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As promised in last week's column, today's column will reveal the secrets of quick and easy toilet training. But first, a brief recap:

The typical child is ready to be toilet trained between 24 and 30 months and it is definitely in a child's best interest that he be toilet trained as soon as he is ready.

"Missing the boat" -- ignoring the child's readiness -- can cause as many problems as "jumping the gun."

The current trend -- to wait until the child trains himself -- benefits manufacturers of disposable diapers and professionals who charge to help parents toilet train reluctant 3- and 4-year-olds. It does not benefit children.

A child does not know when he's ready to be toilet trained, but he will make it perfectly clear. It's up to parents to recognize the signs, of which there are primarily two:

1. The child begins to show an interest in the toilet -- wants to watch other people using it, wants to flush, asks questions about it.

2. The child's diapers are dry for upwards of 3 to 4 hours at a stretch during the day, after naps, and sometimes even in the morning.

When these signs emerge, you simply announce, "From now on, you're not going to wear diapers except at night, when you sleep. During the day, you're going to put your squeegee and your boopah (or whatever you chose to call them, and it makes no difference) in the potty. Yes!"

A training session should follow. Show your child which potty he's going to use. If you decide to bypass a child-size potty and go straight to the Great White Water Chair, have the former standing by in the event the child can't straddle the Great White or is intimidated by it.

Show him/her how to position him/herself appropriately. Then, demonstrate. Do not, at this point, try to coerce or persuade your child to use the potty. If he does, fine. If not, then just say: "Think you've got it? Good! Remember, put your squeegee and boopah here from now on. Tell me if you need help."

Now comes what for most parents is the hardest part. If you want this over within the shortest possible amount of time, then do not have your child wear any clothing below the waist until the training is complete. Yes, that means cleaning up accidents, but it cuts the training time in half. (Note: Young children will tolerate wet, messy diapers, but they don't like "stuff" running down their legs.)

When you sense that your child has to "go," give a firm, unambiguous prompt, as in: "You need to use the potty. Let's go." Do not hover over your child asking: "Do ya have to go? Huh? Huh? C'mon, let's just give it a try, OK?" That's a sure prescription for a lot of resistance. The child in question is, after all, a 2-year-old, as in harboring great potential for stubbornness.

When accidents occur, just say: "That's OK. You're just learning. Help me clean this up, and next time, remember to use the poopalaloosa (or whatever you call it)."

It helps to have a few "set" times during the day -- immediately after meals, for example -- when using the toilet is "required" of everyone in the family. Just announce that it's time for everyone to use the poopalaloosa. Ask your child, "Do you want to go first, or after Daddy?" Regardless of his answer, you see, he's committed!

Girls are generally easier to train than boys, but that doesn't hold true in every instance. In any case, relax and by all means, have some fun with it.

Questions of general interest may be sent to John Rosemond at P.O. Box 4124, Gastonia, N.C. 28054 and at on the World Wide Web.

If you or someone you know has parenting problems, call the Parents Anonymous 24-hour confidential Help-Line at 892-2172.

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