Parent Tip: Toilet Training

Toilet training is a major undertaking when you have a toddler on your hands. The first thing to know and remember is that there is no set age for when a child is ready to be trained or a deadline by which a child should be trained. Most children are not ready for this feat until they are 18-24months old, with girls being developmentally ready 2-2.5 months before boys. It is important to begin preparing your child from an early age by making them familiar with the bathroom and the function of a toilet and the routine of washing ones hands after using a bathroom. Parents should also make a child familiar with how the body works in relation to toileting and the sensations they may feel and what that may mean. Bowel training is often achieved before bladder training because it is a more regular function. There are 3 major things too look for in order to assess toilet training readiness:

  • Physical readiness
    • by 22-30 months most toddlers are voluntarily able to control their anal and urethral sphincters
    • Able to wake up dry from a nap and/or remain dry for 2 or more hours
    • Ability to sit, walk and remove clothing independently
  • Mental readiness
    • Ability to identify the feelings and sensation of having to use the toilet and the communication skills required to inform a parent of such feelings and urges
    • Ability to copy behaviors and listen to instructions
  • Psychological readiness
    • Ability to remain seated on a toilet for 5-8 minutes (do not leave child on a toilet for more than 8 minutes and remain with child the entire time)
    • Curiosity about parent or older siblings ability to use a toilet
    • Desire to be changed when diaper is soiled

When you see the readiness signs in your child, it is time to start training! Remember to practice with positive reinforcement and provide your child with praise for good behavior and successful use of the toilet. Dressing your child in clothing that they can easily remove, or using “pull-up” diapers will help with the training process. It is also important to frequently remind your child about going to washroom as children can easily get distracted by play. Regression is common when it comes to toilet training so do no view it as a failure rather a minor setback that will require a little extra encouragement to overcome! Be patient as this process can take time. Good luck!

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