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When to Potty Train

Dawn Meehan on When Not to Potty Train

I've had many people ask me the very same question posted by Marcy H. here on Circle of Moms: when is the right time to start potty training? Since I've potty-trained six kids, they figure I'm an expert. I'm not sure I'm an expert, but I do have a wealth of experience in the diaper-changing arts. So, I came up with a list of the things I consider most important when deciding when to start potty training.

Keep reading.

1. Don't push potty training before your child is ready. I made the mistake of doing this with my first child. When my firstborn son turned two, I decided, somewhere in my new mom brain, that two was indeed the official age to begin potty training. Unfortunately my son did not share my enthusiasm and thus began a very long (nearly three-year) stint of trying to get him to pee on the toilet. Well, actually I tried to get him to pee IN the toilet. Peeing ON the toilet is what he and all the other males in my house do now.

2. Don't let others push you into potty training before your child is ready. When your well-meaning mother tells you, "You were potty trained by the age of," put your fingers in your ears and sing, "La la la la la la la, I'm not listening!" When your best friend tells you that her child is potty trained, say, "That’s great!" and resist the urge to compare your children. Just as babies learn to walk and talk at different ages, so they also potty train when the time is right for them.


3. Don't let the idea of a musical potty seat, potty training books, or special underwear push you into potty training before your child is ready. If your child is really ready to start using the potty, he'll do it with or without the latest potty training gadgets. If he isn't ready, even glow-in-the-dark Elmo underwear that sings a potty song and dispenses M&Ms won't work.

4. Don't let the worry that yours will be the only child in school who still wears diapers push you into potty training before your child is ready. After my bad experience potty training my first child, I decided I'd had enough torture in the potty training venue, so when my second child came along, I figured I'd let her wear diapers until she went to college. Luckily I didn't need to wait that long. She wanted princess underwear and that was that. Overnight, "poof" she was trained. And I promise you, your child will eventually train as well. I have yet to hear of a child in junior high who still has mom come in to change his diapers.

5. Don't let the thought that your child is capable of training, but just being purposefully stubborn, push you into potty training before your child is ready. I made this mistake with my first child. He could stay dry sometimes. He could go on the potty seat sometimes. I assumed that meant he was capable of potty training; he was just being defiant/lazy/difficult when he had an accident. I was so wrong. Little kids' bodies mature at different ages, and just because they can make it to the bathroom sometimes, does not necessarily mean they are physically ready for potty training. Making the kids feel like it's their fault, or that they're too lazy/busy/stubborn to get to the potty seat is about the worst thing you can do in your potty training efforts. If they aren't ready, they aren't ready, and the only thing that forcing them to sit on the potty seat every 10 minutes will do, is train you to look at your watch every 10 minutes.

I'm happy to say that potty training all five of my other children was a breeze! It was a pleasant experience for everyone involved because I waited until they were completely ready on their own. Each of those five trained at different ages between two and nearly five, but each trained in a few days time; in their own time.

Author and award-winning mommy blogger Dawn Meehan is the creator of the popular and hilarious Laugh your way through your pregnancy with Meehan's humorous book: You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and OTHER LIES about pregnancy and childbirth).

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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