Wondering When to Start Potty Training?
Pick the Perfect Time with this Simple Checklist
It’s the most highly anticipated event of the year.
It’s an even bigger deal than the next Star Wars movie.
And you’re looking forward to it with all the impatience of a kid waiting for Christmas morning.
It’s one of the greatest days of your life. The day your toddler is finally potty trained.
You’ve been waiting. For months. Come on. LET’S DO THIS.
But hold up there, tiger. Is your kid ready?
Jump the gun, and your kid won’t have the skills or motivation to get it right. And that just means more frustration for everybody.
Wait too long, and you’ll still be changing diapers when your kid is three… or even later. And nobody wants that.
Choosing the right time is a critical part of getting potty training done right. Fortunately, there’s no mystery here — it all boils down to a few key indicators.
Ready to pick the perfect time… and finally get it done? Thought so. Let’s get moving.
Is your child motivated? Look for signs of interest
One of the most confusing parts of parenting is… well, other parents. By the time you’re starting to think about potty training, you’re surrounded by voices that make you feel like you should have gotten this done this months ago.
“June is only sixteen months but she just learned to use the potty like a big girl! She hasn’t even had one accident!”
potty training experience and their kid just gets it.
That’s the dream. Here’s the reality. Potty training is a messy process.
When voices like these are all around you, you just want to move things along that much more. But if you try to rush it before your child is ready, you’ll actually make your child more resistant and slow everything down.
“Just because you want your child to potty train, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen if it’s not on your child’s developmental or emotional agenda,” says Lisa Asta, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s a natural process. You can’t force it.”
Let your child’s interest drive the process. Keep an eye out for signs your child is interested in the potty.
Does she seem curious about what you do when you go to the bathroom? Is she excited about wearing big-girl underwear? Does she get irritated when she has a wet diaper? Signs like these can clue you in that the time is right for potty training.
And while you shouldn’t force things, you can help your child develop an interest in using the potty naturally. Just by reading books about the potty or spending some quality time with your kid in the bathroom, you’ll help build curiosity about how grown-ups use the toilet.
Can your child get the job done? Look for signs of readiness
Going to the bathroom seems simple now. After all, you’re a grown-up. But it’s easy to forget that using the toilet is a complex, multi-step process.
Your little one has to know when he needs to go. Get himself to the potty. Turn on the light. Pull down his pants and underwear. Sit on the potty. Go. Wipe. Dump the potty out. Flush it all down the toilet. And wash his hands when he’s done.
It’s a lot.
Before you start potty training, break the whole process down. Make sure your toddler can handle each step of the process before you give potty training a go.
Here are some key things to look out for:
He can take his clothes off on his own. He can easily pull his pants and underwear down and back up without your help. To make things easier, dress your child in comfortable, loose clothing that’ll be easy to handle.
Are you up for the challenge? Check your potty training mindset
Fact: your child’s success with potty training depends on you as a parent.
You and your child are in this together. And your child is looking to you for guidance, encouragement, and support.
Every parent I’ve ever met wanted to get their kid potty trained right away. But this is a process you can’t rush. And to do it right, you’ve got to make sure you go into it with the right mindset.
So what does that look like?
You’re focused on your child’s success. You know there’s a bigger goal here than just getting her potty trained. You’re teaching her that she can do things all by herself, just like a grown-up.
And to help your child be successful, you’ve looked at things from her point of view. What really motivates her? When is she most cooperative and easy to work with? What frustrates her? What helps her get past setbacks?
Knowing your child will enable you to tailor your potty training plan specifically to her needs.
You’ve come up with a plan. You’re not just doing this on the fly. You know how important it is to plan out your process before you dive in.
Taking on potty training during transitional times, like moving or the start of a new year of preschool, can be stressful for your little one… so be sure to choose a time when you can both be relaxed and confident.
You know accidents are part of the process. Nobody gets out of the potty training process without some pee-soaked pants every now and then. In the moment, it’s easy to get frustrated. But you know how important it is to treat slip-ups as learning experiences.
When accidents happen, talk with your kid about how to do it better next time. By helping her learn to see setbacks in a positive light — as opportunities to learn and grow — you’ll help her develop a growth mindset. And research shows that a growth mindset is a key predictor of future success.
You see yourself as your child’s coach and cheerleader. Helping your child stay motivated can make the difference between an insanely easy process and a seriously bumpy ride. Show your child you’re just as excited as she is — and celebrate her small wins with her, every step of the way.
Use the Potty Training Readiness Checklist to know when it’s the right time for you
I’ve created a simple checklist to help you decide when to start potty training. Just check off indicators of readiness one by one as you hit them.
Don’t aim for perfection here. You should try to hit almost all of the indicators on this list — but you don’t need to hit every single indicator on this list to be ready for potty training.
Once you’ve checked off most of these indicators, you’re good to go!
Need more support getting started? I created The Potty Training Plan especially for busy parents just like you who are ready to get the job done.