Prepare for the big day by using potty language and playing with a favorite stuffed animal to demonstrate what the process will be. If possible, choose an animal with clothes or a doll with pants that pull up and down. You can use the potty chair or the potty seat, whatever you will be starting your son on. Most experts suggest that you start your son sitting down and progress to standing after he gets the hang of it.
Be very specific in your instructions. For example:
Monkey has to go potty now.
Let’s first pull down its pants.
Then help it sit on the potty and read the potty book.
Let’s clap when monkey pee-pees.
Now pull up its pants.
Help flush (or empty) the potty.
Time to wash hands.
Now monkey gets a sticker (or the reward you have chosen, which could be a great big hug).
Have your child repeat the scenario back to you.
How to Dress
No clothes or easily removed clothes make learning easier. If your home is warm enough, on “potty training day”, let him walk around without any bottoms on. Wearing a long t-shirt works well. Expect there will be some accidents but he will also get the feeling of urine running down his legs and making a mess on the floor. Wipe it up together and let him know that he will do better next time.
Have him sit on the potty every hour and drink plenty of fluids. If you (or he) prefer clothing, choose baggy bottoms that are easy to pull up and down. You will need a lot of these, so start with a supply of 10 or so padded underwear. Allow him to take his time getting his underwear in place and resist the urge to do it for him. This is part of the toilet training process and he doesn’t have to be perfect.
Handwashing and Flushing
Flushing or emptying a potty into the big toilet is part of the toileting process. Let him do this, even if it’s a little messy and you could do it faster yourself. Even though many boys’ potty seats have deflector shields, they may not be in the right place to deflect all the urine into the potty. Teach your son how to position himself so the pee goes into the potty.
Using a step stool to reach the faucet, you can teach your son to use soap and rub his hands together to clean them each time he tries to urinate.
Sitting vs. Standing
Sitting is preferred in the beginning because learning may require sitting comfortably for 10-15 minutes at a time. This would be too long for a toddler to stand in one place, waiting for urine to appear. For this reason, daddy may have to sit to demonstrate that he can urinate sitting down, too. It is also easier for little boys to drop their bowel movement in the potty while he is sitting.
After he becomes good at urinating while sitting, and when he asks to stand like daddy or big brother, you can talk him through standing up at his potty chair or at the adult toilet. Make sure to secure the adult toilet seat so it cannot slam down when he uses it.
Rewards and Target Practice
Meaningful rewards are so different from child to child. You will have to decide what your child will value most. It could be something as silly as mommy or daddy doing a “silly potty dance”, receiving a big bear hug, or stickers on a chart. A few Cheerios sprinkled in the toilet bowl make fun target practice when he is practicing where to aim while standing.
Reward completing the different steps, not just urine in the toilet. Rewards can be given for:
Telling parents he needs to go
Sitting on potty
Washing and drying hands
Pulling pants up and down
Urine or stool in the potty can be an additional or special reward. Kids love praise from their parents, so feel free to over-do it!
Potty Training Hero
Going out and buying special underwear can take place as an incentive or as a reward after mastery. Let your son pick the ones he likes best. Make sure daddy and grandparents can admire the new “big boy” pants. There are even cartoon, hero and car themed potty seats that make him feel like he can conquer anything. Know that there will be accidents along the way, but once he can put most of his urine in the toilet, you can celebrate success.