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Potty Training Pressure

Parents often have high expectations when it comes to their children, and a new Pull-Ups survey shows that these expectations lead to increased frustration for parents and children when it comes to potty training.

"Parents are not spending the time they need to potty train their children. They're rushing to get it done, and it's backfiring," says Dr. Heather Wittenberg, Pull-Ups Potty Training Partner and child psychologist who specializes in the development of babies and young children. "Similar to such skills as learning to read and getting kids to eat healthier, potty training requires time and patience to set children up for success."

The survey found that what really works is teaching a child independence and understanding that potty training is a journey of learning between parent and child—and not an overnight task.

"Our culture is frantic about getting children toilet trained before age 3, on the theory that waiting longer makes the process more difficult," says Dr. Steve Hodges, associate professor of urology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "In fact, it's this mad rush to train toddlers that is, in large part, fueling an epidemic of toileting problems."

The study also found that:

  • Parents often hold unrealistic expectations: 1 in 3 parents believe potty training should require four weeks or less. However, research shows that the process actually takes more than 12 weeks for a quarter of children to complete.
  • Parents aren't setting kids up for success: While just 2 percent of parents think the potty training process should take less than a week, 23 percent still have tried the three-day method.
  • Three-day method takes longer than three days: Of those who tried the three-day method, 44 percent said the process took longer than that, and 16 percent said it didn't work at all.

"As a dad, I understand the appeal of potty boot camps. I have three young daughters, one still in diapers, and I look forward to the day when we ditch our diaper bag for good. But I'm not going to push her to train by 3 for my convenience."

To find the method that is right for you and your child, check out our "6 Potty Training Methods."

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