Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Toilet training tots...

This is an issue that all parents face in the early years, and it is often just as daunting for us as it is for the little one we are teaching.

My 2yr old has been showing signs of wanting to be trained for a couple of months now, telling me everytime she had a wet or dirty nappy and wanting them changed right away. As we were in the midst of selling our house and then had to 'camp' at a motel while we waited for the new house to settle I had put it off till now.

My third baby is due in 3.5wks and so now is as good a time as any!

There is no perfect system which works for every child - but I have found a few things which seemed to work for my eldest, along with other tips from friends I have picked up along the way.
Sharing tips and stories is what helps us all learn from each other (even if it is sharing the mistakes too).

My youngest (soon to be middle) child has taken to the whole process, and has had less 'accidents' with each day that passes which is exactly what we are aiming for.
The main thing I have to work on is what she says when she needs the toilet - at the moment she yells at the top of her lungs..."mummy, done poo!" when she actually means "mummy, I need to go wee". Now that I know that she just has the lingo wrong it is less of an issue, and she is slowly changing to "mummy, toilet, toilet, toilet" which I much prefer (just the volume to work on next). My heart did skip a beat the first time she shouted out "mummy done poo in my room", when she really meant "I wet my pants on the way to the toilet". I was soooo thankful it was a communication error!

Anyway - here are a few tips to help with the early stages....
  • be relaxed about it - accidents happen, and it will only make things worse if your little one is worried about upsetting you as well as thinking about getting to the toilet.
  • set aside a few days where you can stay home, & if you have to go out start by doing really short outings where you know there are toilets near by.
  • start out by prompting your little one every half hour to 'try to go to the toilet', then extending to an hour etc until they learn to think about it themselves.
  • set up routines of going to the toilet before outings, before sitting at the table for meals etc.
  • When you do go out for longer periods, make sure you know where the toilets are, and ask your little one if they need to go before you move to far from them. This is not forever, but just while they are learning bladder control.
  • Some kids like to read while they are on the toilet, if yours is one of these (as my eldest was in the beginning) then have a little basket of books there for them. Others like to 'role play' with their favourite toy - setting up a 'potty' for teddy to use each time they go can be a helpful tool. Whatever helps them feel comfortable is worth a try.
  • incentives - these can be a treat like a sticker each time they go, or something to aim for, like a toy or trip to the park if they have no accidents all day etc.
  • picking the 'big kid pants' - I have found that my girls were a lot more worried about wetting their character printed pants than the plain ones, so I limited them to one pair with their favourite character each day, once they were wet then it was time for the plain ones. You can get cheap printed pants at little Asian stores in NZ, and otherwise pick up some inkjet printer t-shirt transfer, and create your own.
  • Most importantly - praise them everytime they get it right - kids generally thrive when they can see they are doing something right and are being recognised for it.

There are many others I'm sure - but these have stood me and my girls in good stead. We would love to hear your stories and tips too - so feel free to add comments ;0)


  1. My 2nd daughter was scared of the toilet & no coaxing (aka bribery) would get her on it. Once I'd succumbed to the thought that I would have a daughter in nappies forever more she surprised the norah out of me by taking herself there one day. Tip = don't push it too much. Encourage them a little bit every now & then but let it rest for a week or so & try again.

  2. My kids were both different. Neither ever decided they were interested, so they seemed to be in nappies forever. I ended up taking the eldest to the toy shop, he chose a special train and we put it up on the shelf where he could see it. He knew he could have it when he was using the big toilet, and he got to decide when he was ready for it. A couple of weeks after he got it, he got lazy and started having 'accidents', so he lost the train. It only took two days to earn it back, and it's been clear sailing ever since.

    No long-term incentive was ever going to attract my second son, though. He needed instantaneous rewards in the form of chocolate! Not sure what that will do to his psyche about chocolate, but he's still a chocaholic...


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