7 Signs Your Child is Ready for Potty Training

While we are on the topic of potty training, Azrin and Foxx (1989), the psychologists who wrote the book on potty training children in a day, provide a list of questions to ask yourself to identify if you think your child is ready to start potty training.

Here are my thoughts on their ready signs with a few additions based on recent research…

Potty Training toddler

Is your child around 20 months of age or older?

Mayo Clinic suggests that many kids don’t start showing interest in potty training until the age of 2 while some children may not be ready until 2.5 or even older! In my professional and personal opinion, if you push potty training too early, it will only make potty training more aversive and will make the potty training experience drag on for what may seem FOREVER! Wait for your potty training cutie to show you that they are ready! When they show interest… Go for it! The process will go fast when the child is READY!

Does your child have bladder control?

Can your child stay dry for several hours at a time (Good thing us mama’s are already potty trained because I am not sure if we would pass this ready sign anymore, lol)? Personally, I like to collect data first (not surprising considering I am a Behavior Analyst, lol). When I started this undertaking with my oldest, I took three days of straight up data collection because I wanted to see how often she was going potty and if I could identify any patterns (i.e. WHEN DO YOU POOP?). Every 30 minutes, I did a diaper check and I would record if she was ‘Dry’, ‘Wet’ or ‘BM’ (Bowel Movement). At the end of my data collection, I was able to identify the duration of bladder control and also her natural BM schedule (THANK GOODNESS!).

Does your child know when they are about to urinate?

Sometimes you can tell based on their facial expression, posture or sometimes they go to hide if it’s a bowel movement (haha, I see you behind the couch!). Maximize those moments and try to capture them BEFORE they happen! If you can identify the ‘cues’ and catch a potty success, it will further reinforce this whole potty training experience.

Is your child physically ready?

This is a bit of a gross motor development component. Can your child pick up objects and walk without assistance? Your child will need to have the ability to sit on the toilet with independence while also having the ability to get up and off the toilet without assistance.

Can your child follow directions?

If the answer is yes, do they cooperate when given instructions? This is important because you will need your child to follow simple instructions such as, “Get on the toilet”, “Wipe your bottom”, etc.

Can your child dress themselves?

However, a recent article just came out suggesting that having the ability to dress one self isn’t a predictor for potty training readiness… This article suggest that a caregiver can prompt the child through dressing and that the sole focus should be on potty training; not self dressing as well. What do you think?

Does your child have a word for potty?

This is extremely important! You must provide a functional word for your child to express that they need to use the bathroom. This word can be the sign language for potty, an approximation for potty or the word ‘Potty’. Having the ability to express that they need to use the toilet means you are one step closer to independent toileting and a diaper free world :).

So, if the answer to these questions are yes, it’s time to buck up buttercup; the potty training journey is about to begin :)!

5 Replies to “7 Signs Your Child is Ready for Potty Training”

  1. My daughter was crazy easy to potty train. I put her in undies and that was pretty much that. My son was a little tougher, he never wanted to stop playing long enough to go to the bathroom! It was a trying time 😀

    1. Seems to be the trend :). Good luck, mama! I only have personal experience with girls but I have potty trained a lot of boys in my clinical experience so I know your pain, haha!

  2. I got spoiled with my oldest. He practically begged to use the toilet and was trained with no big fuss by 2.5. My youngest, now close to 2.5 is a whole other story. I’m thinking he just might not be ready. But he will get there!

  3. Great post! It was definitely easier potty training my daughters than it was my son. He took a little longer but I didn’t push him. I start trying around 18 months, but I really follow their lead. Waiting until they are ready.

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