It can be hard to know when and how to go about toilet training. Although your child should show physical and emotional signs that he or she is ready, such as letting you know when he or she has had a bowel movement and wanting to wear underpants, there usually is not a dramatic moment that clearly shows your child is ready.
Mixed messages from doctors, parents, and friends and past experiences with other children may all add to this confusion. The timing varies by child. Try not to compare your child to others or be concerned by stories about how early your parents or in-laws trained their children.
Your best strategy is to closely watch your child and look for the physical and emotional signs that he or she is ready. You can provide a potty chair or attachment to a standard toilet and talk with your child about the process and the good things about using the toilet. Consider your child's feelings and personality in your approach. As you start to understand your child's reactions, you will get a better sense of exactly when and how to gently encourage your child, and when to back off. Be patient, keep trying, and respect your child's abilities.
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Thomas M. Bailey, MD, CCFP - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics