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Toilet Training - Common Concerns

Pressure to toilet train your child

You may be confused about when to begin toilet training. This is not surprising, considering that most people are bombarded with advice and expectations from relatives, friends, and day care providers. You may also have personal reasons for wanting your child toilet-trained, such as being pregnant and wanting to avoid having two children in diapers at the same time. Balancing all of these factors can be a challenge.

Your child's physical and emotional readiness for toilet training is the most important aspect of the timing. Although you can begin toilet training your child at an earlier-than-average age, it usually takes longer. Also, both you and your child will likely become frustrated if you try toilet training before he or she is physically and emotionally ready.

Your child is not ready to start toilet training if he or she shows any resistance. Typically, a child objects by:

  • Standing next to the potty and then going on the floor.
  • Screaming and crying when taken to the potty.
  • Seeming comfortable and even happy about sitting in a soiled diaper.
  • Saying, "No potty!"

Accidental wetting or soiling

Toilet-trained children may have some accidents up until school age. A child who has an accident during the day is often in the middle of playing and simply holds it too long. Nighttime accidents may occur frequently within the first 12 months after children learn how to use the toilet during the day. Many 3-year-olds wet the bed at night at least once a month.

Playing with stool

The focus on toilet training sometimes inspires children to play with their stools. This is normal behavior. Remind your child that stool is not a toy and that it belongs in the toilet. Reinforce this idea by helping your child to flush it down the toilet. Help your child satisfy a natural need to feel textures by offering playtime with molding material, such as clay or Play-Doh, or finger paints.

Touching the genitals

Sometimes toilet training sparks curiosity about where urine and stool come from, prompting some children to feel and touch their genital area. This is a normal part of how children learn about their bodies. Don't shame or punish your child for this behavior. You can explain the function of the genitals and suggest that they are personal body parts to be looked at and explored in private.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 18, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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