Experts' tips on potty training

Potty training is often considered an easy task by mothers, who frequently rely on outdated advice and misinformation. Therefore, I'd like to clarify some common mistakes mothers make when potty training their children, along with some tips to facilitate the journey of ditching diapers and training the child to go to the bathroom.

مرشدة أسرية
Enas Khalaf
Published on:Feb 15th 2024 |Updated on:Jun 10th 2024
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Common mistakes made by mothers when potty training

1| Starting too early

Understanding when a child is ready to ditch the diaper is crucial to avoid mistakes. Some mothers begin potty training as early as 18 months or even earlier, while recent medical studies suggest that most children are ready for potty training between two and two and a half years old. It's important to note that a child may show signs of readiness for toilet training before or after this age range, possibly around three years old.

2| Starting too late

Many people are unaware that there is a window of opportunity for children's readiness that should be seized for successful potty training. Ignoring these signs and waiting too long can make training difficult for the mother and the child. Postponing training until age three, despite the child's readiness before that, poses another challenge, as the child becomes more attached to diapers, seeing them as convenient for uninterrupted play. Using the bathroom would interrupt playtime, making the child reluctant to give up diapers.

3| Setting a deadline

One common mistake is creating a rigid schedule for potty training. For example, a working mother might take a week off to dedicate it solely to training her child to use the bathroom. This puts immense pressure on her, leading to stress and nervousness that can negatively impact the child's learning experience. A child between the ages of two and two and a half is inclined towards independence, wanting to take initiative, such as peeling a banana or opening a door. This contradicts the control and stress imposed by a mother trying to train within a specific timeframe, resulting in the child resisting and not responding positively.

4| Training a child who is not ready

Another common mistake is initiating the training journey for a two-and-a-half-year-old child without any signs of readiness. Mothers may fall into this trap due to pressure from others claiming success in early potty training or comparing their child to an older sibling who successfully ditched diapers at the same age. However, each child develops differently, showing signs of readiness at various stages.

5| Not seeking professional help early on

It is crucial to consult professionals in potty training before embarking on this journey. Unfortunately, most mothers seek specialists only after the training almost failed. Even with expert support and guidance, getting back on track will take longer if the training goes off course. Seeking advice from specialists at the right time can make training the child much smoother and easier.

Signs of Readiness for Potty Training

1| Awareness

A significant sign is when a child becomes aware of urination and bowel movements. This may manifest when the child stops playing when pooping, goes to a corner in the room away from others, says they need to pee, or indicates they have soiled their diaper.

2| Request for Diaper Change

If the child has reached the stage of being able to communicate verbally, they may ask the parent to change the diaper after peeing or pooping. If their language skills are still developing, they may tug at the diaper or signal their parent that they want it changed because it is wet or dirty.

3| Expressive Ability

The child's ability to express a need to go to the bathroom is also considered a sign of readiness for potty training. Even a single word indicating the desire to use the bathroom, pee, or poop can be a positive sign.

4| Dry Diaper

When the child's diaper remains dry for two to three hours during the day, and the number of nights with a dry diaper surpasses the nights with a wet diaper, it indicates readiness to begin toilet training.

5| Regular Schedule

When the child develops a consistent bowel movement schedule, such as pooping after waking up in the morning or after returning from daycare, it signifies digestive system maturity and readiness for using the bathroom.

6| Motor Skills Development

When the child has sufficient motor skills to pull down and pull up pants, they can be taught to use the bathroom. Sitting confidently on a potty chair without fear of falling is also crucial to readiness.

How Long Does Potty Training Take?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, as the duration varies for each child. On average, successful potty training may take a week to two weeks if initiated correctly, with proper readiness signs and effective methods. For some children, it might take a month or more, especially if there was a sudden interruption during the initial training period, such as travel or a special event. In some cases, it might take up to six months, particularly if the child has developmental disorders like autism.

Tips for successful training

  • Start when the child is ready, not just when the parents want to.
  • Dedicate several days for preparation, involving the child in buying training diapers, a potty chair, and other necessities.
  • Prepare the environment and introduce the child to the bathroom.
  • Read children's books about toilet training.
  • Begin training after successful preparation when the child can understand and reproduce the information acquired.
  • Embrace positivity and patience.
  • Avoid setting a specific timeframe.
  • Devote time to the child during the potty-training phase.
  • Remove diapers from the first day of training.
  • Limit outings in the initial days of training.
  • Familiarize the child with using the bathroom outside the home, using a beloved toy or the seat cover they are accustomed to.
  • Ensure that potty training is primarily undertaken by the mother and one other person, avoiding involving multiple individuals.
  • Avoid coercion and scolding, reinforce achievements, and encourage and support the child.
مرشدة أسرية
Enas KhalafCertified Parenting Specialist

Enas is a mother of two and a certified parenting specialist following the approach of the psychiatrist Alfred Adler. She is also an accredited baby sleep and weaning consultant, potty training consultant, certified infant massage instructor, and parent group facilitator. Enas earned her bachelor’s degree in education and English and further pursued a Master’s degree, focusing her thesis on Educational Stress and Adaptation Strategies. Her postgraduate studies were complemented by a comprehensive 3-year program at the Alfred Adler Institute, where she specialized in Parenting and Family Studies. In addition to her academic achievements, she has also completed a specialized track in Sleep and Weaning Consultation for children. Her expertise is further enhanced by a diploma in Potty Training Consultancy, making her a well-rounded professional in child development and family guidance.

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