Potty Training Techniques: The Right (And Wrong) Ways Between Boys and Girls!


One of the most commonly questions asked by parent’s deals with potty training and how it differs between boys and girls. The most often heard “fact” that parents quote about toilet training is that girls are easier to potty train. I am not so sure about the truth in this seeing as nothing is ever black and white.

When it comes to raising kids, most aspects are pretty individual so can we really say that teaching one gender something is harder than the other gender? I simply don’t think so, but let’s look at the evidence!

Each child is individual and there are different techniques that they will respond to. Granted that boys respond better to different techniques than girls do and vice versa, there really is nothing set in stone. Having said that, I will share with you the very best advice that I have and show you what other parents are saying as well.

Potty Training Myths and Reality  

Statistics are a bunch of  numbers that tell you the in’s and out’s of whatever you wish to know – in this case, potty training boys and girls. Here is what we know:

  • The typical age that a girl begins toilet training is 29 months old (2 years and 5 months)
  • The typical age that a boy begins toilet training is 31 months (2 years and 7 months)
  • Of both boys and girls, the typical age that potty training is complete is 36 months old (3 years old)

These numbers are pretty close together so it would appear that there is not that much of a difference, at least when it comes to the ages of potty training boys and girls. So why is it that people think they will have it easier with girls? The answer is that common misconceptions drive them.

These include that they think girls mature faster, that they only have to learn one pottying position, that they are socialized in a different way than boys and that boys are more afraid of the toilet than girls. (I am not sure where anyone would come up with the last one.) Of all of these things, I would have to say that they are all myths. I have potty trained (and helped others potty train) both boys and girls. Nothing was ever the same and there were no constants.

Techniques that Work Better for Boys

One of the best things that you can do to help your little boy learn how to use the potty is to show him how it is done. This of course will take some help from dad or brother. While the same can be said for girls, when it comes to boys they are more motivated by seeing dad stand up and pee. Keep in mind though that not all boys will immediately stand up to pee. Do not push it; give them the choice and eventually they will end up in standing position. The next technique is my secret weapon!

Little boys can be motivated to use the potty (in standing position) by playing target practice. All you need is O shaped cereal. This was my favorite when training my boys! (Cheerio’s were my weapon of choice.) Place them in the toilet and tell them to aim at the target. When they hit it, give them a prize! This makes potty training both fun and effective. Plus it gets him to pee standing up and this can be a real challenge for some boys.

Techniques that Work Better for Girls

As with boys, it can be helpful to let your daughter go into the bathroom with you so she knows what to do. (Boys just bond more over this.) I have found that with girls, pretty potties also work wonders. While boys may be intrigued by a toilet that plays music for about five minutes, girls seem to adore it! You can get a potty chair that fits what they find most fascinating at the moment and they will want to use it.

What Works for Both Boys and Girls

I have found that the naked game works well with both sexes. This is when you allow your toddler some naked time each day. This means that they get to run around totally naked. The theory behind this is that they are more aware of their bodily functions when there is nothing there (underwear) to catch their “output”. This worked fantastically for me and my kids and I have heard the same praise from other parents.

Another great tip for both genders is pull-ups. I used pull-ups for all of my children and they really helped speed things up. The ones that turn colors when you pee are the best in my opinion. You can make a game out of using them. If they can go X amount of time without turning them colors they get a prize. The best pull-ups to use at night are the ones that get ice cold when they get wet. This is a great way to wake them up to go to the bathroom!

No matter what techniques you try, remember that no matter what your child’s sex is, they are 100% individual. What worked for your first child may not go over so well with your next. The key is finding what motivates them and use it as a training tool. Do not compare them to each other and do not let anyone make you feel bad if your toddler is not potty trained by the time deemed “acceptable” by others. They will make it in their own time and you will be full of pride whenever that time may be.