Dear Father Hood: toilet training – why does my son give himself erections and pee everywhere?

It has now been nine days since my son began his toilet training adventure. In this week and a bit, there have been highs (magnificently communicated and then implemented poo at the local airport), there have been lows (the state of cubicle my son had to attempt to do his business in at the Hollywood Bowl, East Finchley) and there have been a number of screams from mummy over the following two things.

First, my son keeps giving himself erections. Second, my son’s pee keeps going everywhere. And I mean everywhere (see above pie chart).

Obviously, my reaction was to laugh off her first concern on the basis that “he doesn’t really know what he’s doing”, and chortle off her second worry on the basis that “I’m a 37-year-old man and I still miss the bowl on a semi-regular basis”.

So that was that. End of pee chat. Nothing more to say. Article finished. Until next time…

…and I’m only joking. My wife is smart and persistent, and thus she fairly swiftly worked me into a position where my only option was to cease laughing and start investigating. Thus I donned my virtual Noddy hat and opened the case of the ‘Toddler erections and poor pee dispersal’.

And guess what I found out? Actually, don’t guess. Discover all right here, right now.

In terms of the erections…

  1. It’s totally normal for a toddler to get an erection – as American medic Dr Larson reveals in this illuminating thread, “male babies get an average of five erections per day” and they “begin getting them in the womb”. Yes, that does say “in the womb”. Wowsers.
  2. There’s no reason to panic about your toddler playing with his penis – as research scientist Anita Sethi told Parenting magazine. “This is a perfectly normal behaviour” that your kid will “outgrow sooner or later”.
  3. But there is one possible cause for concern – as Paediatrician Allana Levine writes here, “If the erection lasts for more than an hour, there is redness or swelling, or your son seems uncomfortable, take him to the doctor.”

And in terms of the poor pee dispersal…

  1. Missing the bowl is a very common problem, especially when your kid is attempting to learn how to pee standing up.
  2. Everyone from the NCT to Toddler Logic reckons that dropping small pieces of cereal into the toilet and encouraging your son to aim at them is a great way of improving his urine guidance system.
  3. Toddler Logic has a bunch of other ace aim-sharpening ideas, including: making a toilet paper boat for your son to sink and challenging him to make bubbles.
  4. According to Being the Parent, a live demonstration from “daddy” or “big brother” is the best way of helping a child to understand the peeing process (note: if daddy and big brother don’t fancy this, or aren’t around, there are extremely helpful animated clips online).
  5. Bad news, it’s not going get better overnight – according to Being the Parent, getting your little one to pee straight is far from easy peesy (see what I did there?). In fact, it takes months for a toilet training toddler to master the skill of urinating, so no matter how many full bathroom cleans you need to do, keep encouraging and keep smiling.


Taken all that in and feel a bit better about life, toilet training, pee spray and erections? Fantastic, because my son’s just told me that he’s got to go, which means I have to too.

Until next time…





  1. You’ve chosen the right time to start potty training in the summer so the pee can water the grass! Being the proud owner of 3 girls we have never had the problem of ‘Erectile Pee Dispersal’ but good luck with it all 🙂

    • Thanks. Yes, the heatwave has really helped – after all, if he’s in the garden, he’s not peeing on the sofa or carpet! Glad you like the pie chart :-). I always think charts and graphs are a good way of adding a bit if colour to the story.

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