Parents often wonder about when to toilet train their child, whether they should seek advice from a professional and what they can do in the meantime to assist their toddlers.
Debbie Evans, founder and clinical director of Sydney’s children’s therapy service, Therapies for Kids, shares her top 10 tips to assist your child with toilet training.
1. Support your child
Dress your child in pants that are easy for them to put on and pull off. It is more beneficial if you dress your children in bigger sized clothing as this makes it easier for them to take it off. There can be two transitions to work through. The first is to the potty and then from the potty to the toilet. The ideal age to start potty training is when the child is 2-3 years old. Continue to encourage your child through all phases of the process, even if there is a timing failure at first.
2. Empower your child to communicate with you
Ask your child every now and then – “do you need to go?” Encourage them to tell you or another adult when they feel the urge to go. It is also useful to stimulate discussions and ask them to communicate when they need to do a number one or number two.
3. Praise your child for every progress, no matter how small
It doesn’t matter how small or big the achievement is, or even if the toddler doesn’t complete the entire routine successfully – praise them for the part that they were able to do. Rewarding your child reinforces positive support. This can be in the form of reward charts, verbal praise or stickers. As the toddler achieves each stage, reduce the amount of praise.
4. Verbalise and gesture to your child
Show and help your child practise pulling their pants down and up when toilet training. Additionally, explain to them the process of washing and wiping hands and what they need to do. By verbalising and gesturing to your child what toilet training includes, this helps them visualise and understand the process.
5. Pictures always help
Use visuals to assist when explaining toilet training to your toddler. Pictures may make it easier for kids to understand the process of going to the toilet and the order of actions they need to follow during the routine.
6. Role play going to the toilet
Use dolls, teddy bears or other soft toys with your child to demonstrate the toilet training experience. This way they know that everyone goes to the toilet.
7. Timing is everything
During warmer weather, giving your child an increase in fluid or water intake can help. By providing them with a large drink of water more than 40 minutes before they visit the toilet can assist the process. Make sure you have enough time to devote to your child during toilet training. Stay with them to read a book or chat until they wee and then praise them for going to the toilet.
8. The potty
Start gradually moving the potty closer to the toilet. Make the transition easier by getting your toddler to practise sitting on the ‘big potty’. You will need to buy a step and a smaller seat that fits securely inside the existing toilet seat.
9. For kids with gross motor difficulties
Have steps over the toilet or a low toilet (if possible) or a rail for kids to hold onto. Extra steps can be useful for children who can’t walk.
10. Lifting your toddler/non-mobile child
If you need to lift your toddler or non-mobile child, bend your knees and slowly stand up, so you don’t twist your back. Help your child to do as much as possible. If they can hold a rail or assist with standing, ensure there is enough time for them to plan their movement so you don’t risk injuring yourself.