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Going from diapers to totally trained can take your toddler anywhere from three to six months or longer. Here are some of the best tips for potty training from one of Canada's leading parenting experts.
When to start toilet training
The two biggest mistakes parents make when it comes to toilet training are starting too early and putting too much pressure on the child, says Alyson Schafer, a psychotherapist and author of Breaking the Good Mom Myth. “Sometimes the earlier you start, the later you’ll finish,” she says. Starting too early or pushing a child can also create problems.
Pressuring children about toilet training (even talking about it too much in front of them) can lead to power struggles, as well as a lot of angst and frustration on both sides, Schafer says. Children can also become constipated if they’re under too much pressure and get stressed or upset about using the toilet. “They begin holding, which can make things painful when they finally do go–to the point where they become constipated again and the cycle continues,” she says. “This is something you want to avoid at all costs.”
You need to let your child take the lead, Schafer says. “Forget about your agenda and just offer them your support.” Most children are physically and psychologically ready (they need to be both) between the ages of 2.5 and 3.5, but it depends on the child.
Your child may be ready to try toilet training if he:
- shows an interest when you use the bathroom
- remains relatively dry after a two-hour nap
- is aware of the fact he’s about to go and knows how to “hold” (“It shows he’s figured out those muscles,” says Schafer.)
- is bothered by a wet or dirty diaper
- has regular bowel movements