The Toilet-Training Two-Step

Many parents are unsure about when to start toilet teaching or "potty training." Not all kids are ready at the same age, so it's important to watch your child for signs of readiness, such as stopping an activity for a few seconds or clutching his or her diaper. Most children begin to show these signs between 18 and 24 months, although some may be ready earlier or later than that.

Step One: Every child is different. Know when your child is ready.

Some kids are ready to potty-train at 18 months, others are ready at three years. Your child might be ready to start toilet training when:

  • He starts expressing interest in the potty or in "big-boy underwear."
  • He recognizes when he needs to go.
  • He develops physical skills like walking, pulling up his own pants, getting on and off the potty (with some help).
  • He can follow simple instructions.

When NOT to try potty-training:

  • During a change in child-care arrangements.
  • Shortly before or after a move.
  • During a divorce or separation.
  • While transitioning to a "big-kid" bed.
  • If there has been a recent crisis in the family (injury, illness, death).

Step Two: Potty-training can be a scary time for your little oneā€¦ and maybe for the parents too. But it doesn't have to be!

  • Teach your child the right bathroom words to use. Explain that poop and pee are waste that have to be removed, and will not harm them.
  • Explain how to use a toilet and that the flush sound will not harm them. Let your child flush the toilet after they go to see what happens.
  • Calmly acknowledge when the child has done a good job. But don't go overboard with praise.
  • Always make sure you and the child wash hands after potty-time.
  • Be patient and kind. Children get even more anxious than parents during potty-training, and making your child feel ashamed could be a traumatizing mistake. Accept that accidents happen during and sometimes after training.

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