Toilet training can be a difficult process for both you and your child, but it is especially tiresome and draining on a parent when it’s done at the wrong time or age or the wrong way. So how do you know if your child is ready to be toilet trained? Some parents say its instinct, others swear by the child being a particular age and some parents just don’t know where to start!
f you have found a system that works, hats off to you! But for those parents that aren’t entirely sure, especially if it’s your first child, here are some tips that I have learnt over the years through both my career in child care and my experience with my own children that have helped me to advise parents on this issue and get through it myself!
First things first, is your child ready to be toilet trained? If your child can do or displays most of the following then they are probably at a stage where they are ready to be toilet trained.
Does your child:
- Stay dry for 2hrs or more?
- Have bowel movements generally at the same time of day?
- Understand and comprehend directions such as “come here” or “where is your nose?”
- Move from one room to another without help?
- Sit in a chair and play quietly by themselves for up to 5 minutes at a time?
- Show signs of independence and pride in learning new skills?
- Attempt and succeed in copying adult behaviors?
- Feed him or herself?
- Show an awareness of having just urinated or had a bowel movement by changing facial expression, making different sounds, crossing legs, becoming instantly quiet, displaying signs of irritability or squirming?
Other things that need to be considered also are medical issues that may impact the child’s ability to be toilet trained, such as:
- Having a virus or urinary tract infection that may cause persistent wetting.
- Having significant behavioral problems.
- Having neurological damage that could prevent bladder or bowel control.
- Taking medication that could have side effects on elimination.
While these are rare circumstances, they are just as important when discussing the topic of toilet training.
It’s one thing to ensure your child is ready to be toilet trained, but the process you adopt to toilet train your child is just as important. Why? Without a consistent and routine approach, it’s easy to create confusion in your child which only prolongs the process and makes it even harder for you.
Before you start to toilet train, talk about it with your child and explain to them what the toilet is for, when its used and the hygiene practices around using the toilet like wiping, flushing and hand washing. If it’s familiar for them, the process will be much easier to adopt.
When you finally begin to toilet train one of the most important things to implement is regular and routine toilet visits. Take your child to the toilet the same time each day to implement a toilet routine and to help train their bladder. Times that are best are in the morning when they wake, before and after meals, right before bed and particularly just before you leave the house and just prior to making your journey back home when you are out. If you are in the bathroom together with your child and they tell you that they “don’t have to go”, tell them to sit on the toilet and try. Most of the time they will end up going.
It’s better at the start to be visiting the toilet more frequently than normal, than not enough! This helps to avoid ‘accidents’ at the very beginning. Remember to always ask “do you need to go to the toilet?” It’s easy for children to forget so it’s important to keep reminding them as this also helps them to recognize the feeling of when they actually do need to go to the toilet.
When accidents happen, no matter how frustrating, it’s important not to reprimand them and make them feel bad about what they have done because they will probably already be either embarrassed or scared about what just happened. Instead, calm them down and remind them that, this is why they need to be more aware of their body and tell you when they need to go to the toilet, even if they are unsure it’s best to go then not to go.
Accidents will happen so don’t be disheartened by them, just keep to your routine and you will notice that over time they get fewer and then disappear altogether!
These are all the things that helped me toilet train my kids and are things that I advocate to parents, when and if they ask, at my child care centre.
I hope you at least get something from this that will help!