Toddlers vary widely in terms of when they are ready to begin learning to use the potty. They also vary widely in how they learn and how long it takes them! Some toddlers have very sensitive skin. They feel so uncomfortable with wet diapers that they want to learn to use the potty and may cooperate earlier. Some want to cooperate, but their ability to control the sphincter muscles that permit voluntary release of pee and poop is still very difficult for them. Here are some tips to promote potty independence:
1. Try to figure out whether your toddler does indeed feel that he can "go potty" when he is seated there and you are reading to him. If he does have this control, then you are in a good position for the next step. Together with your toddler, choose a bunch of picture books that he really loves to browse through. Tell him that today you need to make an important phone call. So for the time that you are busy, he can read his very own books. Place the books on the bathroom floor right next to the potty, where he can reach them easily. Listen in from outside the open door. If he is busy telling himself the story from looking at the pictures, then you have found a way for him to read for himself while on the potty.
2. If your toddler rarely is able to poop or pee while on the potty, even when you are reading to him, then you may need to wait some weeks and start trying again. Toddlers let us know by when they are ready for toilet learning. Watch for signals, such as being able to say the words "pee" and "poop" or clutching his bottom when he feels that he may be on the verge of making a poop. If your toddler is still on-the-go constantly and cannot sit still for a few minutes, he may find it hard to coordinate potty learning and patience right now!
3. If your toddler has an older sibling, be sure to let him learn about toilet training from watching big sister or big brother go to the potty. Some toddlers insist on having a potty of their own and learning to use it because they want to be like the older sibling they look up to.