Potty training is both an exciting and difficult time in any household. Knowing when your toddler is ready for potty training is key. Starting too early can cause unneeded frustration by both parent and child. Learning these signs is imperative to learning how to potty train and how to make it a positive experience.
Signs They Are Ready
There are a few signs to watch out for when deciding whether or not your child is ready for potty training. One sign your toddler is ready for potty training is that they can sleep through the night with a dry diaper. This signals that their body is physiologically maturing so the length of their continence is greater. Another sign is that your toddler wants to watch you go to the bathroom. If you're open to having company, let them watch. Author Elizabeth Pantley explains that just as you've taught them other tasks, this is no exception. Children are born mimics, and this is one activity you want them to model quickly.
Another important sign is if your toddler starts to tell you when they have a dirty diaper. This is an indication that they feel uncomfortable being wet and/or icky in a dirty diaper. This circles back to staying dry overnight, because they’ll learn they can go to the potty quicker when they're awake.
Advice on Training
If your toddler is doing any of these, then chances are you're ready to introduce them to the potty. You want them to be excited to use it, so present it as a fun opportunity for them. If you don’t already have a potty, make a point of letting them pick out their own. This will help them feel more a part of the process.
It is also important to make sure you put the potty in a place that's easily accessible and easy to clean. Accidents are going to happen. If you want to give your toddler the whole experience, you can include washable books to read while they're sitting on the potty.
In the beginning have your toddler sit on the potty when they feel like they have to urinate. Even if you get there too late or nothing happens, make sure to give them praise. Positive reinforcement is key! Small rewards are okay, like a smiley face sticker or M&Ms (after washing their hands). Just be sure your child doesn’t misconstrue the reward.
Also, teach your toddler to pull down (and up) his own pants and pull-up. Diapers will take too long to unfasten, and can make your child want to revert back. Pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Kagan explains that using pull-ups bridges the gap to big boy underwear, which should be introduced around 27 months.
It is also important to remember how much pressure the child is under and that this can make it more difficult for them. Try to lighten the mood to keep you both focused without being overwhelmed. Sometimes singing can help your child to feel more comfortable.