Written on 10 July 2019
Most children develop control over their bowel and bladder by 18 months. This skill is necessary for children to physically be able to use the toilet. How ready a child is emotionally to begin learning to use the potty depends on the individual child. Some children are ready at 18 months, and others are ready at 3. While every child is different, about 22% of children are out of diapers by 2½, and 88% of children are out of diapers by 3½.
Your child is ready to learn to use the toilet when he or she:
Stays dry for at least 2 hours at a time, or after naps
Recognizes that she is urinating or having a bowel movement. For example, your child might go into another room or under the table when she has a bowel movement. This is important—if you child does not realize she is having a bowel movement, she won’t be successful at potty training.
Is developing physical skills that are critical to potty training—the ability to walk, to pull pants up and down, and to get onto/off the potty (with some help).
Copies a parent’s toileting behavior.
Can follow simple instructions.
Most important, your child wants to use the potty. He may tell you that he wants to wear “big boy” underpants or learn to go potty “like Daddy does.” He may feel uncomfortable in a soiled diaper and ask to be changed or ask to use the toilet himself.
There are some issues that can sometimes get in the way of successful potty training. For example, when children are going through a significant change or several changes at once (see list below) it might be smart to hold off on adventures in potty training. At these times, children often feel overwhelmed and sometimes lose skills they have already learned or were making progress on, like potty training. Common situations that can cause stress and are generally not good times to start training include:
If your child is in the middle of potty training during a stressful time and seems to be having more accidents than usual, know that this is normal. Your child needs all of your patience and support right now. She will return to her previous level of potty training once things have gotten back to normal.
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