EXPERT Q&A

Do you have any tips for potty training?

Potty training can be challenging for many parents. Shenley Seabrook offers guidance that can help you through the process while making it a fun and exciting experience for both you and your children.

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Question

We have a set of twins—a boy and a girl. Are there any differences in how we should approach potty training for each of them? And do you have any other tips or guidance to help us through the process?

Answer

Potty training can be challenging whether you have a boy or a girl, but there are definitely a few differences between the two approaches.

For the most part, it seems as though girls tend to show more interest in potty training earlier and master the skill more quickly than boys. This is not always the case, but even when it is, the difference is usually only a matter of months. Part of why it sometimes takes boys longer to learn is that they have to learn two separate ways to use the toilet—sitting and standing. You may also have to explain different parts of the process to each child, such as girls wipe from front to back, and boys hold their penis down when they potty until they are ready to potty standing up. One trick I like to use when teaching boys to aim while standing up to potty is having them try to sink cereal pieces in the toilet. They usually think it’s super fun and it gets them excited about potty training.

As far as the timing of when to start, this tends to be anywhere from around 18 months to 3 years, depending on the individual child. You will want to monitor their interest in the toileting process. If they seem curious about the potty, it might be a good time to read a book about potty training or show a short, animated video clip. There are also songs about using the potty that most kids love. Then you can consider purchasing a potty seat or chair.  You will want to make sure you get one with a splash guard to avoid having to clean up the extra mess. Picking a potty seat with your child’s favorite character, or better yet, having them pick out their favorite one from the store, can help with their interest and motivation.

A lot of parents use a reward system when they start having their child use the potty. This can be anything from a sticker chart to small pieces of candy.  I’ve even heard of people throwing “Potty Parties” for the first time their child uses the toilet. You will have to find something that works for your kids, as silly or over-the-top as it may seem. Whatever keeps your children motivated to keep trying is great. The one thing to avoid during potty training, however, is punishment. Children are going to have accidents when they are learning, and they are also likely to have days where they just don’t want to try. This is okay and totally normal! Be sure to avoid scolding and lectures when accidents happen. This should be a fun and exciting experience for both of you, not stressful and intimidating.

You will know when your children are completely potty trained when they are able to recognize that they have to use the potty without being reminded, can go to the bathroom by themselves, and can clean themselves properly with little to no help.  Once this occurs, you can consider taking diapers and wipes off of your grocery list.

Congratulations! And reach out with any additional questions. The CareNectar team is here for you!

Meet The Expert


Shenley Seabrook

Shenley Seabrook is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who works primarily with children and adolescents in a private practice setting. She is also a foster parent and lives with her husband and daughter in Indiana. Shenley recently wrote her first children’s book, We Have the Same Heart, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and community service.