Potty training

“Parents often question timing and method for the process of toilet training. The process of toilet training may seem like a natural process which happens with development, however it is actually a complex process, including anatomic, physiologic and behavioral aspects. That’s why,  reaching this developmental milestone can be difficult for both parents and child and most of the parents and their children are most likely to suffer from this process such as hygiene, skin problems, excessive dependence on the parents, inconvenience and as the child gets older, social embarrassment as well“ – says teacher Merve Vinckus from Eureka School.


Here teacher is providing some insights into this process in parenting and try to answer “What is the best way to toilet train my child?”


Brazelton, American pediatrician, answered these concerns through the development of an approach to toilet training focusing on child readiness. His study showed that children are “ready” to start training when children’s physiologic capability of the process and both parents and their children’s emotional readiness occur. Children need to be in a control of bladder and bowel to some degree and have the mental readiness to cooperate in the process with their parents (Kiddoo, 2012). Other authors such as Foxx and Azrin also suggested similar ideas about physiological and psychological readiness of child.


Due to the importance of the physiologic development, studies on the child’s development found that neuromuscular development of bowel and bladder control may be present by 18 months of age, however, the development may not be fully completed (Lang, 2008). Canadian Pediatric Society suggests that toilet training may start by about 18 months of age on average, however, it is important to stress on that toilet training process greatly varies and there is no age at which toilet training should begin due to the differences of each child’s developmental milestones and their paces, cultural differences (Gorodzinsky, 2000). Therefore, toilet training readiness should not be restricted to the child’s chronological age. Rather, the child’s physiologic and psychologic readiness should be considered to begin the process and the parents should attend this process with the patience as well. Besides, it is also important to be aware of that child reaching the physiological maturation doesn’t mean that they are also psychologically ready for this process.


What are the signs of a child’s toilet training readiness? (Gorodzinsky, 2000)

  • Able to walk to potty chair
  • Able to maintain body balance while sitting on the potty
  • Able to remain dry for several hours
  • Achieved age-appropriate language milestones to be able to follow simple commands
  • Desire for autonomy, and control of bladder and bowel function


How can parents facilitate a child-oriented toilet learning approach? (Gorodzinsky, 2000)

  • Make sure that potty chair and position are easily reachable. Let the child watch one’s parents using the toilet.
  • If a regular toilet is used, then important to use a toilet seat adapter and a foot stool.
  • Encourage the child with positive reinforcement such as telling that you are proud of your child, your child is doing well. Be aware of that it is a process and there can be some accidents. Don’t expect quick results and avoid using punishment.
  • Provide positive reinforcement even in small and/or new steps such as child trying to use the potty or moving on to a new step.
  • After repeated successes, try to suggest using training pants.

The process may also lead to a failure due to the child’s refusal of toileting. Most of the time, organic causes of this failure are not common. The most likely reason for this failure is that the child is not ready (Gorodzinsky, 2000). When the child is not ready and the parents attempts to toilet train, these attempts will be useless, lead to damaged parent-child relationship and child’s development of negative self-image. If this refusal occurs, it is better to give a break for some time from the training. This helps the development of trust and cooperation between the child and parents (Gorodzinsky, 2000).


To sum up, toilet learning is a developmental milestone in a child’s life. It is a time when children discover and enhance the bodily control, understand and react to their physiologic processes, and confront and react to external pressures. Considering the children’s psychological and physiological maturation is vital to begin the process. Both psychological and physiological maturation vary for each child because each child’s pace, developmental milestone is different. So, there is no specific age to begin the toilet learning. When the parents start the process, however, face the child’s refusal for toileting, this refusal is most likely to be a sign of child’s unreadiness and parents are suggested to give a break for some time like few months from the training.