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Is your child struggling to master the potty? These 5 takeaways from our panel can help

Kate Sequeira, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Parenting News

Potty training isn't easy and it can vary a lot from child to child. The L.A. Times spoke with experts about how parents can best navigate this chapter, how they can prepare their child for a new level of independence and how they can tell that it's actually time to start.

Here are five takeaways from a discussion among Jenny Gold, L.A. Times early childhood reporter; Heather Anderson, administrator of the Mamahood Facebook group; Whitney Casares, Modern Mommy Doc founder and pediatrician; and Quiara Smith, CEO of Aloha Integrative Therapy and occupational therapist. They spoke to the Mamahood Facebook group.

Let your child's development dictate when you begin to potty train.

Children will generally be ready to potty train between 2 and 3 years old, but there are also individual developmental factors that come into play. You should make sure your child is able to physically sit on the toilet, has the desire to go to the bathroom and can communicate with you that they need to go, Casares said.

A child needs to understand what it feels like when their bladder is full, Smith added. They need to be able to link that feeling to control over the necessary muscles, which is dependent on their development.

It's important to choose potty-training methods that suit your child's needs. Casares recommends starting with the three-day method, which recommends parents commit to leaving their child naked from the waist down for three days, while having them drink lots of liquids and encouraging them to use the bathroom every 15 minutes. It's meant to teach kids to grow more in tune with their body's cues. From there, adapt to your child's needs as you see fit, she said.


Choose a time to potty train when you can be present with your child and can observe whether they are resisting your chosen method, so that you can adapt, Casares said. You might find success by introducing a rewards chart, for example.

You'll want to demonstrate flexibility, patience and understanding.

You can encourage your child to learn even when they aren't quite ready to start

You can help grow interest in potty training concepts early on through play, books and songs. Some kids might show curiosity before they're ready to start. It's OK to indulge them and bring out a kid's potty, Casares said, but don't start the training until they have the skills to do it.


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