作者：by Sarah Henry
Reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board
What accounts for the wide age range in mastering this skill? Timing. Pediatricians have a saying about toilet training: If you start at 2 you'll be done by 3; if you start at 3 you'll be done by 3. "If you catch them when they're ready, it may only take a month," says Denise Aloisio, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician in Rochester, New York. "But if you miss the signals or don't wait for their cues, it can take six months or more."
Physical and mental readiness aren't the only factors involved. Motivation is key. If your child demonstrates a desire for independence and shows an interest in imitating others' bathroom habits, it may be an auspicious time to plunge into the process. Children may figure out how to have a bowel movement before they learn to urinate in the potty because they typically only have BMs once or twice a day, usually at the same time.
By now your child has probably seen you and your partner use the toilet on many occasions. He may be more interested in just watching at this point. Role models take the mystery and fear out of new things, so let him watch. After about a week of familiarizing him with the potty with his clothes on, empty the contents of his diaper into the potty, so he sees what's supposed to go in there.
Once your child is willing to use the potty, make it part of his routine — start with after breakfast or before his bath — and gradually increase from once to several times a day. Praise him for his success and brush off accidents or no-shows.
Don't rush to flush: Kids see pee and poop as an extension of their own bodies. They may be fascinated by and proud of what they put in the potty. Some children also like to wave bye-bye to their BMs.
Be careful not to push your child or nag. Just like grown-ups, children are much less receptive when someone is constantly on their case than when they feel like they're in charge. Instead, watch your child for changes in posture or facial expressions that signal he has to go. If he grabs himself or grunts, for instance, let these be your cues to gently remind him about the potty. Handle accidents and setbacks calmly and kindly. Just clean up the mess matter-of-factly and suggest that next time he try using his potty. You may also want to switch from plastic disposable diapers to cloth diapers at this stage.
You're more likely to have success with toilet training if you choose a time to plunge into the process when all is reasonably quiet on the home front. As a deadline-oriented adult, it might seem logical to start training a few weeks before the next baby is due, just before your child goes to preschool, or when you're planning to move to a new house. But 2-year-olds are contrary creatures, and the more they sense your not-so-hidden agenda, the less inclined they are to go along with it. So ditch the deadline, act casual about the whole thing, and let your child "own" the experience.
You should also stop the toilet training if your child is reluctant to use his potty or becomes constipated. If your child has infrequent bowel movements (less than three per week), if he passes either large stools or hard, pebbly stools, or if it is difficult for him to pass a bowel movement, talk with his doctor about possible constipation. Address his health problem first by varying his diet (bananas are good for firming up BMs while prunes and other fruits are good for loosening them) and getting him to drink lots of liquids. Then you can try toilet training again.