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Advantages of Potty Training During the Preschool Years

The push to potty train before starting preschool

The push to potty train before starting preschool

Potty training... a phrase that can strike fear into the minds of preschool parents around the globe. One advantage to potty training before preschool is cost efficiency as most preschools charge an extra fee if your child isn't potty trained; some preschools will not register children if they are not potty trained. With the status of the current economy, a lot of families are trying taking advantage of the savings and potty training earilier.

The Healthy Children Organization believes an advantage of potty training during the preschool years is that "Your preschooler’s natural urge to develop and grow will carry your preschooler through most of the difficult stages of toilet training without a huge amount of effort on your part."

READ MORE: Ease the potty training transition

Kristin Riolo’s first daughter, Alexandra, was a breeze to potty-train. “It was really pretty quick — a couple of weeks and she was pretty much done,” says mom. But daughter No. 2, Amanda, is proving to be more of a challenge. “We started in July, and what is it now, November?” she sighs. It doesn’t help that the preschool the Riolos have chosen charges an extra fee if a child isn’t potty-trained. Some preschools around the country won’t even accept children who can’t use the toilet on their own.

Amanda is 2½, which many experts say is the best age to help your child learn to use the toilet. But if your preschooler isn’t getting the hang of it at that age, don’t worry. Though most kids are out of diapers by 36 months, half of boys and about a third of girls don’t use the potty regularly until after their third birthday, according to a study by Timothy R. Schum, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. No matter how old your child is, the process usually takes eight to ten months: “Some kids do it in two weeks, but that’s not typical,” Dr. Schum says.


A preschooler’s growing desire to become more independent usually motivates her to want to go to the bathroom on her own – but this desire can also cause her to dig in his heels and refuse to change her routine. “Parents suddenly say, ‘Now it’s time to use the toilet,’ but their child may think diapers are working pretty well for them,” explains Jan Faull, the teacher of a class aimed at 3½- to 5-year-olds called Potty Challenges, in Bellevue, Washington.

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Even though your child is mastering all sorts of new skills, learning to use the potty can actually be more difficult now that she’s 3 or 4. What works for 2-year-olds – buying fun underwear or reading books about the potty – is usually not as successful with preschoolers, especially if you’ve been at it for a while. “I felt like a failure when my child wasn’t potty-taught as fast as his friends were,” says Christine Perkins, of Power, Montana, whose son Sam was 3½ when he finally kicked the diaper habit.


Pam Ancowitz of Parents Place, Inc., in White Plains says it’s important for moms to be confident. The 25-year veteran of the parent/child center has seen 400 to 500 kids a year go through Parents Place’s programs, including sessions on potty training. “You have to be sure of yourself to potty-train a child. Once a mother is ambivalent, the kid can get around it in a heartbeat — whether it’s toilet training, bedtime or anything else,” she explains. “But if you believe your child is really ready and it can happen, it will happen.”

Freelance journalist Diane Benson Harrington’s first son wasn’t potty-trained until he was 4. She finally bribed with him with his toy of choice – roller-blading Barbie – to get the job done.