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Breaking Down 5 Myths of Potty Training Readiness

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When it comes to potty training, the burning question for most parents of little ones is when will my child be ready? So many theories fly around the playground and we are here to debunk the most popular among them. Do any of the readiness signs below sound familiar to you? 

Your child will be ready to potty train when:

...she can take off her diaper.

FALSE: A child who can take off their diapers is a child who can take off their diaper. It says nothing about their readiness to potty train. What it tells you is that your child is ready to learn to dress and undress themselves. So dive in to teaching this task as it is an important component of potty training success.


...when he shows interest in the bathroom.

FALSE: If we allowed our kids to do everything that they showed interest in, regardless of their age and the developmental appropriateness of the act, my sons would have been driving cars and trains when they were 2 years old. Showing interest in the bathroom is good and we should not be shy about letting our kids in the bathroom to watch us use the toilet, shower etc. The more familiar the act is to them, the less resistant they will be to learning how to use the potty. But this alone is not a sign of potty training readiness.


...when she turns 2, definitely when she turns 2

FALSE: A child’s age should not be the sole factor in determining potty training readiness. Some kids are ready as early as 18months old. Others are just not ready until age 4. The biggest mistake we make in potty training is pushing kids to potty train solely based on their age or the idea that they are “big” enough to learn this skill. Pushing a child to potty train before they are ready can lead to a battle of wills between parent and child and too often kids respond by withholding urine and bowel movements, which can create serious medical complications, and no one wants that.


...when she tells me she has a wet diaper

FALSE: Most kids have not been paying any attention to their elimination. When they are suddenly able to recognize a wet diaper they are hitting the first stage of toilet learning, which is identifying that they have eliminated. That’s why allowing them to have potty accidents is so important. A child needs to see and feel that they have eliminated. They then have to identify what it feels like when they have a full bladder and full bowels and act on that feeling. That is when your child starts to put the pieces of this complex puzzle together.


...when they wake up dry from nap or night time

FALSE: Staying dry during naps or nighttime is not a voluntary act. It relies on the secretion of ADH the anti-diuretic hormone. This hormone reduces the amount of urine created in sleep and leads to dryness. It is not a sign that a child can successfully be dry during the day. Some kids wet the bed for years after they are able to stay dry during the day.  Don't confuse these two distinct moments of development. One is a trainable event. One is not.  


Instead of following these  myths that circulate on the playground to determine potty training readiness, pay keen attention to your child’s physical, emotional and intellectual development. A child who can physically get to the bathroom on their own, can focus on an activity for 3-5 minutes, can transition easily from one activity to anther, and is in a parent-pleasing mode is going to be easier to potty train then a child who has just learned to walk, is easily distracted and is testing limits with parents and caregivers. And do pay attention to your own potty training readiness. If you are distracted by a big life event (a baby on the way, a move, a major work project), then potty training is not going to be successful as it requires your patience, attention and consistency too.


For real signs of potty training read our most popular post "How Will I Know When to Start Potty Training" Share your potty training successes or challenges below.  And as always:

Keep Calm And Potty On

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