How to Potty Train a Girl

Don’t Stress While Teaching Girls to Use the Toilet

Changing diapers is not fun for anyone involved in the process, so it’s not surprising that parents look forward to diaper-free days. However, toilet training is not always a quick-and-easy process; instead, it usually occurs over a period of time. And, not surprisingly, you may encounter setbacks along the way. In the end, though, once a girl completes her potty training, everyone will be smiling.

Get Into a Routine

Little girl on potty

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Every child is different, so there is no one “right” time to start toilet training for girls. However, she will give signs she is ready to start. For instance, she may sleep through naps without wetting her diaper, or she may show signs that she doesn’t like wearing a wet or dirty diaper. Maybe she starts watching or imitating mom or an older sister when she goes to the bathroom.

Start by purchasing a training toilet or portable child toilet seat, and show it to your daughter. Let her sit on it and get a feel for the seat. Show her how to steady herself by holding onto the sides; this is especially important when she has a bowel movement. Let her sit on the seat any time she wants so that she stays interested.

Next, start encouraging her to use the toilet on a regular basis. For instance, when she first wakes, take her into the bathroom so she can use the bathroom. Even if she doesn’t pee much, congratulate her on using the bathroom like a "big kid." If she attends preschool or daycare, include her teachers in the training so they can take her to the bathroom on a regular basis.

During this process, teach her how to wipe herself using toilet paper to wipe from front to back. If she seems uncertain as to how to do this or struggles with wiping, show her how to pat herself dry after she goes.

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

Girls who see fathers or older brothers use the bathroom may think they can go to the bathroom in the same fashion. As such, she may want to stand up to pee. Don’t fight her on this. Instead, let her try it out, so she can understand why girls must sit to pee, while boys can stand.

Tips to Ease Training

Little girl on potty

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For most girls, toilet training is not accomplished quickly. Both the adults and children may get frustrated on occasion. To keep these occasions to a minimum, first and foremost, understand that accidents will happen. A lot. While those experiences can be trying, remember to stay calm.

Another way to keep girls interested in toilet training is to introduce underwear. Most girls are excited about the possibility of wearing real "big girl" underwear, especially designs with their favorite characters or colors. As she progresses in her training, allow her to wear underwear during her “awake” hours, switching to diapers only when she’s sleeping. Yes, this could—and most likely will—lead to accidents, but those accidents could prompt her to go to the bathroom as soon as she feels the urge rather than waiting.

Have books on hand to read through with your child as she tries to use the bathroom. These can be toilet training-themed books or some of her favorite books. Reading will take her mind off trying to use the bathroom, allowing her to relax so she can go.

Celebrate Success

As your daughter learns to use the toilet, don’t be afraid to celebrate her successes. For instance, when she successfully uses the potty, reward her with an extra five minutes of playtime before bed. Or, let her choose a new pack of underwear for herself after going several weeks with no accidents. Just be careful to not reward every instance of success. Definitely stay enthusiastic and encouraging, but don’t get into the habit of providing a reward each and every time she uses the toilet.