|Most children show signs of readiness to begin using the toilet as toddlers, usually between 18 months and 3 years of age. These signs include staying dry for at least 2 hours at a time, having regular bowel movements, being able to follow simple instructions, being uncomfortable with dirty diapers and wanting them to be changed, asking to use the potty chair, or asking to wear regular underwear. You should also be able to tell when your child is about to urinate or have a bowel movement by his facial expressions, posture or by what he says. If your child has begun to tell you about having a dirty diaper you should praise him for telling you and encourage him to tell you in advance next time.
You should choose a potty chair once your child has shown that he is ready to begin toilet training. You can have him decorate it with stickers and sit on it with his clothes on to watch TV, etc. to help him get used to it. Whenever your child shows signs of needing to urinate or have a bowel movement you should ask him if he wants to use the potty or take him to the chair and explain to him what you want him to do.
Only keep him seated for a few minutes at a time, don't insist and prepared to delay training if he shows resistance. Until he is going in the potty, you can try to empty his dirty diapers into his potty chair to help demonstrate what you want him to do.
Things to avoid when toilet training your child are beginning during a stressful time or period of change in the family (moving, new baby, etc.), pushing your child too fast, and punishing mistakes (treat accidents and mistakes lightly). Be sure to go at your child's pace and show strong encouragement and praise when he is successful.
Also see our Parenting Tips section on Potty Training for more information.