Potty Training Tips & Tricks for Girls

by Jon Mohrman, studioD

Timing is everything with potty training, meaning it works only when your child is ready for it. Starting earlier doesn't necessarily mean finishing earlier; children master using the toilet at their own pace, so starting earlier often means a longer period of potty training that concludes at the same time it would have had you waited. As BabyCenter.com points out, girls typically potty train faster than boys, so at least you have that in your favor.

Readiness

Since you should wait until your child is ready to potty train, it's helpful to understand the signs of readiness. A girl begins showing interest in the toilet, potty training and wearing pull-ups or big-girl underwear when she's nearing readiness. She'll also start expressing that she doesn't like wearing diapers, especially when they're soiled. Your child should be able to follow the necessary directions for using a potty and be able to get on and off it by herself, as well as pulling her pants up and down. She should consistently be keeping her diaper dry for periods of two hours or more, and she should be indicating the need to go to the bathroom, whether verbally or through body language.

Work Your Way Up

The toilet can be scary for little girls; let your child start learning on a potty chair. It's low to the ground, allows her to keep her feet on the floor, doesn't have a large opening and otherwise seems more manageable to a toddler. Let her sit on it clothed for a few days, then encourage her to sit on it without pants or a diaper on. She probably won't go on it at first, and that's fine. Eventually, she'll start using it for its intended purpose. After she's gotten comfortable, switch to a secure potty seat over the toilet. Provide a step stool so she can safely get up and down and keep her feet planted while she's sitting. Use the actual toilet seat as the final stage of potty training.

Personalize

Write your child's name on her potty chair. Make it colorful. Let her personalize it with stickers displaying her favorite colors, characters, objects and designs. She should keep the stickers to the exterior, of course, since you'll be washing out the inside regularly. She might enjoy drawing on the seat with markers, too. This all helps her identify with the potty chair as something that's her own and that represents a positive change in her life. Also, let your child go to the store with you and pick out the big-girl underwear of her choosing. Make a big deal out of wearing this new item, expressing how exciting it is and her proud of her you are.

Instructions

Provide clear, simple instructions during potty training. Show your child how to sit far enough back that her rear and vaginal opening are over the potty or toilet so that she doesn't wet the seat. Teach her to wipe from front to back to prevent spreading bacteria to her vagina. Let her watch you or her older siblings use the toilet. If she's seen boys urinating, she may want to try going standing up in front of her potty chair or the toilet. If she's insistent, allow her to give it a shot. Yes, it's an unpleasant cleanup for you, but it permits her to discover on her own a bit more about how her parts work and why she can't mimic the boys. It also prevents a power struggle that can make potty training a more negative experience.

Positivity

Staying positive is one of the most important tips for potty training. Encourage your child, but never force her. She'll do things at her own pace, when she's ready; your pushing her won't make her learn or move along any faster. In fact, it could even slow down the process. Don't punish her for mistakes or accidents. They're to be expected in the beginning, and even for a few years to come. Don't hold her down on the potty, or you'll only increase her fear of it. Offer her lots of praise and affection when she does something appropriate or new during the potty training process -- fanfare works. Talk up how great it is being a big girl.

Make It Fun

Find ways to make potty training more fun for your child. Allow her to flip through a favorite book while on the potty or toilet, especially in the beginning when she's first getting accustomed to sitting there. Put a few drops of blue food coloring in the toilet water so she can "magically" turn it green when she urinates. Small rewards for real achievements are a great motivational tool. Make a sticker chart to track and encourage progress. Get your child involved by letting her pick out and affix the stickers to the chart, then choose a prize together when she's accumulated a certain number of stickers.

About the Author

Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco State University for creative writing.

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