Updated: Dec 19, 2019
The following steps will help gain an understanding of your child’s development and readiness to ditch the diaper. After personally training thousands of children through my Potty Training School in Boca Raton, FL, and carefully studying the progress, I have come up with a checklist that disproves most information on the market today regarding Potty Training Readiness.
1. Bladder Control – Training at first signs of bladder control will eliminate the chance for your child to develop a habit. Bladder control in a toddler happens anywhere between 18-24 months. Before bladder control, your child’s bladder dribbles throughout the day. Once a child has bladder control, your child starts to experience a gush of urine for the first time. This gush of urine is an unusual, new feeling for a child. During this phase in development, children will tug or pull at their diaper, take it off, look down when they are urinating, or even demand a diaper change. It is important to potty train your child at the first signs of bladder control. Waiting too long allows your child’s body to adapt to its environment and become used to the feeling of a large amount of urine gushing into the diaper and pooling inside the diaper until it soaks up dry. At this stage, the child develops a dependency on the diaper and starts to feel very uncomfortable peeing without it. At this stage, you are dealing with breaking a habit vs. potty training. Children that have developed a habit usually don’t like to be naked, don’t show interest in potty training, scream for a diaper when they need to urinate or defecate, will be comfortable sitting in their dirty diaper, may fight when mom goes to change them, or will not stop playing to use the potty and will have an accident unless mom notices and makes them stop what they are doing to use the potty.
2. Physical Readiness/Motor Skill Development – If your child is meeting all their developmental milestones at their 18-month well-child checkup with their pediatrician, your child has all the motor skills necessary to be potty trained. Don’t let a speech delay stop you from potty training your child. You do not need to talk to potty train. Body language is enough to know when a child needs to use the restroom. We have all witnessed a child doing the pee-pee dance, laugh at a newborn’s red little face when they are eliminating, or know the exact minute in the day our child walks to their special place to do their business.
3. Instructional Readiness- Instructional readiness falls on the shoulders of the parent, not the child. Independently using the toilet will not happen if there is no understanding. Understanding comes from being taught. Parents give children the capacity to understand when they have the child do the actions the parent is telling them to do. Once the child understands how to use the toilet vs. the diaper, progress will begin.
Not every child wakes up and decides to start using the potty, shows interest in potty training, or cares about sitting in a puddle of urine. Every child is unique, and not all children find learning to use a potty interesting, just like not all kids enjoy learning to read. If your child shows no interest in potty training, it does not mean your child is not ready to be trained. Keep in mind that once your child has bladder control, every time the child eliminates in their diaper, they become more comfortable with the feeling. Any repeat action becomes a pattern in the brain so that it becomes harder to break. Relearning is always a more complicated process than learning. Habits are hard to break because they have set the pattern in the brain.