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Toilet training boys August 25, 2009

Posted by Andreas in Life, Parenting.

I wrote this for Parent24.com a while ago:

Toilet training boys

Dads should be responsible for teaching their sons toilet etiquette. I say this as the father of two boys who has unwittingly sat down on a toilet seat sprinkled with little boy wee far, far too often. So believe me, I understand the magnitude of the challenge.

If you’re unconvinced, let me paint you a picture that might change your mind. Remember the last time you went to a night-club or pub bathroom. As the evening progresses, levels of inebriation skyrocket and toilet bowl marksmanship takes a precipitous dive. The place turns into an apocalyptic nightmare from hell where just to get to the sink you have to wade through putrid puddles of what you hope is mostly water.

The culprits are men whose fathers neglected to teach their sons how to pee straight.

Mothers, quite frankly, just aren’t equipped to do the job – what do they know about the mechanics of urinating out of an external appendage? Besides, women clean up behind men enough. This is one area where fathers can bring their unique expertise as men to their parenting commitment. Single moms, I suggest you rope in a sympathetic male friend or relative.

I think my 8 year old son Benjamin is fairly representative of the pre-teen crowd. Since he is forever busy with incredibly important activities he always leaves matters until the very last possible moment, then rushes into the bathroom and generally does a shoddy job of relieving himself because he’s already halfway out the door to get back to his incredibly important activity. Fathering advice for little characters like him would simply include getting them to develop a rudimentary sense of forward planning and slowing down to do things properly.

Beyond that the problems males have with peeing tend to be a combination of personal attitude and applied physics which can be summarised as follows:

● No man or boy ever has as good an aim as he thinks he does.

● Accidents happen.

● Even the most dead-eye practitioner has absolutely no control over random toilet bowl ricochet and splash back.

So what is a concerned father to do? Here are three basic practices to inculcate in you sons:

1. Sit down to pee.

2. If you do have to stand, in the name of all that’s hygienic, lift the seat.

3. Clean up your mess.

While propositions 2 and 3 should be self-evident and uncontroversial, I should perhaps unpack number 1 a little bit. Take a close look at the toilet in your bathroom. Even a bloke with half a brain will realise after a few moments that it was designed to be sat on. Obviously I’m not talking about urinals here. Personally I think the individual variety is just about acceptable, but the perpetually smelly, multi-user, gravity-driven types should be banned outright.

I got Benjamin’s 10 year old brother Josef to wee sitting down from when he was very small and it worked perfectly. Frankly, he didn’t know any other way. Until his uncle showed him how to do the business standing up, that is. Thank you very much, buddy!

Yes, of course there are situations when standing up is more practical than sitting. When you’re in the forest, say, or on top of a deserted mountain, but while we’re in civilisation, can’t we just all agree to take a seat, please!? Women around the world already do it with great success and fathers could do worse than teach their sons to follow their lead.

So if you’re a dad looking to make a practical contribution to your son’s development, why not pay a little attention to his bathroom habits and help him get to grips with some of the bits he might be struggling with? You might think it’s a thankless, behind the-scenes job, but if all of us fathers play our role, the world’s bathrooms, both private and public, will be better places.



1. 30gig - October 27, 2009

well said! when I was in Africa, these orphanages were run by all women, and these boys were spraying all over the place, so I did what I could in the short time I was there. I’ve worked in some childcare programs where these boys would walk out of the toilet stall, and when u look in, the seat’s down and covered in urine. ick!!! Yet nothing can be done because many of these single mothers have had experiences with some really sick men, and won’t even change their infant’s diapers in front of any man. what can u do?

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