How I Knew My Kids were Ready to Potty Train
2/26/2007 | by Dave Hagler
The hardest part of potty training can be knowing when to begin. If you start too soon, your child may become frustrated and resist even more. On the other hand, if you wait too long, your child could become too comfortable and dependent on diapers. So what's a parent to do? How do you know when your child is ready?
Luckily there are typical signs of readiness in children to look for: if they wake up with a dry diaper, go long periods between wet diapers, or are aware of a wet diaper and don't want to have it on.
I knew my second son (I have three) was ready when I noticed a pattern to his pooping. Every day, around the same time, he would go off to play with his toy castle. He only played with this particular toy when he needed to poop. After watching him do this for a couple of weeks, we worked the potty into his regular routine. As soon as he began playing with the castle, we encouraged him to try sitting on the potty. We even put the castle in the bathroom for him to play while he sat on the potty. It worked.
With my first son, it didn't go as smoothly. Instead of reading his signals, we started when he was 2 years old because that was the age we heard was the “right” time. He resisted. We tried to encourage him and force the issue for weeks before finally giving up and waiting a couple of months to try again. In hindsight we could have saved ourselves weeks of struggles if we had waited for the signs. In his case, he became aware of his bodily functions, which was a sign that he was ready to potty train.
Let me elaborate. Sometimes, when children are growing aware of their bodily functions, the sensation of wearing a wet or dirty diaper becomes, understandably, very uncomfortable. This is both good and bad news. It's good because it's a strong sign they are ready to begin potty training. It's bad because they want to remove their diaper. Immediately! So, how did I know my son was ready? He began removing his dirty diaper and tracking it through the house.
Now that my youngest son is 2 years old, I am watching very closely to see what signals he will give when he is ready to potty train. I am also watching him like a hawk to make sure he doesn't try to take off his diaper.