You may very well be eager for your child to be done with diapers—but are they actually up for the transition to the toilet? Potty training is a big step that requires both mental and physical preparedness; otherwise, it can turn into a challenging process that leaves everyone frustrated. So, before you ditch the diaper bag, take some time to assess the situation and get a read on your little one’s readiness. Ahead, find six signs your child is not ready for potty training, plus tips on how to help them along.
1. Your Child Shows No Interest
Kids who are ready to start potty training generally ask a lot of questions about adult bathroom routines because they can’t wait to participate in them. If your little one isn’t yet curious about what happens when you’re on the toilet or how to use toilet paper, it might be better to stick with diapers and wipes a bit longer (while regularly explaining what older kids and grown-ups do in the bathroom). Gradually amp up your child’s interest by showing her the items she’ll get to use once she’s ready, like her very own potty or a potty seat and a step stool.
2. Your Kid is Terrified of the Toilet
It’s a big change to sit on an adult toilet, and loud flushing noises can startle some toddlers. If your child squirms, cries or resists sitting down on a toilet or potty, don’t force him. Just keep his equipment on hand so he can ease into the process when he’s more comfortable.
3. Your Son or Daughter is Still Having Frequent Wet Diapers
If your child isn’t yet going for a few hours at a time without a wet diaper, his bladder control could still be developing. Similarly, if she doesn’t yank at or try removing her wet or dirty diapers, she likely needs more time to recognize the feeling of a clean diaper versus a soiled one. Help her develop this awareness by asking from time to time if her diaper is wet or dirty, which will prompt her to tune into what both feel like.
4. You Toddler Can’t Manage Taking His Own Clothes Off
A child who isn’t yet able to pull their clothing up and down can have trouble responding quickly when she feels the urge to go. Encourage her to practice just after going to the bathroom (so there’s no urgency) and when she’s wearing clothes that are easy for her to work with, rather than items with challenging buttons, ties or snaps.
5. Your Child Isn’t Aware of His Body’s Cues
Being able to recognize when he needs to use the bathroom is a huge part of being ready to potty train. Frequent accidents or not yet having the verbal skills to tell someone he needs to go could be signs that your child is not ready to potty train or go without a diaper outside of the house for a long stretch of time. Help him tune into his own body’s cues by sharing your own check-ins like, “I think I’m going to need to use the bathroom soon” and asking if he might have to as well.
6. Your Toddler Isn’t Able to Follow Instructions
Using the potty or a potty seat requires understanding simple directions like, “First, pull down your pants and then sit down on the potty.” If your child isn’t yet keen to listen and follow along, try modeling the steps out loud during your own bathroom routine.
Remember, there’s no perfect age or set time to start potty training. If your child doesn’t seem ready, take a few weeks off and read up on tips from parents who’ve been through it so that when the time comes, both you and your toddler are ready to try again.