Expert opinions on the optimal age for potty training have changed over time. The current consensus is that you can begin training earlier but that many children will not be ready until three or even four years of age. If you begin training earlier, you may be in for a long, gradual process. Look for signs of readiness, such as having words for potty functions, an interest in the potty, and looking for privacy when moving bowels in diapers. If your child seems ready, make sure going to the potty is a fun experience. Rather than ask the child if he or she needs to use the potty, bring the child to the potty in a playful way: "Let's hop to the potty!" (Or skip, or race, or whatever gets your toddler up and moving.) Use your child's interests to encourage him or her ("You can use the potty just like...," inserting your child's favorite character), entertain your child while he or she is on the potty (move the potty in front of the television, bring a favorite toy to play, anything that will encourage sitting), and reward your child for trying ("You did a great job sitting on the potty for 5 minutes!"). Some parents have had success with potty dolls, potty books, potty movies, or potty parties. As long as there are no physical problems or developmental delays, take heart, your child will learn to use the potty!
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