As the parent of two adorable toddler boys who is pregnant with a third child and hoping for a girl, I was greatly intrigued by tales of girls being easier to potty train than boys. I wouldn't say my boys were hard to potty train outside of few poop escapades, but they weren't that swift about it-the eldest being fully potty trained by about three and the younger getting there at two and a half. Speaking with fellow parents of girls, there did seem to be an earlier trend of diaper freedom, so I decided to look at the science of the matter. Surprisingly, there are several studies on the subject.
So, are girls really easier to potty train than boys?
Studies do suggest girls do potty train slightly earlier in most cases.
A 2002 study, which included 126 girls and 141 boys, found that the girls potty trained at a median 32.5 months or roughly 2 years 7 months, while the boys potty trained at a median 35 months or roughly 2 months after the girls. The girls also showed readiness to potty train earlier than the boys at 6-11 months, compared to 7-15 months. A different study done in 2001 of 496 children found the girls in the study averaged potty mastery at 35 months, and the boys 39 months. Most of the toddlers in the studies did not master potty training before the 2 year mark. Remember that these were averages, some boys may potty train early and some girls late, based on these studies, however, more girls will train slightly earlier than boys. The 2001 study also found factors such as the age potty training was begun and the marital status of the parents, could affect potty training length. No studies have found one sex to be "easier" to train than another. This is more a matter of parental perspective.
Why do girls train earlier?
Two to four months on average isn't a huge time difference, but it does make one wonder why exactly.
It's possible the reason girls potty train sooner is that they are "ready" to begin sooner than boys on average. However, one study done in 2003 found that beginning potty training earlier could actually extend the time spent training. In the study, children who were started on potty training before the 27 month mark took longer to train, though they did potty train at an earlier age. This suggests that because girls are ready earlier, and also perceived to be by parents, they may begin training sooner and so finish earlier.
The equipment matches:
Another possible reason is that in 2010 in 23 percent of two partner couples the mother stayed home with the kids, while only 19 percent of fathers did. The other 58 percent were cared for in day care centers or by other family members. 94.6 percent of childcare providers including center workers, in home non-relative care givers, and paid and unpaid relatives are women. This means the majority of children are statistically going to be potty trained by women, it then makes sense that girls are at a potty training advantage. Boys with highly involved fathers, or male primary caregivers, may very well train earlier.
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