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Toilet Training Tips

Toilet training can be frustrating, for both you and your child. However, there are steps you can take to make it easier on your whole family (and perhaps even reduce the number of accidents).

Be consistent in your approach. As with many kinds of learning, it is easier for your child to learn what to expect, particularly if they are encouraged to do things the same way time after time.

If you are comfortable with the idea, show your child how to use a toilet yourself. Sit on the toilet, show them how to use it correctly and demonstrate what toilet paper is used for; talk to them throughout so that they understand what you are doing. For boys, it is usually better to teach them to sit whilst urinating initially; this makes it easier for them when it comes to bowel movements and reduces the likelihood of mess caused by an inaccurate aim.

Read books featuring positive toilet training experiences. Look for books that show children learning how to use the toilet to demystify the whole process.

Be positive and use lots of praise; think clapping, cheering and jumping around the room, every time the potty or toilet are used successfully. Toilet training is a skill that takes practice, but your toddler will be motivated by your enthusiasm and encouragement. Most children dislike the term “baby” and like being referred to as a “big boy” or a “big girl”, if they associate using the toilet with being more grown up, they will be more keen to make the switch from nappies. Children respond to praise and want to succeed. Try to ensure you celebrate successes, rather than highlighting accidents. Remember, an accident is just that, a non-deliberate act. Learning any new skill takes practice and accidents will happen, but by focusing on the positives rather than the negatives, you will make the experience a lot less stressful for your toddler. Using small rewards, such as a healthy treat or a sticker may be all the encouragement a child needs to switch from nappy to the potty or toilet. Sticker charts work well as the child can take an active involvement in selecting and placing their stickers each time they are successful.

Teach cues. Your child might have bowel movements at the same time every day or after eating. Encourage your child to recognise the feeling of a full bladder or impending bowel movement, and then ask, “Is it potty time?” Visiting the bathroom regularly throughout the day can help your child associate the cues for needing the toilet, with the act of using it. Bear in mind that, even if your child says no when you ask if they need to use the toilet, that does not mean they definitely do not need it. It can be difficult for very young children to articulate what they are thinking or feeling, so it may be worth trying them on the potty, or the toilet anyway. If they do then use it, you can celebrate with them and highlight their success, so they are more inclined to remember that positivity and strive for a similar response the next time.

Avoid clothes that your child can’t get off without help. Children often have very little warning that they need to use the toilet and it can be very frustrating for them if they are hindered by what they are wearing. Complicated buttons and fastenings can be difficult for small hands to negotiate when placed in a time pressurised situation.

Nighttime dryness often occurs some time later than daytime dryness. It may be a good idea for your child to continue wearing a nappy or pull-up at night, whilst they are learning to use the potty or toilet during the day. You will know that your child is ready to lose their bedtime nappy when he or she is consistently dry in the morning. This can happen months, or even years, after successful day time training.

Remember, there is no rush to potty train and it is not a competition. If your toddler starts to react against toilet training, or does not make progress, step back and take a break. Sometimes a break of only a couple of weeks may be all your child needs to get back on track. Many parents dread potty training, but if you do it when your child is ready, ensuring that they are comfortable and secure, the process can be relatively painless!


  • “Toilet Training Guidelines: Parents—The Role of the Parents in Toilet Training.”

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