Mazzy is 17 months and has started to tell us when she's pooping. She gets very still, her eyes go wide and then she stares straight through me while quietly repeating the word "POOP". It's like she's trying to warn me that the POOP is about to attack me from behind. I asked Dr. B if this means I should start potty training.
Short answer: How much do you like cleaning shit off a bathroom floor?
Dr. B has a PHD in school psychology and specializes in early development.
Children usually begin to show signs they are ready for potty training between the ages of 18 and 30 months. Boys tend to start later than girls. Most children achieve mastery before the age of 5.
Nevertheless, the initiation of potty training should be based on what your child can do, not your child’s age. Additionally, many experts recommend waiting until 30 months before starting to potty train even if a child begins to show readiness signs earlier.
Waiting until your child is physically, emotionally, and intellectually ready increases the likelihood that he/she will achieve success early on, while pushing your child before he/she is ready has the potential to result in resistance to training and unnecessary frustration for all parties involved.
10 Signs Your Toddler is Ready For Potty Training
1. Your child dislikes being in wet or soiled diapers.
2. Your child knows the difference between being wet or dry.
3. Your child tells you when they are urinating or about to have a bowel movement.
4. Your child expresses interest in using the toilet, in his/her bowel movements, in how others use the bathroom, and/or in wearing underpants.
5. Your child can pull his/her pants up and down.
6. Your child stays dry for at least 2 hours during the day and has dry diapers after naps.
7. Your child has bowel movements at regular, predictable times.
8. Your child has the muscle control to hold their urine or bowel movement to get to the toilet.
9. Your child can understand and follow simple directions.
10. Your child can get to the potty, sit on it, and get off the potty.
When your child begins to show some of the signs above, you should start increasing their interest and readiness by talking to them about going to the bathroom. Below is a list of methods you can use to better prepare your children for the potty training process.
1. Tell them that big kids use toilets instead of diapers.
2. Read books about potty training and bring your child to the bathroom to help them make the connection between the bathroom items they see in the story and actual items in their bathroom.
3. Let them try out different steps mentioned in the story such as sitting on the toilet, ripping the toilet paper, and flushing the toilet.
4. Start changing your child in the bathroom and perform some aspects of the bathroom process together such as throwing the contents of their diaper in the toilet, using the toilet paper to wipe, and letting them flush and watch it go down.
5. Invite your child into the bathroom with you or your spouse, demonstrate how to go and describe what you are doing.
6. Increase your child’s awareness of the signals their bodies send when they need to go by pointing them out when you think they are happening (e.g., when your child stops an activity for a few seconds to go in their diaper or holds their diaper while going or when wet).
7. Talk out loud about how you feel before you need to go and describe how your body feels.
8. Teach your child words such as "wet" and "dry" and encourage them to use these words when they need to be changed.
9. Introduce words or phrases they can begin to use if they want to use the toilet (i.e "I have to go")
Lastly, it is always better to delay potty training if your child does not show interest or readiness signs. The longer you wait, the shorter and easier the process will be.
Editor's Note: Point made. Mazzy and I will wait.
Editor's Note: There will be a future post from Dr. B detailing the best potty training methods. If you would like that post to write itself IMMEDIATELY, please let me know.
Update: As promised: Dr. B's Potty Training 101
If you have a question for Dr. B, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.