Thoughts concerning potty training – part 1.

The period of potty training raises several questions for a lot of us. But do we need to train our kids or is it enough to monitor them closely and help the process? Which period of time are we really talking about? Which kid is potty trained? How can we support the process?

What is potty training?

This is the result of a developmental process. To reach this the kids need to acquire certain
language, motor, sensory, neurological and social skills. Physiological readiness (being able to
walk, sit, get dressed and undress), external feedback (understanding and following instructions) and internal feedback (independence, motivation, desire to be like their parents) are essential. How can we recognise these?

What are the signs of readiness?

  • keeping their diaper dry for longer periods
  • having bowel movements on a schedule
  • recognizing when their diaper is soiled and asking us to change it
  • wanting to take off the diaper themselves
  • asking for underwear instead of diaper
  • being able to follow simple instructions
  • recognizing when they pee or poop and telling us
  • expressing an interest in the toilet, imitating us
  • being able to reach the toilet before peeing or pooping


None of the studies have a definite answer to this question. We will read different opinions
according to different ages and cultures. According to the western standpoint (developmental
theory) at the age of 2-3 years the nervous system of the children reaches a level when they can
control the muscles that keep the bladder and the rectum closed; feeling and telling the need to go to the toilet and holding it until they need. The usual time when potty training gets stable is around the age of 4-5 years.

Who is considered potty trained?

Potty training has its own stages. It is completely normal that after being potty trained during the day, accidents will happen during nights. It is also normal when kids sometimes have accidents while they are sick or sleeping. Regression can happen when something changes in their lives (moving, sibling is born, trauma) and for a shorter period of time they fall back. A child is fully potty trained when he or she is able to control bowel and bladder (during the days and nights). The final age for this is 5 years, until then soiled diapers are acceptable now and then.

Let’s monitor closely the development of our child, rely on our intuitions, let's keep our powder dry and be patient. This is how our kid will know that his or her needs are important and being met, the world is a safe and good place for them. In our upcoming article we will offer you some ideas and advice to help the process.

Bettina Varga – Forest Tale Daycare

This article is translated by Emese Murin.
Click here for the Hungarian version.