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Is My Child Ready to Potty Train?
Help for Potty Training Parents
I have a two-year-old daughter. She’s almost two-and-a-half now, and she’s not potty trained yet. Her daycare wants her potty trained by the time she’s three, so I’m trying my best to get her ready. I’ve got the potty chair, the stickers, and the M&Ms. I’m all ready to go. But I don’t think she is.
You see, a short time ago, she started pulling down her pants and taking off her own diaper, and I thought, ‘Okay. This is it. She’s ready for potty training.’ So I got out the chair. She knew what it was immediately because it looks just like a real toilet (except real toilets don’t have a sticker dispenser).
I started to pull her pants down and put her on the potty. She didn’t want any part of it! I thought for sure I had completely misread the signs that she was ready for getting out of diapers, so I sought help from online forums and books - anything I could get my hands on to tell me whether or not my child is indeed ready for potty training.
Elizabeth Pantley’s book, The No-Cry Potty Training Solution, is one of the best I’ve found so far in my search for knowledge. It’s full of helpful information on deciding when and how to start potty training. What are the signs that a toddler is ready to potty train? Here are a few and how they relate to my own experiences as a potty training mom.
1: Your child tells you when he/she has a wet or dirty diaper.
My daughter doesn’t always do this. She always comes to me and asks to have her diaper changed in the mornings, but she doesn’t always let me know at other times of the day. Sometimes hours go by, and I know she must have done something in her diaper, but she doesn’t tell me when I ask her, and I have to check for myself.
2: Your child goes off some place private to have a bowel movement.
My daughter has just recently started doing this. She will, without warning, leave the room. And if my husband or I try to follow her, she throws a fit and shouts at us to go away. If she can’t leave the room, she will go off in a corner by herself.
This is the potty we chose for our girl. It was really highly rated, and I love the real flushing sound and the sticker reward system!
3: Your child can listen well and follow instructions.
This is an important one because helping your child learn to use the potty requires a lot of instruction (Go to the bathroom, pull down your pants, sit on the pot, wipe off, flush, wash your hands). If a child doesn’t listen to you and/or doesn’t understand what you are saying, you will have major potty training problems.
My daughter listens well when she wants to, and she follows direction well (again - when she wants to). I just have to learn to convince her that she really does want to use the potty!
4: Your child can take off and put on his/her clothes by him/herself.
I know I, as an adult, don’t really think about all the technical skills that are involved in going to the bathroom. At least I didn’t until I started trying to get my little girl to use the potty herself. It really is a complicated process, when you get right down to it.
My daughter has just recently begun to put her clothes on herself (although she still tries to put her pants on her head and her shirts on her legs, for some unknown reason). She can easily pull her pants down by herself (at least the stretchy elastic-waist ones). She has more trouble getting them up by herself, though (her bottom always gets in her way in back, and she never can seem to get past it).
5: Your child is at least 24 months old
I know there are some people who have their children potty trained by the time they’re 18 months old (usually these are second/third/fourth children who see their older siblings using the potty and want to imitate them). I imagine my younger daughter (almost exactly two years younger than my oldest) will be potty trained much sooner just because she sees her older sister using the potty. She’s already trying to hold her bottle herself, and she’s only three months old!
Pediatricians recommend waiting until your child is at least 24 months old - just because of the extra cognitive and physical/motor development. Younger children may have trouble understanding commands and/or manipulating their clothes by themselves.
Clueless about where to start when you're potty training. Read this book. It's got great tips for parents who are new to the potty training experience.
Your child may be ready before you are
One important thing Pantley mentions in her book is the fact that parent readiness to potty train can seriously influence the child’s potty training readiness. If you are not ready, your child won’t be.
Am I ready to potty train my daughter? In a way, yes, but also no. I want her to be independent and grow and develop the way she’s supposed to. On the other hand, I love changing her diaper. Really, I do. I love that time of being with her and helping her, and I will miss it. I guess I just love being needed. Still, I’m excited about being able to help her through this potty training experience, and I want her to succeed more than anything!
The Final Verdict
Are we ready for potty training? I think not, but we're getting there!
My daughter used her potty chair for the very first time last night. I was so proud!
I think we both still have some growing to do before we will be cognitively ready to go through with the potty training process. It won’t be long now, though! And I imagine that once we actually officially start, it won’t take her long at all to get the hang of things.