When to potty train your child? Your child’s readiness is the main consideration, but there are also some other suggestions I have as far as the time frame you should think about for when to begin potty training.
When To Potty Train
In general, you should undertake this huge task during a time when there is little conflict and not much activity. Training around Christmas or Thanksgiving can be distracting. You need to devote a lot of attention to your toddler, and with so much going on during the holidays; you probably won’t be able to do that.
However, if you have a long holiday weekend without having to worry about work, working on potty training during this time could be a great time to start.
Make training a top priority on a consistent basis when you have the emotional and physical energy to do it. Even if your child shows signs of potty training readiness, you may not be ready for it as a parent.
Clear your schedule and be ready for anything! Select a time to begin the training when your family’s routine is least likely to be disturbed with house guests, vacations away from home, a move, and so on. Make sure you’re not pre-occupied with other major commitments such as work, either.
You may want to get out a calendar and talk with your child about a good time to start intensive training. ask your child when s/he wants to begin to learn how to use the potty. Circle the date in a bright color and keep reminding her/him that “potty day” is almost here.
Other less-than-ideal times to begin training are during stressful situations such as when traveling, around the time of a birth of a sibling, or when making another huge life adjustment for your child such as taking away the bottle or changing from a crib to a bed.
Take these factors into consideration when you plan to introduce toilet teaching. It may be better to postpone it until your child’s environment is stable and secure.
Also, though some experts may recommend starting the process during summer because children wear less clothing, it is not a good idea to wait to start if your child is ready.
Of course, teaching your toddler to use the potty isn’t an overnight experience. The process typically takes between 3 and 6 months, although it may take more or less time for some children.
And although some little ones can learn to both make it through the night without wetting or soiling themselves (or the bed) and use the potty around the same time, it may take an additional 6 months to 1 year to master staying dry at night.
There are some systems that can help you teach your child to use the potty within three days – or even less. They may help, but potty training is a long, learning process that takes complete dedication.
Children can experience stress too. Trying to potty train while your child is under a certain amount of stress for whatever reason can be frustrating for both of you. Avoid this huge step during times like this.
Potty training is a learning process, not a disciplinary process, and a complicated one at that! Your child has to understand what you want, and then has to learn how to do it. In addition to understanding the bodily sensations, getting to the bathroom and getting clothes off, a child must first constrict sphincter muscles to achieve control, and then relax them to eliminate. Obviously there is a lot to learn. Gaining bowel and bladder control is a skill and fortunately children usually like to learn new skills.
The mastery of skills usually follows a pattern. First is bowel regularity often followed by bowel control. Daytime bladder control often comes next but for many children this can happen simultaneously, and finally later (often much later), comes nighttime bladder control
And, of course, there are children who achieve daytime and nighttime control simultaneously. With the swing toward a more relaxed approach to toilet training from the previous generation, children tend to be trained later and more frequently their bowel and bladder functions come under their control at the same time.
Some parents elect to take a more laid-back approach towards toilet training. They let the child go when they want to and if they have an accident, they just gloss over it with little reference. For some people, this can work, but it’s bound to take a lot longer than traditional training.
If you do choose a passive attitude about potty training, keep in mind that children still need to know what it is that is expected of them. You are not necessarily “pushing” your child by providing direction and expectations. Some children really are ready to be trained early, so you are not “pushing” if you are meeting no resistance. Let their resistance be your guide. Children really do love learning grown-up behavior, so learn when to potty train and don’t deny them their opportunity, if it fits their readiness.
So, are there ways you can help along the process? You bet!
Tips To Help Your Child Get Ready For Potty Training
There is much to be said for setting the stage well before you get ready for potty training. Few children train themselves. They need to know what’s expected of them! They need and deserve your help and guidance.
Easy way to know when to potty train. A child who has become familiar with bathroom procedures and equipment is more likely to become trained quickly and easily than one who has not. How can you best do this?
First, take your child into the bathroom with you. It’s especially helpful if fathers and brothers set the example for boys, and mothers and sisters set the example for girls. Brothers or sisters are often pleased to act as role models.
Some adults have a real problem with people being in the bathroom with them – even if it is your own child or grandchild. My husband is like this. When my daughter began to potty train our grandson, it was very important to him that he see Grandpa going potty. The bottom line is that he basically “got over it” and let Conner in with him.
Of course, there are always other children who would like to show off their potty skills to your child. If your child is in day care, they can watch how their peers use the potty and will most likely imitate them. In fact, this can actually speed up the process significantly.
Try to help your child recognize the sensations of “being wet,” “wetting now,” and “about to be wet.” Encourage your child to talk about these sensations — especially “about to be…” sensations — without pressing your child to be toilet trained.
Comment on signs you notice, such as the child’s pausing in play or walking as if he or she is uncomfortable after elimination. Use statements such as, “You are going poop,” rather than asking the general question, “What are you doing?” Asking your child to let you know when the diaper is wet or messy is another way of increasing awareness.
Let your child go nude in appropriate settings to help the child “see” what he or she is doing, and to help make the mental connection between the words and what they refer to.
This was especially helpful with Mike. Potty training started in the summer when we were outside a lot. He took great joy in “peeing on a tree” and off the back deck. We live in the country, so we didn’t have to worry about inappropriateness.
We let him run nude in the house as well which was alright because it was hot outside and being naked gave him the freedom to use the potty without worrying about soiling his pants. Of course, there were accidents, and I invested in a cheap carpet cleaner to take care of that!
Changing a diaper in the bathroom will also associate the process with the place. Children over age 2 should be off the changing table for exactly this reason.
Although much ado has been made about using the proper terminology for body parts and functions, you should use the words that come most easily to you and your child. “Peeing,” for example, may be more effective than the term “urinating” if the latter is a forced term.
However, you SHOULD use specific terms. “Going to the bathroom” is too vague. “Go pee on the potty” is not.
Try not to use words that will make your child think of his or her bodily functions as being dirty or disgusting. Avoid saying things like “dirty,” “stinky,” “yucky,” etc.
Help your child learn the meaning of the terms “before” and ” after” by using them yourself in other contexts such as, “After I eat dinner, I’ve got to clean up the dishes.”
Talk about the advantages of being potty trained: no more diaper rash, no more interruptions for diaper changing, and the pleasure of being clean and dry. Discuss training as an important stage of growing up. If your child is truly ready to use the potty, he or she will be able to understand you.
Let your child practice lowering and raising training pants sometimes, or putting them on and taking them off. Pull-ups are great for teaching them this concept.
You will want to consider buying “big boy britches” for boys or “pretty panties” for girls before starting the process. By this, we mean actual underwear with a favorite character on them or frilly, lacy panties that can make your girl or boy feel special. Using this tactic also helps them embrace the desire not to soil their special pants.
Have a potty chair handy on which the child may sit even with clothes on perhaps while you are in the bathroom yourself, but only if he or she wants to. The intent is not to get results, but to provide familiarity with the equipment.
Some children won’t use a potty chair at all, but having one available is a good idea anyway. There are all sorts of fun potty chairs on the market today, so find one that your child can be proud of and identify with.
The idea is to have your child sit on the potty chair and become comfortable with being on their own little throne. If they want to haul it into the living room and sit there while watching TV, let them. Don’t get all caught up in appropriateness when potty training. You have to relax just a little bit and let your child lead the way – at least for a little bit!
Let your child flush the toilet for you to help him or her get used to the noise it makes and avoid possible fear later on. We found it helpful to “wave bye bye” to the pee or poop as it drained out. This made it fun for him!
Explain the way things should be to your child. At the start, explain to your child that it’s time to put her “pee-pee” and “poo” in the potty. Tell your child that when s/he feels the need to go she should hold it in just long enough to walk to the potty, sit down, and let it go.
Talk to your child about the advantages of being trained: no more diaper rash, no more interruptions for diaper changing, and the pleasure of being clean and dry. Discuss training as an important stage of growing up.
Sit your child’s favorite doll or action figure on a pretend toilet, explaining “the baby is going pee-pee in the potty.” Put diapers on his favorite stuffed bear. Then graduate the bear to underwear.
Make a big deal about throwing away your child’s diapers. Tell your child that they won’t need the diapers anymore because they will be big kids now. You can even have your child throw their own diapers in the trash can and commemorate the event with a special crown or treat!