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When Do You Know Your Child is Ready to Potty Train?

When Do You Know Your Child is Ready to Potty Train?

I’ve written potty training posts in the past, but those were back before I had a potty-trained child. Now that my newly three-year-old is consistently wearing undies and staying dry all day long, I’ve certainly learned some insight that I’d like to share.

First and foremost, what works for one child may not work or be necessary for another child. I’ve had my fair share of feeling like I’m doing it wrong because my son’s friends did “such and such” or they tried the cold turkey method and it worked great. I hate that, to some extent, comparison creeps in and does that to me. And perhaps it happens to most parents? Anyway, I literally had to stop asking for advice, and checking in on what other parents tried when testing out if their toddlers were ready to potty train. Because what worked for my son wasn’t a fast and simple approach, he took a little bit of time.

Signs of Readiness

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty certain that my boy was ready a few months earlier than I was. I had a new baby to take care of and wasn’t yet ready for the messes, stresses, and commitment to potty training. The following were some things I noticed that made me suspect he was getting ready:
  • Hiding when he pooped. This showed me that he was aware of what he was about to do, and wanted some privacy to get his business done.
  • Taking an interest in bathroom use. I’ve always been open about the potty, but he began to ask more questions and show that he understood.
  • More time between wettings. I’d go to change him before a nap or before leaving the house, and I'd be so surprised that he was still dry! This meant that his bladder was maturing.
  • He was maturing overall. He was getting to the age and stage where he could understand and follow directions.

What to Expect

As I already mentioned, potty training is a lot of work. It gets frustrating, and tiresome, and oh-so-repetitive. There will be messes, there will likely be tears, and there will be setbacks. But on the flip side, there will be dance parties, cheers, lots of treats or rewards, and so much pride watching your toddler learn and achieve goals! I’ve heard to avoid training seats or baby potties because then they have to relearn on a big toilet later on…I don’t actually agree with this. We had a little seat and it didn’t take him long to decide he was over itm and preferred the actual toilet instead. And when it came to public toilets, he was a little apprehensive (who isn’t?) but after a time or two, it became routine to him.

One thing I anticipated that hasn’t been so bad is “little boy messes”. He sits on the toilet because he’s too short to stand and pee. I expected him to get pee all over the place, but after one time of showing him how to push his little privates down, he caught on quickly, and we haven’t had any outrageous messes like I imagined.

Motivation Strategies

I picked up a cheap potty chart and some stickers, and had no idea how effective that would be! After every potty use, if his undies were dry, he would get the choice between a sticker and a treat. And while all of that leftover Halloween candy was tempting, the sticker won eight times out of ten. He was a motivated little fella who wanted his toy prize when the chart filled up. We went to the store, picked out his toy, and stuck it in the cupboard. I would get it down to let him see the box every few days to rejuvenate his incentive, and I can honestly say that the reward of a new toy was what made the difference between having a non-potty-trained little boy to a potty-trained one. It helped that I could name off a lot of his friends and cousins who wore undies and went potty in the toilet instead of diapers. Some competitiveness came out in both of us and we decided we were ready for that milestone as well.

It definitely took us some time, probably more time than most. But I think we went at a pace that was comfortable for him. He had time to wrap his head around what was happening, instead of being forced to do something new and uncomfortable over and over again. And I learned that just because my child wasn’t potty trained in two days, didn’t mean we were doing it incorrectly.

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