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Toilet training (or potty training) is the process of weaning a young child off diapers (nappies) and training the child to use the toilet for urination and defecation. Toilet training is usually done between the ages of eighteen-months and four years[How to reference and link to summary or text].

A child is ready to begin toilet training when he can signal that his diaper is wet, or that he needs the toilet. This usually occurs between the ages of 18-24 months, but it is not uncommon for a child to still need diapers until 5 years of age.

According to Sigmund Freud, a child can have problems later in life if the toilet training doesn't go well, or is too strict.[1] For example, as an adult a person could strive for perfection or excessive cleanliness because they were too harshly trained. The current popular wisdom on this subject is that toilet training is a mutual task, requiring cooperation, agreement and understanding between both the child and the caregiver. It is strongly recommended that coercion and shame are not used as disciplinary instruction tools during this phase of development.

Elimination communication (EC) is a toilet training method which begins at birth. An adult helps an infant address their elimination needs, partially or completely avoiding the use of diapers.


  1. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. 11. ISBN 0-393-01128-3

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