Once upon a time, two years ago to be exact, I took a few days off and potty trained my daughter. She was 26 months old and I was 7 months pregnant. I knew I had to successfully complete this task at least a few months before the baby arrived or I may end up with some regression, and I was not up for dealing with that plus a newborn. I didn’t read any books, just went for it. First day, I stripped her naked, set out the potty chair, turned on the television and anytime she had to go potty she would sit in the chair and go. Honestly, I have no recollection of having to tell her to sit there and try more than a few times. She just did it. We’d both do a “potty” dance and she’d get a chocolate: one for pee and two for poop. I remember day two being more difficult, but by day three, she was good as gold. Just like a fairytale.
Fast forward to January 2018. My 22-month-old son had seemed interested in using the potty for a while and occasionally used it, so I figured, why not. I was over diapers and hated to miss an opportunity. This time around, being that I had heard boys were more difficult to potty train, and the fact that he was under 2, I thought it would be a wise idea to read a book and arm myself with new tips and pointers before I set out in uncharted territory. My girlfriend had successfully potty trained her 22 month old son back in the fall and followed the O Crap! Potty Training book by Jamie Glowacki, so I decided to give it a shot.
Her method is basically the same as mine, except she doesn’t give rewards, discourages having the television on and breaks down the event into four blocks. If you are toying with the idea of jumping on the potty training wagon, I highly recommend picking up a copy- regardless of your child’s gender. While I don’t agree with everything she says and it didn’t change the way I was going to get the job done, it did have great insights for how to get past various hurdles in the process and provided me some much needed encouragement and confirmation that despite how I may be feeling things are going, that everything happening is completely normal. I kept it handy and found myself referring to it many times during the first week and, yes, I did drink more wine than usual, just as she recommends.
Two weeks after reading the book I took the plunge. Was he “ready?” I don’t know. Was it as quick as my daughter? No. Was it a pleasant, stress-free experience? Not at all, but we stuck it out and within 2 weeks had succeeded. Did I learn more than I ever anticipated in the process? Absolutely!
May I now offer you some words of advice and caution that I wish I’d known prior to potty training my son? I promise you’ll be grateful for these when you begin potty training your little guy.
- If you plan on giving treats as a reward for using the potty, maybe steer clear of chocolate. If not, you may end up hearing the question, “Is that Poop or Chocolate?” on more than one occasion.
- Make sure to invest in a little potty with a splashguard. I did not learn this the hard way, but it does lead me to #3…
- Do not expect the splashguard to work every time. When boys sit on the potty, if they aren’t positioned right or it is a strong flow, pee will leak over the sides, soaking their pants, socks, underwear, and of course, your floors.
- Even if your child is seated in the appropriate position, he may decide to relax and lean back on the potty, which will ultimately result in a fire hose situation. Whatever is in the line of fire will be completely soaked. My son likes to potty in front of his parking garage playset, which has become a water park on more than one occasion.
- Make a firm decision on what you’re going to call your child’s anatomical part and stick with it. Penis, wee wee, it’s up to you, but whatever you do, go with something other than pee pee since that can be easily confused with the act of going pee, which in turn could lead to you telling him to push his “pee pee” down resulting in him actually trying to push the stream of urine down as it’s coming out.
- Understand that your son will now be aware of his genitals. You may find him playing with himself while on the potty, rather than going to the potty. You will constantly be telling him from here on out to stop touching himself and use the toilet. To which he will probably laugh, touch himself again, laugh again and say “Funny”!
- You will find yourself contacting your husband or medical professional friends during the day, asking very intimate questions, such as: Can you go pee while having an erection? And How long will it stay that way?
- Don’t get anxious, stress or hover when he hasn’t gone in what seems like hours. If you lose your #*(%, he’ll literally lose his while you’re back is turned and you may find it, as I did, a few hours later.
- There is a chance you will find out during this process that your son is a 30-minute pooper. If this becomes your plight, be prepared for him to use it as a manipulation tool further down the line. The now 7:30 bedtime will turn into 8, as he decides just as you turn out the light that it’s time for a bowel movement.
- After the potty training is successfully completed, you will continue to wipe up his pee every day, until potentially the day he leaves for college.
All comedy aside, the truth is, potty training a boy is much harder than training a girl. Not because they aren’t developmentally ready, but because it’s messy and gross. It’s way more of a hassle than with a girl because it’s more work for the parent. You’re not only sitting there, making sure he goes pee and poo when he needs to, but you’re also cleaning up after him even when he goes in the potty- and we’re not talking about the quick dump out of the collection unit.
We’re talking the floor, his clothes- potentially you. It’s no easy feat. If you’re willing, as the parent, to start something- a very challenging endeavor and decide not to give up when things get complicated, you’re knee deep in you know what and see it through to the end, you both will be successful, no matter what your child’s age or sex. Wherever you’re at; whether it’s on the fence, about to start, or in the trenches, know you can do it and we’re all cheering you on. I promise, one day, not too far from now, you too will find yourself cracking up about your son’s potty training journey and sharing your new found enlightenment, just as I am today.