When Is the Right Time to Start Potty Training?

Potty-training can be, and is, an exciting time for both child and parent, but this stage can get a little overwhelming. In our Filipino culture, we rely on our well-meaning relatives when they say, “Ay ikaw, nung bata ka, 2-years old ka pa lang, wala ka nang diapers.” This puts a lot of pressure on both child and parent. So, when is the right time to start potty-training your child?

When Is the Right Time to Start Potty Training?

When your child is ready, and not before
While there are milestones us parents can refer to, or books that we can read on this topic, it is important to focus on the child as an individual who will be able to inform you, in his or her own way, that they are ready for this step.

Tim Seldin wrote in his book, “How to Raise an Amazing Child: The Montessori way to bring up caring confident children” that learning to use the toilet is a natural process. “We don’t train children to use the toilet, we support them when they are ready.” 

Remember that it's a gradual process
From my experience as a first-time mom, I noticed my daughter becoming interested in the concept of toilet at around two and a half. She would try to touch the toilet seat when she had to be washed if her diaper was full. Before she turned three, we practiced having no diapers during the day, but still kept them on during her nap and bed time.

Give independence
After her 3rd birthday, we practiced sleeping without diapers. My daughter liked being able to set up her own sleeping mat that had cute dinosaurs and sea-creature design. 

In a book I read, it said that “There should be no pressure, no reward or punishment, no adult deciding when the child should learn to use the potty. The environment is prepared and the child is free to explore and imitate in these natural developmental stages.” 

With my daughter who is a highly verbal child, she informs us when she needs to “make wiwi” or “make poopoo”. She enjoys our ritual of her opening the light in the bathroom while I, in turn, close it when she’s done using the facility. She also sings songs while she washes her hands (I sing along too, if I know the song) and reaches for the bathroom towel herself when she’s done. 

I make sure the restroom is not slippery and everything is within her reach, but I stay as support and let her achieve her independence and confidence on her own.

Encourage when they don’t make it in time

When my daughter first started wearing her undies in lieu of her diapers, she would wet the floor or mat and start to cry. I would tell her in a quiet voice, “It’s all right, this is part of our learning process.” Remember our words, once harshly said, cannot be taken back. Should you feel like you are on the verge of feeling angry or disappointed, take a step back, and a deep breath, before coming back to your child.

During one instance where she was not able to make it to the bathroom in time and had poop slide down her legs, this resulted to massive crying as she does not like feeling wet and in this case, a little smelly too. From that point, I noticed that she would always inform me and her dad if she had to make “wiwi” and “poopoo”.

This will be a journey in which your child will need your support and understanding, and a gentle tone goes a long way in how you communicate. Understand that you will have to show patience in each other’s ability to keep your cool, and that it is a process that will not happen over night.


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