By Deborah Lee MS, OTR/L
“When can I start potty training with my child?” is one of the most commonly asked questions in early intervention. While parents look forward to weaning their child off of their diapers as soon as possible, it is important to understand and realize that the right timing to start potty training is when your child is ready. When they are not feeling ready but we push them to be, it can be stressful for them and create a negative perception towards completing their bladder/bowel movement on a toilet, which can potentially delay their readiness of potty training. Therefore, one of the biggest signs to know when your child may be ready for potty training is if and when they show interest in the bathroom, express their needs of bladder/bowel movement, or if they want to be changed almost immediately after wetting or dirtying their diapers.
Additionally, while it is easy for parents to compare their child to other children, keep in mind that every child’s timeline is different where one may take a longer time or a quicker time to adapt. Thus, practicing patience is key and something to be mindful of during this time. You also want to start off your child with sitting on the toilet for a specific period of time and gradually increase the timing thereafter. For example, starting with going to the toilet every 10 minutes, then gradually increasing the time to 15, 20, and 30 minutes until your child can use the restroom with more independence. Consistency and sticking to a routine will also allow your child to adapt to the training process quicker and more smoothly.
Lastly, positive reinforcement will also allow your child to successfully complete their potty training whether it may be through rewards (i.e., stickers on a visual board, snacks) or verbal praises. Making a big deal about your child’s small accomplishments along the way not only makes your child happy but it also gives them the inner drive in wanting to accomplish even more! In addition, here are some general milestones of the toileting process to be mindful of:
- Age 2
- Expresses discomfort upon wetting or dirtying diapers
- Begins to show interest in toileting and can sit on toilet with supervision
- Age 3
- Can use toilet during the day with some accidents along the way
- Requires assistance with wiping and clothing management
- May require diaper for nighttime
- Age 4-5: Independent!