Potty training can be a challenge for both parents and child. Since toilet training is the most important task that a toddler must achieve, it is good to start it when the child has shown signs of readiness. Parents need to be wary of the physical and emotional readiness of a child because, they tend to occur differently for each individual.

Toilet training should only start if the child has reached three important developmental tasks. First, control of their urethral and anal sphincters must be achieved. This usually occurs after they are 18 months of age. Second, they must be able to understand what it means to hold urine and stools, until they can release them at the proper place and time. Lastly, they must have the desire to delay immediate gratification, for a socially accepted action.

Your child may signal readiness in different ways. A good indicator is when he is no longer happy and comfortable wearing diapers. They may ask to be changed even if the diaper is still not wet, or they may prefer to wear underwear instead. A child may also be ready if you notice that after a nap, the diaper is still dry. A regular bowel movement is also a good sign as well, because it may indicate that the child has established a good routine. Others may also show readiness by showing interest in using the bathroom because other family members are doing it.

Being toilet trained is another indication that your child is growing up. There is no definite time as to when they can complete it, but as parents, we can help them through this transition. Here are tips on how you can potty train your child:

1. Set aside a time for “readiness” activities.  A week or two of readiness activities will prevent the child from reacting negatively to the change. You can do this by simply showing your child that other members of the family are using the toilet. This will allow the child to realize that adults normally use the toilet to urinate and defecate.

2. Purchase a potty chair and allow your child to become familiar with it. Once he gets comfortable, allow him to sit on it at regular intervals. A potty chair is less frightening for a child, because it is low. But if you choose an infant seat, make sure to place a foot stool in front of the toilet to provide support for your child’s feet.

3. Use training pants that can be readily pulled down when the need arises. Some have accidents, because they are not able to make it to the potty on time. Parents should stay supportive if this happens. They simply need more time in order to master the skill.

4. It is important to praise your child every time he successfully uses the toilet or potty chair. Positive reinforcement will encourage him to keep on doing the task.

5. Do not force your child to stay too long on the potty or to use the potty for other uses. This may confuse the child as to its correct purpose.

6. Some toddlers find it hard to remain dry at night, and it may persist until they are 3 to 4 years old. The use of diapers during night time will help, but make sure that the child does not associate it with failure. Never pressure the child to achieve this, because it is generally harder to achieve night time dryness. Reassure the child that you know he is doing his best to stay dry.

7. It is never a good practice to wake your child during the night to void. This only conditions them to void every 4 hours or so, instead of retaining urine longer while they sleep.

The time it takes to toilet train a child ranges from weeks to months. Your child may even regress during illness or stress. However, accidents are common and the process of being toilet trained takes time. The important thing is for parents to respect the child’s individuality. The best thing to remember is that, each one goes through this stage differently, and there is no best secret as to how it can be easy.