Potty Training Boys: The Battle of Yellow River

Young boy holding lollipopIn the history of human conflict, a few great battles will endure for all time. Custer’s last stand. The Battle of Britain. Midway. Potty training. If there is a challenge guaranteed to bring on gray hair and a nervous tick, the move from diapers to big-boy pants is it. Some people will tell you it’s a breeze and not to let it worry you, but most parents know it is the rare child that gets this without help and a large dose of patience. So what can we do to help the little guy’s transition to the wonderful world of flushing?

The first thing is vigilance. Potty training isn’t always going to work according to our schedule; it is best set to the child’s. Look for the signs of awareness in your little man: does he know when he is wetting? Does he hide when he is filling his pants? These are signals that he is beginning to understand the workings of his body. Confirm with him that he knows what is happening and celebrate it! “Woohoo, we did a (insert cute euphemism here)!” It may surprise you when he moves from saying “I did …” to “I’m doing ..” to even “I need to…”

From there it is a matter of persistence. Expect accidents and roll with them; we too once left puddles on the floor. One way to avoid this with boys is checking regularly on the state of their bladder. Even when he is aware of how his body feels when it needs to go, a little boy will generally suffer from the same malaise as males of every age: a singular focus. We men get busy with one thing and everything else in the world fades from sight; two year olds are exactly the same. They are so intent on the plastic dinosaurs waging war in front of them that they will not notice the warnings from their body until it gets warm and damp underneath them. As a parent, you need to check regularly if they need a potty break. The answer, of course, will be ‘No’ because no-one wants to put down the dinosaurs at such a pivotal moment in prehistoric relations. However, insistence is the key. I often told my son how sneaky a ‘pee’ could be, and that we should check if there wasn’t one hiding in there. Of course, everyone concerned is very proud when we trick one of these out of hiding and into the potty. Seeing your positive response to even a reluctant potty break usually brings about a smile.

Once the expectation is clear, help them aim high. Rewards can be very useful but are a two-edged sword. They need to be desirable, but if you start big, you can’t downsize without diminishing the incentive. A sticker chart is a useful device here. Start with only a few spaces to fill, and a visible reward. We sat a new toy car on top of the refrigerator and it oversaw the addition of the stickers with each success, waiting until the chart was full and it was “allowed to come down and play.” Once a chart is filled, find a new reward and make a new chart, with a few more spaces than the last one. Once the process of using the potty becomes routine, switch to charting dry days instead.

Whatever the process adopted, consistency is a must, as well as a sense of humor and a huge well of patience. It will happen eventually. Some day this little guy will be at college or running for office or piloting a 747. He will get this well before then, so don’t sweat it too much.


What do you think?

Potty Training Boys: The Battle of Yellow River

Tell us what you think!


  1. carrie says:

    My 3yrs old knows to go, we’re to go. But will go sometime but not always. Drives me crazy.

  2. Ariel says:

    I am potty training my almost 3 year old son. He does really good going pee on the potty. Poop is another thing. I waited until he was ready and didn’t push him. he some times will poop on the potty and other times just poop his underwear. what are some things you have done to prevent pooping in underwear.

  3. sandra says:

    i will like to get help with my 6yr. old son. his a big brother now and in august he is starting 1st grade. but he still have problems with going to the bathroom at night time cuz he still wetts the bed what can i do to prevent those accidents at night????

  4. raffaela says:

    my son is 4 yrs old and In September he will be in kindergarten, he knows what to do, but now that im pregnant of 28 weeks it seems harder to train him. Sometimes he doesn’t want to sit and just do potty he wants to sit and then clean his buttocks, but he never fenishes keep going back and forth. What should I do to improve his potty training???

  5. Hipmom808 says:

    My son is 23 months old and we just started potty training. He suddenly just started telling me “I poop” and I would rush him to the potty and he would go..Is this normal? Its like he’s doing it all on his own, Im just not sure how to teach him how to pee now.

  6. Angelwings says:

    13.5 months and he points to the changing room and says diadia. And he stands up when he needs to poop even when he’s asleep he’ll wake and stand up to poop. I think its time to try a potty for him

  7. im hoping to start my son at one key work hope lol

  8. Jenessa says:

    my son is two and enjoys sitting on the potty to the point that he will strip down every ten minutes just to sit on the potty but he wont go unless i tell him to try.

    • tonya says:

      my son will do the same he uses it as a escape every ten mins comes runnin bak with no clothes on i jus let him keep doin it it has worked so far no wet bed in the mornin he wakes up at nite and goes by his self he jus turned 3 and i started the trainin a couple months ago.. love the no diaper stage

  9. Timothy says:

    My boys were both potty trained around 1 year old.. they just loved peeing on the tractor tires.. the only problem was they thought it was a good thing to also pee on car tires downtown….lol

  10. Mouse says:

    We have been in the process for about 2 months now. He is doing quite well – I’d say he gets it about 80% of the time =) The only reward we are using is high energy praise for making it even a little bit in the potty. At home, he is a naked jaybird and while I realize most are not comfortable with this approach it does work really well and there is less time involved in the taking pants on and off so less time is taken away from play. I think we will move into wearing underwear all the time just before Thanksgiving. When out and about, unless I am unsure of the availability of bathroom facilities, he is diaper free and does quite well. Today was one of those great perfect days =)

  11. Lindsay says:

    I’m so glad I have a girl!

  12. Jen says:

    I used sticker charts with my son. For the most part, things went pretty good. (Quick too) He hated pull-ups so we went right to underwear. I let him pick his own at the store. He was excited to wear them. He was in underwear by 18 months. He’s now 25 months & only had 2 over night accidents. He tells me “mommy, no potty fails” as he runs to the bathroom!! 🙂

  13. Miko says:

    Love the info. Training my Grandson to Baaaboo as he calls it and the Yellow River has made me switch to Black Rugs. lmbo

  14. MadisonCruz says:

    going to be a bigstep glad to have the info

  15. great information. thank you! 🙂

  16. Alexandria says:

    I have been trying and trying to potty train my 3 year old. he will go to the bathroom and do his “thing” in his diaper, and he even tells me when he has to go, but the min I put him in training pants, or try to sit him on the potty he wont go. He will hold it untill he busts which isn’t healthy. I’m at my wits end half the time! and it seems like he has reverted since his little brother was born. is that normal?????

  17. Ashley says:

    I am gonna try this! I am trying to potty train my 2 year old! no luck yet but he tries too.

  18. EbyMom says:

    I have already started potty training my lil guy. it is going on well. we are still at it and hopefully we will get there. never quit no matter what you are experiencing during your toddler’s potty training. keep going eventually you will get there.

  19. tammy says:

    I need to try this!

  20. rozana says:

    I must try this..

  21. rosalie says:

    i tried to do the chart but i quit now that daughter quit also. i think i wasnt consistent in potty training of my daughter sometimes its hard coz i have my 7months son now that is crawling already

  22. Sami says:

    I like the chart idea, I think I’m going to use it! 🙂

  23. Lyndsi Greim says:

    Great ideas on the charting approach!


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