How to help your child with toilet training

How to help your child with toilet training

Independent toileting can be an exciting developmental step in your child’s life. There are a number of different toilet training methods out there to choose from, although in reality the main priorities are to remain positive and consistent when toilet training your child. If you think both you and your child are ready to start toilet training, the following tips may help get your child started with toilet training;

Ensure readiness for toilet training

Keep an eye out for signs that your child is physically and emotionally ready to start toilet training.

  • Does your child have bladder and bowel control, with dry nappies for up to two hours?
  • Are they able to let you know if they need to go to the toilet?  
  • Are they able to pull their underwear up or down independently?

Many children will show signs that that they are ready to start toilet training around the age of two years old. Some may show signs at a younger age, some children may be older.

It is all ok, and what is most important is working with your child’s cues and try not to compare your child’s development to that of other children.

    Try to keep the stress to a minimum

    There can be a lot of expectations that we create around toilet training our child.

    All we really want is for our child to take it in their stride, move from nappies to underwear smoothly, and not make too much mess in the process!

    It’s important to remember that the toilet training process can take days, weeks or months, depending on the child. Stay patient and keep encouraging your child as they reach this new milestone of independence.

    An idea to help toilet training be something to look forward to is for your child to choose some new underwear in the design of their favourite colour, superhero or TV character.

    Even more important than a new pair of Bluey jocks though, is your unconditional love and acceptance throughout the toilet training process, and your assurance that no matter what comes up, you will get through toilet training together.

    Be consistent

    Plan to start toilet training with your child at a time when there are no major changes or big events happening in your household.

    Too much going on can set you both up to fail.

    You can buy a potty that can be taken wherever you go or a small toilet seat that can be placed on a standard toilet seat as needed.

    Get started with a consistent routine of your child going to the potty or toilet, even if nothing happens straight away. Your child knowing what to expect when they too are learning how to manage going to the toilet independently will help them to feel more secure and confident. Consistently encouraging your child’s engagement and not making a fuss of accidents is also helpful.

    Keep in mind the importance of interoception

    Interoception is one of our senses, often referred to as the ‘hidden’ sense, as it is not as obvious a sense as taste or sound, for example.

    Interoception can be referred to as the internal talk of our body, and includes the ability to recognise things like thirst, hunger and you guessed it, needing to go to the toilet.

    It’s often only once all of the other senses (smell, sound, taste, sight, touch) are regulated, that a child is able to listen to what their internal signals are telling the brain.

    This can sometimes mean that by the time their brain gets a signal that the bowel or bladder is full, it’s too late and an accident happens. Your child’s sense of interoception may be a factor in their toilet training experience.

    Qi Gong Massage

    Sometimes there can be invisible barriers to a child’s readiness to transition to independent toileting.

    For Autistic children, children with ADHD and other Neurodivergence, including sensory processing challenges, the initiation of and time taken to toilet train your child may end up looking different or starting much later than when you had hoped.

    A possibly helpful, albeit left field strategy that anecdotally has shown to help support children with toilet training readiness is to spend a few minutes every night going through the 12 movements that make up a Qi Gong Massage for children.

    A quick internet search will give you some more information on what this is and demonstrations of this gentle, safe and effective option.

    PMID: 21825046

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