Potty Training a Girl – Leaving the Diapers Behind

From where I sit it is easy to say that potty training a girl is much easier than training their male counterparts. This may be because I have 4 girls and have successfully potty trained all but one of them. I never had any struggles with the endeavor and it seemed to magically happen on its own exactly when the girls were ready. The first two, twins – were completely potty trained by two. Much of this had to do with them competing for the coveted Elmo potty (even though we had two) and trying hard to earn the praises from me and their father. If it took pooping in the potty to one up their sister, that was just what they would do. The third child who was thoroughly disgusted with diapers pretty much potty trained herself and was out of diapers and in big girl panties by 14 months. The last one is still working on the potty but is showing signs that she will be hanging up the diapers in lieu of her Elmo panties any day now.

In my experience I can say for certain that there really are no tricks to potty training. Just like everything else a child will do things in their own time and not one minute before. When they decide that being wet and stinky is uncomfortable they will inevitably potty train. Likewise and much to their parents discontent if a child finds hanging out in a saturated and steamy diaper not so bad, then they will be slow to train. But the bottom line is that no matter what you do or how much you worry as a parent, they will eventually use the bathroom. The first step as a parent is to stop fretting, quit pushing, ignore the pediatrician, remember that diapers are made in a size 6 and let your child show you when they are ready.

That being said there are probably a bunch of parents who feel no better. They are trying to get their kids in a 2 or 3 year old preschool class where being potty trained is a requirement. Having worked for a short year in both a 2 and 3 year class I can say without a doubt that very few of these toddlers are really trained. Parents would send them to school in big kid underwear and the assistant teacher and I would end up flipping coins with a clothespin over our nose to decide who was going to change them. We started out sending the underwear home in a plastic bag, but just a few months in decided that throwing them in the trash was the best remedy. (The parents seemed to agree) Mid way through the year we encouraged parents to send them to school in pull ups. It didn’t matter how many times we took them to the bathroom there was always children who wet or soiled their britches. And that was okay, potty training is simply part of growing up. Putting a requirement or age limit on it ignores the fact that each child is different.

Working in the school, I learned that boys aren’t to be wiped or even dabbed and that many of them sit down to pee depending on what they are being taught at home. For this and because of my confusion with the appropriate use of urinals I have to conclude that it is much easier to potty train girls than boys. I feel very lucky that I never had any sons.

As for tips to potty training a girl, I have to say that an open door policy at home works well. This means that whoever uses the bathroom is privy to a visit from a curious toddler. They always want to see what’s in the potty and it is best to go ahead and show them. Let them hear you pee and they will want to try themselves. it’s also a good idea to try and convince dad to pee sitting down as to not confuse the little girl. Forego the small ‘fake’ toddler potties and get the toilet seat insert instead. That seems to make children want to use it more; after all it is just like what grown ups use. At a young age I began talking to my kids about poop and pee and even went so far as to consistently empty their diapers in the potty. This seemed to cause a rush of excitement for my girls and they enjoyed flushing it themselves, excitedly waving bye bye to their poop. When they do decide to sit up there on the seat, let them read a book and pop a squat on the floor next to them. This way you can talk about what they are doing and ease any fears they may have. My youngest child will use the potty and holler for everyone in the house to come and see her creation. We all jump up and down and clap our hands as if she just recited the Constitution – but it seems to be working in her favor. As much as possible I allow her to run around in underwear. This works much better in the summer time when we spend more hours outside and an accident is less damaging. Keep in mind how well diapers are made nowadays. Most of those things are so absorbent that these little kids can’t even tell they went. When given the opportunity to actually feel wetness they seem to respond to it quicker. No matter what – no disciplinary measures should ever be taken when it comes to potty training. As a matter of fact the term potty training itself should be changed to potty learning and given as much tolerance as the malady of others things that toddlers are expected to learn.

Potty training girls is only as tricky as their parents make it. As you are pushing them to learn; excited about how much money you will be saving on diapers and wipes – keep in mind how difficult it is to go anywhere once they are trained.  Nothing lasts forever and your toddler will grow up and grow out of diapers. Cherish the time just as it is and take your cues from your child rather than from what some book, relative, friend or doctor says. Not only will it make your life easier and less stressful; it will allow your toddler the freedom and self confidence that growing into themselves based on their individual needs and personality naturally provides. No amount of potty training is worth compromising that.



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