5 Potty Training Myth Busters

smiling toddler girl

Whether you’re just starting potty training or you’re in the full swing of it, one thing is likely: Somebody has spread rumors to you. Call them potty training myths. These assertions of how potty training is supposed to go can make you wonder if your potty training plan has a few glitches. 


Myth #1: You should start potty training when your child turns two (or sooner, or later).

The truth is, every child potty trains differently. Potty training goes more smoothly when your child shows these signs of readiness:

  • Stays dry for two hours and/or through naps.
  • Asks to be changed and doesn’t like to be in soiled diapers.
  • Shows interest in the potty.
  • Is able to sit for two to five minutes.
  • Can pull pants up and down.
  • Has words for pee and poop.

Myth #2: Girls are easier to potty train than boys.

Kids handle potty training better when instructions are visually modeled for them. Mothers tend to be more involved in potty training than fathers are, so it stands to reason that makes it easier for girls to potty train. The answer? Dads need to be involved in potty training their sons.

Myth #3: Kids who refuse to potty train need to be punished.

It’s tempting to treat defiance or refusal with punishment, but that usually backfires when it comes to potty training. Ultimately, your child is in charge of her own body; you can’t force your child to potty train. Punishment often leads to more defiance. Your child could start to withhold urine and/or stool, which can lead to urinary tract infections and constipation, sometimes severe.

Some kids simply need a break from the pressure of potty training. For them, it’s best to stop training and start over when they’re showing more signs of readiness and/or when there’s less stress in the house (perhaps due to a new baby, a move or a divorce, for instance.) Other kids will resist potty training simply because they can, usually when they’re 3 or older. For these kids, it’s best to give them the power, telling them they’re in charge of their bodies and then backing off from any comments, prompts or pressure to potty train. Once you diffuse the power struggle, these kids usually come around and potty train themselves. Understanding your child's potty training personality will help you determine what motivates him, and what does not. By taking our brief assessment, we can give you a better idea of what kind of potty training personality your child may have.

Myth #4: All kids can be potty trained in a day.

All kids train differently, and for some children, it can indeed take one day. But for the vast majority of kids, it takes longer. In fact, it takes an average of eight months for kids to be potty trained completely, though it varies a lot between kids. Just follow your child’s lead and be consistent with your plan.

Myth #5: Kids who are potty trained during the day should automatically stay dry at night.

Actually, nighttime potty training isn’t even training at all. It’s a biological issue that comes with maturity. Assuming your child has no physical or developmental issues that could affect his bladder, factors such as bladder size, sound sleeping and maturity can affect his ability to stay dry at night. In fact, some studies show that as many as half of 3-year-olds who are potty trained during the day still wet at night. You can help by limiting fluids before bed and perhaps, waking him at 11 p.m. to use the potty. Of course, check with your pediatrician if you’re concerned.

Want more potty-training tips and ideas for Tackling Toddlerhood Together? We've got them here.

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