All aboard the porcelain or plastic (in your kid’s case) train! There is so much information available on toilet (AKA potty) training, and we want to provide a quick guide for when your kids are ready for that transition. Follow these tips and your child will be ready for restroom independence in no time.
First of all, is your child ready for toilet training?
Toilet training is most successful when your child shows signs of readiness- both developmentally and behaviorally. Every child is different, with some showing signs of readiness between the ages of 18 and 24 months and others showing signs of readiness at older ages. In the U.S., successful completion of toilet training frequently occurs at around age 3, with girls typically completing the process a few months before boys.
Problems in toilet training often come up because parents don’t wait until their child is ready. Successful toilet training requires help from patient, understanding adults, and a child who is ready for the transition.
Specific signs of toilet training readiness may include when your child:
Here are some ideas for getting your child started with toilet training:
- Can follow simple instructions.
- Understands words about going to the bathroom (pee, poop, potty, etc.).
- Knows what the toilet is for.
- Can "hold it" for a short period of time when needing to go.
- Can use words to express needing to go.
- Is willing to stop activities to go to the toilet.
- Shows interest in wearing a clean diaper or "big kid" underwear."
- Keeps a diaper dry for two hours or more.
- Can pull down training pants or underpants and clothes.
- Shows an interest in using the toilet.
- Talk about going to the toilet and use words to describe it.
- Talk about the body sensations your child may feel when needing to use or when using the toilet.
- Read books about going to the toilet.
- Let your child watch you (or another trusted adult or siblings) use the toilet and talk about it. Imitation is a very good way for children to learn. Dress your child in clothes that are easy to take off or pull down.
- Involve everyone in the family, and make sure all caregivers follow the same routine.
- Encourage your child to tell you when their diaper is wet or soiled. Empty soiled diapers into the toilet and tell your child, "This is where poop goes," and let your child flush the toilet. Or try to "catch your child in the act" and suggest sitting on the toilet or potty chair at these times.
- Go together to purchase a potty chair and "big kid" underpants. When using an adult toilet, consider putting a footrest in front of the toilet so that your child’s feet are supported when trying “to go”.
Lastly, here are some essential do’s and don’t when potty training your child:
- Start the process when your child shows readiness.
- Practice using the toilet or potty chair at times that you think will be successful. For example, if your child’s diaper is dry after a nap, ask your child to sit on the toilet potty chair and try to go. Other good times to ask your child to try may include a half hour after drinks or food or at the time of day your child typically has a dirty diaper.
- Encourage your child to try, even if nothing happens.
- Set routine times to try, and gently guide your child to use the toilet at these times.
- Show support by staying in the bathroom if your child wants you to.
- Teach healthy hygiene habits such as wiping from front to back and washing hands when done.
- Point out effort, successes, and progress with hugs, kisses, and praise!
- Force your child to sit on the toilet or potty chair.
- Punish or make your child feel bad when accidents occur.
- Nag or lecture about toileting. At this age, children are establishing independence so avoid creating battles over toileting.
- Be disappointed or angry during the toileting process. It takes time for children to learn how to relax the muscles that control the bowel and bladder. At first, your child may have a bowel movement or urinate right after being taken off the toilet. While this may be frustrating for adults, it’s important to continue to praise your child’s effort.
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