At two and a half years old, my daughter is still months away from potty-training. Although we have friends, neighbors and relatives who have had their children completely out of diapers before age two, this was a milestone that I knew my toddler would reach later than her peers.
When I consulted her pediatrician, the doctor reassured me that kids can be potty-trained any time between 18 and 42 months of age, and still be considered “normal.” Children develop the ability and desire to potty-train at different ages, and a toddler’s pattern of physical, mental and emotional development can impact his readiness. Here are a few signs that your toddler may not be prepared for the potty.
1. She can’t remove her pants yet. If your child is less physically dextrous than average, she may not be able to pull her pants down to access the potty. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the ability to undress is one of the most important signs that a toddler is ready to use the potty. If your toddler can not yet pull down her pants, wait until she reaches this milestone before attempting to potty-train her.
2. He can’t follow simple directions. If toddler can’t understand or follow simple directions, such as “Go sit on the potty,” and “Wash your hands,” you may need to wait before introducing him to the toilet. Children who are cognitively or linguistically delayed may struggle to reach the intellectual milestones associated with potty-training. Consult a pediatrician or other qualified expert if your toddler has a speech delay, hearing problem or other disorder that hinders his ability to follow instructions.
3. She is resistant to the concept. Does your toddler become hysterical every time you sit her on the potty? Does she despise the feeling of “big-girl panties”? Does the sound of flushing scare her? If so, back away from the potty-training for a while. She needs to be genuinely interested in potty-training for it to work effectively. Your toddler is the only one who controls her bodily functions; you will get nowhere by forcing potty-training on a child who is resistant to the process.
4. He is emotionally struggling. During a major transition, such as a move, divorce, new baby, or death in the family, your toddler may relapse on any progress you’ve made in potty-training him. During this stressful period, neither you nor your child need the additional anxiety associated potty-training. Wait until your family is on more stable grounds before to undertake this journey.
5. She doesn’t know when she needs to go. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that most toddlers are aware of their bodily functions by 18 to 24 months of age, but others don’t reach this milestone until much later. When your toddler is nearing readiness for potty-training, she will demonstrate some degree of awareness when she feels a need to urinate or defecate. She may crouch or change her facial expression when she has to go. Even if your toddler demonstrates all the “signs” of readiness, it’s important to remember that all children develop differently and that it may take several months for her to master the potty. Consult your toddler’s pediatrician if you have any questions about her development.
Related Content from this Contributor
Potty Training the Gifted Toddler
4 Drawbacks of Disposable Training Pants
2-Year-Old Developmental Milestones