Potty Training Guide for Girls

Oh talk about bittersweet - My not-quite-two-year-old baby girl has started the potty training thing.  It's going really well too, which means that soon we'll no longer need the diapers. But it means she's getting bigger and more independent and I'm really not sure if I'm ready for that yet.  She's my last baby; we wont be having anymore little ones, so my diapering days are numbered.

Getting her to use the potty was so much easier than with her older brother.  Everyone keeps telling me, "Oh girls are easier to potty train," but I'd like to think that the trial and error with the Sammy-man really helped me know what to do this time around.
Here are some of my best tips for potty training a girl.

Reward Method for Potty Training

Now this is the one that you hear about the most, for good reason. Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to teach a child a new skill.  If you want to ensure that your little one wants to use the potty, you have to give something back.

How to Positively Reinforce Potty Training

  • Praise - yup, that clapping and the "yay big girl!" and potty dancing, those are all means of helping build your little girl's self esteem while showing them how proud you are of their achievement. When they let you know that their diaper is wet, up until they successfully complete the entire potty training, it's important to encourage them with with praise.  Accidents will happen, be sure to keep the upbeat attitude and try not to show disappointment - it isn't a failure, just a learning moment!
  • Treats - this one is pretty self-explanatory, and tends to be the advice I hear most often.  My sister used M&Ms when potty training her little girl, and at daycare they use stickers and stamps.  Giving a treat of some kind, or doing something special with your little one, when they use the potty is a great way to reinforce the behavior you want them to exhibit.  The only downside to giving treats as a reward is that they will come to expect some kind of candy or sticker every time they use the potty, and there's times when Momma forgets the sticker book at home when in public.

Tips for Successful Potty Training a Girl

1. Show your daughter how to use the toilet.  They're going to follow you into the bathroom anyway when you're expecting a little bit of privacy - instead of getting frustrated, try explaining what's going on.  Tell her the steps for what Momma is doing, and let her help flush.  Kids are visual learners; you can't expect them to just know what to do.

2. Don't expect them to tell you when they need to go.  At the beginning of potty training, most little girls are still figuring out what certain sensations mean.  Try taking her to the bathroom every 15-20 minutes and letting her sit on the potty, then give her praise when she "goes" - she'll figure it out!

3. Go pants-less.  Or you know, at least put a pull-up diaper or something that is easy for her to remove. This is the age where they want to be as independent as possible, and making her depend on you to take her diaper off will only slow her down.  If you're worried about puddles - read on:

4. There will be accidents.  Go ahead and accept this.  Put a potty chair in the living room, or play room, and put down a towel or something.  Puppy pads?  It doesn't matter, as long as you relax a little and expect to clean up the occasional puddle.

5. Make sure she's ready.  Maybe this should have been the first tip, because I think it's the most important.  Your little girl isn't going to be ready to potty train, unless she wants to.  It will just get frustrating for the both of you, and might make it take longer.  When she shows discomfort as soon as she wets her diaper, when she starts stripping in the middle of dinner because she doesn't want a diaper on... she might be ready to start.  Until then, showing her the ropes is a great way to introduce it to her without forcing it on her.

What's your best potty training tip?