Children can show signs of “toilet training readiness” as early as eighteen months or as late as three years old. However, it’s important to note that rather than age, physical, physiological, and psychological factors are more important to consider when determining if a child can already be trained to use the toilet.
According to Joshua D. Sparrow, M.D., child psychiatrist at Children's Hospital, Boston, the following are some telltale signs that your child can start potty training:
Your child is curious about his or her bodily functions
He asks you questions when you use the potty
He can understand and follow basic directions
He is beginning to get a sense of order (for instance, he rearranges his toys or returns them where they belong)
He is uncomfortable with dirty diapers and tells you when he needs to poop
He can stay dry for several hours during the day
If your child is already showing most or all of these indications, it is best to wait about three months to set the stage for the training, according to Toilet Training Methods, Clinical Interventions, and Recommendations, published by theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics. In this time, you can let your child observe the toilet, talk to him about using the potty and show him books and videos about the topic.
Demonstration is also key in helping them understand what needs to be done in the toilet. Boys need to see how daddy pees in the toilet to get the idea. With girls, invite them to come along with you when you use the toilet and discuss what you’re doing. Motivate your little one to sit on her potty as you go, and give her words of encouragement if she does.
Remember, the important thing is to make the experience an altogether pleasant one. You can bring your toddler books inside the bathroom to read. Shopping for “big kids’” underwear can also make it more fun for them. You can also let your tot pick out the designs they want and say that these can be used when you start to potty train. Girls especially, might love their underwear so much they wouldn’t want to soil them.
As the real training begins, make sure to let your child’s other caregivers (yaya, lolo, or lola) know and follow the potty training routine. If you are moving into a new home or going on vacation, wait awhile or until you get home before you start. It helps to be consistent and to establish a routine to get your kid at ease.
If accidents do happen (and most of the time, they will) let your little one know that it’s okay. Change him or her and simply say that pretty soon, they can learn to remember to use the potty if they need to pee or poop.