Toilet Learning

August 30, 2020

Sometime between two and three years old, children begin to show interest in using the toilet. The ability to be potty trained, or use the toilet, depends on several developmental skills. For example, children need the physical development required for bladder control. They also need the fine-motor skills necessary for undressing and dressing to use the toilet and the cognitive skills that link the act of elimination with feelings of wetness or discomfort. They must have the verbal skills to alert you to their need to be changed or to use the toilet.

Rushing to accomplish toilet learning before a child is developmentally ready seldom results in a good experience for you or the child. Working cooperatively with your child’s teacher to recognize the signs of readiness is the best approach. Here are the typical signs of readiness:

  • The child stays dry for long periods of time
  • The child alerts you when he or she is wet or soiled
  • The child expresses or demonstrates interest in using the toilet
  • The child is able to take clothes off and put them on before and after a diaper changing

Once you and your child’s teacher have agreed to begin toilet learning, expect both progress and setbacks. You will need to be consistent and patient. The following best practices will help you in toilet learning:

  • Supply several sets of extra clothes in case of accidents
  • Dress your child in easy to remove clothing
  • Ask your child to regularly use the toilet. Reminders every two hours or sooner is a good idea
  • Watch for signs that the child may need to use the toilet, such as wiggling, nervousness, and so on. When you see these signs, gently direct your child to the bathroom
  • Expect accidents and setback as a normal part of the learning process. Never shame, humiliate, punish, or tease a child for a toileting lapse
  • Acknowledge successes and encourage the child along the way

Don’t fret! Accidents happen, especially with busy toddler and preschool children who are engaged in learning experiences and play.

Happy toilet learning to you and your child.

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