How to crack potty training

Potty training is always a challenging time for parents. How do you know when your child is ready to potty train? How do you do it? How long will it take? For a parent potty training for the first time, it can be quite a scary prospect and any excuse to delay starting the process can be welcome.

Every child is different but usually, they show signs of being ready to potty train between the age of 2 and 3. There can be a lot of pressure on parents to have their little ones completely dry and clean by the age of 2 – whether they are ready for it or not. However, it is better to wait until a child is showing an interest in the toilet and wants to have a go for themselves. Success is more likely if a child has a couple of hours dry between nappy changes and has an awareness that they are weeing or pooing.

Moving away from nappies or pull ups is a big step but not removing them gives mixed messages. Once you have decided to start potty training make the move to pants as this will let children know that there is something new happening. It can also help them to feel if they are wet or soiled and they will start to make the connection between the feeling they have when they need a wee or a poo and what then happens if they don’t act on that signal.

Involving children in choosing their very own potty and big girl/boy pants can help to get them prepared for the process ahead. Keep the potty somewhere accessible and let them get used to sitting on it. Talk to them about weeing and pooing on the potty, let them see you sitting on the toilet when you need to – you want them to see that everyone wees and poos.

To begin with, children need lots of encouragement and praise and need to be taken to the potty every couple of hours so they know what is expected of them. It takes time for them learn to recognise the feeling for themselves and to hold on and tell you that they need the potty. From there they will progress to recognising and acting on the signals independently. Then you’ll know you’ve cracked it!

It can be quick and easy for a few children, but usually it’s a much longer process that can take weeks or even months before a child is independently using the potty. There will be accidents – expect some wet or soiled pants. It’s not unusual for a child to lose interest or resist, some even appear to go back to square one. Although this can be frustrating, keep calm and go back to basics to get your little one back on track. Children need to learn how to do something new and rely on parents to show them, and potty training is no exception to this – consistency is the key.

If you would like more information on potty training then visit the Potty Training pages on the ERIC website – – or phone the ERIC Helpline for support – 0845 370 8008 open weekdays10 – 4.

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