Toilet training can bring joy and excitement to many parents as their little ones are embarking on new independence and enhancing their developmental abilities.
However, to some, it could create anxiety and a feeling of helplessness if it doesn’t go smoothly. Hopefully, these tools below will guide you and your child on this new endeavor.
Tip 1: When is the right time to start toilet training?
Typically, toilet training begins anywhere from 18 months to 3 years of age, and while that seems like a large window of time, it’s so because many developmental skills need to be attained before toilet training can begin.
Your child needs to:
- follow simple 1-2 step directions with ease
- stay dry for a period of time (approximately 2 hours)
- assist with pulling pants up and down
- show discomfort if wet or soiled by expressing (in some way) the need to be changed.
- realize the need to have a bowel movement or urinate and going to a designated spot
- sit on the toilet or a potty seat with good postural control
Tip 2: Is there a time that is not optimal to start toilet training?
Toileting can be a stressful time for a child. If your child is going through a significant change in their life, i.e. a new sibling, a new home, a new daycare, a transition from crib to bed, or a family illness/death, etc., your child may feel overwhelmed. This may affect overall success and it may be best to suspend potty training during this time.
Tip 3: How do we get started with potty training?
- Begin with a potty seat. Many times, the toilet is a scary place. It’s a large hole and children are sitting out in space with very little support for their tiny bodies. A potty seat that is low to the ground provides a sense of security for the child. They can sit with their feet touching the ground, and the seat is just their size. There are potty seats that attach to the toilet. However, if using this seat, one needs to make sure that the child feels secure and their feet are grounded with use of a step stool.
- When your child begins to show interest in toileting, begin by having them sit on the seat with their clothes on to become more comfortable and feel safe.
- Have your child watch you, another caregiver or a sibling use the bathroom.
- Read children’s potty-training books to your little one. These fun children’s stories may inspire your child.
- Find routine times in the day to start having your child practice sitting on the potty seat with their pants pulled down or off. First thing in the morning when changing their nighttime diaper, before bath, or during a diaper change are natural times to begin practicing.
- Begin using a pull-up diaper. This helps your child understand and be able to practice how to physically pull their pants up and down. Utilize clothes that are easy for your child to pull up and down independently. Refrain from snaps, buttons, etc. during this time, as it will impact your child’s independence with clothing management and could affect toileting success.
- Flushing the toilet can be very frightful for a child. You can have your child rip a piece of toilet paper off and flush it while saying “bye-bye” to help them get over the fear of something disappearing when it is flushed.
- Diapers create a sense of security and slow the teaching process down. The absorbency mechanism in the diaper will prevent your child from feeling a sense of wetness. As your child begins to show more interest in sitting on the toilet and has had some success, you may want to try using underwear with a pullup over it or toilet training underwear (thicker underwear). These can be found on Amazon, Walmart, or Target. Wearing toilet training underwear will help your child begin to feel wetness when they start to urinate and may trigger them to go to the potty.
- Label names for toileting “potty, poop, pee” so that your child can begin to express him or herself.
- When your child is sitting on the toilet, practice having them push. This can be created by having them pretend to blow candles out or blow on a piece of toilet paper. This blowing of air helps pull the belly button toward the core. In return, this puts pressure on the bladder to allow urine to come out.
- If your child has a bowel movement in their diaper, you can flush it in the toilet to show your child that it goes in the potty.
- Sticker charts or small edible such as mini M&Ms are great to use for successes. Start to pull back on reward as your child’s success rate rises in order to instill an internal desire. Continued success develops more self-esteem and confidence in your child. Praise your child throughout this process. Although potty training can be frustrating for adults, try to not show disappointment or anger when there are unsuccessful moments as this can create a rebound effect and ultimately affect the overall goal. Remember this may be a vulnerable time for your child.
- Using food coloring in the toilet water may be a fun way to encourage urinating. When your child urinates, there will be an instant color change to the water!
- A child may withhold bowel movements or regress to feeling the need to have a diaper on if they are pushed too hard or too quickly. It is the child’s way of trying to regain control over their body and can ultimately create physical problems like constipation, if toileting becomes a power struggle. Remember, every child completes this process at the time that is right for them, and sometimes the process may need to be put on pause for a period of time in order for developmental growth and future success.
For additional questions, or if you have concerns regarding your child’s potty training journey, reach out via email to jhoyle@Kidsensetherapygroup.com.
Gavin, M.L. (Ed.). (2019, March). Toilet training (for parents) – Nemours kidshealth. Kidshealth. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/toilet-teaching.html.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, May 20). Potty training: How to get the job done. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyles/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/potty-training/art-20045230
Potty training: Learning to use the toilet. ZERO TO THREE. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15 2021, from https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/266-potty-training-learning-to-the-use-the-toilet.Stadtler, A. C., Gorski, P. A., & Brazelton, T. B. (1999, June 1). Toilet training methods, clinical interventions, and recommendations. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/103/Supplement_3/1359.