Toilet Training 101

Toilet Training 101

Now that everyone is home and not going out to much due to COVID-19 maybe now is a good time to start toilet training with your child.

In my opinion summer is the best time of year to try toilet training, but only if your child is ready for it.

During my career I have done my fair share of toilet training so here are some guidelines or tips for you, when you and your child are ready to master this developmental milestone.

Many parents ask where do I start with this whole process. How do I tell if my child is ready? Hopefully this will help make theses decisions a bit easier and easy your worries.

How do I start this whole process? How old should my child be? What do I need to help my child be successful in toilet learning?

Watch for signs of readiness:

Your child is showing an interest in the toilet and will sit for 2 or 3 minutes and that they can let you know that they have to go. Maybe they are using their words or they are doing the bladder boogie.

They stay dry for a few hours 2 to 3 hours –this shows us that they are starting to have some control of their bladder.

Your child notices that their diaper is wet or that they have had a bowl movement (we called this BMs) and want to be changed

They can pull their clothing up and down- and show an interest in wearing big kid undies.

They are showing an interest in others using the washroom

Telling you that they’re about to go, are going or have just gone in their diaper.

They may even pull their diapers – not really like being wet or poopy.

How old should your child be?

Every child is different and we should respect that; watch for the above signs and then make that decision. Some children will start at 18 months and some not until age 3 or older. An average age is 2. Remember that in order to be successful with toilet training it is based on your child’s own readiness skills, their comfort level.

What do I need to help my child with toilet training?

A sense of humor and a buck load of patience! And stock up on laundry soap. Once you are prepared to tackle this endeavor, here are a few things you might help you out.

If you are thinking of toilet training you might have noticed that your child has certain patterns, maybe your child has a BM every morning at ten, and you have noticed this because just before you find them hiding in the corner. Sometimes they are waking up dry from their naps. Or you notice them wiggling –this is what I call the bladder boogie.

Read some books to your child about toilet training there are lots of children’s books out  there. I will post some at the end of this blog. When you are reading these stories talk about what the characters are doing and how similar it is to what your child is doing. Sometimes giving you child their favourite book in the bathroom can be a handy way to get them to stay for a bit longer.

Watch your wording – when you are talking to your child about going to the washroom don’t ask do you have to go? Nine times out of ten the answer to that would be NO! Try to say it’s time to go to the washroom or let’s go to the washroom. Sometimes I suggest setting an alarm on your phone when you are first starting out just as a reminder to everyone. If your child is not wanting to go right away you could use “First” you go to the washroom “Then“ you can finish playing.

Choose your seat

You will need to decide with your child are they going to use a potty seat (toilet ring style) or the regular toilet, or a child size potty.  In my experience it is best to try a few and see what your child is comfortable with. If you are using a regular toilet with a ring seat try to provide a stool for your child to rest there feet on. Your child will feel more secure with their feet flat on that stool. I prefer to use the ring seat as it will travel with you easily and as your child gets older transitioning to a regular toilet is not that hard. When you have decided on the seat of choice explain how to use it.

Bathroom words

When you are toilet training your little one make sure everyone is using the same language. If your child says BM make sure that everyone who cares for your child knows they need to poop. If you use the bathroom words that you want your child will learn to use them too. Remember that in the beginning of this journey your child might not have the words they need to express what is happening and you may have to watch their body language for signs they need to go. 

Dress for success– one of the reasons I like summer time for toilet training is because you could let your little one outside in the back yard with just their undies on , or some simple easy up and down shorts. If they have an accident it’s OK because:

  1. Its outside so not as much mess to clean up
  2. Not a lot of laundry.

Dressing your child in easy to manage clothing will set them up for success choose loose fitted clothing with elastic waist bands  try to stay away from overalls or things with buttons and snaps.

Purchase some training pants or underwear for toilet training – some of these underwear are thicker and help to absorb the accidents when they happen. If you are out give your child gentle reminders and watch their body language to help them be successful. Show your child where the washroom is when you arrive. When they are playing reassure them that they can come back to what they were playing with after they go to the washroom. One of the things that I find hard is when a child is starting to toilet train and they come to the centre to play but have an accident – then they have to leave because we don’t have extra clothes for them. They are so sad when this happens.

Using pull ups and diapers

When you start to toilet train your child it is confusing to them if they are bouncing back and forth between diapers and pull ups. I find it best to use training pants or underwear during the day and a diaper and pull up for night time. When your child shows an interest in toilet training have them go with you to the store and pick out their own underwear. Don’t worry about night time toilet mastery that usually comes later. After you have day time success.

Teaching bathroom responsibilities and routines

Wiping, washing, flushing and turning out the light are all part of the bathroom routine. Remember that your child is learning and they will need to be shown how to do all of these things with time and practice it will become routine for them.

How long will this process take?

Don’t expect overnight success it takes time and practice. Always praise your child for any success that they have and never punish them.  When your child has an accident reassure them its ok, don’t make a big deal about it. Even If you were just in the washroom, it’s a learning curve.  If you celebrate their success that is in your child’s best interest and leads to a strong sense of self and well-being.

Be consistent

Being consistent is key when you take on this toilet learning adventure. Lots of patience and understanding are needed. Remember that some children will catch on quick and others may take some time. Accidents will happen! So when they do take your child into the washroom and help them clean up. Remain calm and relaxed, it will get better with time. Your child needs you to help them through this learning process.

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Children’s Books

P is for Potty- a 123 Sesame Street book by Lena Cooper

Potty time Songs 123 Sesame Street book illustrated by Bob Berry , Warner McGee

Don’t forget to Flush is a Golden Book by Melissa Lagonegro

Have you seen my potty? Mary McQuillan

No More Diapers for Ducky! By Bernette Ford and Sam Williams

Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

The New Potty by Gina and Mercer Mayer