Boys are harder to potty train - it's official. At least, according to MFM mums.


We asked 1229 of you about your toilet training experiences, including the differences between girls and boys.

Our survey found a clear difference between potty training boys and girls

- Over a third (35%) of parents believe girls are easier to potty train than boys while only 14% of parents believe boys are easier to train than girls

- 54% of parents of girls start potty training before the age of 2 compared to only 38% of parents of boys

More like this

- 6% of parents of boys admitted to delaying starting potty training because of fears about how challenging it could be

- 31% parents of boys wish there was more potty training advice available compared to 21% parents of girls

Boys learn in a different way to girls

Why is this? Developmental research suggests that boys’ brains develop differently than girls and learning often takes on different forms for boys than for girls. In essence, boys need to try and do the same activity over and over, in order to learn.

It was also found that boys like to switch between activities. This may mean they focus on potty training for a few minutes and then switch to something else, like playing with a toy, in order to learn.

The amount of space boys use can also be different. Boys like to use lots of space, when learning a new activity whether its potty training, throwing a ball or eating.

Girls tend to focus on one activity at a time, stay in a smaller space, and don’t need as many repetitive tries at something new like potty training. This is partly because girls develop more communication and language skills earlier than boys and can learn more from communicating with you about the activity.

To summarise:

Boys are likely to be less focused, more distracted and need more space than girls when learning a new skill like potty training.

Boys potty train later

By the age of two and a half:

- over half (56%) of girls are fully trained in the day compared to 44% of boys
- nearly a third of girls (30%) are fully dry at night compared to one in five boys (19%)
- 22% parents of boys admit they’ve had ‘more potty training attempts than they can remember’ compared with 13% of parents of girls

* Read more on When to start potty training - your checklist

The big difference

One big difference between the two genders is of course, how we pee. As boys will eventually stand to pee, boys have a more complex two-step process. When you start potty training, both boys and girls will sit on the potty. But at some point, boys have to learn to stand and aim - which can bring its own challenges!


We’re all different

After pointing out all of these differences, not everyone agrees. With 27% of you believing that gender doesn’t affect how easy or hard it is to potty train, it clearly depends on the individual. Each child is different, we can all agree on that, and potty training can be tricky at times whether you are training a girl or a boy.