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Helping Your Toddler Succeed in Potty Training

Suggestions For Successful Potty Training

When it comes to toilet training, your toddler is the boss.

"You may be the parent but the child has complete control over this process," says Dr. Teri Turner, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. "Toilet training fails when parents forget who's in charge."

Toddlers learn the responsibility of using the toilet when the time is right for them. A child doesn't magically become ready at age 2, Dr. Turner says.

Incentives can be helpful in motivating a child to become responsible, but frequent reminders often have the opposite effect.

"The most common reason for resisting toilet training is that the child has been lectured or reminded too much," she says. "To the child, the reminders are pressure."

Parents can begin toilet training when the child is able to stay dry for several hours and can communicate the need to use the toilet. The child will be looking for independence and will want to please.

Dr. Turner, also an attending physician at Texas Children's Hospital, offered these suggestions for successful toilet training:

  • Encourage your child to imitate siblings or parents.
  • Be sure all caregivers are using the same methods.
  • Teach a boy to sit to urinate before standing.
  • Keep the child in loose, easy-to-remove clothing.
  • Don't use paper-training pants too soon.
  • Read an age-appropriate book with your child about toilet training.
  • Don't punish or criticize for accidents.
  • Provide choices instead of demands. Use incentives.

"Parents should not be overly concerned about when a child is able to use the potty and should not expect perfection," Dr. Turner says. "Setbacks are to be expected."

Dr. Turner says that a pediatrician should be consulted when the child is over the age of 4 and has no interest in training or if there is significant parent-child conflict in toilet training.

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