It’s a widely accepted belief that girls potty train earlier than boys. The fact that their fine motor skills develop earlier and that they tend to speak sooner than their male counterparts is likely why. But don’t stress if your little one isn’t the first in her playgroup to be out of diapers. Like everything else, potty training happens when the time is right. While some can start the process as early as 18 months, potty training readiness is dependent on many factors that vary from child to child.
There’s little point in starting the process if your child isn’t ready. If she expresses an interest in using the potty and communicates when she needs to go, you're off to a good start. In terms of fine-motor skills, she'll need to get herself to the potty, remove her own clothes, reach the toilet paper and wash her hands independently. If all signs point to yes, give it a whirl. Enlist her to help you shop for gear. Have her choose her own potty and/or adapter seat at the store. Let her choose her big-girl underwear, too. She’s growing up and she knows it; getting her excited about this milestone helps ensure success.
Stick to daytime training in the beginning; it could be years before she’ll be dry overnight. If she’s in preschool or day care, coordinate with her care providers. If you have her use the potty every hour, let them know. Or better yet, try and arrange a few days when she can stay at home. If it’s nice out, let her play naked in the backyard. An accident on the grass isn’t a big deal, but she won’t enjoy the feeling. If you must go out, make sure she urinates before you leave and take along a portable potty seat. Adapter seats are available that you can fold and stick in a large purse -- a good investment when you consider all the public toilets she’ll use in the coming years. Dress her in loose-fitting clothing that she can easily remove. In the early learning stages, stretchy pants are a better bet than tights and a long dress. And don’t forget to lead by example: let her watch Mom use the toilet on a regular basis.
Children respond favorably to rewards, but be careful not to reward too often. Every potty trip shouldn't necessarily be treated as a triumph, other than maybe a high-five. Try rewarding every bowel movement in the potty or every accident-free day with a special sticker, a craft or a story. Or make a reward chart and let her place a star sticker every time she uses the potty. Once she reaches 20 stars, take her for a special outing or let her watch a favorite video.
One of the most important things to remember is teaching girls to wipe properly -- front to back -- to avoid possible contamination and infection. If she has trouble with that, teach her to pat the area dry with toilet paper. Although bladder infections are rare, they do happen, often due to improper wiping techniques. If your daughter has the urge to use the toilet more often, complains of stomachaches and is having accidents when she was previously dry, consult her doctor.
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