For the record, I don’t really buy into the idea is that boys and girls behave differently as a function of their sex or gender. So when it came time to potty train my son, and after I had already potty trained my daughter, I thought I knew what I was in for. I was wrong. I learned that there are things that only moms of potty training boys understand, because it was such a different experience... and from the very start.
There's a common belief that boys take longer than girls to potty train. While your mileage definitely may vary, as child psychologist Heather Wittenberg told Today's Parent, girls do tend to be potty trained about three months earlier than boys. Then, of course, there's a matter of anatomy. As Parents.com explains, if your potty-training toddler has a penis and you have a vulva, you may want to have someone with the same anatomy show them how to use the potty so they can better understand the process. Speaking of anatomy — and I cannot stress this enough — you have got to be careful that they never slam their penis with the toilet lid or scrape it on the potty chair urine guard, because it will make your child fear the toilet and possibly set back potty training. And if potty training seems to make your son want to be naked or touch their penis all day long, you should know that it's completely normal, according to Zero to Three, and something pretty much all parents of potty training boys have to endure.
For more on these and other things potty-training boy moms just know, and advice for how to make it through what can be an arduous process, read on:
It Might Take A While
I used to think the whole "boys take longer to potty train than girls" thing was just an urban myth. But according to Today's Parent, there's actually scientific evidence that shows that girls tend to complete the process about three months sooner than boys. Generally speaking, girls develop communication skills earlier than boys, which are incredibly important when learning how and when to go to the potty.
Pee Gets Everywhere
No matter how hard you try to teach them not to, your potty-training boy toddler will likely "misfire" and spill a little (or a lot!) of pee on the toilet seat, floor, wall, or you. I wish I could say it gets better, but in my experience it's a, um, learning process. Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Potty Training Solution, suggests teaching your boys bathroom etiquette — like not peeing on the seat and cleaning up after themselves — from the start.
You Might Need New Gear
When I decided to start potty training my son, I wrongly assumed I could just use the same potty seat my daughter had used. Nope. He accidentally bumped his penis on the urine guard and things went downhill from there.
As BabyCenter explains, a better strategy is to buy a potty chair or seat without a urine guard for your potty training toddler, to prevent them from having a painful experience and understandable fear of going potty.
Sit Down Or Stand Up To Pee
While it can seem easier to teach your toddler to stand up to pee like their dad, Pantley suggests teaching potty-training boys to sit down to pee instead. This can help them get comfortable for pooping (which tends to happen at the same time for little kids), and can also prevent some of the aforementioned bathroom messes, too.
They Ask You Awkward Questions
If you're a mom you rarely get to pee without an audience. When you were a potty training a toddler, however, you might find out that they are as curious about your anatomy and how it works as they are about their own. As awkward has these moments can be, it's important to teach your child that bodily functions and anatomy are no big deal, according to clinical psychologist and author Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D. As Dr. Cohen explains to Parents, it’s best to be matter-of-fact about these things, instead of creating even more discussions and questions about your vulva or pubic hair.
When They Play With Their Penis
As any mom of kids with penises knows, once they discover their penis it can be hard to get them to put it away, especially during potty training when they get to see them more often than usual or when you encourage them to enjoy naked time.
According to Sarah MacLaughlin of Zero to Three, this is often completely normal exploration and nothing to freak out about. "It is appropriate to set limits on this behavior to teach privacy and boundaries," she write. "If children touch their genitals in public, gently and calmly remind them that this activity is private."