How to Potty-Train Your Toddler

By Gail O’Connor

You have the training pants, a potty chair and a pack of motivational stickers. The only thing missing: a child who wants to toilet-train. Sure, we’ve all met a mom who boasts that her child hopped on the potty once, bid diapers farewell and never looked back. For most of us, though, nixing the nappies takes time and patience (and a lot of laundry detergent).

The good news: Whether your child trains early or late has little reflection on him (or you!). “Many parents see toilet training as an important thing for children to do early,” says Mark Wolraich, M.D., editor in chief of the American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training (Bantam Books, 2003). “Yet there’s little evidence that training early or late refl ects on the abilities of the child.”

Ideally, toilet training should be as stress-free as humanly possible. “It’s an exciting developmental step for children, and it’s exciting for parents to enable the process and make it an enjoyable one,” adds Wolraich. Of course, it’s hard for many parents in the trenches of toilet training to see it this way. But with a few smart strategies, you can avoid a drawn-out battle of wills and enjoy your soon-to-be-trained toddler’s sense of accomplishment.