Tips for Toilet Learning
Toilet Learning is a Partnership:
As a child begins to express curiosity and interest in using the toilet independently, some questions may arise as to what the process will look like. Since children develop at their own pace, not all children are ready to initiate toileting at the same time, and the process will vary from child to child. Toilet learning requires that your child develop physical skills, as well as cognitive and emotional abilities, in order for the process to be truly successful. Instead of using age as a readiness indicator, look for other signs that your child may be ready to start heading for the toilet. We look forward to partnering with you in creating a plan to support your child when they are ready to master this exciting milestone.
Indictors of Toileting Readiness:
- Your child is able to express the need to go (i.e., they have a name for urine and bowel movements)
- Your child is able to understand and follow simple instructions
- Your child is able to control the muscles responsible for elimination
- Your child is able to remain dry for two hours at a time
- Your child is showing an increased sensitivity and discomfort to wearing a wet or soiled diaper
- Your child is asking to use the toilet and/or wear underpants
There are some stressful or difficult times when you may want to put off toilet learning such as when traveling, around the birth of a sibling, changing from a crib to a bed, moving to a new house, or when your child is sick. It may be better to postpone it until your child’s environment is more stable and secure.
After speaking with your child’s teacher(s) to create a toileting plan, set your child up for success by setting aside some time to devote to the process. Like every new skill a child tries to master, this one takes time. It is important for parents to stay positive and be consistent. Below are some tips to help you.
Tips For Supporting Toilet Learning:
- Start on a long weekend or break when you can stay at home and focus on toileting with your child
- Build in frequent bathroom breaks throughout the day
- Reinforce your child’s efforts with praise and celebrate their successes
- Use positive reinforcement systems to provide consistency (i.e., stickers, timers, and other rewards)
- Above all, be patient! With plenty of time and encouragement, your little one will soon be saying goodbye to diapers forever
Toilet Learning Clothes:
Since children who are learning to be independent with toileting may have occasional accidents, please follow these clothing recommendations.
- Dress your child in an elastic band/loose fitting clothing so it is easy for them to dress and undress themselves
- Avoid restrictive clothing such as onesies
- Send in multiple sets of seasonally appropriate clothing including extra underwear, socks and shoes
- Have back-up diapers, pull-ups and wipes, especially if your child will require one during nap or rest time
If your child is having consistent accidents at home and/or at school, it is important to address this with your child’s teacher(s) to discuss an alternative plan for moving forward.
Try to avoid:
- Reacting harshly if your child has an accident
- Engaging in a power struggle or forcing your child to use the toilet
- Ignoring wet or soiled diapers or clothes
Books for Children:
- Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel
- My Big Girl Potty & My Big Boy Potty by Joanna Cole
- Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi
- I Have to Go by Sesame Street
- Potty Time by Jonathan Langley & Anne Civardi
Books for Parents:
- Stress Free Potty Training by Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha
- Good Going! Successful Potty Training for Children in Childcare by Gretchen Kinnell for the Child Care Council of Onondaga County Inc.