14 Truths About Potty Training Boys That No One Will Tell You

potty trainingAs the sole female in my house I have seen a lot of crazy bathroom related things that leave me wondering if perhaps men truly are hopelessly untamed. I say that with love. From skid marks to lessons in wiping, “accidently” flushing a Hot Wheels car to talking to strangers about poop, I have seen it all.

When my oldest son was on the cusp of potty training readiness I got a lot of advice on how to handle the upcoming milestone. None of the advice I heard was helpful. Not one person told me that my kid would make a habit out of grabbing his junk. Nor did anyone tell me that boys seemingly live for peeing outside. So, in the spirit of honesty and unabashed sharing I give you my top 14 truths about potty training boys that no one will tell you!

1) Potty training starts the day your son is born.

It’s true. The day a nurse or midwife hands you your son you will immediately be thrown into potty training. It will start with being peed and pooped on while learning how to finagle a cloth diaper or how to fold a disposable diaper into a neat and trash-ready package.

2) Boys will discover their fun parts MUCH sooner than you think.

Before their first birthdays both of my sons had firmly discovered that their most awesome body part was indeed their peen. Not a day goes by that either of them hasn’t grabbed, shaken, twisted, or pulled on their fun parts at least 100 times.

3) Welcome to poop rodeo.

I am almost certain that an infant boy trying to prevent his mother from changing his freshly filled diaper invented wrestling. The amount of wriggling, squirming, and whining that a child makes during a diaper change is like a demonstration for his right to be naked all the livelong day. In this process to be as free as a bird, your little wonder will get poop everywhere.

4) Peeing outside will be the single most amazing thing in the world to a boy.

The day my husband told our oldest son that he could pee outside was the same day that he realized what freedom is. The kid has peed on nearly every flowering plant in my garden beds. He has claimed more territory on our 3 acres than the family dog has.

5) Peeing on the toilet seat, the floor, and possibly the bathtub will become a sport.

I swear there is a secret point system to this game that no one is telling me. I find pee puddles everywhere in the bathroom and it drives me absolutely bonkers. Sometimes I wonder if the boys in this house are conspiring against me.

6) Putting the seat down will be a life long battle.

My husband is 37 and still hasn’t mastered this feat of engineering: a toilet seat has a hinge on it, which makes it GO DOWN. I utter the phrase “put the seat down” about as often as my constant threat to put someone in timeout for jumping off the couch or trying to tie something to the dog’s tail.

7) Boys LOVE to talk about their poop.

Every single morning I hear at least one comment from my four-year-old about his poop. He wants to tell me everything about it from its size to its color to just how stinky it is. If that isn’t enough, the child wants to ask me questions bout my thoughts on his poop. I get it, already! You made poop! That’s great! Guess what?! I make stuff too! I made YOU! Imagine that.

8) If a boy asks for privacy at the age of 4 it is because he is trying flush toys down the toilet.

There is a rule at my house that unless you are old enough to know why a person would need privacy in a bathroom then you don’t get to have it. Case in point: my kid keeps trying to flush stuff down the toilet. He totally fascinated by the whooshing sound and the fact that things seemingly disappear (like his dinner last Thursday).

9) Asking your son to whiz on Fruit Loops in the toilet only encourages games.

This was possibly the worst advice I got. When I first heard this idea I thought it was brilliant and I ran out and bought a box of brightly colored cereal. I told my son that this was like target practice for learning how to pee into the toilet bowl. The problem? Cereal was now only for peeing on and almost anything that could float and had a bright color was free game for tossing into the toilet.

10) Super hero underwear will be the coolest outfit, so be careful when you ask him to “get dressed” himself.

I have 284 pictures of my kid dressed in skiing goggles, super hero underwear, fuzzy slippers, a bright red cape, and a backpack. Why? Because I once told him to dress himself and since he was super enthusiastic about his new big boy underwear he accessorized the hell out of them until he created his own uniform.

11) Farting will become a full contact sport.

The fastest way to make a boy laugh is to make flatulent sounds. By the time my oldest son had turned three he realized that he could make himself burb, and by extension he could also conjure up a fart in a dire moment of comedy. This hidden talent has morphed into a game of farting on people by running up to someone (me) and tooting followed by squeals of delight.

12) Houseplants that sit on the floor are potential targets for “pretending to pee outside.”

My poor rubber tree plant. The thing died one winter after we discovered that our son had been practicing how to pee in a bush outside. His imagination went wild when he was told that in the spring he could pee anywhere he wanted if he was in the woods.

13) The whole world will know when you son finally poops in the toilet.

It will happen one day when you are grocery shopping that your son will tell the checkout girl that he made a giant poop in the toilet and that it stunk up the joint. And guess what? He flushed it all by himself too! And then later, he will retell this story to the neighbors. If you try to make a phone call he might be excited and ask to tell his story to whomever you are talking to…like the mortgage company.

14) Explaining why Mom doesn’t have a penis is awkward.

Every mother knows that peeing alone is something that will likely never happen in her house once she has kids. If those children are boys the inevitable observation will be made that Mom doesn’t possess a penis. Try explaining that to a two-year-old without incurring more awkward questions. Well, dear, I don’t have a penis because I have a vagina. No, I said vuh-gina. Yup, it’s what girls have. I don’t know, it just is. Because it just is. No, I can’t pee outside. Uh…go ask your father.

Potty training isn’t just about teaching a child to do his business on a toilet without destroying the bathroom…or his pants. It is a learning process about how a body works, social boundaries, humility, humor, and a poor mother’s patience.

Good luck!


Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.