There is a ton of potty training tips for boys out there, but a lot of those didn’t really work for us. I already wrote about our early adventures in potty training with our two and a half-year-old, Rocco. The standard ‘sticker chart’ was a big flop, and using a training potty seemed to inhibit rather than help Rocco learn.
Ditch the training toilet and buy a cool step stool
The very first weekend we tried immersing Rocco in potty training. We bought a little training potty, and he just hated it. From time to time he would sit, then he would try to stand, then he would try this weird straddle-the-potty-while-squatting-with-one-leg-in-the-air move. (it was hilarious, but not very effective). He was frustrated by the mini toilet and just wasn’t excited to use it. Later that first week of training, we talked to his teachers and found out he was doing really well with training at school (while failing at home), so we decided to ditch the training toilet and recreate his at-school potty training, which included a step stool and using the big potty. I found a cars step stool, so suddenly using the step stool became cool. Rocco seemed to think the cars step stool was much more special than his mini potty (which I then hid in the closet).
Shower Him with Praise
The most effective strategy for Rocco was constantly giving him positive reinforcement. We made going potty the biggest deal. Every time he went potty, we told him what a good job he did, how proud of him we were, and always gave him a high five, fist bump or a hug. We even made up a ‘Rocco went potty’ song to just really reiterate what a major deal it was that he went pee pee on the potty. Even now, almost two months later, we both still make a big deal about every time he goes to the bathroom on the potty. It’s a lot of “good job, Rocco!”, “what a big boy you are!”, “I’m so proud of you!”. Consistently telling him how proud we are of him seems to really have positively impacted his desire to use the bathroom.
Find a reward he wants
Most potty training tips I’ve found suggested using a sticker chart. That didn’t work for Rocco because he likes to wear his stickers. The majority of the time, though, stickers didn’t work. That’s where all the positive praise came in. However, from time to time, he adamantly did not want to use the toilet, which is when coaxing him with a sticker or some other reward seemed to work.
Early on in the training, I even had to bribe him with getting to watch a tv show. Some parents use food, which I personally do not suggest for several reasons – it’s just not a good idea to reward kids with food, it will set them up for this reward association with eating, which can lead to overeating, obesity, comforting themselves with food, etc. Other than food, find something else that works — stickers, a small toy, a tv show, time outside, an extra book at bedtime — whatever your child really enjoys.
Remind him, often, but don’t force
After the first week or two of training, Rocco was able to hold it for quite a while, so there was no need to remind him every 15-30 minutes like we had been doing. We moved to reminding him every hour or so if he hadn’t gone recently. We noticed that he tended to need to go potty at fairly obvious times, when he wakes up, about 30 minutes after he eats a meal, before naptime, before bedtime. Now that we’re two months into potty training, Rocco very rarely has accidents, and they almost always happen at school during nap time. Rocco still wears diapers at night because he sleeps for 12 hours, and only every now and then can hold it through the night. It is fairly common for kids to wear diapers at night even when they are potty trained during the day.
If you’re struggling with potty training your child, hang in there! It took Rocco a solid couple weeks to get it, and he still has accidents at school sometimes. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and rewards will help you train your child in no time.