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Is My Child Ready For Potty Training?

Potty training marks a significant milestone in a child’s development. It’s a crucial step towards independence and hygiene. But how do you know if your child is ready for potty training? Understanding the signs of readiness and preparing adequately can make the process smoother for both you and your child.

What age is ready?

Though age isn’t the most important factor, there tends to be a window of opportunity that is often best for most children when starting this process.

The NHS suggests that children will be equipped to be potty trained between 18-24 months of age.

However, a lot of different factors can shift this in one direction or another:

  • Your child’s developmental, biological, or emotional readiness
  • Any upcoming events that could cause your child emotional stress (moving, starting school, divorce, a new sibling, etc.)
  • Your own readiness (are you in the mental headspace to commit to this transition and remain consistent?)
  • Any developmental or physical delays or disabilities

Children within the 2-year age group typically:

  • Have mature muscle development
  • Have basic communication skills
  • Have obtained adequate gross motor skills
  • Have a willingness to please
  • Are more motivated
  • Can more easily adapt to change

Similar to sleep, a child won’t come up to you and tell you they are ready to sleep through the night. The same applies to potty training! Some children will show obvious interest, but most will need that initial guidance from their parents.

Signs your Child Is Ready

Before diving into potty training, it’s essential to observe your child for signs indicating readiness. These signs can be categorized into physical, behavioural, and emotional cues. Physically, your child should have a good grasp of gross motor skills; sitting, standing and walking; might show signs of bladder or bowel control, such as staying dry for longer periods or showing discomfort in dirty diapers. Behaviourally, they may express curiosity about the toilet or imitate family members using it and even hiding to poop. Emotionally, readiness can be indicated by a desire to please others, especially their parents; a willingness to cooperate and follow simple instructions. Fine motor skills such as dressing, undressing, wiping, and washing hands independently can come later. Children will often need assistance with at least some of the steps of potty use well after they are successfully using the potty.


Once you’ve identified signs of readiness, it’s time to prepare for the training process. This involves gathering the necessary equipment, such as a potty chair or seat adapter, and choosing the right time to start. It’s crucial to pick a period when there are minimal disruptions and stressors in your child’s life. Setting realistic expectations is also vital; every child progresses at their own pace, so patience is key.


Potty training is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. Start by introducing the concept of using the potty and allowing your child to become familiar with it. Encourage them to sit on the potty regularly, especially after meals or when they show signs of needing to go. Celebrate successes, no matter how small, and be patient and understanding when accidents happen. As your child becomes more comfortable, you can transition from diapers to training pants and eventually to underwear.

Common Challenges

Despite your best efforts, potty training can come with its fair share of challenges. In order for a child to be ready to pee and poo on the potty independently they need to learn the skill of connecting their body cues to their brain signals. It stems from a type of sixth sense we possess known as interoception. Interoception is the ability to feel, identify, and transmit what our body is telling us. This includes things like hunger, thirst, pain, and yes, bathroom urges. Sometimes this is automatically obtained, but most of the time our kids need our help to learn this important skill. It will be difficult to teach a child to pee and poo on the potty independently without certain readiness factors at play.

Why Your Child May Not Be Ready

Because every child is on their own trajectory, it’s important to pinpoint any red flags that may indicate that your child isn’t ready to begin the potty training process yet. Here are several red flags that would indicate your child is not ready for potty training:

  • Your child has a developmental delay that may impact their potty training readiness
  • Your child has severe constipation issues
  • Your child has an apparent genuine fear of the potty, or a fear of releasing pee and poop without a diaper
  • Your child has zero or very minimal progress in the first 5 days of potty training

If your little one does not fall into one of these categories but you aren’t seeing progress with potty training, it could stem from more of a behavioural issue, such as resistance to change or power struggles that are standing in the way of them being successful. Occasionally, a temporary break or a shift in your approach may be needed, and that is perfectly normal!

If you think about it, there are many new skills that fall under the umbrella of potty training that children are asked to work on all at once:

  • Listening to body cues
  • Undressing
  • Sitting on the potty
  • Peeing and pooping
  • Wiping
  • Redressing
  • Flushing
  • Washing hands

If your child is having a hard time with potty training, take a step back and work on each aspect gradually by introducing each step in a low-pressure way, even before you actually get to peeing and pooping on the potty. This will help your child have a working knowledge of what to do and what’s expected of them, and it’ll be much less overwhelming than introducing every step all at once on day one of potty training.

Why You Should Not Potty Train Too Early

Is it possible to potty train too early? Some research tells us that starting before 24 months can increase the risk of daytime wetting later on but other studies have shown that there is no negative impact of starting potty training earlier. This is where identifying the signs of potty training readiness is so important. Be sure that your child is displaying, at the very least, the physical and biological capability of potty training before you start the process. You’ll also want to be sure that your child has the support system necessary to have consistent expectations. For example, if your child is 20 months old and you want to start potty training, but they don’t support potty training at their childcare setting, you might want to consider holding off. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t start introducing the concept of the potty to your child!

It’s good to “plant the seed” from as early of an age as possible. Getting your child comfortable and familiar with the potty before potty training actually begins can make the process go much smoother when the time comes! Keep in mind also that every child is different, and not every child will display many obvious signs of readiness! If they don’t, it’s perfectly okay for you to assess your child’s capability and gently guide them through the process. Many times, our kids are just looking for us to take the lead!

Tips for Successful Potty Training

To increase the chances of success, it’s essential to maintain a positive and supportive attitude throughout the process. Use incentives and rewards to motivate your child and make the experience more enjoyable. Consistency is key; stick to a routine and be patient as your child learns this new skill.

And finally, Potty training is a significant milestone in every child’s life, but it’s essential to approach it with patience, understanding, and positivity. By identifying signs of readiness, preparing adequately, and staying consistent, you can help your child successfully navigate this important transition.


How do I know if my child is ready for potty training?

Look for signs of readiness such as physical control, behavioural cues, and emotional readiness.

What equipment do I need for potty training?

You’ll need a potty chair or seat adapter, training pants, and plenty of patience.

How long does potty training typically take?

Every child is different, but it usually takes several weeks to a few months to fully master.

What should I do if my child resists potty training?

Stay patient and supportive, and try to understand the underlying reasons for their resistance.

When should I start night-time potty training?

Night-time training can start once your child consistently wakes up dry from naps or overnight.

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