Is It the Right Time to Potty Train?

You and Your Child Need to Work Together to Determine the Right Time to Start Potty Training.

Although there is no way to know exactly the right time to potty train, it is usually between two and three years of age. The reason a child should train between the ages of two and three is because of the steps in development they must take before they’re ready to enter school at the age of five. If they don’t potty train until after the age of three, they don’t have enough time to reach the rest of the steps before school starts.

Some children will choose to start potty training at a younger age.  Although this is great because you won’t have to buy diapers anymore, the chances of accidents is higher because they have probably not learned to control their bladder. They will learn this control as they potty train. For the children who choose to train at a later age, they’ve learned some bladder control and will most likely have fewer accidents.

A child will let you know their "right time to potty train." Of course, there are children who need a little persuading that the time should be coming up real soon. When I have a daycare child who shows no interest in training, but should be, I warn them that we’re running out of diapers so they need to start wearing underwear. It sounds really silly to you and me, but trust me, it can work.

As the parent, you do not have all the control in deciding when your child's right time to start potty training is. You cannot force a child to start potty training. The more pressure you put on a child, the longer the training process will take.  You do need to decide, however, if you have the time it takes to train the child. Potty training cannot be an every other day process. It needs to be every single day. For the starting process, pick a time when your schedule is not quite so full and pick a time of day when your child is usually in their best mood and most cooperative. To be at home for the first several days helps with the issue of running to the bathroom every fifteen to thirty minutes.

The child’s personality has a lot to do with how they will train and when it is the right time for them. I always thought that when I had a more developmentally advanced child getting ready to train, it would be really easy. I thought they would understand what was expected of them and do it. That has never been my experience. The more advanced children have a mind of their own and are not going to let anyone tell them what to do. These type of children are actually more of a challenge to potty train than an average child.

Because they usually develop earlier than boys, girls tend to train at a younger age than boys. Signs to watch for in girls and boys to show they are ready may include an interest when mom or dad are in the bathroom, they become bothered by wet or soiled diapers, they tell you when they want a diaper change, or they are showing bladder control by keeping their diaper dry for an extended period of time.

Communication is a big part of potty training, so your child should be at a stage that they are able to speak. They should be able to let you know when they have to go to the bathroom or when they’ve had an accident. They should also be able to take their pants down and pull them back up with limited assistance. 

My experience has shown me that grandparents of today can be very disappointed with how old their grandchildren are before they potty train. They expect their grandchildren to potty train at the same age as their own children did. Today’s children do not potty train as young as they used to and the reason for this is simple. Today’s children take longer to potty train because of the technology of disposable diapers and pull-ups. It used to be that when kids wore cloth diapers or the very first disposable diapers, they didn’t like that wet feeling and would potty train to prevent being uncomfortable. With today’s diapers and pull-ups keeping the child so dry, they don’t have that uncomfortable feeling. Therefore, it takes children longer to potty train.

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Marcia Reagan is the creator of DaycareAnswers and lives in Central Minnesota with her husband and two children.  She's been an in-home daycare provider for over twenty years and loves to share her experience and passion for daycare with other providers.  

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