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Potty Training and Your Preschooler

Tips for helping your preschooler master potty training.
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WebMD Feature

Amanda Ezman, 31, of Oneida, N.Y. started potty training her daughter, Lilah, just a few months shy of her third birthday. Lilah was finally curious about the bathroom, and showing all the right signs that she was ready to start going like a “big girl.” Also, she was getting ready to move to a new day care facility, and potty training was a goal her parents wanted her to reach.

“We waited until we thought Lilah was ready,” Ezman says. “So when we did start, it went pretty smoothly -- she really wanted to learn how to use the potty like some of her friends who had already been potty trained, and after just a few tries, she started using the bathroom pretty consistently.”

Potty training is a skill all parents must help their little ones master. From timing the transition to the toilet to accidents and the occasional wet sheet at night, here are common problems moms and dads face, as well as tips and tricks from the experts that will help you and your child finally reach this major milestone.

Ready for Potty Training

A common question parents of preschoolers ask themselves is, Should my child be potty trained by now?

“The average age at which a child will start to show interest in learning to potty train is around 2 years, but it’s a bell shaped curve -- some will go earlier and others not until 3 or even 4,” says Mark Wolraich, MD, the CMRI/Shaun Walters professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

While you and your child are busy preparing for preschool, her mind and body are growing and developing. Jenn Berman, PhD, family psychologist and author of SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Headstart in the First 3 Years, says in order to tackle the toilet, watch for these signs that she is really ready: 

Mentally. A child’s brain has to be able to receive the full bladder message, and the child has to be mature enough to know to hold his pee and poop in until he gets to a toilet, Berman says. The child also needs to understand the connection between the urge to pee and poop and the potty chair. Although this generally occurs between ages 18-22 months, it just happens later for some kids, as they get closer to approaching preschool age.

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