Many parents equate successful parenting with early toilet training. It is important to keep in mind that children will naturally show interest in toilet training when they are ready and there is no set age that a toddler “should” be potty trained. In fact, starting too early may be detrimental to their progress.
When and how is potty training initiated?
Somewhere between 18 and 36 months of age, toddlers begin potty training. At this stage, toddlers start to become aware of their own bodily functions. At the same time, they are developing the muscle coordination needed to begin to consciously control their bladders and bowels. This self-awareness and the ability to control certain muscle groups are the first things a child must develop in order to begin training. Parents that push or urge their children to begin training before this time produce anxiety and stress for their child and will most likely prolong and complicate the process.
Between the ages of two and three, parents should be on the lookout for the signs that indicate that their toddler may be ready to start training.
• Your child should be able to understand simple instructions like, go get a diaper please, or, can you please shut the door?
• Your child should be able to mimic your behavior.
• Your child may begin to show discomfort with having wet or soiled diapers.
• Your child may recognize and be able to verbalize to you that they went potty in their diaper.
• Your child may verbalize when they feel like they need to go potty.
Developing a sense of independence
Toddler’s have a need to develop a sense of independence. One way that toddlers develop autonomy is by being in control of their bodies. Parents can help their children learn to pay attention to physical cues that indicate when they have to use the potty. As a toddler displays cues like their tummy hurting, parents can point out what is happening and help their children tune in to their bodies.
Children also feel a sense of independence when they can effectively convey their needs to their parents. When parents talk to their toddlers about going to the potty, they are teaching their children the words and concepts that they will need to adequately communicate with parents and caregivers.
Tools for potty training
As your toddler begins to toilet train, some tools can be helpful:
• “Big kid” underwear can be utilized to give a child a sense of accomplishment. Pick a time when you are relatively sure that your toddler can stay dry for a couple of hours and then let them wear their new underwear. After a couple of hours, praise them for staying dry.
• A children’s potty chair can be a useful tool when placed in the bathroom. When your child is ready they may experiment with it by just sitting on it. Having it there will let them know they can use it when they are ready.
Toilet training your toddler is an exercise in patience and consistency. Watching a toddler make strides towards independence is an exciting time for parents as they help their children learn and grow. It is important for parents to remember that they can help their toddlers in the toilet train process by acknowledging that children become ready at different times and there is no “right” age for toilet training.
For parenting classes in Houston, contact DePelchin Children’s Center at (713) 730-2335.