Parents have lots of questions regarding potty training. The following are some common ones.


Parents have lots of questions regarding potty training. The following are some common ones.

Q. What is the right age to begin training my child?  

A. Age does not determine the best time to start training, although certain “holding” muscles do not develop until 24-26 months. Family dynamics, birth order and emotional maturation are significant markers for readiness.

Q. What are the signs that my child is ready to train?

A. Training can be successful when a child remains dry for longer periods, recognizes that he is wet or dirty, displays uncomfortability or requests to be changed. Successful training requires physical muscle control as well as emotional readiness. When your child shows  interest in the potty and willingly sits with success when you take him, you are closer to having him trained.

Q. What’s the worst thing that can happen if I try to force my child to train before he’s ready?  

A. Children sense when we want them to train, which empowers them. They can wet themselves to see our frustration, anger or disappointment. They can “go” on the potty to see our excitement. Or they can withhold their bowels for days to get us to back off training. Unfortunately, they have control over their training. Bowel withholding can become a medical danger, and your pediatrician should be contacted. Additionally, if your child isn’t ready, and you try to force the issue, the training period will take much longer.

Q. Are all potty seats the same?

A. Some sit on the floor, some insert into the toilet seat, some help a child to “step up” and some even play music when they’re being filled. These should be chosen based on your child’s age and physical size. It helps to introduce your child to a portable ring or a potty seat for travel purposes.

Q. Do girls train differently than boys?

A. It is beneficial for boys to learn to stand. Boys who are trained solely to sit may be teased in a preschool setting when groups of children use a bathroom together. Peer pressure or humiliation can cause regression or refusal. Sitting and standing are different experiences, so boys should become comfortable with both.

Q. Does the same approach work for all children?

A. All children are different, and what works for one child may not be successful with another. Having a sense of your child’s readiness or resistance is the key. In many cases it may be easier to train your second child because he may want to emulate his older sibling. Older siblings should encourage the younger “trainee.” A younger child who is referred to as “the baby” may enjoy that role, and not show an interest in training.

Q. How should I handle naps and bedtime?

A. Staying dry throughout the night usually comes months after daytime successes. Liquids taken in after early evening hours play a big role. Limiting evening liquids (and watching that your child doesn’t drink from the tub faucet) can be difficult, because if a child is thirsty and you don’t allow him to drink (in an effort to get him out of diapers), he can become upset and loose the desire to stay dry throughout the night. It’s better not to mention the limiting of liquids, and when your child is thirsty, offer small sips instead of a cup of water.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator in Stark County, Ohio. Send your child-rearing questions to or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find additional parenting resources, along with links to all of her columns, at Diana Boggia’s website,