toilet training

Toilet Training is a major milestone in a young child’s life (also parents!). When is the time right? It varies, of course. Typically between 2-4 years of age, but it can be later for children with special needs or chronic illnesses. Girls usually train ealier than boys. First children typically later than their younger siblings (parents – you get better with experience).

What signs suggest your child may be ready? When (s)he:

  • Walks well and can sit for short periods.
  • Is more independent in completing tasks.
  • Shows interest in others using the bathroom.
  • Has dry diapers for 2+ hours.
  • Has predictable BMs or announces when they are occuring.
  • Shows displeasure with wet, soiled diapers.
  • Can pull pants up and down.
  • Can stoop and recover.
  • Will follow simple commands, like “give the ball to me.”

Note that it is not necessary for all of the above to be present in order to proceed.

A few helpful hints:

  • Choose the proper time. Toilet training can take anywhere from days to months. Generally starting when a child is “more ready” (older?) means a shorter training period. Do not start training during important life transitions, like going from crib to bed, a new home, or especially upon arrival of a new sibling.
  • Choose a potty seat. Kids like it when their feet reach the floor.
  • Allow the child to watch other family members use the toilet.
  • Praise all successes and do not criticize unsuccessful efforts or “accidents.”
  • Schedule regular potty trips, especially after naps or meals. Keep the child on the potty seat for several minutes per session, but do not force (try reading a story or playing a game).
  • Be patient with accidents. They will commonly become less frequent over time. If their frequency increases, that may indicate that it’s best to postpone the training for a few weeks or months.
  • Be patient with progress in stages – #1 before #2 or vice versa. It’s fine for her to urinate on the potty but ask for a “pull up” to have a BM. That’s a perfectly acceptable transition step. It takes some kids a few years to stay dry overnight.

If your child has problems like significant constipation, bloody stools, or unexplained regression (increasing accidents in the absence of identifiable life stresses like those detailed above) you might want to call me.

My best advice? A sense of humor. Some day, you will tell your grandchildren of their parents’ toilet misadventures, and it will inspire lots of laughs for 3 generations of families.

Thanks for reading.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

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