Do Boys Potty Train Later?
Myths v. Facts
“Boys potty train later than girls,” says your best friend. You look at her daughter on the potty and your son who is still in a diaper, and you just nod. (What else can you do?) But then you recall that your other friend has a son who was trained by 20 months.
How true is it that potty training girls v. boys is entirely different? Through my experience as a child pottying specialist, I have seen some old wives’ tales pan out…but I’ve also seen a lot of boys (and girls) who buck every myth.
Today we’ll unravel what’s true and what’s not to find out what you can expect.
In This Article:
- Potty Training Your Boy: The Myths
- Potty Training Your Boy: The Facts
- If You Want to Learn More
Potty Training Your Boy: The Myths
Let’s start with the truisms that, well, aren’t always true. They include:
Myth #1: “There are significant differences in boys’ and girls’ brains.”
Actually, experts in the field of genetic and childhood studies say: false! The neurological differences between boys and girls are fewer than most of us may think.
And while there are a few biological differences, these are not all hardwired, experts say. Nurture may play as much a role as nature.
Myth #2: “Girls are more afraid of the potty than boys are.”
Either sex can have anxiety. And your child’s inherent personality plays into whether or not they will be afraid of their training potty.
Myth #3: “Boys are more rambunctious.”
I wish! Actually, I’m glad my littlest was, and is, healthy and very, very active. She’s the one who loves sports — though both of my daughters are on local teams.
You may have heard that boys “just can’t sit down” for the potty. This tends to be a maturity issue, but it is also due to cultural conditioning that allows boys to be more physical than girls. We know this from global studies showing boys in some cultures potty training earlier than others.
Myth #4: “Boys don’t have the physical development to potty train v. girls.”
This is a big no-way. In fact, in global studies, boys have a very slight edge on developmental milestones v. girls.
Boys and girls generally reach the physical ability to retain their pottying until they are near a toilet at about the same time as girls do.
Myth #5: “Boys potty train about a year later than girls.”
That one made me clutch my chest for a second too, especially since I have so many sweet little boy clients!
But my own experience told me differently, and I found that in studies, the average difference age-wise is just three months.
Potty Training Your Boy: The Facts
Now for the real story: are boys different? If not, what do you need to know? Here’s what to keep in mind.
Fact #1: All kids are different.
Yes, you already knew this. But if potty training your little guy has been frustrating, you may be losing patience with the whole thing.
Studies and even professional experience notwithstanding, your child is an individual. He may train earlier or later than your daughter. He may train alongside his twin and compete for “best pottier.” Realizing your child is an individual is always the bottom line.
Fact #2: There may be health reasons involved.
In my practice I have encountered this more than once, and it goes for both boys and girls. Some children won’t potty train, or can’t potty train, for reasons that go beyond their sex. For instance, a child might potty train later if:
- They had a negative or frightening experience while pottying.
- They have special/additional needs.
- They are sick (short- or long-term).
- They feel “pushed” and resentful. (This falls under the mental health umbrella.)
- They are slower to mature physically, emotionally, or both.
Fact #3: Boys may respond better to some types of potty training.
There are simple mechanical facts about boys v. girls potty training. That means boys will respond better to some types of training.
Techniques to master may include:
- Putting Cheerios or another floating in the toilet for “aim.”
- Transitioning from sitting to standing at the potty.
- Not delaying potty training “because he’s a boy.”
- Gently showing your child that there is a time for sitting still. (Healthy rewards can help.)
If You Want to Learn More
As you’ve seen in this article, there is a lot more to potty training than “she’s a girl, expect more” or “he’s a boy, just don’t worry about it.”
It’s likely you already sensed that. But where do you go from here if your little guy still won’t go to the potty?
If you have questions about why boys train later than girls in some cases, let me know. I’ve helped hundreds of children learn to use the potty. Check out my 3-Day Potty Plan and one-on-one help, plus a FREE guide to get started — right now!