Are you dreading "toilet training" your toddler? Have you heard or do you worry that this will be a difficult and upsetting time for everyone? Good news. If you assume a casual, relaxed attitude, both you and your toddler will do just fine.

"Toilet learning need not be a difficult or painful process, but usually it is a long one. It will probably take at least a year from the first suggestions to the time when your child is able to keep clean and relatively dry on her or his own. For a year or so after that, you should be prepared for accidents after some circumstances. Even a child who stays dry all day will not stay dry at night for some time to come." Why does it take so long? Learning to eliminate in the toilet involves a whole series of skills.

Writing in The sequence in which these skills need to be mastered

            First, understand what they are supposed to do in the bathroom.

           Second, realize they are about to urinate or defecate.

           Third, get to the toilet or potty chair.

           Fourth, remove their clothing.

           Fifth, climb up on the toilet or sit down on the potty chair.

           Sixth, relax appropriate muscles to let urine and/or feces out.

You can be most helpful to toddlers if you:

           First, explain what you want them to do (this usually takes repeated explanations).

           Second, encourage children to verbalize when they are about to urinate or defecate.

           Third, keep a training chair handy.

           Fourth, provide easily removed clothing during this time.

           Fifth, help your children learn to climb onto the toilet safely if a training chair isn't used (a small              stepstool often works well).

           Sixth, acknowledge when your child "makes it to the bathroom on time." You can do other things            to facilitate this process.

Teach your toddler the words your family uses for urinating and defecating. If you don't label things, your toddler will.

Check to see if your child fears flushing the toilet. Never force a frightened child onto a toilet. If there is fear, your child is not ready for this process yet.

Treat accidents casually. Punishing, scolding, and shaming may damage self esteem and may hinder learning.

Try not to be too appalled if children finger paint or juggle with their fecal materials. Wash them off and explain that all feces must go into the toilet or potty chair.

Remember: the average age at which a toddler begins to stay dry is 2 years, but the range is wide and often varies according to gender. Generally girls mature in bladder control earlier than boys. Many bright, healthy, normal 3-year-olds are not yet trained.