Toilet training

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
Children usually begin to toilet train around two years old, but earlier or later is also normal. You should let the child tell you when he's ready. Studies show that pushing children too early, especially before 18 months, may actually prolong the process. Here are some signs that they may be ready. They stay dry for an hour or two at a stretch, bowel movements are fairly predictable, they're interested in neatness and being clean and dry, they're interested in wearing underpants instead of diapers, and they're curious about the bathroom habits of other friends or parents. Invest in a child potty chair or seat. Decide on a vocabulary, use those terms consistently, and don't treat elimination in a negative way, or the child will adopt your attitude. Watch the child closely so you can become adept at picking up signs that say he or she has to go. After the child is able to use the chair regularly, gradually switch over from diapers to training pants. There will be accidents--all children have them--so patience on the adult's part is crucial to success, even after a child's been trained. It takes lots of practice before young children are able to recognize impending activity while there's still time to get to the potty. Reassure and praise the child, and realize that lack of success is probably due to inexperience.

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