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Is my toddler ready for the potty?
Q: I have a son who is 28 months old. I am not sure how to start him on potty training. I believe that he is ready because he shows that it bothers him when his training pants are wet. He will hide behind something when he has to go. Should I at that point place him on a potty seat? I am embarrassed to ask this question, but at his age is he supposed to urinate sitting or standing up? My mother had three girls so she doesn't have experience with boys, and my husband works two jobs so he is hardly at home. If you could give me some advice I would really appreciate it very much.
Janet West Palm Beach, Fla.
A: It sounds as though your son is ready to be trained, and it will probably go fairly easily now that he doesn’t like to be wet. If you live in a place where neighbors won’t criticize, I wouldn’t hesitate to let him urinate in the backyard. Since he tends to hide behind something, let him hide behind a shrub or piece of lawn furniture. When my son was about the age of yours, he didn’t like to use the potty because he was always too busy to stop what he was doing. If we were out in the yard he would rather wet in his pants than stop playing and go inside. But he was happy to go “behind the hollylocks” —his word for hollyhocks—so they got a lot of extra urea in the soil, and it didn’t hurt them a bit. In time, he gave that up and went in the potty. So you might want to give something like that a try as an in-between step.

As far as sitting versus standing goes, it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Little boys often miss the target, whichever approach they use. If he could observe his father and then be encouraged to act accordingly, it would probably help.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education