How do you potty-train a 3-year-old boy?

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2009-06-06 11:58:30

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Your boy knows how to control his body functions by now; it's a case of showing him what to do.

Step 1: Go buy "big boy" underwear. His favorite cartoon character underwear is a powerful incentive for him not to mess them up. Briefs "just like daddy's" is also a powerful incentive since he knows by now that he is a boy.

Step 2: Make Daddy show him how to control the apparatus. Give him a potty-training chair... and make him use it. There is no excuse at this stage for him to be afraid of the bathroom, so he needs a chair his own size to practice in. It is a good idea to buy a "booster" chair to fit the regular toilet... and a step stool to get on a bit later.

Step 3: Make a big production about "No more baby, you're a big boy now so you get big boy britches" ...and throw away the diapers in front of him. This will get the message across that he has passed the stage where he can be a baby in diapers. In a couple of days, he will have forgotten all about the diapers and "training pants" and will be running to the toilet quickly so he won't mess up his "big boy" underwear.

A couple of points. When he is so absorbed in something that he plain forgets... make him wear the dirty clothes for at least an hour. Your child has been comfortable in diapers and "training pants" for so long that he does not feel the need to potty on the chair or the toilet... because he just gets his diaper changed. To have to wear nasty briefs -- cold, wet, and chafing -- for a "forever" time will quickly change the behavior. Be strong: You shouldn't have to deal with it but a couple of times before the problem disappears. Make sure he cannot sit anywhere but on the floor... no getting into chairs or other furniture. You are teaching him that "forgetting," because he didn't want to stop the other activity, has consequences. As a "big boy" he has to keep himself reasonably clean... which means that he will be wet and/or stinky for a while.

It is best to have a backup set of overnight diapers for a couple of months for the overnight hours, but it will only be temporary. Your child will learn to control himself in no time if you are consistent. In fact, you might want to keep "baby" diapers around for day use as a threat. "You are still a little baby, so I'm going to have to take away the big-boy pants and put you in diapers again." This one hurts his pride, because he thinks he's a big boy.

For aiming practice... and a fun game... throw a handful of Cheerios in the toilet and play "Sink the Cheerios." Works every time. When your son gets the idea that it is more comfortable to potty-train, he will take pride in the fancy new pants. Sometimes to the point of pulling his outer pants off to show off his new briefs. Tolerate it... it will pass.

Take it from a mom who knows... It won't take long at that age. So be firm, take advantage of the child's pride, and let him be uncomfortable for a bit. This combination has been used by potty-trainers for 100 years... and it works!

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Q: How do you potty-train a 3-year-old boy?
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