Ah, potty training. A time that every parent looks forward to with excitement, anxiety and confusion. As a behavior interventionist, I have potty trained my fair share of children of all different ages, levels of development and disabilities. Over the years, I have researched potty training methods in an attempt to find the best way to accomplish this crucial life skill. Bottom line, there is no one way that is “THE BEST!” But, there are aspects of each method that can be used to fit each child, their needs and personalities. Thus, the Potty Training Series was born. A hopefully enlightening attempt to assist the parenting world in the realm of toilets.
This is how the series will go down:
Part 1 will address the age old question, “When should I start potty training my child?”
Parts 2 & 3 will delve into the different methods
Part 4 is all about my gathered thoughts and experiences on potty training throughout the years
I don’t have any experience with Elimination Communication or Infant Training, so those will not be covered. Maybe one day I will be that ambitious.
Without further ado-doo (please forgive that pun if you found it completely inappropriate, but if you chuckled, don’t be ashamed):
Part 1: When to Start
People often think potty training is just a natural, physically developmental process that always happens around 2-years of age. They also think that potty training should happen quickly, without stress.
Sorry to burst your bubble if you think this way, but this is not how it happens for most families. Congratulations to those with prodigal children who just sat on a toilet and trained themselves. Chances are, those people will not be reading this post.
First of all, we need to clear up the fact that potty training is just as much, if not more so, behavioral as physiological. Think about it for a minute. We are trying to teach a human being that has, up to this point, defecated free willy, whenever they very well pleased, to now control said defecation until they are sitting, not just any sitting on the floor or on any old chair, but on the appropriate porcelain throne. That is a HUGE skill to learn.
For this reason, many studies are showing that it is best to wait until the child is showing signs of readiness rather than having a hard fast rule that we need to train our children at 24 months.
Here are some of the key signs that your child is ready to take this giant leap of independence:
- Little one can walk to the potty and be stable while sitting on the potty (we do not want any Tommy-tippees happening)
- Has the ability to follow 2-step commands (such as, “Go over there and pick up that book.”)
- Capable of communicating the need to use the toilet (does not need to be vocal, just able to communicate the need in some manner).
- There is a desire for independence
- Enjoys doing things that please caregivers
- Recognizes when they have defecated in their diaper
- Able to pull down pants
Just as each child has developed skills at varying ages up to this point, they will develop that ability to be potty trained at different ages, as well.
I have also found that children will express an interest in the toilet and want to try “Going.” They may not ever actually “go” or even want you take off their diaper, but this is another sign that they may be at a good point to start the potty training process.
It is crucial that we do not push our children to start potty training if they are not ready. This can have adverse effects such as incontinence and infections. This is not a race. If your neighbor’s kid was potty trained at 24 months and your darling is just starting at 30 months, that is fine as long as you feel it is the right time for your child.
Some last minute things to remember when starting this journey:
- Girls typically potty train sooner and faster than boys
- Most children in Western civilization have bladder and bowel control by 24-48 months of age
- On average, it takes 3-6 months for a child to become completely independent in toileting
- Patience and consistency are key
That wraps up part 1 of the Potty Training Series. I know you are all on the edges of your seats waiting for the next installment. I promise it will come soon. Until then, find the beauty in being an imperfect parent!
Pediatrics and Child Health
Among healthy children, what toilet-training strategy is most effective and prevents fewer adverse events (stool withholding and dysfunctional voiding)?, Mia E Lang
When and How to Train, Darcie A. Kiddoo