Skip to Content

Potty Training: How To Tell If They’re Not Ready Or Not

Alright, potty training humbles me with every single child, because each one has been so different. I’m now in the beginning phases of potty training my 4th child, who just turned 2. I dread this guys. He’s showing all the signs he’s ready to potty train and I’ve put it off because diapers are just so dang easy. But we don’t want to have another child that poops in their diapers till age 3.5 if we can avoid it. Here’s my post on potty training stubborn boys over age 3 who who won’t poop on the toilet.

You may also want to read about the easiest way to potty train at night so you don’t have to wake up. Hint, it’s simple, sanity saving, and I haven’t had to lose sleep due waking kids up to pee.

What is the average age to potty train a boy?

According to Healthy Children dot org, the average age of a boy (or girl actually) to potty train is between 2-3 years old, and most are poop trained by age 4.

There are many things to consider too, like developmental delays and major life transitions.

I have found that all 4 of my kids have been willing and able to pee before pooping. I’ve also found it much easier for my boys to learn to start and stop their pee in the backyard, and to eventually transfer those skills sitting on the potty.

Signs your child is ready to potty train

If you’re wondering if your child is ready to potty train, keep an eye out for these signs! The more of them you see…the more assured you are that it’s time.

Yes, there’s outliers who swear by potty training a 1 year old, and then there’s some who have diapers on their 4 year old. Both of those mamas are doing their best with what they have, and so are you.

Here’s signs to watch for!

1. They can communicate about poo poo and pee pee

A toddler who’s ready to potty train is going to be communicating with you already. Some will talk and know the word potty, poo poo, diaper, toilet, etc. Others may be better at pointing or trying to communicate by tearing off their diaper and carrying it to you if it’s wet.

Another sure fire sign is that they tell you if they have pee pee or poo poo in their diaper already. And even more amazing is if they tell you it’s coming out or about to come out.

Either way, they’ve got to be communicating a little bit to make this work.

Run them to the toilet, take off the diaper and sit them on the toilet. If you missed the chance, then you can take the poo poo from the diaper (if it’s not too messy already) and plop it in the toilet. Let them flush and say that’s where the poo poo should go!

Then cheer.

2. They seem interested in the toilet, flushing, & the bathroom

This is the age your privacy disappears for a while 😉 Let your toddler follow you to the potty, let them watch and tell them whats happening.

If they’re showing signs of readiness, then the potty will seem interesting, flushing the ultimate cool trick, and they won’t mind waving by by to the pee pee.

Ya it’s gross to us, but not to them.

3. They start taking off their diaper when it’s wet or poopy

Another sign your toddler is ready to potty train is that they’ll notice their diaper is wet and want to take it off. This is body awareness and it’s a big sign!

My little guy still doesn’t quite know the difference between the word potty and poo poo. He’s a late talker and just turned 2. So he’ll say one but it’ll be the other a lot. But he sure knows when it’s in there, and doesn’t like it.

Soooo…it’s now or never for this mama.

4. They bring you dry diapers when they are wet or poopy

Another thing my kids have all done is to carry a dry fresh diaper my way when they have a wet or poopy diaper. This is also huge! They are aware enough to acknowledge they want changed.

That’s when we start saying, “Good boy! It’s time we try to get the poo poo in the toilet” If he’s brought us a “freshie” as we call it, and there’s no poop in the diaper, sometimes we’ll go set him on the toilet without his diaper to try it out.

Usually, it’s just for a few seconds till he wants off. And we cheer at any effort to try and sit still. When he wants off, I let him off. Because holding a scared screaming kid on the toilet never wins.

5. They poop at regular times

Somewhere between 18 months and age 2, we’ve noticed a regular poop routine. For mine, it’s been in the morning after waking up, within the first half hour.

Ideally, with that potty training readiness sign, I should take off his diaper in the morn and set him on the toilet a few times to try pooping.

6. They start wandering off to poop in private

The classic tale. Toddler wanders off to a back room, alone. Comes back poopy. I had one kid who liked to go outside to do the deed in his diaper. If you notice they want privacy…it’s poop training time! If you’re ready too 😉

7. They will sit on the toilet

I’ve found all my kids have been (at some point in the process) curious of the toilet but afraid to sit on it long. I’m sure it feels strange!

My 2 year old, 4th kiddo, is a bit hesitant to sit longer than about 20 seconds without trying to fling himself off. So I’m just trying to do that as often as I can right now. We cheer, even if nothing comes out, and let him flush.

Once he’s willing to sit longer, we’ll see some progress. Distraction is my friend and I try to hold him a bit so he feels secure.

When he’s older, we’ll also watch the episode of Mr. Rogers where he goes over the concept that you’ll NEVER get flushed down the toilet. It’s a common fear for toddlers who are potty training I guess!

8. They can pull down their pants, or at least try

My 2 year old is ready to potty train, and poop train. He can’t quite shuck off everything without my help, but he can (and does) if he’s just wearing a diaper.

So if your toddler shucks their diaper…it’s probably time.

Signs your child is not ready to potty train

If your child has no interest in the potty, is scared of the toilet, doesn’t acknowledge he’s wet or poopy, or can’t communicate with you in any clear way…it’s probably too early. Either you’ll be frustrated or it could be a lot of effort vs a little bit of effort later.

With that said, you don’t want to miss the window. My solution to this (since we definitely missed the window with my 1st!) is to just keep talking about it, and keep trying to give them chances to sit on the potty.

When to stop potty training and wait to try later

Being afraid of the toilet

The main issue I’ve noticed is when they are fearful of the toilet. If your toddler is scared of it and won’t sit on it without lunging off, then you might just need to help them see it’s not scary.

Let them watch you go to the bathroom! Let them flush! Cheer when it all goes down. Tell them that’s where potty and poo poo goes. Sometimes we even say, “bye poo poo” or “bye bye pee”. It’s cheesy, but normalizes it.

During a major life event

The hardest time to potty train, where you may see regression if you try, is during any big life event.

  • Moving? Not the best time for you or your kiddo to be consistent.
  • Just had a baby? You’re not going to want to set down your newborn every 30 minutes and run your toddler to the toilet. I did this for my 2 year old the week we brought our baby home. I don’t recommend it, haha, but my 2 year old was literally begging (with words) to sit on the toilet. She was verbal, ready, and we rolled with it. She potty trained and poop trained at the same time that my oldest poop trained ( he was already fully potty trained).

What to do if you miss the window and they don’t want to try the potty?

This is so hard, and I’ve been there. Almost all moms I’ve talked to seem to have this issue more so with poop training more than peeing on the toilet. If that’s you, read how we finally found a way to motivate our 3.5 year old to poop on the toilet.

If your child seems afraid of the toilet suddenly, and insists on their diaper, you can choose to wait and try again in a week or a month and see. Keep it positive, keep it fun, and let them watch and flush and all the things.

Keep telling them poop goes into the potty, and keep asking them if they want putting pee pee into the toilet. You can also have them go diaperless, follow them around constantly, and run them to the potty when you see they have to go.

You can also try getting a floor potty that’s small, or a different seat for your main toilet. We really like the cushy ones that have handles. My sis swears by the toilet seat with a kid’s seat attached to the grown up seat. It’s slim in design and more modern looking.

This is no small task ahead! Best of luck to you and please share all your potty training tips in the comments for others to try!

More toddler posts to explore

What to do when your 3 or 4 year old whines all the time

Busy Toddler’s Playing Preschool Review

How to stop your toddler from hitting

How to stop your toddler from pulling your hair

What it’s like having babies 18 months apart

Routine for an 18 month old

Napping 3 kids at the same time