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The best potty training tips and how to know when your child is ready

Best potty training tips

Potty training can be stressful, overwhelming, and messy for parents.  To add to it parents can also face pressure from other parents to potty train children at an early age.

What is the right age for potty training and how do you know when your child is ready for potty training? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child starts to be able to control his/her bladder between 24-36 months.

What are common potty training mistakes to avoid?

How to potty train my todlerI’ve been potty training children since 2001 and one of the most common mistakes I see is that parents try to potty train their children too young.  Trying to potty train a child before 30 months old can lead to more frustration because a child may not have fully developed the muscles to hold his/her bladder and the body isn’t ready. It would be similar to a parent being frustrated that a 9-month-old child isn’t walking. The child’s muscles simply aren’t ready yet and this is okay! Trying to potty train too soon can lead to a child having more accidents because their body isn’t ready.

I’ve worked with dozens of families where they tried to potty train when the child was 18 months old and the experience lead to an aversion of the restroom and potty training in general. This can cause a child to be anxious or scared of the restroom and toilet and can take weeks or months to make a child feel comfortable sitting on the toilet. I know there are children that can be potty trained early and do very well. I am not debating that.  However, when looking at children overall and making a general statement to how old a child should be before potty training, I recommend sticking with what the American Academy of Pediatrics states and that’s waiting till a child’s bladder muscles are formed when the child is closer to 30-36 months old.

How do I know when my child is ready to potty train?

    According to Toilet Training Guidelines: Parents−−The Role of the Parents in Toilet Training. here are some skills and behaviors children should have prior to potty training that will help make potty training faster and more successful:

  • Child can sit on the toilet for several minutes
  • Child can wear underwear for several minutes
  • Child is aware when they have peed/pooped
  • Child can express wants and needs through communication
  • Child can follow 1 step instructions such as sit down and stand up
  • Child can do some skills independently such as using a spoon/fork, pulling pants up and down, and washing hands
  • Child understands and can label things that are “wet” and “dry”
  • Child can imitate motor movements from others such as waving or clapping hands
  • Family is not experiencing any life changes such as moving, changes in child care, divorce, or birth of a sibling

If your child does not have the skills listed above, I encourage families to practice these skills especially sitting on the toilet and wearing underwear prior to the first day of potty training. Have the child be as involved in the process as possible by helping to pick out his/her underwear, the potty seat for the toilet, and reading children’s books about potty training.

Megan Dare is the owner of Guiding Growth, a parent coaching company that helps families work on areas such as tantrums, potty training, sharing with siblings, independence in the home, increasing social-emotional skills and coping strategies, and increasing language and communication. She has a Master’s in Education and has been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst since 2010. Get a free consultation at [email protected] and learn more at

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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