The Best Way to Potty Train a Three-Year-Old Boy

The average age at which boys potty train is 31 months, according to the University of Michigan 1. Don't worry if your little one hits 3 and still isn't there, though, because all kids progress at a different pace. The best way to successfully toilet train your son is to stay consistent with your technique, no matter which one you choose.

Signs of Readiness

No matter how old your son is, watching for signs of potty training readiness can make the process shorter and less frustrating 3. At 3 years of age, your son is likely ready to make the transition out of diapers. If he shows an interest in "big boy" underwear or wants to know what you're doing in the bathroom, he is probably ready to give it a try himself. If your son can follow directions, feels the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement, can pull his own pants up and down, and can keep his diaper dry for at least two hours, it is probably time to potty train him.


You might have to set aside your dignity for a short time and let your son come into the bathroom and watch how it's done. This works especially well if he can observe his father going to the bathroom. Let him see how Dad uses the toilet, and explain that he's a big boy now and can use the bathroom the same way himself. Show him how to stand, sit, use toilet paper, flush and wash his hands so he can do each step on his own as he gets more comfortable in the bathroom.

What to Do

Potty training can be frustrating for parents, but it isn't always easy for children either. However, the best way to approach it is with a positive attitude. Set a simple schedule to get the ball rolling. Set a timer for one hour and head to the bathroom each time it goes off. Give names to what happens in the bathroom in ways your 3-year-old can understand. "Pee," "poop" and "potty" are straightforward words he can say and comprehend.


Offer encouragement with words and small rewards to motivate your son to potty train. For example, give him a sticker each time he goes on the potty. After he receives ten stickers, let him pick out a small toy. Show excitement and pride each time he gets it right, and before long he'll be on his way to the bathroom when the urge to go hits.

What Not to Do

Accidents are inevitable when you're potty training a 3-year-old boy. Chances are, he didn't do it on purpose and doesn't enjoy cleaning up either. Avoid making your son feel bad or shameful because it may lead to withholding urine or feces, which can result in problems that include bladder infections or constipation. Spanking, yelling and punishments only serve to slow down the potty training process and make you both feel bad.

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