Toilet training is a big step for toddlers, and it can take a lot of time and patience before they’re ready to ditch the diaper. We’ve compiled some strategies to try out if you need to help nudge your toddler toward successful toilet training.
Toilet training is very different for every child, and there are many methods caregivers can use. Some children begin using the toilet on their own as young as 2 years old, while others might be around 3 years old before they’re consistently using the toilet. And that’s completely OK! For information about getting started with potty training, visit our previous article.
Some children experience anxiety about toilet training, and it’s easy to understand why. Using the toilet is completely new to them, and the unknown can be scary. As caregivers, we can help reduce their fears and anxieties by staying calm and not adding more pressure. The ideas listed below are designed to help your child feel more comfortable in the bathroom and on the toilet so that, eventually, they’re willing to go when they need to. As your child’s caregiver, you know what’s best for them, so keep what works and discard what doesn’t.
The timer game: This can be a fun way to check in with your child about their bathroom needs. Set a timer for a short amount of time, like 15 or 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, say, “Freeze!” and excitedly ask if it’s potty time. If they say no, reset the timer. If they say yes, do a little dance or sing a fun potty song while you take them to use the toilet. Over time, you can try setting the timer for a longer amount of time.
Have a potty pal: Your child’s potty pal can be a special toy or something they love playing with. Keep this toy in the bathroom so your child can look forward to seeing it whenever it’s potty time. It can also provide a source of comfort for your child, knowing their potty pal is there to greet them when they go to the bathroom.
Start a bathroom sticker collection: Stickers can be very motivating for children. Every time they successfully go to the bathroom, give them a fun new sticker. You can build in extra rewards too. For example, if they make it to 10 stickers, you’ll take them out for a scoop of ice cream. Motivating your child through rewards can help reduce some of the stress children can feel about going to the toilet.
Turn toilet time into story time: Spending some time on the toilet without the pressure to use it can help children get more comfortable with sitting on the potty. Reading a book together while on the toilet can help your child relax and create positive bathroom memories.