Potty training boys poses different challenges than getting girls out of nappies.
Though we can't forget that every individual is unique, boys are thought to take longer when it comes to succeeding in this transition. Experts consider that they usually get more distracted than girls, which makes it harder for them to follow instructions and commands. But don't worry: like potty training girls, it's perfectly doable!
Either with boys or girls, potty training may put you against many difficulties before he or she learns how to use the toilet properly. In both cases, there's a 'rule' that you shouldn't break: you shouldn't decide when potty training starts only based on your child's age. Some parents throw a spanner in the works by forcing this process when their kids aren't ready yet, which usually leads to failure. Keep in mind that some boys start using the potty before they are two years old, while others won't do so until they are three or even older than that.
How can you know if your toddler is ready to leapfrog such an intimidating challenge? First, he needs to be able to put himself out of his 'comfort zone', in other words, say good bye to nappies at a physical and emotional level. Many boys may just start telling their parents when 'nature is calling', while others may need extra motivation.
Here are some efficient tips on potty training boys that could make this stage much easier.
Potty training boys: Shopping for a potty
Potty training boys require some planning. For a start, you need the necessary devices to make it possible, so you should first think whether you want your kid to practise with a potty chair or an adapter seat for the toilet. Potty chairs are usually a good option to start with, since they are child-sized and more attractive to little kids. You should let your toddler personalise it, as if it was another one of his toys (it's better if he thinks it's a fun item rather than a duty).
If you end up getting an adapter seat, make sure it's secure and it attaches well to the toilet. He will also need a little stool to climb onto the toilet and descend from it on his own.
Potty training boys: Teaching him how to sit...
Obviously, the teaching process differs between boys and girls, since they have their own way to do their needs. That said, and since bowel movements and pee often come together, it's good advice for your child to start sitting on the toilet. You can demonstrate for him or use his favourite toys to play some kind of game involving the potty use. He can start doing so with his trousers on, just to get familiar with the idea of sitting on he toilet. Little by little, you can replace those trousers for disposable ones until he seems ready to try peeing and pooing without them.
...and how to stand
Sooner or later, he'll realise that Dad uses the toilet in a different way. This is exactly when you should explain to your child how boys actually do it and encourage him to swop the sitting position for the standing one. If he's reluctant to do it, give him more time. Once he's willing to do so and understands the new mechanics, make sure he works on his aim; for example, you could put toilet paper balls in the potty, so that he can use them for target practice. As he gets better, try floating objects like a ping pong ball, which will move and demand more precision from him.
Needless to say, many accidents await you, so keep the mop at hand!
Potty training boys: Strike a balance
Each mum has her own potty training tricks or learns along the way, but it's good that no matter how you face this experience, you try to combine discipline with fun. Don't be uptight about it and just think that ditching nappies is another toddler milestone that can be accomplished without drama. Set up a training schedule, work around your daily routine, and try to dedicate extra time to it on the weekends. For instance, you can ask him if he needs to 'visit the loo' after each meal, so that he ends up associating drinking and eating with weeing and pooing, even if the effect isn't immediate. There are many tricks and potty training tips you can count on!
Getting your son out of nappies isn't easy if there's too much going on at home. For example, if you are expecting another baby, you are getting divorced (we hope that's not the case!) or your munchkin is dealing with a new situation, like starting preschool. Be aware of such factors and, if it's necessary, work around them by making him feel safe and protected. Potty training won't work out if your child isn't confident enough.
Potty training boys: Praising helps
When potty training boys, it's essential to motivate your son. Celebrate, with noticeable enthusiasm, every step forward that he takes on the process, and remember to write it down on a potty training chart. You can show it to him and focus on what he's doing well, instead of, for example, making him feel like he's not keeping up with other kids his age.
Potty training boys: Night after night
Potty training will last until your child's able to sleep through the night without wetting his bed. Most kids learn to stay dry after the afternoon nap, and then keep making progress until they don't need nappies during the daytime anymore. But, still, it will take them a while until they can do the same during night sleep, since their bodies need to adjust the sphincter muscle to avoid releasing liquids or solids.
When you think that your kid may be ready, give it a try and let him go to bed without wearing nappies. Protect the mattress with a plastic cover and keep clean pyjamas and sheets ready. If he has accidents for a few nights in a row, he may not be primed to reach such a milestone yet, so you'll have to wait a while and not put extra pressure on him. It's not about giving up, but letting things move at a natural pace. Once he's able to control his needs overnight, it will be time for you to get rid of nappies.
In short, potty training boys requires a lot of patience, but it's also very rewarding. When you see your son's happy face after spending a few nights without making a mess, you'll forget about every accident. After all, it's no more than another sign of your munchkin growing up!