Toilet training your child can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be!
Like any skill, toilet training is rarely something that a child will master immediately or all in one sitting (so to speak!). Children will usually master using the toilet for weeing before they conquer pooing in the toilet. And it’s not uncommon for a child to still want a nappy for poos even when they’re successfully using the toilet to complete wees.
Below we’ve outlined some tips for making your child’s toilet training journey a smoother one.
Before Toilet Training Even Begins:
Before a child can begin toilet training, they need to develop the following skills:
- Sense the urge to wee or poo – the child must be able to identify that their body needs to go to the toilet! How can we tell if our child is sensing their urges? Well, they may display the following signs: grabbing at their pants, moving or wiggling around, or simply verbally telling us they need to wee/poo. We can help our kids develop their awareness of ‘the urge’ by saying things such as ‘is your bottom feeling full?’ or ‘I can see that you’re grabbing at your pants, do you feel like you might need to do a wee/poo?’.
- Get to the toilet and pull pants down – the child needs to physically be able to get on and off the toilet, and remove their pants and underwear. We can help develop these skills in our children by teaching them how to dress and undress themselves (including tricky parts such as zippers or buttons), and by teaching them how to safely climb up and down from the toilet seat.
- Relax their pelvic floor muscles in order to release the wee or poo – the child needs to know how to relax their pelvic floor muscles, so that they can release wee and poo. To help your child achieve this: Talk about how our muscles feel when they are ‘stiff’ verses when they are ‘floppy’. This will help familiarise the child with the idea of muscles being either relaxed or tense. It’s also really important to make the whole experience of toilet training a calm and relaxed one for your child. If your little one is feeling stressed or pressured, their muscles are going to be tense and they may have a difficult time relaxing the pelvic muscles in order to release their wee or poo. Once a child has developed the above skills, they may be ready for the next steps of toilet training.
Tips for Toilet Training:
- Try a toileting schedule while training – instead of having your child sip away at drinks throughout the day, you can encourage them to have larger drinks at intervals during the day (without restricting their overall water intake). Around 20 to 30 minutes after a larger drink, take the child to the toilet. During this time, have them sit on the toilet for about 10 minutes while doing an activity they enjoy such as (dare I say it) and ipad or playing with their favourite toy while encouraging them to go wee or poo. This helps to familiarise the child with the idea of using the toilet to wee and poo.
- Reward your child for successfully using the toilet immediately after the success. This could be with a sticker chart, a game, dancing or singing – as long as it’s something that is engaging and motivating for the child.
- Keep the atmosphere relaxed – we want our little people to feel at ease so that they are able to relax those pelvic floor muscles.
Other Useful Tips:
- It’s not ideal to toilet train a child using a potty – eventually you”ll need to re-train them to move from the potty to the toilet anyway! If the toilet is too large for your child to safely use, you could try using a foot stool or a child’s toilet training seat (or both) to make your toilet more accessible for your child.
- Try to have your child wear underwear (instead of nappies) while toilet training. Nappies wick away moisture so quickly, that the child often isn’t able to identify when they’ve done a wee because they don’t feel the ‘wetness’. To save your sanity, this technique can be implemented just at home at first, and then branching out to undies in public places once the child develops greater control over their weeing and pooing.
- Remember that toilet training takes time, so don’t be discouraged if your child doesn’t master the skill straight away!