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A Pediatrician’s No. 1 Tip for Stress-Free Potty Training

Feb 10, 2022

This one’s going to be pretty short. It’s just one tip, and it’s simple. 

My No. 1 tip for stress-free potty training is … 

Don’t push it.

That’s it. Just wait. Wait until they’re ready. That alone will save you SO MUCH STRESS. And paper towels. And laundry. 

It’s sneakily stressful and incredibly tedious to ask over and over, “Do you wanna go potty? Let’s try to go potty …” It’s overwhelming and disheartening to do laundry all day, every day, and follow your child around with paper towels, cleaning up their potty messes. 

So just … don’t. Don’t push potty training. Wait until they’re actually ready.

But how do you know when your child is ready? Some kids will make it easy on you and tell you they want to go pee on the potty. Others will show more subtle cues--demonstrating they know when they’re peeing in their diaper or showing interest in underwear. I don’t have a black-and-white answer, but I will say that at 2-year checkups, the vast majority of my patients are not potty trained. Some are at the 3-year checkup. Most are at the 4-year checkup. So somewhere after age 2 and before age 4 is probably when you can look for your child’s cues.

I just gave you a window of time that my patients commonly discover potty cues in their children, but please know that there’s not a particular window of opportunity that you need to complete potty training within. So if you happen to be having a baby, moving across the country, and starting a new job as your child reaches age 3, you needn’t also pile on potty training because you’re “in the window.” Allow yourself to wait until a slightly calmer part of life (LOL, says all parents of young children) and check back in with your toddler to see if the readiness is there.

Many parents ask about rewards, and I am all about positive reinforcement! So yes—set up a rewards system (or use mine!). Start with an easily attainable goal and get more and more challenging. You won’t be rewarding for pottying forever; there always seems to be a natural end to that after consistent pottying. 

I hope this is a relief for you to hear. I hope you are relieved to know a pediatrician is telling you that your sanity is more important than stressing over forcing potty training (which, by the way, is impossible …). If you think you just might like my potty-training philosophy and want more details, join my No-Stress Potty Training course!

Dr. B

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