Showing signs of readiness, when to start?

Posted by Narmin on May 14, 2011

Question: “My son is 18 months old and seems to be interested in the potty. He tells me when he has peed or pooped by patting his diaper. He will even go and get me a diaper to change him, however when he gets on the potty he will only sit there. Is there anyway I can get him to use the potty instead of just sitting there? Thanks!”

Answer: Led by example! When you or other family members are in the bathroom, have him come in with you. Talk about going pee-pee and poop, while having him sit on his potty chair.

Being that he is a little young to start potty training make sure he shows the rest of the signs of readiness before starting full potty training.

Here are all the signs of readiness to look for:

1) Physiological readiness signs for potty training are (Bladder & Bowel Control) :

  • Childs awareness of the need to go – demonstrated by squatting, grunting, hiding when child feels need to eliminate.
  • No BM’s through the night
  • Dry diaper for long periods of time i.e. from long naps and/or in the morning.
  • Urinate a lot at one time (vs. a little through out the day)
  • Some regularity of bowel movements.

2) Motor Skills readiness signs for potty training are:

  • Is your child able to undress him/herself?
  • Is your child able to pull his/her underpants down?
  • Is your child able to pull his/her pants down?

3) Verbal and Cognitive readiness signs for potty training are:

  • Your child can follow instructions – from simple instruction such as show me your nose, to more complex instructions such as putting away toys where they belong.
  • Has the vocabulary required to follow your instructions – i.e. understands words such as potty, toilet, wet, dry, underwear, “big girl” etc.
  • Is able to imitate behavior.

4) Emotional growth and social awareness readiness signs for potty training are:

  • Desire to master one’s own body and environment – manifested by “I can do it” or “I am a big boy/girl now”
  • Child’s desire for parental approval
  • Child’s desire to imitate and desire to be like others


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