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When is a child ready to be potty-trained?

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 14-11-2006

The Potty Trainer


Child development is unique for each child.  Some children are ready to be potty trained at a young age. Children as young as eighteen months can show the signs of maturity and physical capabilities that are necessary to be potty trained. Other children may take longer and not be ready until three or four years of age. It’s very important to stress that the age a child potty trains does not reflect their intelligence or future maturity. Just because a child can physically get on and off a potty or even take off her diaper and clothes, does not mean she is ready to begin potty training. Likewise, just because a child talks about going in the potty does not necessarily indicate she is ready. A child will need to have both the physical and emotional capabilities of being potty trained before they are considered ready.



Unfortunately, many “experts” claim there is a particular age to begin the potty training process.  Some experts feel children less than two years of age should not be potty trained. They fear that parents will try to train their child before they are ready.  Yes, if a child is being forced to do something before they are ready then there can be adverse consequences.  A child can become defiant or even rebellious if they are forced to do something before they are ready.  This can result in long-term problems with parent-child relationships and problems with potty habits after training.  However, contrary to what some experts or organizations say, some children are ready to train early. If potty trained correctly, there may be no consequences to training early. There may even be positive personal rewards for the child and family. Anyone who quotes an age when a child is too young for potty training is probably making generalizations that do not apply to all children. Some children less than two years of age can be safely trained if they show signs they are ready and if the parents’ expectations are realistic. If a young child experiences a pleasant potty training experience then he is less likely to experience other potty problems in the future.



Children should exhibit some basic physical capabilities in order to begin the potty training process.


  • The child should be able to help with the task of taking off their pants or undergarments.
  • Your child should be able to assist with taking off the diaper or pull-up when the urge to go hits them.
  • Depending on the type of potty used, children should be able to get on the potty in a comfortable position. If a small portable floor potty is used, then young children will be more able to straddle and keep their feet on or near the floor.
  • Using a traditional commode will probably require significant assistance from a parent. Toilet inserts and stepping stools are very helpful when attempting to begin potty training on a regular commode. 

 – Dr. D. Preston Smith