Potty Training

Is your child ready to use the potty?  The more important question—are you?

Children are usually ready for potty training around the ages of 18-36 months and girls are often ready earlier than boys. Bowel and bladder control are necessary skills for children to physically be able to use the toilet. How ready a child is emotionally to begin learning to use the potty depends on the individual child.  Every child is different. Your child is ready to learn to use the toilet when she or he:

  • stays dry for at least 2 hours at a time,
  • recognizes that he is urinating or having a bowel movement,
  • is developing physical skills such as undressing,
  • is able to get on and off the potty with some help,
  • copies a parent’s toileting behavior,
  • most importantly wants to use the potty. 

Here are some tips for when your child is ready to use the potty:

  1. Be positive. A child learns better when he is praised for his progress rather than punished for mistakes.  When your child is successful, give him a hug, some verbal praise, perhaps even a small reward (sticker or fruit snack). When he fails, tell him you’re sure he’ll do better next time and ask him to help you clean up.
  2. Be consistent. Create reasonable expectations according to your child’s abilities and give reminders. Keep the bathroom routine as consistent as possible, with the potty in the same place every time and the sequence of actions—including wiping and hand washing—the same very time. Make sure your approach to toilet training is consistent with other caring for your child.
  3. Stay involved and observe. A very young child’s abilities, behaviors and needs can change frequently. Approaches that worked two weeks ago may not work today and skills that he mastered in the past may temporarily disappear. Continue to monitor his bathroom behavior throughout toilet training and identify and resolve any new problems that arise.
  4. Enjoy. Toilet training is a necessary chore, but it can be fun. Don’t take your child’s resistance and hesitation too seriously. Do what you can to relax, take your eye off the long term goal and enjoy the charming, funny, precious moments along the way.
  5. Be prepared to commit to two to three weeks. Training requires lots of patience. If it is not successful it’s okay, it may mean your child is just not ready. If necessary stop and try again in a month or so.
  6. Make sure you can commit. Be aware of the effort you have to give and that the timing is right for you and your child.