Differences Between Potty Training Boys and Girls

toddler boy and girl sitting on potty
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When it comes to potty training, there's a gender divide between boys and girls. While some of the fundamentals remain the same, there are generally some big differences between potty training boys versus girls. As you learn the secrets of potty training, understand those differences to help your child become a potty training pro with less stress and frustration for you both.

When to Start Potty Training Based on Gender

When you begin potty training depends on the individual child. But there are many factors to consider when it comes to when you actually begin toilet training.

Girls: Girls tend to show interest in toilet training earlier than boys. Some girls can be ready to start potty training as early as 18 months old, or they may not be completely ready to potty train until they're four.

Boys: Boys tend to take their time when it comes to being ready for potty training. They're typically a few months behind girls in showing interest, and many aren't ready until they're two years old at the earliest.

It's important to remember that each child is different. Your older son may be a potty superstar, beginning toilet training at 18 months. Your daughter may not be ready to start until she's two and your younger son may not respond to all this potty talk until he's three.

Look for the signs of potty training readiness to save you and your child from setbacks that cost you months of time.

How to Adjust Your Potty Training Technique

You may have potty trained five girls successfully. And then here comes a baby boy to challenge all of your tried-and-true techniques.

Girls: Little girls need to be taught to wipe toward their bottom. They're usually more patient during potty training. They're also happy to sit on their potty to talk with you a while because they want to be a big girl so badly.

Boys: Boys will plop down on the potty for a few seconds, then hop right up declaring today's lesson is over. For many boys, they could care less about learning how to go to the bathroom when they can go right in their pants. And we don't focus so much on which way to wipe with boys, but we do have to teach them to point the penis down when going potty. If you've ever been sprayed as a little boy goes pee pee, you'll know why this is important.

How to Choose a Potty

Whether you've potty trained multiple children or this is your first, you'll find the potty you need to get started can be a bit different from girls to boys.

Girls: You can pretty much buy any potty seat on the market and know that it will do its job for your daughter. That's true regardless if you're purchasing a standalone potty that sits on your floor or a potty seat you place on top of your toilet's regular seat.

Boys: For boys, shopping for the right potty seat is a bit trickier. Potty time can quickly become a huge mess if you don't search for a potty with a splash guard. This guard prevents your floor or you from getting soaked when it's time to go pee or poo. Since both can come out at the same time, it doesn't matter if you're teaching your son to sit while urinating or stand when it comes to number 2 time, he'll still be sitting and a splash guard is a must.

How to Stock Up on the Right Potty Time Supplies

While you'll find many of the basic potty time supplies required to get started overlap between genders, some of the necessities are different from girls to boys.

Girls: Some girls enjoy having one of their dollies or a special doll that pees join them on this potty training journey. Potty training books and DVDs target both genders or you can find gender-specific items like Princess Potty Time and Big Girls Use the Potty.

Boys: Boys can look at a doll as just that, a doll. It doesn't matter if it's a doll designed to teach kids how to potty or a doll that wets. While they also respond to books and DVDs aimed at both genders, boys especially love items geared toward them, such as The Potty Movie for Boys and Potty Superhero.

How to Choose Potty Training Rewards

Parents often find that how their kids respond to potty training rewards varies from gender to gender.

Girls: Whether it's a sticker or a piece of chocolate, girls are fairly content with sticking to one reward entirely through toilet training.

Boys: Moms and dads of boys know you have to be on your toes when parenting little males. The same holds true in the potty training department. Boys get bored with their rewards. A small candy bar as an incentive today may need to be replaced with a handful of his favorite cereal tomorrow.

Always keep a stash of potty training rewards on hand that include foods, stickers, books, toys or even the promise of a trip to the children's museum, movies or toy store.

How to Demonstrate Proper Potty Technique

Some kids learn better when they can actually see what it is they're supposed to be doing in the potty.

Girls: Girls can watch Mommy, but Daddy doesn't usually get involved in this watch-me step of potty training his daughter.

Boys: Now Dad can really get involved. Boys can watch Dad go potty. Even if you're starting by teaching your son to do all of his business while sitting, Dad can still put on a demonstration. Boys can respond to the feeling of wanting to be like Daddy and seeing how things are supposed to work.

How to Address Patience and Interest

The potty training process divides boys and girls once again when it comes to patience and interest. The most important thing to remember is to keep your own patience no matter what, so your children don't become overcome with emotions that turn potty training into a negative experience.

Girls: You've heard that girls mature faster than boys, and that may be why you can sit with a little girl on the potty for longer periods of time. She wants to be a big girl, and she's more patient when sitting on the potty and more interested in getting the job done.

Boys: Many boys think they have better things to do than go potty, so their patience in sitting still and interest in potty training overall wanes quicker. They can even seem excited about potty training initially and then lose interest the same day.

It's important to watch for the signs of a frustrated potty trainer, adjust your methods or even put off potty training for the time being.

How to Address Accidents

Girls and boys will have accidents, even long after they seem to have finished potty training. You'll need to carry a change of clothes and wipes with you a little while longer for your son than your daughter.

Girls: Most girls do not like the feeling of being dirty. They learn pretty fast that if they don't stop what they're doing to go potty, then they are going to have soiled underpants and clothes. Accidents will happen, but once girls learn the initial steps of potty training, they remember them.

Boys: Boys tend to have more accidents than girls. Many do not mind at all if they are walking around with soaking wet clothes or poop trapped in the back of their underwear. Be prepared for these accidents at home or on the go, and have plenty of clean-up supplies and a change of clothes ready.

Regardless of gender, remember not to get upset or scold your child when these accidents happen. Making potty training a negative experience at any stage will only set your child back several steps.

How to Prepare for Potty Training Completion Time

You can't put a clock on any child or make a deadline for them to be through with potty training. They'll complete toilet training in their own time, but gender will play a part.

Girls: While kids of both genders can be potty trained within a few days, the average time for any child to be fully potty trained is around three months. That is, she can fully recognize when she needs to use the bathroom, goes into the bathroom by herself and requires little or no help to go potty and get cleaned up. Girls usually complete all of these potty training steps successfully before boys.

Boys: While many boys do take a longer time to potty train, they do get to the finish line eventually. Keep encouraging them and stay positive. Their hard work (and yours) will pay off soon enough.

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