Your child is toilet trained when she/he can walk to the potty, undress, urinate, defecate, and pull up her/his pants without any reminders or help from anyone.

Children become toilet trained between 18-30 months of age and can complete the training process within 2 weeks -2 months. We recommend you aggressively pursue toilet training, but don’t begin toilet training until your child is clearly ready. She/he is ready if:

  • Understands the vocabulary she/he needs to know — pee, poop, dry, wet, clean, messy, and potty.
  • Understands what the potty is for by observing others use it.
  • Prefers clean, dry diapers and likes to be changed.
  • Understands the connection between dry pants and using the potty.
  • Can recognize the sensation of a full bladder and the urge to have a bowel movement and shows it by pacing, jumping up and down, grabbing her/his genitals, pulls at her pants, squats, grunts, pushes or tells you.
  • Can postpone briefly (until she/he gets to the potty) the urge to go.

Adopt a positive, loving approach to toilet training. The key behaviors for parents are encouragement, patience, praise, and making the process fun for your child. Stay relaxed! If things get negative or pressured, back off and try again in a month or two. Buy a potty chair that allows your child’s feet to reach the floor. Children generally make the transition from potty-chair to toilet between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years of age. Other supplies such as fruit slices, animal crackers, stickers, or stars are for “rewards.” Make the potty chair one of your child’s favorite possessions allowing her/him to help pick it out, decorate it, and play with it fully clothed in a room other than the bathroom. Once she/he is comfortable with it, start toilet training.

Coordinate practice times with the body signals of your child. Explain to her/him what’s going on and then help her/him to stay on the potty to “try.” Read books or talk with your child. Strive for consistency here by ending the practice run after five minutes regardless of whether it was successful. Don’t force your child to urinate or defecate. Practice runs should end after your child has spontaneously used the potty several times successfully. Reminders may be needed for up to two months following initial success.

Reward! Reward! Reward!

This is crucial to ensure further cooperation and success. Rewards don’t have to be big, just small tokens that recognize your child’s success.

Some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Dads may want to sit down to show their sons how to do this. Remember, little boys aren’t quite tall enough to stand up to use the potty.
  • Use training pants after your child demonstrates cooperation about sitting on the potty and passes about 1/2 his urine and bowel movements there. Take your child to buy underwear and make it a reward for success. Avoid using “Pull-Ups” except when traveling.

They’re expensive, absorb like a diaper and are confusing for children. Finally, once you start using training pants, use diapers only for naptime and nighttime.

  • Respond sympathetically to accidents and keep expressed disapproval to rare, mild, verbal comments. Avoid battles, physical punishment, yelling, or showdowns.
  • It is normal for a child to wet the bed at night until age 7. This is most common in boys.
  • If your child urinates, but won’t stool, go to the Dollar Store and buy 10 prizes. Post in the bathroom and give out one prize each time your child stools on the toilet. This really works!
  • Remember, no one has ever gone to kindergarten in diapers!