Potty training is a big step for parents and kids alike. The secret to success? Patience — perhaps more patience than you ever imagined.

Potty training success hinges on physical and emotional readiness, not a specific age. Many kids show interest in potty training by age 2, but others may not be ready until age 2 1/2 or even older. And there's no rush. If you start potty training too early, it may only take longer.

Your child's showing all the signs of being ready to potty train. Is your child ready? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Does your child seem interested in the potty chair or toilet, or in wearing underwear?
  • Can your child ask simple questions?
  • Does your child stay dry for periods of two hours or longer during the day? Does he or she wake from naps dry?
  • Does your child have fairly predictable bowel movements?
  • Does your child tell you through words, facial expressions or posture when he or she needs to go?
  • Can your child pull down his or her pants and pull them up again?
If you answered mostly yes, your child may be ready for potty training. If you answered mostly no, you may want to wait awhile — especially if your child has recently or is about to face a major change, such as a move or the arrival of a new sibling. A toddler who opposes potty training today may be open to the idea in a few months.

There's no need to postpone potty training if your child has a chronic medical condition but is able to use the toilet normally. Be aware that the process may take longer, however.

That's great! But now, where do you start?

Explain to your toddler that going potty is a normal process of life and everyone does it, even animals. Talk with them about the toilet, a special place where they can potty just like the big kids. Tell him how the potty works and let him try flushing himself. Explain that they will be wearing underwear and not diapers.

Find some educational and entertaining videos of their favorite characters learning to go potty. Be sure to involve other family members in the process and emphasize the importance of consistency during this process.

Make a special trip to the store and purchase new underwear with your toddler. Let them have a voice in what you get. The underwear will have much more significance if your toddler helped choose them. Overalls, pants with lots of buttons, snaps or zips, tight or restrictive clothing and oversized shirts will all be an obstacle to your child during this process. Put these kinds of clothes away for the time being.

Decide whether or not you're going to use pull-ups, training pants or regular underwear and try to stick with this decision so your child has consistency and isn't confused. Think about whether or not you want to use rewards or not.

Figure out a strategy on how to handle potty issues when you're away from home. If your child is in child care, ask your provider for their advice and make sure there aren't any hard and fast rules the center or caregiver has in place that may be an issue. Let them know that you're going to start and enlist their help with the process.

Praise your child for each successful trip to the potty, and comfort them when accidents happen and try to remain patient and calm when they do. Avoid using candy or other treats as reinforcement. Let them know that it will take a while to get the hang of using the potty, and encourage and praise each attempt they make.

With consistency, encouragement and praise, they'll soon be completely trained.

Traveling While Potty Training

Potty training doesn't have to stop when you have to travel. Preparation is key when continuing potty training on the road.

First off, bring your child's stand alone potty chair with you. If it comes down to it, you can always pull off the road and set the child's potty chair up in the passenger side seat. Be sure to bring inserts or small plastic bags for lining the potty. It will make clean up a lot easier.

If you bring the potty, be sure to remember paper or wipes for your child. Bring whatever it is she uses at home. A long trip is not the place to experiment.

Have your child wear one of the many disposable training pants that are on the market. This will protect clothes, car seat and tender little feelings from the occasional accident.

Try to limit fluids and high water content foods on the road. Hydration is a good thing, but you don't want your toddler to have an accident because you can't find a place on the two-lane road to pull over.

And don't forget to stop often so your little one can use the rest areas bathrooms. Just bring the child's potty seat in to the restroom with you. They may be afraid of the toilet, so don't be surprised if your little on insists on using the full potty chair.

Also, it is normal for there to be potty training backslides during periods of high stress or travel. So, don't be to hard on your little one if they suddenly start having more accidents than at home.

When you arrive at your destination, try to encourage you toddler to get back on their normal potty routine as quickly as possible. You will both feel better when you get home and back to your routine!