Potty training – when is a child ready and how long does it take?

Potty training is often a task that parents find themselves dreading. Like all things with children, it’s something parents have little experience of until they are faced with the situation with their own children. Parents can take comfort in the fact that 98% of children are daytime potty trained by the age of four and no two children are the same. There should be no race to potty train and it should be as normal to the child as any of the other things they learn in their early years, like using a spoon or playing with building blocks.

How does a parent know the child is ready? Children are ready to begin potty train anywhere from 18 months to 2½ years. This does not mean that the child should necessarily be trained in this time – it just means that if a two-year-old shows absolutely no signs of being ready to potty train, it is not necessary to push the matter. There are some things a parent can look for. Is the child running and walking well? Is the child’s nappy dry for several hours at a time? This will indicate that the bladder is able to control the flow of urine. Are the child’s bowl movements relatively predicable and regular?

Parents may also notice that the child is starting to notice when the nappy needs changing and communicate when they are having a poo. The child may be at a stage where they start to take pride in their accomplishments and be striving for independence. They may want to cooperate and be curious about what everyone else is doing on the toilet. It can also help if a child is able to follow instructions like ‘put that toy down’ and seems to have an understanding of where things go. Verbal skills are also helpful.

How long does it take? Parents sometimes feel pressured to potty train before the child is ready. They may be booked into a nursery that insists on potty training, or relatives and friends may be insinuating that the child should be potty trained.  There are some parenting experts who claim it should only take a few days or weeks.  The actual process of potty training can take anywhere from three to twelve months, so although children may show signs of being ready to learn, the time it takes for them to become independent during the day may vary depending on just how ready they are when they start.  Most children become capable of being nappy-free during the day between the ages of 2½ and four, no matter when the actual potty training began.

Parents need to be ready too. Sometimes it can be hard to face the task and parents may be avoiding it out of fear or uncertainty as to what to do. Before a parent begins potty training their child, they should get their head around what it will involve and what they will need so that they can communicate a consistent message to the child. The parent’s readiness to potty train will affect a child’s willingness to learn.

It’s normal to have setbacks in potty training. Children may learn how to use a toilet and understand all that is involved, but still have accidents from time to time. Parents who take a relaxed attitude and understand that this will happen will be able to cope with minor setbacks without feeling frustrated and angry. They will therefore not put any unnecessary pressure on the child which can sometimes lead to anxiety.

So if parents feel the time is right and they are ready to begin the adventure of potty training, they may want to have a look around the various potty training accessories available. Potty seats and child’s toilet seats that fit on an adult toilet can all be useful and helpful when learning.

Copyright 2020 BabySecurity © a division of EDPA Limited, Infant Care Specialist

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