On average, most children begin learning to use a potty by around their second birthday, but, as with everything in children’s development, each child is different.
Up to the age of 20 months, toddlers’ bladders need to empty often, and their muscles aren’t always fully developed which makes it difficult for them to master holding on for the loo. Coupled with their lack of dexterity as they haven’t yet developed how to master their clothing going to the loo is still a tricky and difficult skill to manage.
Some parents find it easier to toilet train their children during the summer, when toddlers can run around with fewer clothes on but if your child is a winter baby then this might not be the right time for your child, however old they are.
The secret to toilet training is your child’s readiness for it and your relaxed and positive state of mind.
Just trust your instinct and intuition and always go with your toddler’s readiness.
It can take longer for boys to learn, especially as they also have to master the act of going while standing up and most boys learn to go sitting down first and then Dad, mum or an older brother can then show them how to do it the other way.
Here is the ABC of potty training
A — Assess your child’s readiness
B — Buy the right equipment
C — Create a routine
D — Dump the nappy
E — Explain the process
F — Foster independence
G — Grab some training pants
H — Handle setbacks gracefully
I — Introduce night training
J — Jump for joy — you’re done!
So is my child ready?
- Start to notice if they:
- Stay dry for a couple of hours each day
- Take an interest when you, your partner or older siblings go to the toilet
- Have a bowel movement at regular times of the day, say, after breakfast or when they’ve eaten a meal
- Can understand when a bowel movement is taking place, by squatting or making a grunting sound for example
- Let you know they want to be changed when their nappy is dirty
When to wait
It’s usually best not to start toilet training your child during times of stress, such as:
- The arrival of a new baby in the family
- Starting a new childcare arrangement
- Moving from a cot to a bed
- Moving house
- Family relationship problems
- When a family member is ill
Potty pointers and points to ponder
Be positive and upbeat – present the change from nappies as something exciting.
Give lots of praise whenever your child manages to do something in the potty – stress how grown up and clever they are. Give them a sticker; sing very loudly, dance about – and just make the whole thing special and fun.
Don’t rush things – sometimes if you start teaching later it takes less time, and some children when they are a bit older can skip the potty stage and move straight onto using the loo, which makes life easier.
Expect setbacks – learning to use the toilet is just like other skills your toddler learns and you didn’t expect him to learn to walk without a lot of falls.
Easy outfits. Give your toddler clothes that can be pulled down and up easily to help them create lots of success at the beginning. You might also find using training pants helpful at first, to cope with those inevitable accidents.
Never force your child to sit on the potty, as this will only upset them and make the whole experience negative and stressful and won’t make the process any faster.
Get them to choose. Some toddlers enjoy picking out their own potty and toilet seat to make them feel important and grown up.
Many toddlers are afraid of the sound of the toilet flushing or they don’t like to see the poo being flushed away so be sensitive and sensible and just wait until they have off to play and then flush.
It always takes longer for a child to learn to stay dry at night – when they start having the occasional dry nappy in the morning, it’s a good sign the time is right to try going without a nappy but again don’t rush it.
Accidents do happen. It’s often a case of two steps forward and often one step back. So be prepared and do your best not to be angry with your child if they have an accident – just say, cheerfully, “never mind, you’ll get there next time, let’s get you some dry pants”. Your toddler takes their lead from you so be positive, grounded and calm to help them feel relaxed while they are learning a brand new skill.
Remember to get your toddler to wash their hands afterwards, so that using the potty or toilet is associated with hand washing from the beginning. It will stop battles later on ands prepare them for school later on.
Wee targets. As any mum of young boys knows, it’s hard to keep the bathroom clean all the time! Too often boys get distracted and wee hits the lid, the wall, the floor, in fact almost anywhere except the bowl. Wee Targets are a fun way for little boys to learn how to aim correctly.
Wee Targets are plastic targets that you stick to the inside rim of the toilet to give your little boy something to aim for as they are heat sensitive and they have a picture that gets revealed as the wee hits the spot. The targets go back to black once the toilet is flushed, ready for next time. So it makes training fun and enjoyable and a bit easier! Their website is http://www.etgeurope.com/wee_target.html
The secret to success is for you to be relaxed, positive and upbeat while enjoying and supporting your little one through a new stage in their development.