There are a lot of cultural factors and even pressures that dictate when toilet training or potty training should initiate and by what age of a child it should complete. For instance, in Africa, a child would be expected to be potty trained by about 12 months of age.
In the United States that age used to be about 24 months till about the middle of the last century; now however, the age for expectation of a child to be potty trained has risen to about 36 months and nighttime accidents are actually considered normal until a child reaches 5 or 6 years of age.
In general, bowel control is achieved before bladder control and daytime dryness is more readily achieved than nighttime dryness. Also parents find that boys achieve potty training later than do girls.
So when should a parent start to potty train their child? Should it be indicated by the child and should parents wait for this or initiate the process before this?
In the earlier part of the last century it was quite common for harsh potty training methods and punishment to be used; however this was followed by the gentler, child led approach.
The latter view was that if one pushed a child into being toilet trained before they were ready, this would result in psychological damage.
In recent times, experts have challenged the concept of child led potty training, saying that the fact of waiting till the child indicates willingness combined with the use of disposable diapers (which make things easier for parents as well) is causing children to become potty trained much later in life.
There is also another argument against waiting to potty training later – when kids turn two or reach an age when they tend to answer everything with a ‘No!’, it can become even more difficult to start them off on the process of potty training.
Also many parents tend to drift along and wait, in a sense hoping that their children will be ready to become toilet trained all by themselves. There is also much to be said for a child who is toilet trained early, in term of diaper rashes, savings in terms of diapers and so on.
So there is certainly a good argument for starting the process earlier rather than later. So what of the fact that early potty training could cause psychological damage? Well the thing that should be avoided is using shaming or punishment for potty training, and also understand that it is a process that takes time and has setbacks.
So unless there are reasons not to do so, potty training can be attempted between 12 and 18 months of age, to see if a child is ready and if not it can be done somewhat later.