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Potty training is the process of teaching your toddler to recognise the feeling of needing to go to the toilet, and gain control of urine and bowel movements until he can reach a potty or toilet.

Children develop at different rates and you should only begin potty training when your child is ready. Before he can be trained, your toddler needs to be able to:

Recognise the signals that mean he needs to go to the toilet and can tell you before it happens.

Hold on for a short time until he gets to the potty or the toilet.

Pull his pants and trousers up or down, though children may need help with difficult clothes for some time.

Most toddlers are not ready to potty train until after the age of two, particularly if they do not have an older sibling to copy. Even after they are trained it's not at all unusual for a four year old to have occasional, or more frequent accidents.

If you try training your child before they are two it may mean you have to keep reminding them to use the toilet at intervals during the day. If you leave training a little later until your child is ready the process will be easier and quicker.

Getting Started

Involve your child in buying a potty and perhaps let them choose their potty with you. Leave the potty so your toddler can see it in the bathroom. At around eighteen months introduce your toddler to the potty. Try to let your child watch other children using the potty and let your toddler see you using the toilet.

When your child is about two, sit him on the potty from time to time, and give lots of praise if he 'uses' the potty. If your child regularly opens his bowels at about the same time each day, choose this moment to sit him on the potty.

It is often a good idea to start potty training in warm weather so your child can run around without pants, or just with a pair of cotton pants. You will need to remind your child regularly to tell you when he needs the potty.

Accidents will happen, do not get cross, simply clean up and tell him where the poo or the wee should go next time. Occasionally, let your toddler try the toilet, some children prefer it. You can put a child seat on your toilet and purchase a step up to it to make it easier. However children often want you to hold them on the toilet, even when they are proficient toilet users. Do not expect your child to be able to wipe his own bottom, most children need help with this for some time.

Tips for successful potty training

Choose a time to potty train when nothing else significant is happening in your toddler's life e.g. the arrival of a new baby or starting nursery.

Give plenty of praise every time your toddler uses the potty or toilet.

Choose a potty with your child.

Dress your child in trousers or leggings that can be pulled down easily, preferably with elasticated waists.

It is possible to skip the potty stage and use the toilet from the start.

Trainer pants (disposable nappies that look and feel like pants) are ideal for trips away from home, but may confuse your child as they are so like nappies your child may forget the need to use the potty.

Try to make sure using the potty is an enjoyable experience, try not to let it become associated with telling your child off.

Do not get cross! Try to always remain calm, even if your toddler has made a mess. If accidents happen, remain sympathetic, your child will pick up on anxiety or frustration. It is so easy for a toddler to forget about the potty and the toilet. If accidents are making you irritable, leave training for a week or two and go back to nappies.

Teach boys to use the potty sitting down at first. They can progress to standing up later

You may wish to buy a potty training book, video, or chart, which deal with the issues in more detail.

You can devise your own scheme to encourage your child with stickers or stars

You could try giving your child other small rewards such as a piece of fruit, if you think it would encourage the process.

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