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Potty training

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on August 12, 2008

Worried about potty training? Just remember that 8 out of 10 children take to it straight away. Here's our guide.

When to start?

The average age for a child to be toilet trained is 28 months (day) and 3 years (night). There's no point thinking about potty training children under 18 months old, as they don't have the necessary neuromuscular, psychological or emotional maturity.

Understanding what is expected, being physically able to control themselves and wanting to use the potty are the key steps to success.

When it's time, if your child doesn't start using the potty of his or her own accord, suggest it and place your child on the potty. After meal time is always a good time, as well as whenever they show signs of activity! Do this every day.

Don't be surprised if at first you only see urine at the bottom of the potty, as a child's bladder and sphincter don't always work together at first.

Differences between the sexes

On paper, girls seem more mature than boys at potty training age. Some believe that boys are more sensitive to parental pressure; others believe that boys make a connection between the pleasure of satisfying their need to urinate with sexual impulses, so they may experience a sensation of ‘losing’ something in their subconscious when they go to the toilet.

It’s important that everyone (parents, grandparents, nanny, etc.) adopts a relaxed attitude about potty training. Don't talk about poo as being dirty, even when your child tries to play with the contents of the potty, which is normal at first. If this happens, explain gently that human beings don't do that!

Never pressurize your child
Don't put pressure on your child to take to the potty, otherwise you could turn the issue into a needless power struggle.

It’s not a competition
Let your child progress at his/her own rate. Don’t worry if little Joshua who lives next door was potty trained day and night at 16 months old - your child will learn in time.

And at night?

There are no set rules here either. Although some children no longer need their nappy at 2, others may wear nappies at night until the age of 4. Remind older children regularly that they can sleep without nappies, and if they can manage without for several nights in a row (check for evidence!), they can stop altogether.

What if my child starts needing nappies again?

Be aware that some things can make children regress to needing nappies again: starting nursery, the birth of a little brother or sister and other such disturbances in their lives can affect them. These hiccups can be overcome by talking to them and showing them lots of love.

Remember there's a wide range of books out there that you can read with your child to help them potty train.

Handy tips
- Summertime is a great time to remove a child's nappy for the first time, because he or she will enjoy the feeling of freedom.
- In winter, change nappies as soon they're dirty and leave your child in their underwear for a good hour to get them used to being without a nappy.
- Use a potty rather than the toilet, which can seem huge and frightening.
- Put the potty next to the toilet and explain that the potty is there just for your child.
- The first time you try using the potty, pop yourself on the toilet next to your child.
- Use training nappies that can be lowered like pants.
- The first time, make sure your child is wearing clothes that are easy to take off.

What not to do
- Reward your child for 'success.'
- Punish or scold your child for accidents.
- Make children stay on the potty if they don't want to.

by Sarah Horrocks

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