The’right’ time for potty training is a topic of great debate! In America potty tends to happen before the age of two but in Ireland it’s much more likely to be over two or even approaching three! The right time is when your child is showing signs of readiness and most importantly you have the available necessary time to support your child through this large transition to avoid it becoming a negatively fuelled battle. There are certain pressures from society now which do encourage parents to take the task in hand a little earlier such as requirements by Montessori schools etc which now start earlier for many children with the introduction of a second free Pre ECCE year. This has changed the starting age for Montessori of many children to three rather than four. Many montessoris have a requirement for children to be fully toilet trained before starting which would mean you would need to make a start on it at about two and a half years of age.
How do you know if they’re ready (are there signs to look out for)?
There are many signs of readiness, these include:
- Less frequent urination – I don’t mean less volume of urine – I mean more consistent gaps between wetting their nappies – your child may start to hold onto their pees more which will mean they are gaining control and so will do larger single urination rather than constant small ones.
- They show interest in the potty and or toilet.
- Awareness of bowel motions coming before they happen.
- Awareness of urination after it happens – this means an understanding that the puddle on the floor between their legs actually came from them!
- A willingness to discuss or indicate bowel motions before they happen rather going and hiding in a corner or behind the curtains!
- Attempting to sit on the toilet and doing a few ‘successful’ pees without formal toilet training starting.
What if your child is over three and STILL not showing the signs of readiness or showing some signs but still refusing to sit on the potty or loo?
If you have time pressure from child care as mentioned above you may need to encourage the process if your child is not instigating the change themselves before three. I would never ever encourage parents to force the issue, instead I would ask parents to learn how to encourage their child, keeping toilet training a positive experience is the single most important element of the entire process. If it is not fun or is scary and daunting your child will not succeed and everyone involved will end up stressed out and frustrated! I recommend a lot of positive reinforcement and reward for successful efforts. Never lose your patience (ok we are all human, so just try to hide you frustration!) or scold your child for having an accident. Be consistent – this is critical, if you are not consistent in your approach your child will consider the whole process casual and will get bored or give up when it suits them.
Are there problems you could be creating by insisting your child uses the potty before they want to?
I truly believe that potty training is a team effort. You need to work on communicating in simple appropriate language to your child what it is you are trying to achieve. Tips to do that would be to read books about other children toilet training, perhaps even watch a youtube cartoon about it, or chat about it with family and close friends. Encourage their involvement by bringing them shopping so they can pick out some fabulous and fun new pants. Keep them involved by taking their opinion on a potty choice on board! Perhaps they would rather avoid a potty altogether and just go straight for the toilet, do whatever makes your child happy to jump on board. If promoting positivity with reward charts and little treats such as stickers or a tiny chocolate doesn’t succeed in getting them onboard then it is possible you just have to wait it out. You cannot force your child to work with you, you can encourage them and support them but you can never succeed with force. Consider talking to your childcare provider or even delaying Montessori for a month or so of doing two pre ECCE years – most children will get excited about the challenge and be eager to join a class of big girl and big boy friends!
I hope you found this information helpful and as always don’t hesitate to contact me on the WonderBaba Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/wonderbabacare) with any questions or for one to one advice for your little one! You can also consult with me in person at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 or over the phone on 012600262.