Toilet training can be a difficult and sometimes stressful process for both children and parents. It is important that parents/caregivers remain consistent and try to make the process as calm and enjoyable as possible.
Learning to use the toilet is a big milestone in a child’s development and it is important to remember that every child is different and will learn at their own pace.
We’ve had years of experience and learnt the best practices over this time. Our educators compiled their top tips into this blog post and explained the key signs of readiness to look out for. Please remember that the Care for Kindies educators and directors are here to assist you during this important development process so reach out at any time!
When is your child ready for toilet training?
First and foremost, make sure your child is ready. Starting too early can be stressful for children and parents. All children are different, but most start toilet training between the ages of 2 and 3.5.
There are four signifiers that most children display when they are ready to start toilet training.
- Showing an interest in the toilet by watching you (or older siblings) go to the toilet or asking questions about the bathroom.
- Being vocal and telling you they have something in their nappy.
- Telling you as they go. A lot of us are familiar with a situation where your child is about to get into the bath and they notice that they are doing a wee on the floor (yes, we all know that this happens!). Most children have a surprised look on their face and look down towards their nappy when they are aware they are weeing.
- They start to tell you or you notice signs BEFORE they go. This may be that they go to a corner of the room or hide to do a poo in their nappy. It may also include telling you they are going to wee about 3 seconds before they do it!
If you sense these four signifiers it means that your child is ready to start training. Most children can be trained in 2-3 days if they start when they are ready (with the occasional accident of course).
Don’t feel pressured to start training because people around you are asking or are training their children. In most cases, children can take months to toilet train if they are not ready. Your child might start later, but they will take a shorter amount of time to train in the long run…which means less washing for you!
How should you approach toilet training?
Be prepared. Reading up on toilet training, talking to others and sharing your own experiences all adds up.
Have sufficient time. Toilet training can be a lengthy and time consuming process for some families so make sure you dedicate the appropriate amount of time to help your child through this process. Plan to start toilet training on a day when you have no plans to leave the house.
Be calm. As with any new stage of development, there is a lot of learning involved with toilet training. Try to remain as calm as possible so that your child is able to feel supported and at ease. If you are nervous and stressed by the situation, children usually pick up on this too and it becomes a negative experience for them and makes the learning much more difficult.
Be consistent. Take your child to the toilet regularly throughout the day/night so that they recognise a pattern forming.
Help your child when they need it. Making sure your child knows you are there to support them during the toilet training journey is very important. You can begin by asking your child if at different stages throughout the day if they need to go to the toilet or not.
Provide loose easy to remove clothing. Loose clothing will make the process a lot easier while your child is at home or at childcare. It is also a good idea to pack a spare change of underpants and clothes for your child when you are out or when they are at childcare. Plastic bags for wet or soiled clothes can also be a saviour too!
Plan simple activities. Activities will to help keep the children calm and engaged when using the potty/toilet. Simple activities such as reading stories can be really useful. We find that reserving certain books as “potty books” can encourage the children to look forward to their potty training. Simple puzzles and story books are other easy activities to keep close by to the potty/toilet.
Do not punish your child if they have accidents. There are bound to be a few mistakes and accidents during the toilet training process. Remember that children don’t usually have accidents on purpose, so cleaning up and not making a fuss of the accident is a good idea.
Positive reinforcement is key. Praise your child when they successfully use the toilet/potty . Praise and encouragement is very important even if your child only makes a small effort to try to use the toilet/potty too. Encouragement via phrases such as “wow great job” and “good try” can be used to help keep them motivated. Praising your child (even when progress is slow) allows your child to know they are doing a good job. You can gradually reduce the amount of praise as your child begins to master the toilet training process.
Reinforce the importance of hygiene. Assist your child to wipe their bottom while they are still learning. It is very important to emphasise they wipe from the front to the back. Teach your child how to wash their hands after using the toilet. This is usually a fun activity that your child enjoys as part of the toilet training routine.