How can I potty train my child without the pressure? When is the best time to start potty training? These are some of the biggest questions of parenting a toddler. Perhaps your child is starting preschool and they require potty training to be complete before enrollment. Or maybe all the kids in your child’s playgroup have begun, so you think it’s time for your toddler too.
Like so many skills your child will gain, potty training requires developmental readiness, and it cannot be held to an arbitrary deadline. Though it may be tempting to set a certain time to start training or a time limit to complete potty training, resist if your child hasn't yet shown signs of being ready. Research shows that waiting a little longer can actually increase your chance of long-term success during potty training.
Here are some things your toddler may do to signify they are ready to start potty training, or take this Potty Training Readiness Quiz:
- Pulling at a wet or dirty diaper
- Hiding to pee or poop
- Interest in other people using the potty
- Having a dry diaper for a longer-than-usual time
- Awakening dry from a nap or bedtime
- Telling you that they have to go or that they have just gone
Once you begin potty training, there’s also no pressure to use any certain style or approach. To minimize the amount of pressure put on your child, we recommend a few tips to help keep your process adaptive to your toddler’s pace and style:
- Don’t push it. Listen and watch your child’s progress and responses to various steps closely, and consider letting them set the pace.
- Use positive reinforcement for successful behavior changes, and avoid punishing negative behavior.
- Test out different incentives and forms of praise. Children will respond differently, and some forms of celebration may be more meaningful than others.