10 Ways to Tell if Your Potty Training Toddler REALLY Has to Go

Potty training a toddler is always an adventure. Every child learns at a different pace and in different ways. The thing to keep in mind is that this process is just as much training for the parents as it is for the toddler. Once you get started, learning the right signals is going to be the key to success. Some kids will refuse to tell you when they need to go potty and others will want to go all the time just for the fun of it. It’s up to the parents and caregivers to figure out the difference. Here are 10 ways to tell if your potty training toddler really has to go.

  1. Holding the crotch – The easiest signal your toddler needs to go potty is when he/she is holding their crotch. There isn’t any clearer sign than that. Don’t you sometimes wish you were still allowed to do that?
  2. Squirming – Another pretty clear signal is when your child is squirming or fidgety. When you see that behavior, it’s a good time to visit the bathroom. Eventually, your toddler will learn to tell you verbally instead of with body language.
  3. Squatting – If your child suddenly goes into a squatting position for no apparent reason, he/she probably needs to go potty. This is a common reflex in toddlers who are ready to be toilet trained and a good physical message to watch for.
  4. Stops playing – A less noticeable signal is when a child suddenly stops whatever they’re doing for no reason. Parents who learn this subtle sign should quickly whisk their youngster off to the potty chair. Hopefully they can get there in time.
  5. Facial expression – Observant parents can learn to tell when their toddler really needs to go to the bathroom by their facial expression. They get to know “the look” that signals when it’s time to start looking for the restroom sign.
  6. Grunting – This behavior usually indicates pooping instead of peeing, but is helpful nonetheless. When your child starts grunting, it’s the perfect time to work on the poopy part of the potty training.
  7. Pulls down pants – The least subtle sign your toddler really needs to go potty is when he/she pulls down their pants and decides to take care of business right then and there. Parents can’t miss this signal and should get that kid to the potty chair right away.
  8. Wants attention – The other end of the spectrum is when your child is constantly telling you he/she needs to go potty, but really doesn’t. This can get very frustrating for parents who end up making endless trips to the bathroom for no reason. They need to pay close attention to when this is happening and why.
  9. Wants rewards – Another reason for false alarms is when toddlers are simply looking for the rewards parents will offer for going potty. Since young children are fairly unsophisticated about lying, they’ll usually give themselves away. When they say something like, “Go potty, get treat!” that’s your first clue.
  10. Stalling – Timing is also another reason kids will give false signals. Some little urchins will use potty time as a stalling tactic. When your toddler suddenly asks to go potty just before nap or bedtime, there’s probably a little manipulation going on.

Parents and caregivers with keen observation skills will eventually train themselves to watch for the right signals during the potty training process. When they are constantly getting sent on dry-runs, they need to look for more than one sign to determine what’s real and what’s not. If their toddler is just looking for rewards, maybe they need to change incentives to correct the problem. If it’s attention they’re seeking, go ahead and give it to them. Just be patient and eventually your child will get tired of using the potty training to manipulate you and quit sending out false alarms. Don’t let yourself get upset and stay consistent. The toilet training process may seem endless, but it’s really just a brief stage in your child’s development.

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