Toilet Training Toddlers
Many parents have difficulties in deciding between two contradictory approaches to toilet training toddlers. The so-called child-oriented approach to toilet training toddlers advices to wait until the child shows readiness, while the second method which is known as parent-oriented approach rejects waiting and advocates parental intervention. Let’s see the arguments of each approach and which one is a better option.
Child-oriented approach was first proposed in the 1960′s. Some pediatrists, however, recommended to wait with toilet training toddlers until noticing the first signs of readiness as early as the 1940′s which was quite revolutionary in the time when most toddlers were toilet trained at about 18 months of age. Proponents of this approach believe that forcing toddlers to give up diapers too early is a waste of time and that it can even cause irreparable emotional and behavioral damage to the child.
Those who support the parent-oriented approach claim that it is unacceptable for three or four year old child still wearing diapers because healthy children should know when they need to go potty by 18 to at most 24 months of age. This approach was predominant most part of the 20th century which is completely understandable considering that the first disposable diapers were introduced to the market after the mid-20th century. The average age for potty training, however, has been rising over the last few decades which can be attributed to both more permissive parenting as well as the ease of diaper changing.
It is impossible to say which of the both methods is a better choice because there are virtually no studies concerning the benefits of either approach. Most pediatrists leave over the choice to the parents and generally do not have anything against early toilet training nor waiting until the toddler shows developmental readiness. But before you make your final decision, you should keep in mind the following important facts about toddlers:
- they are unable to hold urine and stool until 12 to 18 months of age
- they cannot use the potty on their own if they are not able to walk independently and pull off their pants without help
- they are unlikely to be successfully toilet trained if they do not mind wearing a dirty diaper
- recognizing signs of the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement, for example facial expressions does not mean that your child is toilet trained
- daytime dryness does not mean that you can take away the diaper at night because bed wetting is relatively common even in older children
- the age for potty training varies greatly from one toddler to another
If you choose the child-oriented approach, watch for the following signs which show that your toddler may be ready for toilet training:
- walks independently and is able to pull off his or her pants without any assistance
- shows desire for independence, for instance insisting on eating alone
- wants the dirty diaper changed immediately
- urinates less frequently
- wants to please you
- understands why he or she is toilet trained
It is OK if you want to start to train your child to potty earlier but make sure that it is not perceived as a punishment or humiliation. Keep in mind it is very unlikely to achieve success if your toddler does not experience the process as beneficial for him or her and may even resent you for forcing him or her into something he or she does not want to do.
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