Dumb Mom’s Guide. How to Potty Train Dudes.

I am the proud owner of 3 Dudes who rarely no longer poop, pee, or otherwise soil themselves.  They wear underwear daily without incident and have been for ages.

I take full credit for this (okay, the third one figured out the potty all by himself a couple weeks shy of his second birthday, but still, I count it as a mom win because, after all, I own the bathroom) success.

My youngest is now four and, within the last 3 months, he has even graduated to wiping himself with relative accuracy which means, I am largely obsolete.

These days The Dudes only need me to drive them places and pay when we get there.

But, all of this wisdom can be put to use to help all of you younguns get your Dudes trained up nicely.

When a reader reached out with this email:

I have been trying to push the potty thing for 2 years now with my son now just turned 4. He refuses!!!! He knows where he should go, tells me even when i ask him but still he goes where eve, when ever! I am so frustrated with it! I have tried all the gimmicks and nothing sticks!!! I end up putting the pull ups

on and you are very right in that if he is wearing them he doesn’t even bother to try. He was greatly on track right before his little sister was born then seemed like he back tracked severely. she will be 1 in less than a month and he is still pooping and peeing himself. I am at wits end with how to stop it! I bought lots of underwear with his fav charterers on them but still nothing… he will pee them and play in them like nothing bothers him…. please help!!!!

I knew what I had to do: put together a 10 Step Guide to Potty Training Boys.  You can read it this week over on my My Mom is Awesome blog at Everyday Family.

I realize that, as awesome as I feel about my ability to potty train Dudes like a boss, I don’t know every thing about the process.  So, I went ahead and did what every halfway decent mama blogger would do in this scenario: I asked my friends on Facebook.

15 Best Potty Training Tips You’re Ever Gonna Hear (for Dudes)

1.  Throw Cheerios in the toilet and tell him to sink them. I would also offer a prize for every time he successfully uses the potty, and when he doesn’t, maybe take 1 item away from him and put it in a box with the understanding that he can get it back when he does use the potty. Then maybe if he goes a full week you can treat him to something really special…favorite ice cream, new toy (something small).  –From, Sara

2.  Take a break. It’s not worth the battle. Put him back in diapers, put away the underwear, quit talking about it, wait a couple of months, and then see if you can convince him that it’s HIS idea to use the big boy potty. There was no convincing my son until he saw other boys using the potty. Once he decided he wanted to learn to use the potty, that was that. We’ve only had 2 accidents since we let him guide the process, 2 months ago. –From, Maya at Musing of a Marfan Mom

3.  Bribe him.  Sometimes a little bribe helps, lol. Has she tried potty-training treats? A relative told me that her son was the same way after his little sister was born, he wanted to stay the baby I guess, and how after trying everything else she started keeping M&M’s in a jar on the back shelf above the toilet, every time her boy would go, he’d get an M&M…after washing his hands of course!  –From, Laura

4.  Be patient.  Have potty trained six…;)…patience and when they are ready! For sure, having older siblings helps, as the do by example! Also, having new baby in house plays a role…patience!!!;) I always went with the notion that they will be potty trained when they graduate;).  –From, Beth U.

5.  Let him pee in a can.  Let him trying peeing in a coffee can and sing this old family favorite. Tinkle tinkle little man, tinkle in your little can.  –From, Lisa D.

6. Leave him alone.  I dealt with the same thing. And as frustrating as it is, the best advice I got was to leave him alone and he will do it on his own eventually. At this point it’s no longer potty training (he knows when and how to go) it is now a battle of wills. Trust me, the boy will win, lol. Once I stopped asking and pushing for a few weeks he started showing interest. I know it’s very hard but it will work out. My son was 4 1/2 when he finally started going on his own.  –From, Kristi G.

7. Get Everybody Poops.  One of my boys potty trained himself–we had to fine tune the BM thing and the Everybody Poops book was invaluable. My second son we did the go naked thing and after one horrible day of messes he was potty trained. My daughter (who is autistic and was 4 before she was trained) I told her that she would have to changer her own diapers (at 3) if she wouldn’t use the potty and she did a really good job of that. I helped with “stinky” diapers but otherwise it was her job to clean and change her diaper. When she turned 4 I explained that the diapers didn’t fit anymore and that she now HAD to use the potty. She was potty trained about 2 days later. We never used pull ups on any of them.  –From, Rebecca at Because I’m the Mommy

8.  Cut up his drawers.  If he loves the superhero (or whatever favorite underwear) tell him if he pees or poops in them you’ll cut them off and throw them away, and actually do it. Have him throw them away, then put him back in another cool underwear. Have him clean up everything, scrub the carpet, mop the floor, take away the toy he was playing with, but don’t put him back in pull ups (of course you have go clean in up after better). Usually they poop around the same time everyday. Put him on the potty and don’t let him get up until 10 minutes of trying. Have him go pee every 20-30 minutes (you can make him sit backwards so he doesn’t pee everywhere) make him drink tons of water so he feels successful every time. Give small treats, like 1 cookie from the cookie cereal. Make sure he isn’t wearing shoes and is wearing pants/shorts that are really easy for him to take off. I’m a daycare provider and four is just too old, it’s a power thing now. With this method, my kids are potty trained for the most part, with accidents every once in awhile, within two weeks.  –From, Tiffany F.

9.  Say NO to Pull Ups.  I’ve potty trained 3 boys all by age 3. (flex mom muscles LOL!) But seriously, they are all different. What finally pushed my guys was to get rid of pull-ups during the day. Not an option. Show him where you keep the clean underwear and when he has an accident let him feel the yuck. Pull-ups hide that feeling. Let him be responsible for cleaning himself (supervised of course). This teaches them accountability and they end up shaming themselves for what they have the power to prevent. I also took away big boy activities that “babies” that soil themselves can’t do. Like staying up late, video games, Dr. Pepper in the can! etc. BUT when they got it in the potty Whoa did we celebrate! Chocolate bars, trips to the bouncy zone, even a talking Woody Doll after a week with no daytime accidents! Don’t underestimate how smart your 4 yr old is. My littlest turned 4 in September and like his friends at preschool he can load and play most Wii games, write his name, read small words, and sneak cookies from the pantry with great stealth! Pottying is easy peasy.  –From, Jennifer C. at The Mommy Mambo

10.  Keep it Calm.  Totally frustrating! Although it can be extremely difficult our best advice is to stay calm and relaxed about the situation. And, when he does go on the potty make a HUGE deal about it, every time – positive reinforcement can go a long ways. Here is some more advice from a mom who was going through a somewhat similar situation.  Good Luck!!  -From, Parenting.org

11.  Get naked.  We do the nakey route, and send him to Pop Pop. My stepfather had my 3rd and last son potty trained one summer. He hung out with Pop Pop, went to the potty with Pop Pop was constantly asking and taking him. Best summer ever.  –From, Gina C.

12.  Take him to the doctor.  This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but bear with me. Take him to an ear, nose and throat doctor. Sometimes, if kids have overly large tonsils and/or adenoids, they honestly can’t “feel it” when they have to go. I have no idea why or how it’s connected, but my first-born had the same issue re: potty. Got her tonsils and adenoids out (for a different reason), and she was Boom! fine. The ENT said that he sees it all the time?  –From, Missy

13.  Get a potty whisperer.  If there are not any medical problems then I suggest finding a potty whisperer (aka someone really good at potty training kids with lots of experience).  –From, Jennifer W. at Momma Made it Look Easy

14.  Get some books.  Buy a lot of potty books. One of our faves is Even Firemen Go To The Potty. Just let him decide from there. He’s old enough where your wills are what is clashing and it will just end in tears. Back to diapers. No pull ups. Those things are a waste of too much money.  –From, Rachel K.

15.  Let them decide.  In order to not make it a battle, we put him on in the morning, and put him on before bedtime, but during the day, it was pull-ups. What we did do is talk about things like going to school, or getting signed up for some lesson or another, “but (sigh) you can’t go because you don’t go on the potty yet.” Once they finally make the decision to do it themselves, there’s no stopping them. One of our girls actually potty trained herself because she was in a VBS group with kids a year older, and they all did it. She only had two accidents once she decided to do it herself. So all the fighting in the world does NOT work. It has to be their idea.  –From, Michelle W.

Have a tip to help a mama out?!  Leave it in the comments, yo.


  1. Kelly says

    I have tried bribes, books, videos, waiting, him wanting to go to school and swim lessons, charts, stickers and NOTHING!! He will sometimes pee but never consistently. He will NOT poop on the potty either. It’s a matter of will and I know it but I have a new baby and I can’t do it any longer!

  2. says

    thank you for sites like this, makes first time mom like me feel that I am not alone. I am worried that my son, 2 yrs old, would never learn to go by himself. After reading this, comforted me that I am not alone in this battle. I will try the the tricks and will let you know my success story *optimistic* Thank you, mommies!

  3. Ashley says

    Where you live…can I send you my dude??? He is 3 and despises the potty or even to talk about the potty…he runs screaming in the opposite direction. Treats, stickers, cheerios in the pot don’t work…could careless. My daughter was potty trained before 2…so easy, but this kid…whole ‘nother story. HELP!!

  4. JDT says

    Well I have a girl and will be starting soon but I must say I dont think I will try a pull up-I have not heard one positive thing about them!

    PS- That is such a good pic! He will hate you for that later!!

  5. says

    It took forever at my house for me to back off and for JDaniel to decide he wanted to stop soiling briefs. He was dry and clean at night when he didn’t have me to battle with. for months before the day time hours stayed clean. Finally he decided it needed to be done in the potty and he did it.

  6. says

    I am so glad we are past this phase! Both of mine were stubborn about it- both of them ended up being potty trained by their preschool teachers because they wouldn’t listen to me. Now THAT is my tax dollars at work!!

  7. says

    Thank you fr this resource…where was it when I first started? I’m still struggling with my now 3 year old: no accidents outside but the house seems to be a “pee” for all! I will definitely try some of these tips!

  8. Jessica says

    Wow!!! This is a great list!!! I only have one child and he’s a son. Boys are kooky when it comes to the potty especially the poop!!! The best wisdom I ever got was from a preschool teacher (I find that preschool teachers and daycare providers know more about potty training that ANYONE) anyway, she told me “Mrs. Reader, Boys hang on to their poop likes it’s a vital organ. They are worried that if they let it go, they might die. So, treat him with care and kindness at poopy time. Give him space and a little encouragement. Let him say goodbye to his poop in his own way whether it take 5 minutes or an hour…..Also, it doesn’t hurt if you teach them really manly poop expressions like ‘pinch a loaf’ or ‘drop a deuce’, Boys love that crap!” Thank you Miss Lucia for your infinite wisdom. I never understood what she meant by “Let him say good-bye to his poop”… My husband thinks it means that I needed to allow Jack to develop his own special poop ritual cuz EVERY man has one!!

  9. Jennifer says

    This is great education right here! I’m almost to tears seeing my thoughts on your awesome blog again. Thanks. I’ve lost myself. I’m lost, wondering aimlessly without my blog, yet I can’t seem to get back to it? HELP?

  10. Lisa Nolan says

    Seriously funny! Love the list! Every new mom should have one!

    Potty training at our house is like old furniture, you wish you could replace it, some day.

    I think if my son had a big brother, that alone would have done the trick! “Potty training? What potty training?”

    OK, truth be told, because my son has Down syndrome, it has been a long, long, long road. We WILL get to the end of that road, SOME day.


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