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Facts and Myths about Toilet Training

Oh, my kid learned to use the toilet before he could even walk. 

Girls are just easier to toilet train than boys.

My daughter never had any accidents when toilet training.

Sound familiar? If you’re currently toilet training or you’re getting ready to toilet train your child, you’re probably also being bombarded with well-meaning advice from family members, friends, and other parents who just want to share their toilet training experiences in hopes of helping you.

All that advice, as well-intentioned as it may be, could also add an unnecessary layer of stress and pressure as you begin the toilet training process. Being able to separate facts from myths will make it easier to smile and nod when you hear the vast well-meaning advice you’re sure to receive.

Myth: Children should start toilet training at two years of age.

Fact: Child development varies from child to child. Some children start walking before they turn a year old. Other children don’t start walking until they’re well past the age of one. The same is true for toilet training. Every child develops at a different pace. Some children may be ready to start toilet training at 18 months while others might not be ready until they are three. It all depends on the individual child.

In fact, one 1957 study found that the majority of children – 92 percent – were fully toilet trained by the time they were 18 months old. Those numbers changed significantly with a 2004 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia report which found that 60 percent of children weren’t toilet trained until they were three and approximately three percent of all four-year-olds were still not toilet trained.

Myth: Girls are easier to toilet train than boys.

Fact: Some parents will assert that toilet training girls is much easier than boys. The fact is all children are different. However, studies have shown that girls generally start toilet training earlier and get the hang of toilet training much faster than boys. Although there is no concrete evidence as to why girls tend to toilet train earlier, some experts assert that it is because girls mature faster.

Myth: Girls should be toilet trained by moms; boys should be toilet trained by dads.

Fact: The key to toilet training is not who toilet trains your child. Success depends on consistency and positive reinforcement rather than discipline. All adults involved in your child’s toilet training should work together. For example, perhaps your son loves M&Ms. You have decided that giving him an M&M or two is the perfect reward when he uses the toilet without prompting from you. Your spouse should also agree to the reward system so your child can expect consistency.

In addition, if you decide to set a timer to go off every two hours to remind your child to go to the toilet, others in charge of his care should do the same. Consistency is essential in any type of training.

Myth: Using cloth nappies takes too much time and costs too much money.

Fact: Cloth nappies may seem like a lot of work but, in reality, they can save you both time running to the store and money. The cost of nappies over a two to three year period can add up quickly compared to the one or two time purchase of cloth nappies, which can be used over and over again.

Myth: Your work is done once your child has been toilet trained.

Fact: Even if your child is sleeping through the night in underpants, he or she can stumble. A major life change – such as moving, a new baby in the house, or starting a new school – may cause your child to have accidents or need to wear a pull up or a diaper again. Don’t be hard on your child or yourself. Accidents happen.

Telltale Signs Your Child is Ready to Toilet Train

A lot of parents like to brag. It’s easy to get caught up in that mindset of wanting your child to accomplish milestones or to be ahead of others, especially if you’re exposed to the bragging of other proud parents. Forcing a child to start toilet training when he or she is not ready is only going create stress for you and for your child.

Your child will let you know when he or she is ready to start toilet training. Oftentimes, your child will offer nonverbal clues, that he or she may be ready for toilet training, such as showing an interest in the toilet, complaining when a nappy is dirty or wet, or he or she has a clean nappy for two hours or more. 

Children are generally successful with toilet training when they know how to follow simple instructions and can verbalize that they need to use the toilet.

Give Your Child the Confidence to Succeed

Toilet training is a journey. Together you and your child will celebrate successes and move on from failures. Ease the frustration and get your child on the right track, helping him or her to remember to go to the bathroom and to make it to the bathroom just in time by frequently reading It’s Raining, the story of a young boy who lives on a farm, catching rain water in buckets. 

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