You may have been told that potty training girls is easier and faster than potty training boys. And for the most part, it’s true.
Experts attribute this to the fact that little girls tend to be more advanced in physical and language development and these skills help move potty training forward. However, this doesn’t mean that boys are destined to always take longer when gaining these same skills.
What really impacts your child’s potty learning journey is their unique personality and behavior. So, if you’re looking for the easiest way to potty train a little girl or boy, continue reading for some important potty training tips.
Are Boys Harder to Potty Train?
If you’re the parent of a toddler boy, let go of the idea that it may be a long process. Some boys do get potty trained fast. And if you’re the parent of a toddler girl, don’t assume training will happen quickly. Let go of the stereotypes and do what works best for your little guy or gal.
Whether your toddler adapts easily to toilet training mostly depends on their interest in and level of readiness to use a “big boy” or “big girl” potty, says parenting expert Michelle LaRowe, an author, professional nanny and editor in chief of eNannySource.com. Our Potty Training Readiness Quiz can help, and you can also watch for these signs.
Is It Easier to Potty Train a Boy or Girl?
LaRowe has found girls are often ready to train earlier. Boys, she notes, “have to learn to stand and sit.” Plus, they often generally mature later than girls. Other experts suggest that boys start training by sitting since standing to urinate is a more advanced skill.
Once boys are ready to start urinating while standing up, Dad or a big brother can help by demonstrating how it’s done. Also, there are some tried and true games and activities that can help potty train boys—especially when it comes to their aim.
Some parents will try a few drops of blue food coloring, which magically turns green when your little dude successfully pees in the bowl—how fun is that! Others make a target game out of potty training by tossing in a handful of O-shaped cereal to work on their little one’s aim. You can use both techniques with their toddler potty or with a full-sized toilet.
Getting your son’s aim right isn’t just a good thing for him, it can also save you a whole lot of cleaning hassles. If you’re outside and no one’s around, you might try letting him urinate in the grass, or maybe “write” in the snow. That can take the pressure off aiming for the first few times he pees standing up.
Gary Cave, father of both a boy and a girl, admittedly did have an easier time training his girl, but he’s not convinced it has to do with gender. “As a parent of a 3-year-old girl and a recently turned 2-year-old boy, I have had my fair share of experience with all things potty! Our oldest, Saffron, was relatively easy to train, although it did take around 4 months.
“Our younger boy, Lucas, is just starting his potty training journey and we have already noticed that he is reacting very differently to it. It looks as though we will be in for a far tougher time with him. I have friends with boys and girls who have told me that their boy was easier to potty train, so I personally do not believe that any gender is easier than the other. There are many other factors at play,” said Gary.
“It all comes down to the individual child”, agrees Maria Velasquez who has both a son and a daughter. While it’s not common, her 2½-year-old son trained in just a few days. Because her son learned the skill so easily, she was surprised when “My strong-willed daughter took much longer and multiple failed attempts where we took week-long breaks in between,” she recalls. “Once she decided SHE wanted to learn, it took about two weeks to be accident free. I wish I had known that every child is different, and these differences play a big role in potty training.”
Potty Training Tips for All Kids
Whether you’re potty training a boy or a girl, there are some universal tips including these essential secrets to potty training success. Consider this list of ideas too:
- Make sure you child is ready. If you thought your child was ready to start but the successes just aren’t coming, take a pause and restart your son or daughter’s journey in a few weeks or even months. These reasons to hold off are important to know as a parent.
- Toss expectations aside and discover your child’s journey: There’s no perfect age to start and no guaranteed timeline, although on average potty training takes about 8 months. Stay encouraged parents! Don’t let anyone else’s experience or expectations pressure you into starting if your child isn’t ready.
- Don’t start too soon: If you start too soon, you’re just going to have a longer, possibly frustrating experience ahead.
- Know that learning to pee in the potty precedes the poo: Toddlers don’t usually learn to urinate and poop on the potty at the same time.
- Chart your own path to success: While there is no shortage of tips for parenting, when it comes down to it the only guarantee is that your own experience will be as unique as your child. Keep this in mind, you and your child will have an individual journey.
By Lakisa Ballard, MSN, RN, C-EFM, RNC-OB
Lakisa Ballard, MSN, RN, C-EFM, RNC-OB, is a Clinical Practice Specialist in Maryland. The information of this article has been prepared by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.