What are the Potty Training differences for Boys and Girls?

Is it quicker to potty train girls or boys? Is it easier to potty train boys or girls? Do you need to approach potty training differently for girls and boys? There are so many myths about potty training and we’re here to help you to unpack them and approach this milestone in a way that suits your unique child, whatever their gender!

What does the research evidence say?
There is no clear research evidence to support saying you need to potty train boys and girls differently. All children need to go through the same 3 stages of potty training and learn the same 40 skills. There are no known developmental advantages to being male, female (or intersex etc) when it comes to potty training.

There are, however, two tips I can give you that make a difference.

  1. If your child has a penis teach them to point their penis down if they sit on the potty/toilet and if they stand to pee, teach them to aim their pee towards the potty/toilet.
  2. If your child has a vulva teach them to wipe from front to back.

That’s it!

But I’ve read articles about girls and boys developing differently!
There are many, many articles on this subject but like most parenting articles they are opinion-based or lacking in any clear research evidence. Some of these articles theorise that girls are more eager to please, better at communicating or that boys are more playful and it’s more fun to have a penis. These are gender stereotypes, however, not clinical research.
There is some research evidence suggesting that girls train younger than boys, but it is not clear why this is and there is not enough evidence to suggest we should do things differently as a result of these limited findings (Schum et al, 2002; Blum et al, 2003).
My guess is that as parents, we may have different expectations of our children based on their gender and that this may lead us to approach things differently, leading to different outcomes. It’s very important to understand that as a parent, you can influence your child’s skill development by actively teaching and encouraging them, and this has much more impact than any biological implications of the gender they were assigned at birth.

How do I approach potty training my son or daughter?
Expectations can greatly influence potty training. For example, if you expect your second child to be the same as your first, you may be surprised at the good or bad experiences you have with the potty training process as a result.
My advice is to see your child as an individual. Their gender should not change your approach to potty training or your expectations of them. Expect them to be capable of potty learning, just like all their other learning. You expected them to walk, and they did. You expect them to potty train and they will! Better leaving the gender element out of any expectations around when and how to potty train or how easy/hard it may be.
A great way to consider your child as an individual is to look at their temperament – or how they relate to the world – as a starting point. This can help you identify where they need to adapt to the world or where you may need to help the world adapt to them. Getting this right can make all the difference.

Our Incredible Advanced Potty Training Course covers helps you to tailor the potty training process to your unique child’s temperament. This will help you to understand how best to motivate your child, troubleshoot any issues they may have, and prepare you for how to handle accidents, outings, naps and night time and work in partnership with your childcare provider.

Find out more or enrol here.

References Schum TR, Kolb TM, McAuliffe TL, Simms MD, Underhill RL, Lewis M. Sequential acquisition of toilet-training skills: A descriptive study of sex and age differences in normal children. Pediatrics. 2002;109:E48. [PubMed] [Google Scholar] Blum NJ, Taubnam B, Nemeth N. Relationship between age at initiation of toilet training and duration of training: A prospective study. Pediatrics. 2003;111:810–4. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

We appreciate all of your feedback so far on this complex subject. Whilst the specifics of our potty training advice will not change, if you feel that something is missing in our language we will as always carefully consider it.

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