Psychologists back to Freud consider toilet training a crucial childhood experience. For most of us, toilet training acquired some of its importance from the natural reaction of parents to the disgusting and embarrassing outcomes of mistakes. So the emotions arise first in the mind of the parent and only later in the child.
Starting toilet training too soon will produce the most mistakes and disappointments because the parent cannot directly control this behavior and, at an early age, neither can the child. An early start also creates the risk of bigger problems and confrontations later.
Keeping the emotion down is important. Parental reactions such as, "You just sit there until you do something!" only become a source of guilt and anxiety that interferes with getting the right relaxation for the right response. Later, in a more relaxed play situation, the child may have an accident, causing more problems.
How do you know when your child is ready?
Generally girls are ready before boys. Successful training might be possible as early as 18 months for girls and after 22 months for boys. Daytime training occurs before nighttime training for both genders. Bowel training usually occurs first because children can control sphincter muscles earlier than they are able to recognize and control urination. Here are some good questions to ask to determine if your child is ready:
- Does your child urinate a lot at one time instead of dribbling throughout the day?
- Does he or she stay dry for several hours?
- Does your child realize that he or she is about to urinate based on posture, gestures or facial expressions?
- Can the child understand and use the words of toilet training?
- Can the child pull training pants down and up?