Boys typically gain control of their bladders as toddlers and usually have daytime peeing down by age 4. However, they often need help with aiming.
Boys tend to respond well to target practice, such as a few Cheerios in the toilet bowl or a special sticker that turns colors when they hit it with their urine stream.
1. Age 4
Children develop at different rates, and you need to decide when your child is ready to begin toilet training. It’s important to avoid putting too much pressure on your child or forcing them into training before they are ready. If you are unsure if your son is ready, seek the advice of a healthcare professional.
If your son is able to reach the toilet standing up without a step stool, it may be time to start teaching him to aim when peeing. Boys often learn to do this through imitating their friends at school. If your son has a male relative who can help him with this, it will make the process easier for both of you.
Aiming while peeing can take a lot of practice, and you will need to be patient with your child. Many parents use a small piece of Cheerios or other cereal to encourage their children to aim more accurately. This can work well, especially for uncircumcised boys who might struggle with directing their stream.
When aiming, your son should be encouraged to praise himself. It’s also helpful for him to know that he will be rewarded when he successfully makes it into the toilet. This will encourage him to try even harder to aim.
If your son misses the toilet, you should not scold him. Getting angry will only make him more likely to miss the potty in the future and discourage him from ever trying to aim again. If your son is missing the toilet for other reasons, try to find out the root cause. For example, if your son is going to the toilet to poop and is only urinating, it could be an indication that he is not feeling well or that he is stressed out.
2. Age 5
Most toddlers are ready to start potty training around the age of 18 months to 3 years. This is a very exciting time, but it can also be challenging. Children have to learn to sit while they pee, and they have to learn how to aim. Many boys need to watch their dad or another male family member do this and imitate it. Others may need a male friend or a teacher to help them. Moms who don’t have a male family member available might try using floating targets like Cheerios in the toilet or even Tinkle Time Targets. Some moms have found that it is helpful to let their child stand on a stool while they lean over the toilet to make aiming easier.
Many parents have to be patient and wait until their child is ready to learn how to use the toilet standing up. Boys can learn to sit and urinate while they are still sitting down, but it is generally easier for them to learn how to stand and pee when they are already successful at using the toilet while sitting down. They can then transition to the small urinal usually provided in public restrooms.
Accidents are very common when boys first begin to stand and pee, but they should be encouraged to practice, even if they make mistakes. Accidents can be caused by a physical problem such as voiding dysfunction (the ability to store and empty the bladder properly), constipation, or urinary tract infection, or they might be psychologically triggered by stress or being so engrossed in an activity that they don’t realize they need to go.
3. Age 6
When boys want to start peeing while standing up, they need to learn to aim first. Boys who are not ready to stand can squirt urine all over themselves and anything nearby. This can be frustrating for both the child and his parents! In order to help your child aim, try putting a box of cereal in the toilet or even some special aiming targets you can buy. It can also help to have your child use a toddler-sized urinal. This will shorten the distance he needs to reach and make it easier for him to get his aim right.
Children ready to start standing while peeing can usually do so after about 27 months of age. They should have control over their bladder and bowel movements, be able to tell when they need to go potty, and be able to walk well enough to get to the toilet. It’s important for them to be able to pull up and down their pants on their own, too.
You may also want to encourage your son to practice using the toilet while they are sitting down. This will help them feel more confident and comfortable standing up to pee in the future, making you less frustrated when they have accidents. You can encourage this by having them sit down to eat, taking them to the potty after meals and snacks, and keeping books or toys in the bathroom for them to look at.
If your son is having trouble aiming when peeing, it could be because they are still trying to train their bladder to poo while they are peeing, or it might mean they are dealing with constipation. If this is the case, talk to your pediatrician about how to address it.
4. Age 7
As parents, it can be frustrating to see your child urinate on the floor, especially when they’re trying to master toilet training. However, it’s important to remain calm and remember that it’s not their fault. Boys often show readiness for potty training a little later than girls, and they also need to learn how to pee standing up as well as sitting down. Having a male figure (like their father, brother, or uncle) around to show them what to do can help speed up the process.
Boys typically like to mimic their fathers and other male family members, so having one available to help them is a good idea. If you have to train your son without a male figure, try floating targets in the toilet for them to aim at. This can be helpful in encouraging them to use the correct position for peeing and can improve their accuracy. Floating targets can also help reduce accidents as children will be less likely to forget to wipe their private parts completely.
While it’s tempting to teach boys to stand and pee right away, experts recommend getting them successfully toilet trained while sitting down first. It makes sense because passing bowel movements and urine happen at the same time, and it’s easier for them to follow their bodies when they’re sitting down.
If you’re still having trouble getting your boy to sit down, try making it part of his daily routine. Try to take him to the bathroom first thing in the morning, after each meal, before naps and bedtimes, and when they need to go. Keep a potty chair in every bathroom, and ensure your son knows that attending the potty is an essential life skill.
5. Age 8
Boys may learn to aim when peeing at any age, but it is easiest for them to do so after they have been fully toilet-trained and have developed enough motor skills and coordination. They can start to practice by standing on a urinal or using a regular toilet with the seat raised. To help them with their aiming, encourage them to hold the “far end” of their penis down toward the bowl of the toilet and to focus on hitting the toilet. Some uncircumcised boys find this technique difficult, especially if they haven’t been aiming for a while.
Some children may still have accidents even after learning to aim when peeing, which is normal. It takes time to learn, and it is important not to get discouraged by occasional failures. Keeping the potty chair in a convenient place for your son, making it part of his daily routine (including using it before and after meals, naps, and before bed), and encouraging him to tell you when he needs to go are important steps in getting him to aim.
It’s also helpful to teach boys how to lift the toilet seat and straddle it when peeing so that they can reach all the water on the toilet without spraying anything else. You can also have them put Cheerios in the toilet to practice their aiming.
Sometimes, a child’s wetting accidents are not related to their level of skill in aiming when peeing and might instead be due to a medical problem like a urinary tract infection, voiding dysfunction (the child isn’t storing or emptying urine appropriately), constipation, or stress. In these cases, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor or a child health nurse for advice.