Everyone knows that it is important to potty train a child but when is the right time to do it? The answer – it depends. You may find the answer quite disappointing, but it is the truth. You may hear a friend and even your sister brag about how they potty trained their child at an early age and feel like you fail as a parent when your child is not yet potty trained.
Your child’s readiness to go through potty training depends on several factors, including your child’s personality, age, and preparedness. To avoid possible disappointment, you should accept that the journey may not be perfect or flawless. It is foolish to compare your child’s progress to that of other children his age. Some children can be potty trained with less effort, while the others can be quite difficult to handle.
You need to be flexible and accept the truth about your child’s readiness to be potty trained. Take note of the following and keep in mind that each child is different:
- Some kids potty train much earlier than the others.
- Some kids only need a shorter period than the others to potty train.
- Some kids like to potty train.
- Some kids are easy to potty train.
- Some kids are difficult to potty train.
The kids who are difficult to potty train are usually the ones who potty train late, need a longer period to learn and keep resisting the process.
It is foolish to compare your child’s progress to that of other children his age.
Before you potty train your child, you should prepare yourself to go through it with your child. Never vent your frustrations on your child when he fails to meet your expectations. It is not the child’s fault but rather yours. You may have failed to recognize whether your child is ready or not. You should accept the fact that your child is not yet ready or needs more time to get used to it.
Potty Training Age In North America
Many people in Europe and North America regard potty training the child before age 3 as early. However, most parents in the said areas usually wait until the children turn 2 years old before they start potty training. In general, potty training a child before he/she turns 2 is considered early. Potty training a child below 18 months is considered very early.
In 75 countries, it is typical for babies not to use diapers. These babies are already potty trained by the time they reach 12 months of age. In different countries all over the world, parents start potty training their babies between 2 and 24 months. Most babies in Thailand start potty training when they are between 4 and 12 months. Babies in Vietnam are usually potty trained by the age of 2.
Why There’s a Need to Potty Train?
There are several reasons why you need to potty train your child. Take a look at the following.
Recognizing Body signals
Young children don’t know how to pay special attention to their body signals, including the sensation of a full bladder.
Young children are still not capable of figuring out or recognizing the body signals that tell them it’s time to pee so they can alert the person looking after them. However, they can learn to figure it out on their own.
You need to guide your child, be a pillar of support, and extend patience when teaching your child. Understand that it may take time for your child to figure out everything on his own.
Learn bladder control and bowel control
Different children have different development rates. A young child below 12 months has no control over his bowel movements and bladder. Children between 12 and 18 months have very little control over their bladder and bowel movements.
Some children still fail to gain control over their bowel movements and bladder between 24 and 30 months. Although the suitable age to potty train your child is undetermined due to several factors already stated above, the average age to potty train is 27 months. Don’t be disheartened in case your child begins to potty train beyond the average age.
Save more money
While it’s true that potty training early can save you more money from buying diapers, it is still foolish to start potty training a child that’s not yet ready. As mentioned earlier, being ready is one of the factors that affect the potty training period. You might only find yourself in a situation where you need to deal with a difficult child to potty train when you force your unwilling child.
Develop independence and enhance confidence
Potty training gives young children a chance to develop a great sense of independence. They are in control of toilet time and no longer require wearing a diaper. If your child encountered a minor accident going to the toilet, let your child change into clean clothes on his own. Have some faith in your young child and let him do the little things that he can manage to do without your help.
In case you see your child struggling while changing clothes, you can extend a helping hand but don’t take away the opportunity of your child to change clothes on his own. These little things can help build your child’s confidence further.
Prepare for school
Your child will eventually attend school and meet other children. He might feel awkward when everyone in the class has ceased wearing a diaper. You want to teach your child how to be independent and be able to attend to his own needs, especially if you’re not around.
What Is the Ideal Age to Potty Train Your Toddler?
In case you are wondering, 18 months was the average age for potty training in the 1940s. In Schum’s 2001 US study, it was reported that the average age for girls to stop wearing diapers was 35 months and for boys, it was 39 months. Currently, the average potty training age falls around 27 months.
Learning how to properly use the toilet is a significant milestone in the life of a child. Most children begin their toilet training between ages 18 months and 3 years.
The length of time of potty training a child depends on the method you will follow and the ability of your child. Most children can control their bowels and bladder and stop wearing diapers between ages 3 and 4.
Signs of Readiness
Before you start potty training your child, you should see your child manifesting these signs of readiness.
- Your child can walk to and sit on a toilet with less supervision.
- Your child is showing interest to go to the toilet.
- Your child wants to try wearing underwear for big kids.
- It is easier for your child to understand and follow simple directions.
- Your child can pull down and pull up his pants on his own.
- Your child shows a desire to be more independent and tries to rely on you less.
- He imitates his older siblings and even the adults in the family.
- You can tell that he wants to please everyone in his family and enjoys receiving praises for a deed well done.
The sign of pulling the pants down and up again without help is not a requirement, but it can make potty training much easier. Your child may be able to sit on the toilet alone, but you should always be there to make sure that nothing bad happens.
Children with special needs usually start toilet training much later than most children. If you have a toddler with special needs, expect that it will take a longer time for him to finish potty training.
Signs Your Toddler Is Ready to Potty Train
Not all families follow the same method in potty training, and each child may need a different approach to make toilet training effective. Once you see signs of potty training readiness behavior in your child, it’s a signal that you can start the training.
Learning how to properly use the toilet is a significant milestone in the life of a child.
You will know that your toddler is truly ready to potty train when he shows two or more of these signs:
- Your child keeps pulling at his dirty or wet diaper.
- Your child tries to hide his poop or pee.
- The diaper of your child remains dry for a longer time than usual.
- Your child shows interest in other children using the potty or copying the behavior of those children.
- Your child tells you that he needs to pee or just peed in his diaper.
- Your child usually wakes up from his nap with a dry diaper.
- Your child’s diaper stays dry for two hours.
- Your child has bowel movements almost at the same time each day.
- He knows how to communicate when he needs to pee or poop.
- He doesn’t want to wear diapers anymore.
You also need to prepare yourself for the potty training journey ahead.
What Should You Not Do When Potty Training?
Potty training can be frustrating sometimes, not just for the child but for the parent as well. You need to stay positive and should not vent your frustrations on your child. It is important to make your child feel that you support him through his potty training journey.
Here are some of the things that you should not do during potty training.
Don’t force your child during the times when he does not want it.
There may be times when your child simply does not feel like sitting on the potty when you think that he’s going to poop – don’t force him. Making him sit on the potty during the times when he does not want to do it may only lead to resistance later. Forcing him may generate negative associations with using the toilet that may cause him to withhold his pee and bring harm to his body.
If you think that that you made a mistake in reading the readiness signs, you may give your child a break from his potty training and try again after a few weeks. Make sure that your child is truly ready.
Don’t start potty training during stressful times.
Even though your child may be ready to go through potty training but the time is not right, don’t push it. Vacations, holidays, new babies, marriages, visitors, death in the family, divorce, or other events may bring stress to your child and affect his willingness to go through the training.
Avoid setting a deadline to complete the training.
Young children do not know what a deadline is. Don’t expect them to cooperate well with you and meet the deadline. Every child is different and each one may not yield the same results.
Don’t fuss over some accidents.
Expect occasional accidents, like peeing in his pants, to happen. Don’t treat an accident like it is a major problem and blame your child for it. Accidents happen and treat them as part of the whole process. Know the reason for the occurrence of such an accident and make the necessary adjustments so that it won’t happen again.
Don’t make your child wear clothes that are difficult to take off.
Don’t make your child wear clothes that are difficult to remove, such as overalls. The same goes for clothes that have multiple layers, zippers, snaps, too many buttons, and other difficult clothing for a young child. He will find it hard to remove when he has an urge to poop or pee. Choose something with an elastic waist.
Give your child words of encouragement and refrain from comparing him to others.
Tips for Potty Training a Stubborn Toddler
Here are the things you can do to potty train a stubborn toddler.
- Choose the time when you can go full-time to potty train your child.
- When you notice that your child is about to poop, just sit him on the potty and don’t ask him if he wants to go. The typical answer that you will get is no.
- Make him sit on the potty for 5 minutes or until he goes.
- Make him drink plenty of fluids.
- Come up with something that he enjoys and will make him sit on the potty but don’t threaten him.
- You can try singing soothing potty songs to help him relax.
- Praise your child when he sits on the potty but don’t overdo it.
- Reward him for each successful potty.
It may take a while, but he will soon get used to the potty training.
Which potty training method is best?
Every child is different, and you are the only one who can tell which method works best for your child. The following are the methods you may consider:
Child-Oriented Potty Training
This method is ideal for children between 2 and 3 years old. It depends on the child’s readiness signs. Parents often talk about using the toilet and asking the child if he needs to go. The parent should not push the child to go to the toilet and must wait for the child to instigate the trips to the bathroom.
3-Day Potty Training
This method usually works best for children 22 months old and up. It aims to potty train a child within three days. It requires lots of patience from parents, and you should expect lots of accidents to happen.
Parent-Led Potty Training
This method is ideal for children that show readiness signs. If you are fond of setting schedules, you may find this method more to your liking. In this method, parents practically dictate the toilet time of their children.
Infant Potty Training
This method is usually done when the baby is around 1 to 4 months old and completed when the child starts to walk. Parents need to be on guard all the time and know when the baby is about to poop or pee and bring him to the toilet.
What is the 3-day potty training method?
Most parents who want to potty train their child quickly prefer the 3-day potty training method. This method is especially useful if a child needs to be potty trained before joining a certain activity or school.
On the first day, all of the child’s diapers must be thrown out. He should be dressed in a t-shirt and big kid underwear. A parent shows the toilet to her child and tells him to let her know when he needs to go. He must keep his underwear dry.
Expect accidents to happen within the 3 days. A parent should bring the child to the bathroom when he starts peeing and let him finish his business in the toilet.
A parent must remain calm, give praises for each successful toilet business, and take a chance to teach the child about the time he needs to go to the toilet.
Should you punish when potty training?
Pediatricians are against using punishment when potty training a child. Any form of punishment during potty training can leave devastating effects on the child.