It's WAY Easier To Train When Your Child Is In "The Zone"

As a general matter, training early is better than training later. Specifically, there is a window of opportunity that generally starts around 18-to-24 months and closes around 30 months, when your is behaviorally “ready” to potty train. At the beginning of this window your child will start demonstrating the communication skills and bodily awareness necessary for training—these, however, are the basics. What really matters is that during this time period your child will be very eager to please you as his or her parent. 

If there is one KEY TAKEAWAY, it's to start potty training when you child is between 20-and-30 months old, if not earlier." 

If you’ve already raised one child, you know that the “terrible two’s” are really more like the “terrible two-and-three-quarters or early three's." In short, you want to start training before 30 months in order to avoid teaching a child who is old enough to want to be rebellious. By this we mean children who like to say “no” for the sake of saying no, which will make training exponentially more difficult. This rebelliousness is a natural part of your child's individuation process as detailed belowregardless of the cause, however, its best to avoid training during it.

The Science Behind "Early Is Better"


Its All About Brain Development (i.e. Train In "The Zone")

Starting early is crucial to successful potty training because you want to train your child BEFORE he or she progresses too far down the process of individuation (i.e. recognizing his or her own sense of being), which typically begins occurring around 12 months but really takes off after 30 months.

"Individuation" is the process through which you child begins to recognize his or her own sense of being.

Specifically, children younger than 30 months tend to be attached to their parents and to want to please them, making children under 30 months particularly open to toilet training.  We call this "THE ZONE."

Once the process of individuation really takes off around 30 months, however, your child will begin saying "NO" and being defiant just for the sake of it. Training a child at this stage of the individuation process makes training exponentially more difficult. Furthermore, as children get older and become more self-aware, they naturally require more privacy and it can be difficult to “teach” potty training to a child who is demanding privacy.

The Real Reason People Are Starting So Late


Things Weren't Always This Way . . . 

While many self-professed “experts” claim it is best to wait "until your child is ready" to potty train—by this they usually mean somewhere around three years old—waiting this long to potty train is a historical anomaly. Specifically, prior to the 1960's, potty training as early as 18 months was the norm in the United States. In fact, one 1957 study at Stanford University found that 92% of children were potty trained by the time they were 18 months old.

Prior to the 1960's the vast majority of children (over 90%) were potty trained by 18 months of age. This changed in the 1960's and 1970's when a world famous pediatrician (and PAID diaper company consultant) introduced 'child-led training.'"

This changed when the world famous pediatrician, Dr. T Berry Brazelton, began introducing a “child-led” approach to potty training in the 1960’s. This approach relied on the child to decide when to become diaper free, with the predictable result that children began completing training later and later (according to a 1999 New York Times article, a then-recent large scale study had found that only 60% of children were potty trained at 36 months).  Somewhat insidious, however, is the fact that Dr. Brazelton was a paid consultant for Proctor & Gamble or P&G, the owner of the Pampers line of diapers!

Since the advent of 'child-led training,' the age when the average U.S. child is potty trained has been pushed back significantly."

Large portions of the globe never caught onto the “child-led training” fad, and it is quite common in Asia and elsewhere for children to be almost completely trained by 18 months. In fact, it took a trip home to South Korea for one of the moms in our Real Life Potty Training Stories series to realize that she could really potty train her young son, which she did with great success. Thankfully, many true experts in the United States have recently begun to come back around to what the rest of the world has always known: early is better.  

More Reasons To Start Early


Ditching Diapers Is Good For A LOT of Reasons

Other than the fact that training earlier is literally easier, there are real cost, environmental and time benefits from ditching diapers early. While the cost and environmental benefits may seem obvious, it has been estimated that changing diapers and related activities take around 9 hours a week of a caregiver’s time—that is a tremendous hidden burden. 

Time Savings: Parents spend an estimated 9 hours a week changing diapers and performing related activities. 

For working parents, perhaps as important as the time and cost savings is the fact that many preschools and some day cares have potty-trained-only policies, meaning completing your child’s training earlier allows you to get back to work earlier. 

Lastly, successful potty training is a huge confidence booster for your child. This will likely be the first task in life she will take ownership of—successfully completing it and stepping up into the world of “big boys and girls” provides a sense of belonging and accomplishment.

Our Call To Arms!

At One Proud Toddler (if you couldn’t already tell) we are adherents to the early is better approach. While “child led” training has a nice ring to it, the fact is that adults are responsible for teaching children how to properly behave in this world, which includes using the toilet. 

In short, we don't allow toddlers to make their own major life choices in other realms and potty training, as one of your child’s first major learning exercises, is no exception!

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