Potty Training: Boys vs. Girls

Potty Training: Boys vs. Girls

One mom shares the messy truth about potty training for boys vs. girls!

By: Wendy Robinson

Before I had children (or back when I thought I knew everything about having children), I used to think that gender was a social construct and there weren’t really that many differences between raising boys and raising girls.

Okay, stop laughing at me now.

I now have a boy, 6, and a girl, 2, and just as sure as she has decided her favorite color is pink, there are some differences between them.

My daughter has now decided to start potty training, so I am feeling keenly aware of the differences between potty training a girl and a boy. Take, for instance, the issue of aim. With a boy, you have to be prepared for wet floors and wet walls and wet toilet seats and, heaven help me, wet ceiling fans (at least it feels that way, right?). I tried the O-shaped cereal trick (a few in the bowl to help with aim), but it didn’t seem to do much good. With girls, it is a bit less messy and we don’t need the Os … until she sees her brother standing up to do his business and tries to copy. Stock up on bleach either way, basically.

And then there are the differences with timeliness and efficiency. Males start taking forever in the bathroom really early, it seems. My son lingers. He camps out. He sometimes brings in a book with him. There is no rushing a good potty break for the guy species. My daughter gets in, gets done, and gets out, whatever the situation.


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With my daughter, it is usually easy to tell when she needs to go. She clutches her diaper area or hides behind the couch. With my son, it was a little trickier because, let’s be honest, little boys, especially those newly out of diapers, spend a lot of time clutching their diaper area. For them, however, this is mostly for recreational purposes and may not have anything to do with needing to go potty.

Not everything is different though. I’m finding that chocolate candies are motivating incentives for both genders and cleaning up a poop accident is no fun whether the soiled underwear has action figures or mermaids (please note: In the event of a poop accident, the parent who cleans it up gets all the chocolate left in the house!).

What is your best or worst potty-training experience?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again.

Image ©iStock.com/Vesnaandjic

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