In its “Guide to Toilet Training,” the American Academy of Pediatrics states that by age 2½ or 3, children begin becoming more aware of gender concepts. What parents need to understand, though, is that the child decides when the time to potty train is right. So how do you know when to start potty training your toddler boy? According to the Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), once a child begins showing signs that he is physically able and developmentally ready, it’s time to give it a try.
Even though a toddler boy may show a desire to imitate his daddy or older brothers, child development experts stress that patience is a required virtue, as pottying will take time and effort on both your parts. They say that while potty training is never easy, most children are potty trained before age 3. But if you try to rush it and initiate the process too early, it is most likely going to take longer. The key is to be consistent once you do start potty training in order to make it easier for your little one to succeed.
Pediatricians say that most children can achieve bowel and daytime urine control by age 3. But even if your toddler stays dry during the day, it can sometimes take several more months before he stops wetting at night. The American Academy of Pediatrics tells parents that although most children begin to feel the urge to urinate or move their bowels after the first year, it may be another year or more before they can actually control these bodily functions. Signs that your child may be physically ready to start potty training is when he stays dry for at least two hours in the day, and is still dry when he gets up from a nap. Once your child can walk to the bathroom and is able to take his pants up and down, it’s probably time to start establishing a regular potty routine.
Just like they develop cognitively at different ages, children potty train at different ages. Girls usually potty train quicker than boys, but a study published in “Pediatrics” concluded that although most popular literature recommends beginning potty training between 18 and 24 months, 22 to 30 months of age might be more appropriate. Researchers conducting the study suggest that success seems to come much later than 24 months, especially for boys. Female children in the study demonstrated the ability to stay dry in the day at an earlier age. But if your little boy seems eager to please, understands vocabulary words related to going to the potty, can follow simple instructions, or follows dad or other siblings to the bathroom, then it’s time to begin.
Do’s and Don’ts
Sit your toddler on the potty at regular times throughout the day. Remind him this is where people go potty. Don’t make him sit on the potty for longer than he wants so that he doesn’t grow to hate it. Some children resist if they are forced to sit on the potty. Take your child to the bathroom first thing in the morning when he wakes and check his pants frequently throughout the day. Check at least every 30 minutes, and within 20 minutes after he eats a meal. Do not scold your child when he has an accident or punish him for not using the potty. It will not help if you make your toddler feel embarrassed, shamed or self-conscious. Things will go better if both of you stay relaxed.
Pediatricians at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital say that it’s not uncommon for some children to regress in their potty training. A major event in a child’s life like a new baby sister or brother is often the reason for resistance to potty training. In this case, the timing may be poor, or big brother likes the attention wetting his pants gets from mom. Having a new sibling in the house can create stress for a toddler, making it appealing for him to return to an earlier time in his development when he felt more secure. Physicians say that while you should not push your child into potty training too early. If your little guy is not basically potty trained by age 4, have him checked by his pediatrician. There are some medical conditions that prevent children from controlling urination and bowel movements. Keep in mind that daytime potty training can take an average of 3 to 6 months for most children. Some kids may take less time to potty train while others need longer.
Despite a general belief that all children potty train at the same age, pediatricians say that for some children, it may be better to wait until about age 2½ before beginning. Another common myth is that disciplining a child will make him potty train faster, but what it usually does is the opposite. Parents need to be patient and not overreact, as accidents are bound to happen. Keep in mind that there will be times when your toddler thinks he is just too busy to make a trip to the potty. The important thing is to remain calm and collected, as you do not want to negate the months of hard work both of you have invested. Remember that it hasn’t been easy for him either.