When is My Child Ready?
The easiest indicator of toilet readiness is the age of your child. Most doctor's recommend to start potty-training your child between the ages of 2 and 3. Starting early can be risky as your child may not be ready. Read on to find out how you can tell if your child is ready to start potty training.
Why Is 2-3 Years Of Age The Magic Time to Start Potty Training?
Potty training needs to follow the development of your child’s physical ability to recognize when they need to go to the bathroom and control the bladder and rectal muscles. Before the age of two, the release of solid and fluid waste is generally involuntary. Most children only BEGIN to develop control of these muscles around their second birthday. Keep in mind that children gradually develop this control—and that’s why potty training is a process.
What A Range? How Do You I Know When MY Child Is Ready?
Your child will provide you with cognitive and physical signs of readiness. Keep and eye out for things such as:
|Sufficient Attention Span||Your child plays with one toy for five minutes or longer. This means the attention span required to learn the routine involved with going to the bathroom has developed.|
|Ability to Dress||Your child can dress and undress with limited assistance. This will be helpful when you start to teach the potty training routine. It’s one less step in the routine your child will have to learn. Dressing and undressing also require motor skills indicative of physical and cognitive maturity necessary for potty training.|
|Cognitive Maturity||Your child is able to show you where toys and clothes belong in their room. This is another indicator of cognitive maturity. If your child can do this, the mental ability has developed to remember where the toilet paper is and other necessary functions to learning the process.|
|Follows Directions||Many of the steps in the potty training process require a series of simple instructions. If your child can respond appropriately to “hold the book in your hand”, they will most likely be able respond when you say “sit on the potty.”|
|Consistent Bowel Movement||Your child can keep a diaper dry for 2 hours or longer and has bowel movements at relatively the same time everyday. Both of these signs show that your child’s bladder and rectal muscles are developed enough to allow the control needed during the process. Regularity will help with scheduling of a routine during the process. Keep a journal throughout a week-long span to track your child’s waste-production times.|
|Aware of Diaper||Your child is aware that he is wearing a diaper, or can signal that he has one on when you put it on. If your child can signal by pointing or touching, it means he has enough language to tell you when he needs to go potty. If he is aware he is wearing a diaper, he will be able to feel the difference between wet and dry, which is a crucial step when learning when to use the potty.|
|Washes Hands||Your child enjoys the process of washing his hands. If your child enjoys it, it probably means he understands it, and it’s not an easy one to learn from scratch. There are multiple steps and each step builds on the previous one. If he can do this, he will be able to put together the steps of going to the potty as well.|
|Likes to Please||Your child is willing to please you. Because potty training is about teaching and waiting for optimal results, you will want your child to do what you are telling him to do. If he is in a defiant stage you will most likely want to wait until something other than “NO” comes from his mouth.|
|Wakes Dry Each Morning||Your child can wake up from sleep dry for several mornings in a row. This is an even better indicator that your child has the motor control necessary to begin the potty training process and make it a successful one.|
Don’t worry if your child lacks one or two (or maybe three or four) of these behaviors. If you can check off at least five of these signs, you are probably ready to start teaching your child how to use the toilet and kick those diapers to the curb.
Times When You Shouldn’t Potty Train Your Child
Avoid Potty Training If...
If possible, try to avoid potty training your child in stressful times. Here are some events to watch out for:
- Birth of a new baby
- Change in daycare
- Change with someone living in the household
- A new pet
Choose a time when your routine can be implemented with little interruptions. All family members should be calm and there should be no unneccessary stressors in the household. Any breaks in the routine can lead to backsliding and cause the process to take longer. It could cause your child to be reluctant to finish the process. Choose a time when your child is relatively relaxed. It is a good idea wait a month after a major change before beginning a potty training routine.