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Is My Child Ready to Begin Potty Training?

This is probably a question you have been asking yourself over and over again. Unfortuantely, there is no clear-cut answer and children begin potty training at all different times. You should never force your child into potty training because it will just increase the length of the process and probably end in more frustration and thus, more headaches. Using a printable potty training chart is a great way to introduce them to the concept. If you need advice, you can try asking a parent coach for advice.

Where to Start with Potty Training

You and your child both need to be ready for the potty training process, as it involves a huge amount of commitment and motivation, and you should know that going into it. To decide whether or not your child is ready to tackle potty training, asses their development in the ways listed below:

  • Physiological development. In order for your child to use the bathroom their sphincter muscles need to be fully developed. The sphincter muscles allow your child to delay the need to eliminate body functions immediately for a short period of time. You can test the advancement of these muscles by answering the following questions:
    • Does your child know when they have to go, i.e. do they squat, grunt or hide when they have to use the bathroom?
    • Can they keep their diaper dry for a significant amount of time? For example, throughout nap time.
    • Does your child urinate a lot at once vs. a little several times throughout the day?
    • Your child should also be able to hold their bowel movements throughout the night, although accidents happen to everyone.
  • Motor skills. Your child should have some finger and hand eye coordination before they tackle potty training. Can your child undress themselves? Are they able to pull down their underpants? Can they get their own pants off?
  • Cognitive and verbal skills. Before your child can begin potty training they need to be aware of their body and functions it serves. Can your child follow directions? You can prove this by asking your child to put away their toys, brush their teeth, button their shirt, etc. Also, does your child have the correct vocabulary required for potty training? For example, they should know the words for their private parts (whatever your family has deemed appropriate), pee, poop, wet, dry, underwear, “big kid,” etc.
  • Emotional growth and social awareness. This is probably the hardest skill to assess, but you estimate how much your child is motivated to be a “big kid.” Do they often say, “I can do it” or “I’m a big kid now”? Does your child often look for your approval? For example, do you notice your child seeks out your praise or does things just so you’ll reward them?

Put Age Aside

Remember, the age of your child is not the most important aspect here. Be prepared to assess your child on their development in a variety of ways, and they don’t need to excel in all these areas. Oftentimes, what they lack in one department, they’ll make up for in another. Just remember to support your child and give them the confidence they need to successfully master potty training.