Face it. Sometimes it's just easier for Dad to show his son exactly what to do. Oftentimes Mom is on potty duty, or in the case of single moms like me, there is not a male role model in the home 24/7. "On average, boys take longer to potty train, largely because Mom is usually in charge of the process," says Singer, mother of two boys. "And try as we might, we can't model peeing while standing all that well." As a single mom I feel like there's no harm in letting my son watch me, since he tends to mimic me in other everyday situations (brushing hair and teeth and slipping on socks). However, I know it's cool for him to have a guy around (like my two awesome brothers). Singer agrees: "It's best to have Dad, a grandfather, uncle, or older brother show your son how it's done."
Your son, like my 2-1/2-year-old, might be showing signs that he's ready to potty train, alerting you with a full diaper. Now what? Does he sit, or stand and aim? Relax -- whether he sits or stands -- the goal is that he goes. Singer recommends introducing both options. "Boys should start out with whatever they are most comfortable doing. If he starts out sitting, he can always switch to standing when he's more adept at using the toilet."
OK, progress -- your little boy has taken a liking to standing on a stool and making the magic happen! One big problem: He shoots, he aims, he doesn't score, and you're constantly cleaning up his mishaps. Turning a task into a game is an alluring way to amp up potty practices! This is the fun part, says Singer: "Cereal, such as bright Froot Loops, or Tinkle Targets are engaging ways to teach your son how to aim while peeing standing up."
"Warm weather is a good time to try out 'naked time,'" Singer says. Here's why: When toddlers are nude, they become more in tune of their need to go. This is because they can't just unload in a diaper and keep doing that puzzle. Warning: Be sure to remind your little one to go on the potty every 20 minutes or so (so you don't find yourself calling a carpet cleaning service). Singer also cautions, "If there's an accident, don't punish your child because that can backfire. Just clean it up and try again."
Gifts are a go! Just decide what motivates your child to use the potty, Singer says. "We were big fans of stickers in our house. I put them on my boys' shirts so they could show them off like little decorated generals when Daddy came home." Other suggestions include candies (one M&M for every pee-pee in the potty), an extra story at bedtime, inexpensive toys (think a dollar store), a new coloring book, or a special made-up potty dance.
Enter the snack police. "Limit milk and juice at least an hour before bedtime to help your child stay dry at night," Singer says. Translation: Push snacktime back or serve a later dinner. Singer also cautions that "nighttime training often comes later than daytime training. You might want to focus on one at a time as to not overwhelm your son."
You're a busy mom and always on the go grocery shopping, running the family pet to the vet, or indulging in an afternoon at the park with your son. But, uh-oh, he has to pee. What's a mom to do when there's no bathroom in sight? Even though you have a little guy, don't rely on a corner or tree. "Your son needs consistency, so when you're on the go pack familiar potty training supplies, such as a child-size adapter seat for public restrooms or even a spare potty he can use in the car," Singer says. She also recommends having a favorite book on hand to put your son at ease. If you give reward stickers at home, keep a few in your purse for triumphs outside of the home, too.
You've officially begun potty training but you're not exactly sure what that means when it comes to ditching diapers and slipping into some big-boy underpants. Singer says timing is everything. "When your toddler can stay dry for a good three hours, you might want to institute 'underwear time.' It's part reward, part training technique. Let your child pick out cool big-kid underpants to wear at this time, and then increase the time as you have success. But, do expect setbacks now and then. Just clean it up and remind your child that pee and poop go in the potty." It's also smart to note that undies and training pants fit the same way -- the act of pulling them up and down will help with consistency.
Christine Coppa is the author of Rattled! (Broadway Books, 2009)
Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.