Sep 25

Potty Training Readiness


I’m ready man! Is this how you do it?

Depending on your method of potty training, there are different signs that your child is ready to be potty trained.  For people who use the EC (Elimination Communication) method, those kiddos are ready as soon as they spring forth into the world.  For others, they simply wait until their kids are in high school and it’s considered faux pas to poop in your underwear.  We found ourselves in the middle.  And when I say middle, I mean more around age 2.  We definitely waited for specific readiness signs such as running off to a poopin spot, being able to follow our directions (as good as a two year old can), staying dry for longer periods of time, and  being able to pull down his pants (required skill for independent peeing, wouldn’t you think).  Pulling pants back up was not a prerequisite, as most two year olds who attempt this somehow end up pulling their underwear over their pants with both legs in one of the holes.

There are different rules of thought for readiness, and there is no shortage of opinions about those signs.  So, without further ado, here are the signs according to BabyCenter and my personal opinions about them:

Physical signs

Is coordinated enough to walk, and even run, steadily.

Steadily is an interesting word.  Most children at age 2 (when we potty trained) do not run steadily.  They run like they are drunk and trying really hard to not look it.

Urinates a fair amount at one time.

Tough to tell, especially when your kid wears disposables and you just check in with them once you see the large saggy, swaying load as they walk around.

Has regular, well-formed bowel movements at relatively predictable times.

Sure.  Makes sense.

Has “dry” periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine.

Two hours awake seems good.  We didn’t wait for dry during naps, though.  We can only control what goes on while our child is conscious.  We have to let nature potty train the sleeping child.

Behavioral signs

Can sit down quietly in one position for two to five minutes.

What?! Is there a two year old on this planet that can sit quietly for 2-5 minutes?  Your job, as the parent, is to be a manipulative entertainer, doing everything from singing to juggling plates on a stick in order to keep them on the toilet.  Seriously, if you wait for them to be able to sit quietly for that long, you will start potty training in the college years.

Can pull his pants up and down.

With help, sure.  On their own…different story. Down is easy.  Up is next to impossible.  Unless you do rigorous clothing training first.

Dislikes the feeling of wearing a wet or dirty diaper.

In the land of the disposable diaper, this is tricky.  Kids can have 2 poops and 3 pees in a diaper before even noticing that they need a diaper change.  Unless you use cloth diapers, this probably doesn’t apply.

Shows interest in others’ bathroom habits (wants to watch you go to the bathroom or wear underwear).

Sure.  Yep.  Makes sense.

Gives a physical or verbal sign when he’s having a bowel movement such as grunting, squatting, or telling you.

Or they stop what they are doing with a look of surprise on their face.  Then run and find a place to bear down.  Usually leaning up against a wall or something.  How about the pee pee dance?

Demonstrates a desire for independence.

Yes, when they bring you the emancipation forms and politely ask you to sign them, then you know they are ready to learn how to poop in a toilet.

Takes pride in his accomplishments.

Is this really something you wait for before potty training?  Are kids naturally uninterested in their accomplishments?  And then one day, when their bladders and bowels have developed enough, do they start gaining happiness for achieving things? “I’m so happy that I can draw the letter A!” GET THAT KID ON A TOILET!  WOO-HOO!

Isn’t resistant to learning to use the toilet.

You could be waiting a LONG time….it is a giant porcelain monster that devours your poop and pee in a loud flushing sound.  And you want them to SIT ON IT?!…with the potentiality of getting sucked into the hole and blown into the den of the sewer monsters?!  You want that, instead of going into the loving, absorbant, safety of a diaper?  PASS!!!

Is in a generally cooperative stage.

We ARE talking about a 2 year old, right?  Generally contrary would seem more fitting.

Cognitive signs

Understands the physical signals that mean he has to go and can tell you before it happens or even hold it until he has time to get to the potty.

Yes, they understand it.  If you’ve ever seen a toddler “understanding” the physicality of having to go, it is more an understanding that something very shocking is occurring and they usually will attempt to run in place to, I don’t quite know, escape(?) the feeling.  Then, when they can run no longer, they give up and….poop is made!

Can follow simple instructions, such as “go get the toy.”

Or “Sit on the toilet” or “It’s not an evil creature” or “I’ll give you an M&M if you poop in that potty!”

Understands the value of putting things where they belong.

Do two year olds put ANTYHING away?  Let alone understand the VALUE of it?  My understanding of 2 year olds is that when they are done with something, they throw it with complete disregard behind them in an over-the-shoulder fashion.

Has words for urine and stool.

Not really an indicator of whether or not they are ready to be trained, but it doesn’t hurt to know what you are talking about.  What words did you guys use?  We used Poop and Pee.  Did you get creative?  Did you say things like Tink Tink and Captain Stinkums McDoody?

I feel that you should wait until YOU, the parent, feel like you can get the point of potty training across.  You should wait until there is a long enough window from when they show that they are pooping, to when they actually make the poop.  That is your window of opportunity to get them to the toilet and then encourage the heck out of them.

Start talking about the potty early.  Keep it casual, break it down for them, this will make the readiness appear sooner.  And will make the learning process easier.  As the wise people say, “Repetition is the mother of….”um, I’m not sure.  Is repetition a mother?  Or father?  Well, whatever it is, it’s good.

When this is happening, you know they’re ready.

When this is happening…not so ready.

What are YOUR thoughts on readiness?  Do you believe in readiness signs?  Let me know!  Prove me wrong!  Prove me right!  I’m interested!


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