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Starting Potty Training


I've been potty training my son for the past seven days. He has yet to actually pee or poop in the toilet. I keep underpants on him and now for the past 3 days holds everything in until bedtime when I put diapers on. What should I do? Should I continue potty training or keep playing his game? He'll be 3 in 2 months.

We usually begin potty training our children between 2 to 3 years old. I am not a big believer in most lists of “signs of potty training readiness”. We look for a cooperative and verbal 2 year old.

We start by "talking up" potty training. We find opportunities like when our older children go to the bathroom or during diaper changes. We often say “When you are a big boy you won’t need to wear diapers”. Another favorite is correcting our toddler on “big boy” status. In our home, you are not a “big boy” until you are fully potty trained. We frequently will say, “Well, you will be a “big boy” once you are potty trained”.

Next, we encourage our children to sit on the potty as part of our daily routine. We like to use bath time or before getting in the pool. We do not force them to go to the potty, but we do encourage them to sit. This behavior in reenforced with verbal praise.

Only after the child begins to show regular potty success and some interest do we begin trying to wear underwear. We often will try underwear as a reward for going potty. “Good job! I am so proud of you using the potty. Would you like to wear some big boy underwear?”

Your son does show signs that he understand the concept of potty training. It is impressive that he is staying dry all day. However, I recommend you back off on the underwear and start by periodically encouraging him to go.

Our youngest son is almost 2 years old. Maggie and I have recently realized that once he is potty trained that we would not have a child in diapers for the first time in over 16 years. Even though this fact is extremely motivating, we both know he is not ready yet.




Written December 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician






gregorygordonmd.com is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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