Potty Training


Dear Dr. Bill,

I’m writing for some information on how to get our son potty-trained.  We have been trying since he turned two-years-old, and he’s now two and a half. He seems afraid of sitting the regular toilet, even though we try using a training seat for him.  Are we possibly trying too hard? What do you advise?



Dear Jim,

A lot parents get stressed out about potty training. One of reasons for the stress is pressure from family and friends.  For example, let’s say you’re getting a lot of unwanted advice from grandma.  Your son is two and half and still in diapers.

She regularly points out that in her day, babies were toilet trained by the time they were eighteen months old, and she wonders why little Johnny is so slow.  Well, grandma should give Johnny a break. The average age for mastering toilet training is three.  That’s just an average, which means some kids are trained closer to two, while others don’t reach this milestone until age four.

The toddler who succeeds in potty training is the one who wants to be trained.  Kids forced into potty training before they’re ready may develop a negative attitude that will only delay success.  Here are a few signs that can help you figure out if your son is ready:

Does he know when he is about to go?  This awareness will help him get started.

Are his poops predictable?  Don’t laugh. Regularity can help you figure out the times of day when potty training attempts are most likely to succeed.

Does he want to wear “big boy” underwear?  This is a sign of wanting to be independent.  Underwear can also serve as a reward for your son’s interest in toilet training.

Focus on the Family has some helpful advice on this topic—just go to FocusOnTheFamily.com and enter “potty training” in the search engine.

Thanks for writing, Jim.


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