the potty. I often heard other parents playfully joke about boys being slower, messier, or not as cooperative as girls. But, according to Healthy Children, a site from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "gender itself has little to do with how early or late a child becomes fully toilet-trained." It is worth nothing, though, "the tendency of toddler and preschool boys to be active physically may delay their training somewhat," as Healthy Children further noted. So, your son may end up taking longer to potty train than some of his female peers, but that's neither a bad thing nor a reflection on his gender. Of course, every child is unique and you shouldn't feel pressured to push your son out of diapers just because another kid his age (male or female) is already pooping solo. With that said, however, it never hurts to have a few helpful tips handy when you're potty training a boy.
1. Sit Before You Stand — Literally
Among my group of parenting friends, an issue that came up frequently involved feeling this pressure to skip straight to standing when you're potty training a boy. "If your son is in the process of toilet training, you don't need to teach him how to urinate standing up yet," clinical psychologist Dr. Edward Christopherson wrote on Baby Center's blog. "Little boys have a small penis that usually points almost straight out — for now, just teach him to urinate sitting down." I can tell you from personal experience that this was a game changer. Plus, if your little dude happens to have a bowel movement while urinating, you don't have to clean anything up since he's already sitting.
2. Bring A Buddy
This hack is helpful, regardless of if it has anything to do with your toddler being a boy or simply being at the age where feelings are big and attention spans are small. It seems that having a constant companion, whether it's for comfort or distraction, helps. "Boys might like to have a special 'potty partner' — a stuffed animal or a doll — to keep them company while they're using the potty," as the potty training experts noted on the official site for Pampers. Bonus points if the toy is easy to clean, too.
3. Make It A Game
My kid tends to be on the sensitive side, but even he had his stereotypical "boy" moments where everything became a game when he was learning to use the toilet. As it turns out, this is an experienced shared by a lot of parents who are potty training their son. As one finding suggests, "if you raise the fun factor with potty training, your child will be more likely to stay motivated," according to Baby Center. My favorite potty training game for boys? Teach them how to improve their aim by tossing some Cheerios in the toilet bowl for target practice. I'll never understand why my partner and our child got such joy out of hitting the mark.
4. Be Consistent
As I mentioned earlier, my son would often get distracted or pick playtime over abiding by a potty schedule. As it turns out, in terms of potty training boys, "the key is consistency," parenting expert Jen Singer, and author of the Stop Second-Guessing Yourself parenting series, told Parents. "Whatever you do at home with your potty training plan, you also need to do elsewhere," Singer further explained. Although it may seem like it's taking forever, trust me when I say that being patient now means that you'll actually be done sooner than if you hadn't been so consistent.
5. Don't Shame
This last hack might just be the most important one. Boy, girl, or otherwise, you should never punish or shame your child for having an accident while potty training. When they do happen — and they will — stay calm, according to the official website for the Mayo Clinic. "To handle accidents ... don't scold, discipline or shame your child," as is further noted on the site. If you need to, take a breather before you react in a negative way.
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