Many parents get nervous when they think about toilet training their young child. The folklore about toilet training may have a lot to do with their anxiety. For example, parents hear stories about children being toilet trained at six months of age. Those kinds of stories are ridiculous; a child who can’t walk cannot possibly go to the toilet without help, which is what being toilet trained means.
Or, a mother hears from relatives that as a child, she was easily trained and then never had an accident – day or night. Such folklore makes parents think there is some simple way – if only they knew it – to toilet train a child once and for all. No wonder parents question whether they or their child is up to the task of toilet training.
We’d like to help you get past these myths and misconceptions and give you some practical, common sense information that can help make potty training your child a more pleasant and satisfying experience.
Forget the Folklore!
You CAN toilet train your child effectively and efficiently if you keep in mind some basic guidelines. Do these four things before you get started with potty training:
Relax. Toilet training is often the first task that parents take a strong stand on. Sure, it is important to you, but adding tension and pressure to the process will not make it any easier for you or your child. Remember, unlike eating, sleeping, and playing, there is no natural, immediate payoff for your child when he or she uses the toilet. Your child may not always cooperate with you during toilet training, but your tension will just make things worse.
Wait. Most children are toilet trained when they are 2, 3, or 4 years old. A few children are ready earlier, but just to be on the safe side, wait until your child is at least 2 years old.
Make sure you are ready. Do you really want to find out where the bathroom is in every store and restaurant you go to and on every highway and street you drive? Are you ready for potty interruptions all day long? Have the grandparents let up on their pressure about toilet training? (Remember, toilet training need not be a community affair. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to mention your child’s efforts to anyone else, even grandparents.) Has the crisis at work passed? Is the household relatively stable now, and will it continue to be so for a few weeks?
Make sure your child is ready. If you are really ready to toilet train, see if your child is ready. Parents and others (grandma, aunt, and friends) sometimes push toilet training before there are clear signs that the child is ready. Your child is not ready:
Just because he’s told you he wants to wear “big boy” pants.
Just because she wants the Big Wheel you promised as a reward.
Just because he or she has had some dry days playing on the potty chair. (Many children do this around 18 months of age.)
By forgetting the folklore, following a few guidelines, getting yourself and your child ready, and preparing, toilet training should be easier for everyone involved.