Dear Nanny: An Advice Column

Happy rainy-as-shit Wednesday everyone! When will this cold, long winter end? I feel like Laura Ingalls, except instead of blizzards and farm animals I've got gross rain and one very cranky dog. I've gotten a few emails from people with questions and ideas for posts, though I thought it would be a good idea to start a good, old-fashioned advice column! Feel free to send me any questions through my Contact page with the subject, "Dear Nanny" and I'll plow through them as they come! This way, I can directly address any questions you may have and see if I can be of any help.

Our first question comes from Beth. She writes, "Hi Lourdes! Do you think you could write a bit about how to know when your toddler is ready to potty-train? My son is almost 2 years old, and I feel like most of my friends had already begun to potty-train their kids at his age, but I just can't tell if he's ready yet. He hangs around the bathroom when we are going, and is interested in what's happening, but he refuses to sit on his little potty when I try to encourage him. Is he just not ready? I don't want to push it if he isn't but I don't want to traumatize him by waiting too long!"

Hi Beth!

First things first, you are NOT going to traumatize your kid by waiting a bit longer than your friends' kids to potty train. I've written about potty training here, and hopefully that will help as you go forward. The most important thing when beginning to potty train is that your child has the ability to communicate with you when he needs to go. Start looking for clues like dancing around, grabbing his diaper, popping a squat in the corner, or if he makes a specific sound or face when he's about to go. Then start putting words in place for what is happening, and see if he can communicate them to you clearly.

If he's able to let you know when he needs to go, he is probably ready and just needs the encouragement on your part to help him feel comfortable. It is SO IMPORTANT to keep things light and positive when it comes to going potty, because it's easy for shame to creep into the process, and that's no good for him long-term. Remember that accidents are going to happen, in private and in public, and that it is desperately important that you never shame him or lose your cool, even if you want to. And I know there will be times when you want to. I've been there.

I highly recommend reading Oh Crap! by Jamie Glowacki as a jumping off point, and going from there. If he's showing interest in the bathroom, it's highly likely that he's almost ready. Keep him actively interested in what goes down in there, invest in some great potty books, and don't feel like you have to put too much pressure on yourself to do this right away. I'm a big advocate that the window between 2-3 years old is the right time to potty train, as their brains are ready for it and aren't too busy marinating other big milestones. So if you need another month or so for your son to pick up a few more words or get comfortable with his little potty seat, then don't sweat it! It's going to happen, and when it does it'll take about 3 months for it to really click and then you'll be set.

Don't compare yourself to what your friends are doing, it will only lead to feeling pressured and incompetent. No need for that. You're doing great! Thanks for reaching out, let us know how it goes!