Just like anything in parenting or life, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to potty training. Every kid is different and while some kids will be ready to transition from a changing table to a potty in as early as 18 months, others might not until their third or even fourth birthday. A good mark will be around 24 months, but the key is to accept that it takes time, patience and willingness from both parents and kids to make potty training successful.
It is also important to look for cues that your kid is ready for potty training. But what are the signs to look for? Use this checklist to help you decide if your child is ready. Starting too early will only result to frustrations, struggles and more accidents, so it’s better to wait for the perfect time.
- Longer dry periods of at least two hours and during nap time
- Urinates a fair amount
- Can walk steadily and support himself
- Has the ability to pull his pants up and down
- Shows curiousness in adults’ bathroom activities
- Goes to more private spaces to pee or poo
- Tells you or gives you signs (like squatting, grunting or making faces) when he wants to pee or poo
- Getting more independent
- Can follow instructions well
Once ready, it’s time to start the potty training fun! Again, remember that your experience with one child might be different from another (even when you have twins). Patience is really a virtue but as many books and other moms’ experiences suggest, it is doable in a few weeks or so!
- Set a Schedule. When starting, find a few days when you will be at home or at least going to places with access to bathrooms. Let your kid go through his day as normal but bring him to the potty every 15-20 minutes. It’s best if there are less distractions at home like playmates so he can focus on the task at hand. Do this for a few sessions and for a few succeeding days. A few accidents are normal and if it becomes too often, rethink his readiness and try again at a later time.
- Watch and Learn. Kids learn by imitating adults. Bring your kid to the bathroom and show him/her how you do it. Show your daughter how to wipe correctly from front to back and let your son watch your husband or other male relatives do it, especially aiming when they pee.
- Use the Right Tools. You will need a potty chair and/or a toilet seat insert. If you are letting them use your toilet seat, make sure they have a stool so they are comfortable and have better access. Keeping their feet on the ground (or stool) also relaxes their pelvic muscles which helps a lot. You can also start using pull-ups so they can associate them with underpants.
- Avoid Pressure. Expect a few accidents and let your kids know that it’s alright. Anger and pressure will only lead to fear, uncooperativeness and tears which will make potty training more painful. If they are not ready, tell them you’ll try again next time when they are “bigger”.
- This especially works for kids who respond to rewards. You can motivate them by helping them relax and still have fun while potty training. For example, give them books to encourage them to sit in their potty chair for a period of time. Write their names on their potty chairs so they know it’s theirs alone and be more comfortable using it. You can also help them be more involved and have more ownership by bringing them to shop for “big girl or big boy” underwear in designs or characters they like.
Remember, it’s a partnership. You have to treat your kid as a trainee as much as they see you as their coach. Manage your expectations, some kids take months to fully train. Boys on average takes a bit longer to train than girls, but you’ll eventually get there. Patience is key. Good luck!