At what age should I introduce potty training to my child?
It is not so much a matter of age to determine when to introduce potty training, rather a matter of when your child shows signs of readiness. Every child is different and potty training is no exception. Starting potty training too early can lead to frustration and negative experiences for children and parents. Children will only be successful when they are developmentally ready to begin the process.
As a general guideline, reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics indicate that only after the ages of 18 months to 24 months do children begin to have the cognitive, emotional and physiological developmental skills to begin potty training. And it is important to remember that a child may reach one or more of these developmental stages at different times, and therefore, may not be ready for potty training.
In short, children need to not only be capable of understanding what they are to be doing and why, but also their bodies need to be developed enough to be able to control their bladders and bowel movements. Emotionally, they need to be ready to want to start potty training and not be afraid of this new process.
The average age for potty training is between 2 and 3 years old. Some children may not be ready until the age of three or more. Some believe there is a difference in the age of readiness based on gender. Again, it is an individual process and the best way to know if your child is ready is to monitor their elimination progress (bladder and bowel) and see if your child shows an interest in potty training.
How do I know that my child is ready to begin training?
Your child may be showing signs of readiness for potty training when:
What methods or programs are the most effective at teaching Potty training?
Parents have different ideas about rewards and they know what will and won’t work for their individual children. Experts agree that the best reward for a child is the self esteem that comes from accomplishment and independence.
1. Don't start potty training until your child shows signs of readiness. Remember, every child is different and will be ready in their own time.
2. It is important to keep track of how often your child goes to the bathroom. Reminding them to take a potty break every half hour or so will help them make the connection between the feeling that comes when they need to go potty and getting to the potty.
4. As with any behavior you are trying to encourage, be CONSISTENT in your methods and rewards.
5. Expect setbacks and don't show disappointment or anger. Show your child that it is okay to have an accident, that it is expected when you are potty training or learning anything new.
6. Make the process FUN! Let your child decorate "their bathroom" or potty chair, read books about others who are going through the same process of potty training, watch videos, make the time in the potty fun by playing games and singing songs etc...
7. Be supportive and always show a lot of praise. Kids at this stage naturally want to please their parents. Hugs and positive saying such as, "I am so proud of you!", "Good Job!", "You did it!" or even "Good try", or "You'll do better next time." are one of the best rewards your child can receive.
*This information is not intended to replace medical advice and you should seek such advice from a qualified pediatrician who can assess your child on an individual basis.
References and Recommended Readings:
1. "When using public restrooms with automatic flush toilets, I bring a small pad of "sticky notes" to place over the sensor so that the toilet doesn't flush while my daughter is moving on the potty and she isn't frightened by the flushing sound."
2. "I bring a small backpack filled with "essentials" such as travel sized hand sanitizer, pocket pack of tissues (in case there is no toilet paper) , travel sized toilet seat covers and spare underwear and pants. I reassure my son that it is not a "diaper bag" but a big boy's bag for the potty."
3. "I find that my son likes having a "buddy" to travel with him when we are away from home. Nelson, his teddy bear, goes on trips, to grandma's for overnight stays and has helped him with potty training and dressing skills. He really is a good little friend!"
4. "Patience and having a sense of humor are crucial during potty training!" You must not get upset at accidents and be able to laugh about some of the adorable things your kids will come up with!"
5. My children like to have something to do while sitting on the potty. I keep a small basket of toys, books and finger puppets to pass the time and keep them entertained when they are waiting to go!