Are boys or girls more challenging to potty train?
Leslie Kiel writes for Insurantly.com. She is the mother of three, was a nanny for several years, and once hosted “Potty Training Boot Camp” for her girlfriends, who thought they would lose their minds if they had to change one more diaper.
The week leading up to potty training, I grumbled, stressed, and imagined how much laundry I was setting myself up for, but three days in, he put on big boy undies, and we never looked back.
“Wow!” I thought. “If it took him three days, imagine how easy girls will be.”
My friends say I cheated because I had him sit down for both number 1 and 2, but give me a child who can potty on the toilet and walk away clean over one who’s pottying in his pants any day.
A few years later it was time for me to find out the difference myself. I had always heard that girls learn faster because they only have one position to learn, they are more compliant at this age, or they can’t stand to feel dirty, but in my experience, all these reasons turned out to be completely bogus. My daughter flat out refused to sit on the potty because she said it was “ucky.” One of the girls for which I nannied fell off the potty and was thereafter traumatized by the mere sight of a toilet. I told my niece diapers were gross, and a week later, her parents reported her new habit of removing baby brother’s diapers and saying, “Diapers gross!”
All of these potty training issues and the only thing they have in common is girls...and me.
Melissa Adam founder of the Potty Training School in Boca Raton, Fl offers boot camp classes, virtual classes, and consultations has successfully potty trained over 3,000 children. Melissa Adam is a mother of 5. She created this educational program through careful research which disproves most training techniques on the market today.
Almost all parents have heard the saying, “Potty train when your child shows interest.” This doesn’t mean wait until your child walks to the potty and pees in it, nor does it mean if your child tantrums every time you place them on the potty, they aren’t ready and are not showing interest. Not every child finds peeing and pooping on a potty interesting. Just like not every child thinks it is fun learning to read, but that doesn’t stop us from teaching them to read.
Let me explain what I have learned throughout the years. When a child obtains bladder control, they go from dribbling all day to now experiencing a gush of urine into their diaper. The feeling they experience is the same feeling an adult would experience if they peed their pants. Yuck! Not good!
The child is experiencing a wet, uncomfortable and unusual feeling. This is why kids pull at their diaper, take it off, and/or ask to be changed. If you do not potty train at this point in development, the body starts to adapt to its environment and a habit develops. Now the child starts to become comfortable urinating in his diaper and uncomfortable urinating without a diaper or pair of underwear on to catch the pee. This also explains why so many children are not bothered at all sitting in a pool of urine. When a child has established a habit, the parent needs to look at potty training as breaking a habit vs. potty training. It is much easier to teach a child a new life skill than it is to retrain the brain to stop doing one thing and start doing it differently.
The bottom line is if your child is meeting all their developmental milestones at their well-child check-up with the pediatrician, at 18 months, the child has all the developmental and emotional ability to potty train. Speech doesn’t count! So many parents hold off on training due to a speech delay. Children do not need to speak to potty train. Body language is universal. We can tell when a newborn baby is having a bowel movement, and we all know what it means when our children do the pee-pee dance, NO WORDS NEEDED! The average family starts potty training around 31-36 months of age. This is 7 months or longer after bladder control has been obtained, and the child is now in the habit-breaking stage.
Boys are less emotional than girls when it comes to change in routine. Girls tend to become emotional and frustrated when breaking a habit, which turns into them withholding their urine for hours at a time, unwilling to give up control. Boys are much more willing to try something new and less concerned about privacy, embarrassment of bowel movements, or accidents. Boys are also much easier to influence than girls at this age. You can get a boy to take a drink of water every time you toss a ball whereas a girl understands water is what causes the urge to pee and will refuse any reward.
Remember, reward a child for drinking, not for peeing. Water is the most important aspect of potty training. Water makes the pee come. Always reward for taking sips of water vs. for peeing. Rewarding for drinking vs. urinating incorporates more positive reinforcement than giving a few stickers after a successful pee and will entice a child to want to continue training.
Positive reinforcement is so important during training. It is what will keep a child wanting to try. If a child has accident after accident, the child will become frustrated and want to stop. This is no different than adults. When we start a diet and cheat during the day, it is very hard to want to continue eating healthy for the rest of the day. We would rather just start back up tomorrow. It is the job of the parents to make the child successful, not the child. Positive reinforcement happens when a parent sets the child up for success.
Maggie Hari is a mum and blogger from Sydney, Australia. Her blog www.babystepslongstrides.com is about getting kids out and hiking and parenting in general.
My daughter refused to wear diapers at two years old. I did actively toilet her the first day, but by the second day, she was asking to go to the toilet on her own with only one accident. Within five days, she was fully continent throughout the day and at night. My friends with boys and girls have had the same experience.
Samantha Radford, PhD, is the owner of evidence-basedmommy.com. She uses her expertise in Public Health and maternal-child health to empower parents to thrive while raising kind, resilient kids.
Of course, every kid is different, so maybe it was just luck of the draw, but I have heard from many other moms that boys are harder to potty train.
Rachel Davidson is a mom of a wonderful 8-year-old boy and founder of watchdogpestcontrol.com.
Though my kid started to recognize his potty chair when he was about a year old, he would just sit there and not really use it at first, just dumping his other small toys in it as his “basement.” But with persistence, the effective use of helping a kid (regardless of gender) to recognize the signal that they need to relieve themselves can actually work. Staring them early by placing the potty chair where they see it all the time and interpreting it as a part of their immediate environment (toddlers sure love hanging out in the kitchen) can help create a natural setting for them. Repetition is key when teaching/training them.
Mary Ferguson Hunter
Mary Ferguson Hunter is a full time working woman, wife and mother of one. An award-winning sales and marketing professional, Mary is a mom-preneur in one of the world's most dynamic cities, NYC.
Every morning, I would get him up and sit him on the potty and sing a song consistently until he could walk. Once he was walking, I consistently said the word potty, sang the song and kept up the same routine. He is now two years old and asks for the potty.
Also, the key to this was ensuring that all of his caretakers, including daycare, were on board with the method of potty training my husband and I were using at home.
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