Potty training: Is your child developmentally ready?

A child's second birthday marks a time many parents look forward to and some dread: potty training. While there may be pressure from friends and family about how important it is to get started on toilet training, keep in mind that the most important decision maker is your child.

Using a "developmental" approach to toilet readiness, it has been found that most children become ready between 24 and 36 months of age. Most experts recommend waiting until your child is "ready." But what does that mean?

There are three areas of readiness for toileting: physical, cognitive and emotional. Often, children will have one or two, but not all three. It is easiest for children to learn when they are ready in all three areas at once.

Young children can not consistently be aware of, much less control their bodily functions. They are too busy mastering the voluntary muscles involved in walking to even consider the nuances of controlling involuntary processes. It would be overloading your toddler's system to introduce an additional developmental challenge, especially one that he or she cannot be successful at achieving. This could cause delays in other areas of development that are primed for this time.

Your child also needs to be somewhat proficient at dressing. He or she will need to be able to remove pants and put them back on.

Keep in mind that physical and emotional development are mutually occurring and influence each other. Natural stages of emotional and physical mastery build on each other.

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