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Potty training a toddler

Potty training is challenging for everyone involved, and it can take months to get down — and then there are the setbacks. Ann Douglas offers some potty training advice to help you determine the right time to start. Have a question for Ann? Ask it here!

Your question:
My son is almost two-and-a-half years old and has not yet shown any interest in learning how to use the toilet. My mother insists that I was toilet-trained shortly after my first birthday. Is there something wrong with my son?

Ann Douglas answers:
Given all the time and energy some parents (and grandparents!) put into obsessing about toilet training, you’d think researchers had uncovered a link between the age at which a toddler is fully trained and his law school entrance exam scores two decades later. But since no study to date has been able to demonstrate that kind of connection, I’d urge you to do yourself and your toddler a favor and chill out about the whole potty training business! Of course, that’s easier said than done if all the other parents you hang out with are potty-mad — and chances are they are! A recent study found that 65 percent of moms felt pressured to toilet train their toddlers: 32 percent because of their child’s age, 26 percent because of pressure from relatives or mothers with toilet-trained children, and 15 percent because a particular daycare or preschool program required that children be toilet-trained prior to enrolling.

Do you have anything to lose by trying to jump-start the process a little early? Yes, according to the experts. One study found that children whose parents started trying to train them at age 18 months typically weren’t trained until four years of age, whereas children whose parents started training them at two years of age were typically trained by their third birthday.

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