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It's Potty Time!

Posted by Susan Sloop - Parenting

Let the fun begin! It's Potty Time!! Learning to use the toilet is a huge developmental milestone. It's a great feeling to be able to walk by the diaper shelf in the store! The adventure of toilet training is filled with many challenges and requires a great deal of patience. As in all developmental stages, every child progresses differently. My oldest daughter easily made the move from diapers to Pretty Princess panties. My youngest…not so much. So be sure that you are taking your own child's rate of development into consideration.   When you think they are ready, go ahead and begin.


Here are a few signs to look for that will help you decide when your child may be ready for toilet training.

  • Their diaper stays dry for a few hours

  • They can follow simple instructions.

  • They use words and actions for going to the toilet.

  • They want to imitate adults and be a "big kid".


The best way to introduce this to a young child may be to read a book to them about it. One book that I read to my children and would recommend is "Once Upon a Potty" by Alona Fankel. There are many others avaialbe, just check out your local library or book store. You may even borrow one from a friend who has recently crossed the finish line and is celebrating a diaper-free house.


When it comes to toilet training, timing is everything. Take your child to the potty at times during the day when you know they usually "go". Often this will be after a nap or an hour or so after a meal. Don't pressure your child to progress faster than they are developmentally able to. A child may be 3 or 4 years of age before they are completely trained.

Take your child's temperament and attention span into consideration as well. It will not only help you determine when to begin, but when to ease up a little. If your patience is running low and you are not seeing any progress it is best to take a break and regroup. Come back to the training a few days or even a week or two later. To quote my favorite Disney character, Dori "Just Keep Swimming, just keep swimming." You will get there!


Some children respond to rewards when potty training. It may be a s simple as giving them a sticker and a hug for a job well done. On the flip-side of that, don't belittle or punish your child for having accidents or becoming uncooperative. They seek your approval above all and look to you for support. If they have an accident approach it with a positive response like "Next time I bet you will make it to the potty on time" and move on.



There are two times of the day that are particularly challenging for toilet training. Naptime and nightime. It could be up to a year or more before your child stays dry most nights or when sleeping during the day. Consider how you want to handle these accidents by being proactive and ready. You may decide to keep your child in pull on diapers until they are able to sleep and stay dry. If you feel you are having problems with toilet training you may want to speak to your child's doctor for advice. There may even be a physical problem that is making it difficult for your child.


No doubt about it…parenting a young child is a twisting, turning, upside-down roller-coaster of ups and downs. Toilet training is just one of many.  So strap yourself in, hang on, and enjoy the ride!!

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