Q&A: Girls vs Boys Potty Training Tips

The goal is the same but getting there is a whole other story! Experts and the Parents staff weigh in on what the potty training process is really like with boys and girls.

Boy Girl Potty Training
Photo: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

Should boys sit or stand while peeing?

Probably best to start with sitting. Asking your son to stand, hold his penis, and aim into the toilet is a tall order. Even trickier is switching from sitting while pooping to standing for peeing. All this can make the potty process a bit confusing for boys at first. Bottom line: Follow your son's lead. Dad can show him how to sit (and push his penis down to avoid spraying the bathroom) and stand. —Nancy Rones

What's a good reward for potty training a girl?

Well, the easier answer is to NOT use rewards to bribe your daughter to use the potty. I am glad it worked well for your son, but the point is that kids are ready when they want to be clean—as that is the only long term motivation to stop playing in the living room, get up and go to the bathroom when the urge arises. So, when the timing is right, potty training should take a day or a weekend and that's it. Just have her wear training pants (cotton undies with an extra layer or two of fabric...not the pull up diapers that sometimes are called "training pants"). See what happens. If she has 10 accidents in a day, she is not ready and put her back in diapers and try again another time. If she has 1 or 2 accidents and feels bad about it, she is ready and you're done!

If you feel like you have to resort to a reward system, I would suggest giving her a toy on-loan from you for 30 minutes for her success on the potty—it saves you a ton of money! —Dr. Ari Brown

Do girls potty train faster than boys?

Girls tend to begin a few months earlier than boys, but every child—regardless of gender—is different and learns at his or her own pace. Some 2-year-olds may master the potty in just a couple of weeks; others may take several months or more. And that's only during the day; staying dry at night usually takes even longer—a few weeks to many months. At night, your child has to hold urine for many hours, and if she's a deep sleeper, she may not wake up when she feels the urge to pee. Be prepared for accidents by protecting your child's mattress with a waterproof sheet or mattress pad. —Nancy Mattia

How can I help my son transition to wearing underwear like a big boy?

Okay, it sounds like your son isn't quite ready developmentally for potty training...it is a milestone that happens usually around 3-3.5 for boys, so you are probably pretty close. But, he has to have 2 accomplishments first: 1. The desire to be clean. 2. The ability to sense the urge to go, and not just after he's gone. The point he is missing is that humans wear clothing on the bottom half of their bodies and when they feel the urge to poop or pee, they need to remove the clothing in the bathroom and sit on the potty. Perhaps that is the first message you should work on (and put him back in diapers for now!) —Dr. Ari Brown

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