11 Helpful Tips To Potty Train Your 3-Year-Old

Potty training takes time and patience to help your child feel comfortable and confident. All children learn to use the toilet sooner or later. While some children learn it earlier, the timing differs for each child. So, we have compiled some tips on how to potty train a three-year-old. Moreover, you may want to know when to start potty training your child. So, read this post to learn more about the signs your child is ready to get potty trained, tips on potty training, and things to remember while potty training your child.

When Can You Start Potty Training Your Child?

Toddler shows signs they are ready for potty training

Children are usually ready to be potty-trained by the age of 18-24 months (1). A toddler at this age will exhibit signs of readiness, like showing displeasure when their diapers are soiled and signaling their parents to change the diapers.

Older toddlers often do not like pooping or peeing in front of everyone. If they begin to go to a separate room or hide under a table while pooping, then they are probably ready to start potty training.

Potty training needs time and patience. It is suggested to start potty training for your child when you have enough time on hand. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) suggests a child-oriented approach and recommends beginning the process only when the child is ready (2). The academy’s potty training model takes into consideration the following parameters.

  1. Physiologic maturation: When the child has the ability to sit, walk, dress, and undress.
  1. External feedback: When the child can understand and respond to simple instructions.
  1. Internal feedback: When the child develops self-esteem and motivation, the desire to imitate and identify with elders, self-determination, and independence.

Each child achieves the above milestones at a different age. Therefore, it is essential to spot the various indicators that suggest the child is ready.

Signs That a Toddler Is Ready For Potty Training

One or more of the following behavioral changes can indicate that the toddler is ready to be potty-trained (3) (4).

  • Your toddler learns to put things where they belong.
  • They understand a few simple commands.
  • They have developed enough independence to say or express “NO.”
  • Your toddler is capable of remaining dry for a few hours.
  • They begin to exhibit interest in toilet training, or bathroom habits by following you to the toilet, etc.
How to potty train a three-year-old
  • Your toddler can walk and sit down by himself/herself.
  • The child indicates to a parent or a caregiver that they soiled.
  • The toddler has learned how to pull the clothes on and off by himself/herself.
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A toddler could display many of the above behaviors, but might still not be ready for potty training. Do not rush into it just because another child of the same age is already potty-trained. The process involves patience, communication, encouragement and following the right steps.

If parents begin toilet training their children before they are ready for the new milestone, children may take time to learn the skill or face prolonged toileting problems (4).

How To Potty-train A Three-Year-Old Child?

There is no single approach to potty training, and parents can follow their very own method. You can pick a process that works best for your child. Here are some general steps and methods to help get your child potty-trained (4).

  • Tell them repeatedly that they need to inform you when they want to pee or poop.
  • Take your child along to buy underwear or training pants and let them pick it. Buy with a print of their favorite comic character, animal, or vehicle to encourage them to wear it.
    Awilda, a mother of three, shares an effective tip she used to potty train her youngest child. She says, “First thing I did was buy panties from her favorite character – Dora. I showed her one panty and said, “You’re a big girl now, and I want you to wear big girl panties.” She was so excited to have her very own pair of Dora panties. She didn’t hesitate to put them on and prance around the house and show her two sisters (i).”
  • Get a potty chair for the child. Most toddlers feel comfortable on the potty chair as their feet touch the ground, and there is no fear of falling.
Most toddlers feel comfortable on the potty chair
  • Let the child explore the potty seat by observing or touching it. Buy the potty seat of your child’s favorite color. You can take your child along to shop for the potty seat and let him/her choose one.
  • Begin with emptying the contents of a soiled diaper into the toddler’s potty seat in his/her presence. It will help you reinforce the toddler that potty is where the child’s ‘pee’ and ‘poo’ belong.
  • Initially, let them sit on the potty seat with their clothes put on. It will help them get familiar with the potty seat. Let them get up whenever they want to.
  • You can use a toy or have an older sibling demonstrate sitting on the potty seat. It will increase interest.
  • Once they are comfortable with the feel of the potty seat, remove their pants and make them sit on the potty chair. Give them a toy or a book to keep them engaged.
  • Do not scold them if they are not able to pass urine or stool while on the potty seat. Encourage them by saying that they can do it next time.
  • Do not punish them for not being able to pee or poop on the potty seat. You can give them small rewards to appreciate their efforts.

Tips To Potty-train Your Three-year-old

Make the potty training encouraging and non-threatening.

The following tips can help you in your efforts to potty-train your three-year-old (4):

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  1. Be prepared for the setbacks that might come. Do not conclude that your child got potty-trained if they have successful encounters a few times. Potty training is a long process, and children learn and unlearn. Do some progress tracking so that you know which steps to take next. There might be some accidents during the process. Reassure and encourage the toddler.
  1. Discuss the potty training plan with your spouse and the child’s caretaker. Different modes of potty training from different people might confuse the child. Let everybody use the same words for urine, stool, and body parts. This is called the ‘Rule of 1’ — one person, one routine, one word.
  1. Make the potty training encouraging and non-threatening. Do not scold your children if they fail to learn or if they have episodes of failure in between. Embarrassment can lead to loss of confidence in the child.
  1. Start gradually. Do not force them to use the potty seat at all times in a day. You can begin by making them use the seat once a day when they wake up in the morning.
  1. Keep the potty seat accessible to the child. You can place it in different parts of the house to make it more accessible.
  1. Give your children fiber-rich food and enough fluids to avoid constipation. Constipation might hinder the progress of potty training.
  1. Keep an eye on the posture or movements that your child makes while he/she is having a bladder or a bowel movement. When you can identify them, you encourage them to try it on the potty seat.
  1. Praise your child when they begin to convey their urge to pee or poop. Even if they can’t do it on the potty seat, appreciate them for trying.
  1. If the child wants to, let him or her press the flush by themselves.
  1. Do not use negative words like dirty or gross for the baby’s potty and urine.
  2. Do not pressurize them to be potty-trained.

Things To Remember While Potty Training Your Child

Remember the following things while potty training your child.

  • Girls take around three months less time than boys to get potty-trained (5).
  • Boys should be initially taught to sit and pee. As they grow older, you can encourage peeing while standing.
  • Children often convey the urge to pee sooner than they can convey the urge to poop.
  • Achieving nighttime bladder control is much more difficult than achieving day-time bladder control (4).
  • Set aside a good amount of your time to potty train your child.
  • Do not attempt potty training your child when some major changes, such as shifting of house, or the birth of a sibling, are happening around the child.
  • Disposable training pants are a good choice between diapers and underwear.
  • Avoid overalls and jumpsuits for toddlers, who are trying to potty train themselves. Make them wear loose and comfortable clothes that they can pull down and pull up by themselves.
  • A potty-trained child can also have some setbacks and accidents.

Every child gets potty-trained at a different age, which can even differ from their siblings. Most children get potty-trained by the time they are three years old (5). Some might take longer. Very rarely, children might have physical issues that make potty training more difficult (6). Do not hesitate to talk to your child’s doctor if you have a query regarding the inability to potty train your child. or the child begins to soil after being dry for quite sometime.

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How To Get Your Toddler To Use The Toilet Instead Of The Potty?

Use a footstool to make the toddler comfortable with the potty seat

Toddlers usually prefer using potty seats instead of the adult toilet seats after they are potty-trained. The potty seat is more size appropriate, while the toilet seat might create the fear of falling. The following tips might help ease the transition to toilet seat once they grow up.

  • Do not force the child to use the toilet seat. Take it easy and slowly build the child’s courage to use it.
  • Buy the child a footstool to help him/her climb and sit on the toilet seat. It might give them the necessary leg support, and they would feel less scared.
  • Initially, begin by asking them to sit on the covered toilet seat with the clothes on. It will help familiarize them with the feeling of sitting on an adult potty seat.
  • Try and see if the baby is comfortable with training seats that fit over adult potty seats.
  • Some toddlers might feel more confident in your presence, while others might prefer total privacy. Ask your child about their preference and do accordingly.
  • Make the toilet session fun by giving them a book or a toy while they are in there.

How Do You Know When Your Child Is Fully Potty-trained?

A fully potty-trained child will be able to clearly convey when they want to pee and poop. They can pull their pants down, tuck their shirts, and independently use a familiar bathroom. However, they might need some assistance in unfamiliar or public bathrooms.

A child can be said to have developed primary bladder control when there is no involuntary leakage of urine during the day-time. Secondary bladder control is considered developed when the child consistently has no day-time involuntary urine leakage for three months (7).

Potty training your child is not an easy task and can test your patience. However, you mustn’t give up during the process, and this list of tips will help you potty train your three-year-old effortlessly. Once they are potty trained, you can eventually shift them to the toilet seat. But do not force them to do it. Instead, let them take their time to adjust to it. Furthermore, being patient and persistent during the process will make this transition period easier for you and your child.

Key Pointers

  • Potty training can be challenging, but following some precautions and tips can help make the process easier.
  • Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to achieving the desired goal faster.
  • It is essential not to force or pressurize the child if they don’t show signs of readiness.
  • If the child shows disinterest or has accidents, parents should maintain patience and avoid losing their calm.
  • Potty training pants, training seats, books, toys, and proper leg support can help make the transition faster and smoother.

Potty training can be a daunting task, but don’t worry! This video will help you avoid the 6 most common mistakes parents make. Learn the truth about potty training and get it right the first time!

Article written by Baby Plumbing

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