Potty Training Differences in Boys and Girls

potty training differences

Potty training is challenging regardless of your toddler’s gender. That said, potty training boys is a bit different than potty training girls. While it is obvious that males and females use the bathroom differently, there are some other distinct potty training differences parents may run into when potty training boys versus girls.

Boys typically start later and take longer to train.

In general, boys are thought to take longer to show interest in the potty and slower to master potty training. This claim has been backed up by scientific studies as well as public surveys. One recent poll of 1,229 mothers conducted by Made for Mums revealed that 56 percent of girls are daytime trained by age 2.5, compared to just  44 percent of boys. While people often claim that girls are potty trained sooner, it’s not always clear how much sooner. Generally, it’s just a matter of a few months. That isn’t really a long time, but it may seem so to a diaper-buying parent.

Boys have to learn two different ways to go.

Another potty training difference—boys stand and girls sit. Some parents may teach their sons to stand right away, but most boys will actually learn to go potty sitting down first. Unlike girls, they must be taught how to position their penis to avoid making a mess. Once they master sitting down, then they are taught to stand. Since they have to learn twice, potty training boys typically takes a bit longer.

Most of the time, it is mom who is doing the training, and she may have trouble potty training her son to stand and aim. When Dad or another adult male is in the picture, he may want to consider helping his son with potty training. Potty training targets can be helpful in teaching aim, and they provide added incentive for the toddler.

Girls typically mature faster.

This is not just a difference in potty training. Girls typically mature faster than boys, both physiologically and intellectually. They generally have quicker language development and may be better able to understand potty lingo, which makes potty training girls easier. They are also quicker to learn to dress and undress themselves and control their elimination, which generally makes potty training a bit easier for them to master.

Girls learn differently than boys.

Girls tend to be more eager to please than boys and may take to potty training faster in response to positive reinforcement. Girls are more able to stay on task and focus on potty training, whereas toddler boys may be easily distracted and jump from activity to activity. Boys and girls also have different motivations, making potty training different for each one. A girl may be apt to potty train by being asked to teach her doll to use the potty; boys may need a bit more motivation than that. Boys respond well to tangible and related rewards. For example, boys may learn better when potty training is made into a game and they have an opportunity to win. Or they may be quicker to take to the potty when they learn it means they can wear their super hero underwear.

Every child is unique.

Regardless of gender, potty training will be different for everyone. Each child is unique and will learn to use the potty in his own time and in his own way. Don’t get too caught up in gender roles. Instead, focus on your child and how he or she personally responds to your training methods. Do what works for you and your family. Most importantly, be patient with your child. Potty training is a process, it’s okay if it takes time.

Additional Potty Training Resources:

Potty Training Boys vs. Girls

The Difference Between Training Boys and Girls According to Experts 


Brittany Tacket, MA

Brittany Tackett is a psychotherapist, life coach, mental health writer, and mommy to an infant daughter. She currently works part-time as a play therapist at a local elementary school and spends the rest of her time writing, parenting, and running an online collectibles shop. Her approach to mental health is holistic and encompasses all aspects of the human experience. She is trained in a variety of modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, applied behavioral analysis, art therapy, neurolinguistic programming, and positive psychology.

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