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Differences in Boys and Girls Potty Training

As parents, we have all heard the whispers about there being differences in potty training boys and girls. Do the girl parents have it harder or do the boys take longer? Is there any truth to this gossip?

There is limited research on gender differences in accomplishing potty training. In one population study, researchers concluded that girls were more advanced in communicating their needs and gained bladder and bowel control sooner than boys in the same age group. Another study showed that girls mastered potty training sooner than boys, but there was a wide range of individual differences in each gender category. 

Understanding your child’s maturity level, articulation skills, and signs of readiness are important, regardless of gender. But, there are some practical differences in potty training boys versus girls.

I teach all my children to pee sitting down to start. YES, even the boys. Having them sit down first can help them focus on peeing instead of aiming when they are just starting out. Also, when sitting, there is always the unexpected poo that they did not even realize was there. Sitting allows them to focus on the bathroom to start. When you are training a boy, I find it helpful to begin talking about how they need to push their penis down in the toilet, so pee does not end up everywhere. Depending on the age of potty training, I communicate this and help assist when needed. When a boy has been practicing potty training for a while and can pee without prompting. I then move them into learning how to stand and pee. Aiming and peeing can be taught with a lot of different tricks. One trick I like is placing cheerios in the toilet. I put a few in the water and have them aim at them when peeing. 

On-the-go peeing is another big difference between boys and girls. For younger girls, I always carry a travel potty for the car. Sometimes it is too difficult to try and make it to a public restroom, so a portable potty is a great option. For boys, once they are standing and peeing, I teach them to pee in an empty water bottle or discreetly outside in an emergency. But once you teach that boys can pee on a tree make sure they can understand where it is appropriate to pee outside and where it is not. The flower beds at your favorite restaurant are not an ideal place for them to go! So, when you are teaching a boy to pee outside, like while hiking or camping, make sure they are at the maturity level to know the difference between appropriate outside and not appropriate. It is hard to unteach a little one that outside is okay only sometimes.

Girls can usually express themselves and communicate clearly at a younger age than their boy peers. This can make a difference when it comes to potty training. Clear and concise communication is wonderful for parents but not a necessary requirement to undergo potty training. As the parent, you need to be able to understand their potty cues and they need to be able to follow directions. This can occur without an abundance of words. 

With all things, knowing your individual child and having realistic expectations can set you both up for success. Need help with potty training? Reach out to your closest Mama Coach for support.

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The Mama Coach is a global team of Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners.

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