Some children show readiness for toilet training between 18 and 24 months. This should not be confused with the achievement of toilet training, which may not occur until the child is between two-and-a-half to four years of age. You may already have a potty in the bathroom and you both may have names for urine and stools. Your toddler may let you know he is dirty or wet, indicating a desire to have his diaper changed. Toilet training requires a combination of physical and mental developmental skills, which must be mastered before training can be successful. Here are some tips to get you and your toddler started:
How Do I Know if My Child Is Ready?
Your child should be able to walk well and be able to climb up and down from the potty unassisted. Your child must also be able to recognize when he has the urge to urinate or defecate (“signaling abilities.”) Your child then must be able to verbalize that urge.
Other signs of readiness include dry nap periods, grunting or straining after meals, asking to have diapers changed after a bowel movement, or telling you she has had a bowel movement. This is a sign that she can recognize the signals. You may start noticing these signs when your child is 18 to 24 months of age. However, it is not uncommon for a child to still be in diapers at 2 and a half to 3 years of age.
When Is a Bad Time to Start?
Try not to start toilet training during any type of upheaval in the child’s world – for example, the move to a new home, the birth of a new baby, divorce or illness.
When is a Good Time to Start?
Remember, toilet training requires a combination of physical and mental developmental skills, which must be acquired before training can be successful. Your child must have the physical ability to hold urine and stool and must be able to recognize the urge to go. He should be able to pull his pants down and sit on the potty by himself. He should be able to verbalize when he needs to use the potty.
What Do I Do Next?
You should buy a small potty or a potty seat that fits over your regular toilet and begin to discuss the topic with your child. You should begin using simple words (such as “pee-pee,” “wee-wee” and “poop”) to describe what is happening. Have your child sit on the potty in his diapers or clothes to feel comfortable. Remember — this is the early stage of training. Avoid putting pressure on your child before he is ready.
What about books and videos?
Books and videos about this topic are helpful, but always remember to read the book or watch the tape first so you are familiar with the contents. Make sure the method demonstrated is compatible with your own ideas and appropriate for your child’s developmental level. And never just put a video on and not explain things to your child – they can get some pretty wild ideas about this subject!