Toilet training is an important milestone, but can be a challenge for any child, teen or adult. Every person is unique, but noticing signs that your loved one is ready and/or willing is helpful. There is no guaranteed method of success, but tips from various programs will assist in your toileting journey.
Some children and adults need extra support when learning a new skill, such as toilet training. For some, separating the skill into steps can make the process more relatable. Visual sequencing allows your loved one to view the steps of ‘using the restroom’ in order.
It's Potty Time! by Jennifer Seiler, MS
On the surface it seems so easy since this is a task everyone does throughout the day, every day; right? Not always, and especially not if your child learns in more non-traditional ways. Many families struggle with teaching their child to use the bathroom, and it can keep children and families from being able to participate in activities and programs that require children to be potty trained. However, there are some things you can do that will help make this experience a little more pleasant for everyone.
Here are some steps for success:
- Make going to the bathroom part of the daily routine for your child… Just like it is for you.
- Do your best to make the bathroom experience calm and pleasant. Some children will be more comfortable initially sitting on the toilet in a diaper/pull-up/underwear or first sitting with the lid down on the seat and then gradually being introduced to sitting regularly. Toilet inserts are also great for younger/smaller children so they are comfortable on the seat. Small footstools are helpful with providing additional support for children whose feet do not touch the floor.
- Allow your child to see other’s success. Preferably a family member, but dolls, stuffed animals, and action figures are good too if that is your child’s interest. Praise all successes and attempts by your child to sit on the toilet, as well as the successes of others.
- Try not to get upset when there is not success or when there are accidents. Speak in a calm, matter of fact tone to your child explaining that pee/poop goes in the toilet or potty and that they have to keep their underwear clean and dry, and have them help with clean up.
- Read books/watch short videos/DVDs with your child about going to the bathroom. It is great to watch or read together and then take a trip to the bathroom to try for success. You can also read books in the bathroom together while your child sits on the toilet.
- Pay attention to your child’s signs that they are ready for toilet training... Such as showing discomfort when wet/soiled. “Hiding” to have bowel movements is another sign of awareness. Taking off their diaper/pull-up independently and/or being able to take off some items of clothing are even more signs of readiness.
- Being able to hold their urine for longer periods of time, as well as having routine bowel movements contributes to success with toilet training. While not all signs need be present, it will make for better outcomes if some of the signs are there.
- Try different ways of communicating. Many children with non-traditional learning styles or modes of communication benefit from the use of visuals to explain what has to be done as part of the toileting routine. These can include pictures and words explaining the steps of the process.
- Reinforcement never hurts! We all do things better and more often when we are motivated to do them. Identify something that your child really enjoys and provide it to them along with your verbal praise and encouragement each time they successfully use the toilet. Over time they will not need the item anymore and just your praise and their pride in their accomplishment will be sufficient.
- Through all of this, remember that every child is different and your child will develop the skills when they are ready. Some children will need more assistance and guidance than others as is true with many skills. If you are patient and diligent you can help your child make progress. You can do it!