Boys and girls can take different routes in potty training.

Differences Between Potty Training a Boy Vs. a Girl

by Shellie Braeuner

Sugar and spice and everything nice are just not what little girls leave in their diapers. The good thing about diapers is that most can be used by both boys and girls. But once potty training starts: Vive le difference! Boys and girls are different. They have different organs, different needs and must take different precautions.

1. Signs of Readiness

Boys and girls share many of the same signs that they are ready to use the potty. Your child should be able to walk to and from the bathroom, help undress and follow simple instructions. The child may want to wear underwear or show an interest in the toilet. Physical signs of readiness include the ability to stay dry for at least two hours during the day or throughout naptime. It is also helpful if your child’s bowel movements have become regular. This helps plan times to use the toilet. According to the University of Michigan, girls are ready just a little bit earlier than boys. On average, girls are ready to potty train at 29 months, while boys are ready at 31 months.

2. Talking the Talk

One of the biggest differences between teaching a boy or girl to use the potty is teaching them the proper language. Consider what words best fit into your family for your child’s genitals, elimination and the toilet. Naming body parts begins the distinction between boys and girls. Boys need to know the name of their penis, anus, urine and bowel movements. Girls need to know the name of the vagina and the urethra in addition to the anus, and waste. Get ready for some giggles. Potty humor is one way that children relieve the stress of toilet training. Girls tend to outgrow potty humor when they start school while some boys begin to outgrow these jokes in their mid-forties.

3. Training Boys

Boys learn to urinate either sitting or standing. Some parents find it easier to start their child sitting, since the boy will sit for a bowel movement. If your boy learns sitting, teach him to spread his legs and point his penis down before sitting on the toilet or potty chair. This directs the stream and prevents him from scratching his delicate area on the splash guard. If your boy learns to urinate standing, place him in front of the toilet or potty chair and encourage him to aim in the center of the bowl. Use small bits of cereal or float a square of toilet paper in the toilet bowl to give your boy something to aim for.

4. Training Girls

When a girl sits down to urinate, help her to spread her legs and lean slightly forward. This helps her relax her pelvic muscles and aims her stream of urine into the toilet bowl or potty chair. When your little girl has a bowl movement, teach her to wipe or pat her bottom from front to back. This prevents fecal matter and germs from spreading into her vagina.

About the Author

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.

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