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Potty Training: When Are They Ready?

As parents, it’s great when your kids start becoming more independent. We like to know that they are becoming more capable of taking care of things without us always being around. One of these is moving on from diapers to using the potty. While it’s an important step, it’s best not to rest kids and stress them out no matter how much you want to stop wrapping up those dirty diapers. You can’t go on age to tell your kids “it’s now or never.” Instead, you’ll need to make it about where each of your children is at developmentally.

Here are some developmental signals to look for so you know when your kids are ready to make the transition to the potty:

Physical Signs

First, let’s start with physical signs that your child is ready for potty training. Look for how your child’s coordination is improving in terms of walking and running. If your child also has regular bowel movements and times where they urinate, this is also a physical sign that they are ready to transition to the potty.

Your child has to physically develop in order to have stronger blades muscles to hold urine for a few hours. This way, when they do urinate it will be a greater amount.

Behavioral Signs

Second, observe your child’s behavior for signs they are ready to start learning about the potty. When they really start to hate the wet or dirty diaper and let you know when they are about to have a bowel movement, then it’s a good sign. They may even start talking to you about the bathroom or follow you in there.

Then, your child may also emulate what you are doing in terms of pulling pants up and down and even putting on that underwear you had for them in their chest of drawers. Additionally, your child has to be willing to sit on the toilet for awhile so make sure they have the ability to sit quietly for a few minutes or more. Some kids haven’t yet developed the willingness to do this or get distracted and wander off.

Finally, when your child starts showing or telling you they want to do things themselves, the is a good opportunity to use potty training as a way for them to be more independent like big boys or big girls. This is ideal because they may also be exhibiting signs of being more cooperative and willing to learn things, especially if they can get rewarded for their accomplishments.

Cognitive Signs

Third, look at how they communicate, think, and act on what they are thinking about to see if they are open to potty training on a mental level. A good cognitive sign is that your child can explain or has a word for urine and a bowel movement. Even better is when they understand when their body is telling them they have to go to the bathroom and can tell you about it before it happens.

Also, having the ability to follow instructions and realize that certain actions take place in a specific place are also important cognitive signs that it’s potty training time.

Times to Avoid Potty Training

One time your child will never be ready for potty training is when they are undergoing any other type of major change in their life. For example, if you are moving to a different house or they are switching from a crib to a bed. Or, maybe they’ve slept with you and now you are trying to get them to sleep in their own room. Even other more major life events like a divorce or death in the family can create stress for even your youngest children.

During any of these life changes, don’t even consider trying to potty train your child. It will be overwhelming, stressful, and, most likely, a complete failure. This will only make everything feel worse for them and you. When you see that your child has adjusted to whatever major change they experienced, then slowly introduce or reintroduce (if you had already started) the idea of the potty.

Tips for Parents

Although these are the signs, don’t expect potty training to immediately work. These are just the signs that your child is ready. They will need time to practice and get comfortable with the idea.

In the meantime, don’t get frustrated or lose your patience with your children. Also, treat each child as individuals. Just because was ready and got potty training down in a certain amount of time doesn’t mean any other children you have will take the same time or respond in the same way. You’ll need to be prepared to alter your schedule and even how you approach potty training.

And, if they make mistakes and a mess in the process, don’t resort to punishment. This will only create more anxiety. Instead, consider a rewards-based system that uses stickers or some other type of reward that plays to their desire to feel a sense of accomplishment.