At a certain point, usually between 18 months and three years of age, your children will start showing signs of readiness to be potty trained. The little babies will suddenly want to be big boys or girls and do their business like mommy and daddy do. However, potty training requires a number of prerequisites for it to be successful – the children need to be physically, psychologically and emotionally ready for the new steps. It’s up to the parent to see the signs that their children are ready for this big step and to know whether the circumstances are right for it or not.

On the physical level, the most important thing children need to be able to do is to control the bladder and bowel muscles. It’s not something you can teach your children, it happens on its own and there are some things you need to look for to determine whether or not your children are there. If you notice your children are having regular bowel movements in the same time every day, that’s a good sign that things are progressing in a good way. Also, the lack of bowel movements during the night and having periods of at least two hours between urinating is a good sign as well.

Before being potty trained, your children need to master the basics of waking, pulling down their pants and pulling them up again. Needing a little bit of help in the beginning is okay, but they need to be able to at least do the basic movements required for these actions on their own.

When your children are becoming ready for potty training, you’ll notice some changes in their behavior. They need to acknowledge when they’re doing their business – they can vocalize, go to another room, or show any other sign that they’re aware of what they’re doing. Your children will show a strong dislike to being in dirty nappies, followed by an interest in how the grownups – mommy and daddy – behave on the toilet and the desire to copy their behavior. They should also be able to sit still in one spot for a couple of minutes at least – wiggling around on the potty will make a mess of things.

The most important thing for potty training is the desire to be trained. It may seem that it’s a process that doesn’t require much cooperation, but cooperation is paramount. The children have to be able to understand simple instruction and willing to follow them, otherwise it would be next to impossible to get them on the potty in the right time and keep them still while they’re there. It’s also important that you establish the household words for urinating and defecating – peeing and pooping are children friendly, funny sounding words and a good choice.

If your children, or the whole household, are going through changes, it may be a good idea to postpone potty training until the children are settled in the new situation. Changing houses or apartments, changing nannies, parents going back to work after maternity or paternity leave, all of these situations can be stressful and overwhelming for children, which can present as a setback in the potty training process. Giving the children some time to adjust before beginning with potty training won’t hurt them, and it will ensure they steadily acquire all the necessary skills.