Tips for potty training a reluctant boy

When you announce you're pregnant people are quick to tell you that you will never sleep again, that you will stay up many nights worrying and that it will all go by the blink of an eye. 

People are quick to tell you the hard things, but no one warns of what is quite possibly the most difficult thing you will tackle within the first three years of parenting... potty training. 

It has taken us a year, yes, a solid year, but I am happy to announce that my 3 1/2 year-old son is finally potty trained... mostly. 

I thought I would share some tips to potty training a reluctant boy. 

1. I learned the signs of when your child is actually ready. 

There is a very sensitive window of time when a child shows interest in the potty and when he is actually ready. My son showed signs pretty early on, but it took him a while to actually want to sit on the potty. 

Some signs to look for:

dry diapers for long periods of time

has predictible times for bowel movements

is starting to dress himself (can pull his own pants up and down) 

hates wearing a dirty diaper

can follow basic directions

2. I got a small potty and keep it in your bathroom. I know there are several schools of though on this. Some people think that not teaching your children to go on the big toilet right away will hamper them. 

For our family that was not the case. 

I put a small potty seat that I got on Amazon in our bathroom and whenever I used the restroom I brought my child in with me. This helped develop a regular routine. 

3. Use lots of praise!  At first I made the mistake of using Skittles. I gave him a skittle each time he used potty. But then it became a situation where he would sit on the potty just for skittles. 

No child needs that much sugar. Period. Also, I don't want to use food as a reward. 

So I had to nip that and instead I just started using verbal praise.

Each time he did his business in the potty I would clap my hands and tell him what a big boy he was. I called grand parents and let them tell them himself. 

4. I moved at his pace.  have read countless books, blog posts and magazine articles about how to potty train in a week, a weekend, five minutes... None of them worked for us. No amount of timers, books, songs about going to the potty worked. 

You cannot teach a child to do ANYTHING on someone else's schedule. I have always been a fan of slow and steady. No child hops on a bicycle and then goes on to with the Tour de France. Why would the toilet be any different? 

5. I took his diapers away... sort of. I know this is going to be controversial but there came a point when I just took the diapers away. I knew they were a crutch for him, I knew he understood that he needed to sit on the potty and I knew he knew when he had to go. 

I set an end date for diapers, wrote it on the calendar and reminded him daily. 

One morning he woke up and I told him that we were not going to wear diapers anymore. I showed him all of his awesome underwear with Cookie Monster and Spiderman on them and told him that he could have his diapers for sleeping time and car rides. 

He was okay with that. There was no drama, no throw down, no fit. 

We had accidents. There were lots of wet underwear. But by day three he got the hang of it. 

6. I took the potty to the great outdoors. The need to pee will hit a kid at the very worst moment,  like when you're outside playing. So I carted our toilet around the yard. It was there and when he needed it he was able to use it. 

7. I was consistent. We set a timer and every 45 minutes I sat him on the potty. Usually something happened. Sometimes it didn't, it was a matter of keeping on track. Children get caught up in play and they forget to listen to their bodies.

8. I didn't expect perfection. Accidents happen. Accept this up front. Don't get mad, don't get frustrated. Just understand that it's going to happen. 

We still have our setbacks. My sweet boy still wears a diaper when sleeping and our doctor said this is normal. Until a child is physiologically ready to wake up at night to use the restroom there is no need to stress over this detail. 

What tips do you have for potty training a reluctant boy?