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how to start potty training your toddler

Let him watch and learn

Toddlers learn by imitation, and watching you use the bathroom is a natural first step. He may notice that Daddy uses the potty differently than Mommy does, which creates a great opportunity for you to explain the basic mechanics of how boys use the bathroom.

When talking about body parts, it’s important to be anatomically precise. Teaching him to call his penis a “pee-pee” when every other body part has a name that doesn’t sound as silly may imply that his genitals are embarrassing.

Buy the right equipment

When your child is sitting on the potty, it’s important for him to be able to lean slightly forward with his feet on the ground, especially when he’s having a bowel movement. Most experts advise buying a child-size potty, which your toddler can claim for his own and which will also feel more secure to him than sitting on a full-size toilet. (Many toddlers are afraid of falling into the toilet, and their anxiety can interfere with potty training.)

If you prefer to buy an adapter seat for your regular toilet, make sure it’s comfortable and attaches securely. You’ll also need to give your son a stool because he needs to be able to get on and off the potty easily any time he needs to go and to stabilize himself with his feet.

When buying a potty for your son, look for one without a urine guard (or a removable one). Although they may protect your bathroom from a little stray pee, more often they tend to bump into and scrape a boy’s penis when he sits down on the potty. This could make him to associate going to the bathroom with pain.

Help your child get comfortable with the potty

Let your child get used to the idea of using the potty. Start by letting him know that the potty is his very own. You can personalize it by writing his name on it or letting him decorate it with stickers. Then have him try sitting on it with his clothes on.

After he’s practiced this way for a week or so, suggest that he try it with his pants down. If he seems at all resistant, avoid the temptation to pressure him. That will only set up a power struggle that could derail the entire process.

If your child has a favorite doll or stuffed animal, use it for potty demonstrations. Most children enjoy watching their favorite toy go through the motions, and your child may learn more this way than from you telling him what to do.