Child's Potty Training Development by Age

Child's Age

Physiological and Motor Skills

Cognitive and Verbal Development

Emotional and Social Awareness

0 - 12 months


Begins to associate between cause and effect

Develops to enjoy praise and approval

12 - 18 months

Becomes aware of need to go potty

Begins to associate fullness with eliminations that follows

Emerging desire t mimic other children's behavior


May begin walking

May begin communicating verbally

Takes pleasure in doing it him/herself.

18-24 months

Early ability to briefly control sphincter muscles

Improves ability to picture a goal (using potty) and remember it long enough to complete the act

Increased urge toward self mastery


Better able to sit still

Increased ability to understand verbal explanations

Increased desire to please parents and win praise

24-36 months

Able to manage simple clothing

Improved memory helps child maintain potty routine

Takes great pleasure in increasing competence



Improved imagination allows for learning through play (dolls, role playing)

Gender awareness encourages imitation of same sex parent's bathroom behavior


Gradually maturing of digestive system eventually leads to decrease of accidents and bedwetting by around age 5 or 6

Improved ability to break focus to go to the toilet and to resist distraction while getting there

Peer pressure encourages toilet use. Enjoys completing sticker charts and working to earn rewards


I received a note from a Child Development Specialist/Early Interventionist Ms. Carol McCullough who suggested that you should read this chart based on your child's developmental skill and not the chronological age.

This is especially important for parents with developmentally delayed chidren - this chart was developed for children without any developmental delays.

So according to Ms. Carol McCullough the focus should be on the developmental age and not the chronological age. If you child is exhibiting the developmental skills in the last two rows - then your child is probably ready to be potty trained.

Wolraich, Mark, and Sherill Tippins. American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training. New York: Bantam, 2003. Print.

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Delayed training for bowel movements (7/17/2012) Reviewer: Mickey Jackson (West Monroe, LA) I am encouraged to learn that older children are sometimes afraid to sit on the toilet to have a bowel movement.

Our five year old grandson has experienced the death of his father through brain cancer. To say the least, his toddler years were challenging since Dad was suffering from the realities of cancer. This little boy stayed with grandparents frequently which added to the potty-training issues. Born prematurely at 29 months, he is somewhat physically delayed in growth. However, his cognitive development appears to be on track. He speaks clearly and expresses himself very well for a 5 year old. He asks for a pull-up when he needs to have a bowel movement. He does not wet his pants during the day.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated by this grandparent.



PTC Comment: Dear Grandparent, I am so sorry to hear about all that your grandson has had to endure. In listening to your story, it reminded me of what a child would go through, when the parents split up or divorce. The similarities I found in your story and the one of children in a split home were:

1. the absence of one of the parents in the household and 2. the going back and forth between homes.

I know that it is not exactly the same and that there is a huge difference, but the child still goes through the same similar changes. Please take the time to read the following article called Potty Regression - Parents Splitting Up/Divorcing. I am hoping that it will be helpful to you.

Also Discourage but making baby steps of progress (3/1/2012) Reviewer: C Little My daughter is 7, 8 in Sept. and still won't use a toilet at all. We have seen many specialists and have ruled out any physical cause but she has been diagnosed with a phobia. She wears panties but puts a pull up on to pee or poop. She has been on stool softener for 1 1/2 years now to keep her regular. We have been working hard to establish a regular routine and now have to find a way to get her to sit and go. This site is great as I thought we were alone, I didn't realize so many parents had this issue.
discouraged (2/21/2012) Reviewer: Sharon H. (South Bend, IN) My son went into foster care for 2=yrs. That whole time they had pull ups on him, but did not potty train him. Long story short he's now almost 7 yrs old & only pees when I ask him too. But refuses to sit on the toilet at all. HELP!!!!!