How Do You Know When They Are Ready to Potty Train?

Updated on June 12, 2008
A.B. asks from Stockton, CA
7 answers

Hi there,

I assume that my 22 month old son probably won't be potty trained until he's nearly three (and I've read that boys take longer than girls) so I haven't been pushing it at all. I've just showed him what it's about and I'm leaving it up to him to decide if and when he wants to try.

So, I thought he might be getting ready because when I say I need to go pee pee, he runs ahead of me into the bathroom and points in the big potty and says, "pee pee!" He loves to flush the toilet. Now he comes to me and tells me "poo poo" and then squats down to do it in his diaper. He also squats down when he's peeing in his diaper. He plays with the potty chair sometimes. So he knows what the toilet is for and he knows the feeling of having to do it.

But here is the weird part. When I ask if he wants to sit on his potty he says, "No no!" If I gently try to get him to sit on it, he springs up and bends himself into a pretzel to get away from it. If I try to put the potty receptacle under him, he'll back up or run away. When I asked if he wanted to be on the big potty instead he said, "No no!" and squirmed away. In Chinese he tells his grandmother that he's "scared" whenever she leads him to either toilet.

So my question is "how will I know when he's ready?" Will he just walk in there one day and use the potty? Should I continue to ask him if he wants to use the potty and try to sit him on it? He has a while to go before I become remotely concerned about lack of potty training, but I was wondering if anyone can suggest approaches?

Thanks in advance for sharing advice and experience!

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answers from San Francisco on

For me it was when I was ready! not him as much. One day (at about 2 yrs old) I said, i'm not doing diapers anymore (we did cloth). I went down that day and bought big boy underwear, which he loved. We spent at least one whole day training. And we never put him back in a diaper, except at night. So once he realized that, after a few accidents, he was trained within a few days. You just have to find what motivates him. And if he's scared of the big potty, get him a cute little one and maybe that will solve the problem. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My twin girls trained fairly late (at around 3.5YO), party b/c I took a fairly laid-back approach with them (translation: I wanted to minimize the amount of accident cleanup I had to do so I waited until they were really ready ;-). IMHO every child is different and follow your instincts. As my girls' preschool teacher told me, they all "get it" eventually and in her 25+ years of teaching preschool and raising 3 kids of her own, she said she's seen kids train practically overnight b/c they were really ready when they started. So if your son is acting scared now, feel free to just drop the subject for a little while.
That said, a few ways you can easily check on his interest level are going to the library and borrowing a few kids books/videos on the subject ("once upon a potty" and "It's potty time" are a couple that are commonly available in public libraries) Some kids seem to be more interested in using the potty when they see other kids close to their age using the potty.

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answers from Sacramento on

He's ready based on what you have said. I would try setting up a reward system to get him to sit on the potty (little m&m's work great). Then once he will sit on the potty he should only get a treat when he actually goes potty (I do one treat for pee and two for big potty, and three if she actually tells me she needs to go). I think that the longer you wait the harder it will be. You should check out the link on today's newsletter about potty training, it had some good info.


answers from Fresno on

I am with Julie C on this one! It's not about the child being ready, so much as it's about the mommy being ready. From what you've described, your son will not have problems with the process. One weekend when you are feeling patient and don't have anything else to do, take off his diaper and pants, and then watch him like a hawk. The second you think he might go, run him to the potty. When he goes in the potty, celebrate! If he goes on the floor, tell him in a no-nonsense voice, "Next time you'll make it to the potty." And then clean it up without any fuss. He may cry for his diaper, but just tell him that he is a big boy and he will be using the potty from now on. (Don't give in, whatever you do.) Keep it up and I promise you in 3 days you will have a reliably potty-trained child. Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

From what I have heard it sounds like you are doing all the right things. Prepping them is what it is all about, making it open, having him watch everyone in the family go and talking about it a lot. One big sign is when they wake up from their nap dry. The other is showing interest, as it seems your son is doing. I have read many books and a really great, simple and quick one is called "How to Potty Train in One Day". It is all about getting ready and making sure they are ready. You really only need to read I think Chapter 13! Check it out! Take care, J.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi A.,
Both of my children (son (10) and daughter (6) didn't want to use the potty until they were almost three years but once they did they only had probably 1-2 accidents. Starting around 2 years old, I started helping them become familiar with using the potty by reading to them potty books and I would put on a video about using the potty even while they were playing. After awhile I brought the kids size potty out while the movie was on, still not forcing them to sit on it. Sometimes they would sit on it, sometimes they wouldn't. Then just around the time they turned 3, they used it on their own (actually the big potty) and we only had a couple of accidents.

I would stop trying to get him to sit on the potty for a while and don't pressure him. He'll only rebel more against using it more.

I hope this helps and don't put pressure on yourself. When he's ready, he'll do it.



answers from Yuba City on

Hi A.. First off I am definetly not an expert on this subject. My son is 3 1/2 and just now almost fully potty trained. Due to horrible advice from my Dr I waited because he said my son would just finds his own way to the toilet.. Wrong for my son!! I thought maybe he would do better with the toilet seat on the big toilet but that ended up scaring him more. I found that the little potty seats are what worked. Yes to some extent they go when they are ready but what ultimately gave my son a push was putting on the underwear, him going in the underwear and not liking it.. yeah your furniture doesn't have too much fun but really that's what really pushed it! Good luck! really sounds like he's ready just needs a push!

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