Toddlers and Toilets: Are They Ready?
With kids, it seems there is always a new adventure on the horizon. If you have a toddler, you may be starting to think about when and how your child will learn to use the toilet (bye, bye diapers!).
In the “old days” (meaning, when you were a child!), this was often referred to as “toilet training.” This meant that an adult “trained” the child to use the toilet.
Today, the new buzz word is “toilet learning.”
Learning, meaning the child takes an active role in the process.
In parenthood, there are “windows of opportunity.” Parents know their children best and can most easily recognize when their child is interested and ready for a new discovery. There is no magic age for children to begin using the toilet, although most children begin to show an interest between the ages of 24 and 36 months.
A few signs that your child is ready to begin “toilet learning” include:
- You may notice that your child is interested in the potty. They may want to put paper into it or flush it.
- Your child may ask to sit on the toilet, with a diaper on or off.
- Your child may bring you a diaper and tell you they are wet or have had a bowel movement.
If you believe your child may be ready to explore the use of the toilet, consider the following:
- Purchase some toddler underwear (in addition to the cartoon underwear, look for thicker, cotton underwear that are more absorbent) and provide them time to wear them. Times may include a morning at home or quiet evening versus when you are traveling or running errands. Today’s diapers are so absorbent that a child may not even feel that they are wet.
- Use a child-friendly/child-sized potty. Imagine that the toilet you used was more than half as tall as you. You may be overwhelmed or frightened by the thought of sitting on such a thing. Provide the choice for your child. Don’t be surprised if your child decides to try out both.
- Make toileting positive. This may be a great time for reading books and singing songs. Toileting should not become a power struggle. If it does, chances are you will lose and may experience a setback.
- Successful toileting is great feedback for a child. There is no additional need for a reward (i.e. M&M’s). On the flip side, when a child has an accident, there is no value in punishment.
- Be patient. Sometimes, it is difficult to not get caught in the conversation of what a friend or family member’s child is doing (or not doing). Children develop individually. Toilet learning will occur when your child is ready. If you have concerns, talk to your pediatrician.