There's no magic age to start toilet training. Although most parents begin when their children are between two and three years old, every family is different. To help you get started, here are some handy solutions to commonly asked questions to make the transition easier.
ARE GIRLS EASIER TO TRAIN THAN BOYS?
‘It’s a prevailing potty-training myth,’ says author of Oh Crap! Potty Training, Jamie Glowacki, who adds there’s no medical, anatomical or developmental evidence that boys are harder to train. ‘Boys, in general, tend to be very direct and linear,’ she says, while girls respond better to social learning through talk and facial expressions.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I ASK MY DAUGHTER IF SHE WANTS TO USE THE TOILET?
‘You need to make her feel like going to the toilet is her idea,’ says Jane Robertson, from Macquarie University's Mia Mia Child and Family Study Centre in Sydney. 'Ask her: ' Do you want to go and sit on the loo for a moment?', and wave your hands towards it as a laid-back suggestion. If she says no, say: 'What about in five minutes?' That way you’re giving her back the power. Often she’ll come up to you and say: ‘I’m ready now,’ even before the five minutes are up. Your daughter may pee up to every two hours, so watch the clock and ask her as the deadline looms.
SHOULD I TEACH MY SON TO WEE STANDING UP? IF SO, HOW?
Most experts agree it’s best to start teaching boys to sit down to wee and poo. This avoids confusion, especially if your son needs to do both at the same time. Once he masters sitting, he can progress to a stand-up wee. Toddlers learn by imitation, so encourage him to watch his dad or another trusted male. Picture books, such as How To Pee by Todd Spector, may help – or buy a pint-sized animal-shaped urinal. And place a table-tennis ball, cork or some cereal in the toilet bowl to help your son improve his aim.
HOW SHOULD I REACT WHEN TOILETING ACCIDENTS HAPPEN?
‘Never make a fuss,’ Janet says. A simple ‘oh no’ is enough. Don’t have unrealistic expectations – your toddler might be successfully nappy-free at home, but if you’re going on a long plane trip or car ride it’s OK to use a nappy, just to be safe. It might feel like one step forward and two steps back sometimes, but you’ll get there eventually. Focus on celebrating the small wins and things your child can do – such as successfully weeing in the toilet or even flushing it – rather than making a fuss about accidents.