Toilet Training

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Toilet Training

No matter how much we love doing things for our little ones, nappy (diaper) changing is generally not a chore enjoyed by many. As they get older and their diet becomes more extensive changing a dirty nappy can be a rather unpleasant experience. We can therefore be quite motivated to help our child use the toilet independently. Equally, if we need to use a child minder or nursery, some are only available for toilet trained children. Unfortunately, these pressures to get our children toilet trained early can lead to often premature attempts, frustration at setbacks and can cause poor self-esteem and anxiety in the child. To avoid these problems it is important to follow some basic rules:


The child needs to be ready. They need to be aware of when they use their nappies (diapers) and able to communicate this through simple spoken or visual language. Encouraging your child to be helpful in telling you when they have a dirty nappy will make it easier when introducing a potty. Always be positive. Another good indication that your child may be ready is when your child expresses upset when having a wet or dirty nappy.


Encourage just sitting on the potty (or trainer toilet seat if more appropriate). Try reading a story or playing a game so that it is a relaxed stress-free experience to sit on it.


Your child is more likely to be more aware of needing to excrete faeces rather than urine. Thus they are often more able to develop control over when they 'poo' than 'wee'. Is there a pattern to their bowel movement like being triggered by a meal? Are they any visual signs that your child is excreting into their nappy? You may be able to work out the best time to sit your child on the potty or toilet.


Create a timetable for going to the loo. Encourage your child to sit on the potty/toilet at these times for a few minutes. Again try to combine it with a fun activity. Don't worry if they don't go. Just try again later.


Taking off the nappy (diaper). Once your child has begun using the potty; whether presented with it on request or as per timetable; they may be ready to try nappy free times. Letting children run around bare bottomed on a warm dry day is ideal, especially if they can get outside in the garden or on an uncarpeted floor. 'Chasing' your child around with a potty is often necessary so that you always have it to hand. However, it is also useful for children to experience the unpleasant feeling of wetting themselves to help them become more aware of the sensations that lead to needing to empty a bladder. Getting the balance right is crucial. Feeling uncomfortable can be useful in motivating the child to engage in the toilet training process. But it is always more important to avoid the child becoming too distressed or anxious over it.


Expect accidents, especially, when children are very busy with other activities. It takes time to learn that you just can't 'wee' when you need to but must go and tell someone or find the potty. Always be understanding and make the minimum fuss about it. You don't want to give your child any positive or negative attention concerning the accident. Using statements like "OK, let's get you clean." or "Not to worry, accidents happen." keeps the event emotionally neutral. Parents who shout and express anger are much more likely to have children that persist with difficulties.


Focus only on the day time. Control over night time urination takes a very long time with many children still bed-wetting after starting school. Bed wetting beyond the age of about 8 years old is known as nocturnal enuresis and should be discussed with your family doctor. For most children night time dryness tends to just happen without any need for specific strategies. Parents tend to just notice that increasingly the night time nappy is dry. Once they are consistently dry it is safe to go without a nappy. Most children tend to have the occasional accident but good bedtime routine usually helps to reduce this. Like with day time wetting any accidents in the night should be dealt with the minimum fuss.

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Useful Resources:

I can use the toilet

I can use the toilet

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Toilet Reward Chart

Daily Toilet Reward Chart

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You may also be interested in the following pages:

Bedtime Resources

Reward Systems at home

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