Monday, December 15, 2014

7 Tips for How To Potty Train a Boy

Matthew is just getting through the potty training process.  Even though he just turned three, I am not surprised at how early he wanted to be a big kid, he always wants to be just like his brothers.  He walked at nine months, never liked baby food, refused to sit in his high chair when he was barely a year old, wanted milk in his cereal long before he was actually capable of eating it without making a huge mess.  His most common phrase is, "me do it meself."

I have potty trained four boys now, not to mention helped potty train several kids when I worked at a Montessori school, so I feel like I have learned a lot about the process.  I am sure when it comes time to potty train Andrew, he will show me I still have a few things to learn. :)

But hey, I will share with you what I know to work really well:

1. Go Cold Turkey.  With my first boy, I tried to take the "little bit at a time" approach.  It took almost a year before I actually felt safe leaving him in underwear all day.  And he was four and a half by the end.  It was really frustrating, for both of us.  So with my second son, we picked a week that I had no where to go, and he wasn't allowed to wear a diaper, or a pull up, only underwear.  There were a lot of accidents and the first two days were miserable, but after that, he did awesome and we rarely had an accident after that.  I will take two miserable days over a year process anytime.  He wasn't confused what he needed to do and what was expected of him.

2. Be Consistent.  As with basically everything in parenting, if you aren't consistent, it won't work.  Don't have some days where he is in pull ups and other days where he is in underwear, or only when you go out.  When my boy wakes up, I change them out of their diaper and into underwear, have them go to the bathroom and then stay in their underwear all day.  I try really hard to even keep them in underwear even when we are going places, even though that is terrifying.  Just don't go anywhere that doesn't have a bathroom close and make sure you have a change of clothes with you.

3. Praise them with words rather than treats (the occasional treat is okay-Pavlov dog's theory isn't a good thing).  With Matthew we set the timer for every half an hour.  Then any time any timer went off, he thought he was supposed to pee.  Believe me, that didn't work out so well.  ;) And I have had lots of friends that gave their kid a treat every time they peed.  But then the kid got hooked and wanted candy EVERY time they peed for the rest of their lives.  I don't know how they got them off this process, but I was not willing to risk it being as all my children are sugar-aholics like me.  But if it works for you, go for it.  But my kids always loved being praised or given a huge hug.  They love to feel like they are special.

4. Try to pick a time when both of you are ready.  If the kid isn't ready, they will resist you in every way possible.  And believe me, there is no way you can actually force a child to pee, believe me, I have tried.  If they want to bad enough, they will hold it until they die.  I'm pretty sure.  And sometimes I have made my kids wait to potty train even when they seem ready (they tell me they are poopy, they try to pull down their pants, fascinated by the bathroom, etc.), because I am not ready.  Like right after I have a kid and I just can't handle getting up every five seconds to rush them to the bathroom.  No way.  Can't handle that stress.  There is no perfect time, but try to find one where things are pretty good for both of you.

5. Sit down first, then stand.  For my boys, aim has never been something to come super quickly when they still have those cute chubby hands and their attention spans are short.  So I get them to figure out potty training first, before the aim thing.  Have them spread their legs and aim down.  Then once they have the timing down and they aren't having accidents all day long, then you can teach them to pee standing up.  This is where Dad's expertise comes in handy.  And boys LOVE to pee with their Daddy's.  :)  Cheerios or a square of toilet paper make great target practice.

6. Night training is different than day training (you can do both, but I needed the break to not have to worry about cleaning sheets and more laundry).  A kid learning to hold it until they can find a toilet is one thing, it is a completely different ballgame getting them to hold it all night long, or to wake their subconscious and find the bathroom without peeing in any random corner.

7. Don't stress.  Maybe this should be number one, but for real, no parenting task to accomplish is worth screaming at your kid for.  I have learned that the hard way.  If you are starting to get super mad at your kid, take a deep breath and postpone it to a later time if you have to.  You don't want your kid to relate you being mad with the bathroom.  :) 

As with all parenting, what works with one kid usually doesn't work with the next.  So this is just what worked, most of the time, with my boys.  Some days were good, some weren't, but we all learn and grow...eventually.  Hopefully some of this works for you.  Good luck getting your kid out of diapers!!