Learn how to identify the signs of potty training readiness in your child.
How to Tell When Your Child is Ready for Potty Training
You’ve conquered teething, tantrums and monsters in the closet. Make sure potty training is another success story by watching for the signs of readiness and starting when your child is ready.
Your Unique Child
Is my child ready? How long will potty training take? Is there a certain age when kids are ready? The answers to the questions can be as unique as the families who ask them. The truth is that no two kids train alike. The secret to success in potty training is to tune into your unique child’s learning style.
Steer clear of worrying about hard and fast deadlines. Avoid getting caught up in milestone-mania. Learn to recognize old-school advice as just that. While you might still find people who say, "trained by 2—or you’re in for trouble…" nothing could be further from the truth!
No matter what your mother told you, there’s no one right age to start potty training. Most children show signs of readiness sometime between the ages of 18-24 months. Some children are ready at 18 months. Some hold-outs aren’t ready at three! Once you do get started, potty training takes about eight months, on average.
The Signs of Readiness
Whether the start of potty training comes earlier or later for your child, you’ll get your cues on "when it’s time" from your child. That emerging independence starts shining through. "No" isn’t the answer to every question. They’re eager to please. Now is the time to start actively watching for these signs of readiness for potty training:
Are You Ready?
Make sure you’re ready for the start of potty training when your child is. That goes beyond the essential shopping trip for potty time prep (on the short list: training pants, potty seat, rewards).
Go on and get the potty training 4-1-1. Surf the Getting Started area of Pull-Ups.com for more Stating Out articles, tools and tips.
If there’s a major family event in the near future, you may want to wait until you’re sure you can give your potty training your focused attention.
And remember the basics of being a good coach for your potty trainer. Keep things motivating right from the start by being patient, positive and consistent. Focus on what your child does right. Stay upbeat. You’ll make it smoother, simpler and more rewarding for both of you.
A Successful Start
When you and your child are ready to start potty training, make it a big occasion. Mark the start of potty training with the introduction of Big Kid® training pants and the potty chair.
With a positive outlook and a little creativity, potty training really can be more about quality time. Find ways to encourage your child’s early interest. Play up the fun with activities like decorating the potty chair, picking out rewards or creating a special potty progress chart together.
Encourage active participation by asking your child to help out with big decisions…like where to put the potty chair. And, yes…the potty chair can be located just about anywhere! Asking for your child’s input on where it should go makes them feel like a real participant right from the start.
"At first it was a little hard to get him to sit so we brought it (the potty chair) out in the living room and treated it like a new chair of his own," a mom at the Pull-Ups® Parents Connection message boards shares. "Clothes on, he'd watch his shows and read books with me. Then we tried clothes off and finally moved it into the big bathroom. No more fights about sitting on his special chair."
And don’t forget to load on the praise and rewards right from the start. Bragging rights and the expectation of applause are strong motivators to your child. So find those moments to celebrate and share them with everyone in your child’s cheering section.
Ready, Set…Not Yet
"I THOUGHT my son was ready …However, he no longer wants to go into the bathroom at all," a mom on the message boards explains. "When asked about the potty his reply is ‘NO!’ At times it's a struggle to even get him into the area."
If your first attempts are absolutely hopeless—or if your child starts out fine, but then gets hopelessly stuck, no worries! It’s not unusual for the potty chair to go back into the closet for weeks, or even months. If your child loses interest, hold off for a few weeks and then try again.
Toilet training is a developmental process. Children’s bodies and brains are developing all the time, and each new phase sets the foundation for those to come. No amount of teaching can make those developments happen before their time. You’ll have an easier, happy time of it if you wait until you’re sure your child is ready.
Go On…Enjoy Potty Training
Starting out on your potty training journey together is a time of excitement and optimism about what’s to come. Signs of growth and change are happening. Getting the new potty gear and teaching the new words are fun. You’re setting off together into an important new phase of development.
Potty training is a special opportunity to spend some concentrated quality time with your child. Facing the little challenges together…and enjoying all the little milestones along the way. Ready? Set, go!
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