Every child is different when it comes to potty training! One thing that I learned early on with my first kid is that just because I am ready doesn’t mean that he is. Being aware of readiness signs can be helpful when you are trying to teach your child how to use the potty. Learning how to use the potty starts long before your child ever sits on toilet.
Right now my 18-month-old is fascinated by the potty. She loves to talk about the potty and what happens when we go to the bathroom (using only a language that I can understand, of course! :)). She also loves to hand people toilet paper when they are going to the bathroom. She is constantly observing and learning as she watches what is happening. It is rare that the grown ups get to go to the bathroom alone at our house and that is actually helpful because it allows for learning opportunities!
Today I am going to share 10 signs of potty training readiness that we have noticed. I am not a potty training expert and have only trained three kids, so if you have more expertise than me about readiness, please chime in and share your wisdom! Kids are pretty smart and when they are ready to use the potty, it is usually a positive experience that is a lot more successful than when they are not ready!
SIGNS OF READINESS
Here are some signs of readiness that we have noticed in our home!
1. Noticing that a diaper is wet or dirty and pulling it off or pulling at it.
Usually we try and respond quickly so that messy diapers don’t actually get taken off by toddlers! Toddlers that don’t like messy diapers and try and pull it off or point at it or pull at it are often ready for potty training (though not all!)!
2. Hiding when going to the bathroom.
Often my kids will go stand in a corner or hide behind the couch or just go and play privately in another room. Sometimes they get upset if someone notices them! They often want privacy.
3. Staying dry for longer periods of time.
This is especially noticeable at nighttime for my kids. Once they can go all night long with a dry diaper, then we know that they are ready to sleep without a diaper at night. Kids that start dry for longer periods of time during the day are also often ready to start potty training.
4. Telling a parent that they are messy or wet before or after they have gone to the bathroom in their diaper.
It is so helpful when kids are able to communicate BEFORE they go potty in their diaper. My kids usually take a long time for this to happen! Often they will tell me right while they are going, which is still awesome because that means they can recognize it!
5. Interest in the potty and sitting on the potty!
This usually happens for my kids when they are around other kids their same age (or younger) that are potty trained. When my son was at a Mom’s Morning Out class he was fascinated by the other kids that went on the potty, so he started taking a turn too. It was fun to see him copy them! We love to have books about the potty available starting pretty young so that kids can learn about what happens and use some of the vocabulary. Allie at No Time for Flashcards has a great list of Books about Potty Training for Toddlers. Interest in sitting on the potty can also be a sign that kids are ready to start using the potty more regularly. I always let my kids “try” whenever they ask and then give them a lot of encouragement and cheering when they try and go potty.
6. Having a regular bowel movement at a semi-predictable time.
All kids are different, but once they have a more predictable bowel movement it makes it a lot easier to help them remember to go potty and get them there on time.
7. Willing to use the potty!
If your child is really resistant to using the potty, it is going to be a struggle. One of my kids was in a huge power struggle phase when he was initially interested in using the potty. I tried to help him and was met with push back every time. I finally gave up and waited a few more months until he was less resistant. It made a big difference! Power struggles over the potty don’t end well!
8. Can pull her pants up and down.
When my kids start showing readiness signs I typically change their wardrobe so that their clothes are even easier to pull up and pull off. Stretchy clothes work better than buttons and zippers. It takes some good fine motor skills to pull pants on and off, so often kids need help for awhile when they are first learning to use the potty. Often we spend the first two weeks pretty close to home with only training underwear on so that it is extra easy! Some parents keep their kids completely naked from the waist down during the first part of potty training so that the pulling up and down isn’t even an issue.
9. Asks to wear underwear!
When my kids start asking to wear underwear then I know they are getting more interested in potty training. Wearing cool underwear can definitely be motivating to some kids!
10. Ready to be independent!
I have potty trained two of my kids right around the time when I had new babies. Each time the kids were pretty independent and then once the baby arrived they wanted to be more immature and act like the baby. This helped me know that we needed to wait a little bit. Once they got used to the new baby being around and they wanted to act more independently, I was able to work on potty training with them. Wanting to be a big kid and “do it all myself!” can be helpful when learning how to use the potty.
**BONUS 11. Mom & Dad (or caregivers) are ready to help the child learn to use the potty.
This one is my additional readiness sign that has been critical at our house! Sometimes my kids have tried to potty train themselves and I’ve had to get on board sooner than I wanted… but having caregiver/parent support for potty training is crucial! Parents need to be positive, helpful, and ready to assist in this process. It is important that you work as a team so that your child can have a good potty training experience. Parents also need to be emotionally and physically ready to participate! Potty training is exhausting. Cleaning up accidents can be frustrating and it is really important to be able to not take things too seriously and not get in the mindset that your kids are having accidents on purpose. Learning to use the potty requires patiences for both the kids and parents and can take time. All kids learn at their own pace and they all learn differently, so what works for one kid might not work for another.
I hope that potty training your child can be a really positive experience for you!
MORE POTTY TRAINING RESOURCES
Here are 9 of my favorite potty training resources that you can check out.