The Psychological Side of Potty Training: Is my child showing signs of readiness for potty training?

Clinical Health Psychologist Naife S.ZAIM

There are several psychological and emotional implications of potty training. The role of the parents during the potty training is very crucial. Most of the parents only focus on the physical readiness of the potty training and do not put emphasis on the psychological readiness of the child. In addition to this, the most difficult part of the potty training for parents is to recognize a child`s emotional readiness for the training. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999)“readiness for toilet training depends on the individual child, but generally occurs between ages 18 to 30 months”. Each parent is the real experts about their children to determine whether their children are ready for the potty training and whether they need an extra guide or encouragement during the potty training. However, many parents often put too much pressure on their children about potty training and directly expect their children to get out of their diapers quickly. Unfortunately, this transition is not that easy for your children because toilet training can also vary developmentally. In relation to this, it is not logical to compare each children potty training or expecting same standard as your friend’s child or your other children. Therefore, before the parents put responsibility towards their children about potty training it is important to understand the some signs of readiness for it. As being parents one of the important question to ask your self “is my child showing signs of readiness?”. According to Turner (2014) some signs of readiness for toilet training include when: “(i) Does your child begins to put things where they belong; (ii) Does your child can demonstrate independence by saying “no.”; (iii) Does your child can express interest in toilet training; (iv) Does your child can walk and is ready to sit down; (v) Does your child can indicate first when he is “going” (urinating or defecating) and then when he needs to “go” ; (vi) Does your child is able to pull clothes up and down; (vi) Does your child showing an interest in how the potty works or what you’re doing when they accompany you to the bathroom?; (vii) Does your child take their own diaper off and walk to the bathroom alone?; (viii)  Does your child able to go two hours before having a wet diaper or wake up from a nap with a dry diaper? And (ix) Does your child bowel movements becoming predictable, happening at the same time each day?“.  As a result, if your child already has met these milestones, you can start to work on the potty training. On the other hand, if parents punish, shame or loss their child`s self-esteem during the potty training they can cause psychological trauma to their child (Stavinoha, 2015). In relation to this, while you are working with your child about potty training you must support your children`s self-esteem rather than giving them punishment resulting to the child’s loss of self-esteem. Consequently, if you have any concerns about toilet training beyond age four or five you need to consult with your pediatrician to find out the why your child is having difficulties about potty training.



1. American Academy of Pediatrics (1999). Toilet Training Guidelines: Parents−−The Role of the Parents in Toilet Training Pediatrics 1999;103;1362. Available from:

2. Turner, E. (2014). Tackling Toilet Training : Strategies for toilet training your toddler (Online). Available from:

3. Stavinoha, P. (2015). Stress-Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Child. Second Edition. Amacom Ltd. ISBN-13:9780814436660