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Toilet Training

Children typically go through toilet or potty training between eighteen months and three years old. Here you’ll find helpful tips about when and how to get started with your child.

Toilet or potty training is a big step for you and your child. Learning how to go to the bathroom in a toilet is a huge developmental milestone that requires your help – and patience. Typically, children are ready to be toilet trained between eighteen months and three years old. However, every child is different and may need their own time to get the hang of things.

Toddler sitting on toilet

Before you begin the toilet training process, you want to look for these signs in your child’s behavior:

Interest in the bathroom. Your child shows an interest in what happens in the bathroom and may want to watch or imitate what he sees.

Recognition of their own body. Your child tells you when he is going to the bathroom or has to go to the bathroom. Your child is learning to control when she needs to go to the bathroom.

Dislike of diapers. Your child expresses to you that he does not like having a dirty diaper and/or wants his soiled diaper changed immediately.

Once you think your child is ready to be toilet trained, there are several methods for toilet training. Regardless of which one you choose, following these general guidelines will help your child reach success:

Boy wearing green shirt potty training
  • Establish a routine. Set a schedule for when you take your child to the bathroom. At first, you may need to take him every hour. Make your child sit on the toilet for a few minutes every time you go into the bathroom as part of this schedule.

  • Make it fun. When you are in the bathroom, have activities and things to do while your child is on the toilet. This is a great everyday (or every hour) opportunity to read books, sing songs, and tell stories.

  • Praise for success and encourage for improvement. If your child uses the toilet, celebrate! High-fives, happy dances, and positive words are all great ways to show your child how great she’s doing. If your child does not go in the toilet after a few minutes, don’t show anger or disappointment. Praise her for trying, and encourage her to try again in a while. Say things like, “Oh, not  this time. Maybe next time you’ll go. Thanks for trying!” Special recognition and reward charts can be very helpful. For example, you can give your child a sticker for every time he goes to the bathroom in the toilet.

  • Teach them about their bodies’ signs. Although you know when you need to go, children don’t always recognize the signs that they need to use the bathroom. Talk to your child about what it may feel like when her body is telling her she has to go to the bathroom. You can start by describing what you feel in your body. After your child goes to the bathroom, ask her what it felt like right before so she can associate and remember that feeling with going to the bathroom.

  • Accidents will happen! Your child likely will have  a few accident during the toilet-training process. That’s okay! Don’t be upset with your child. Talk about what happened together, and what she can do next time to make it to the toilet in time.

  • Toilets can be scary for some children. It’s important to be understanding during the potty training process as some children are genuinely scared of toilets or the idea of going potty in the toilet. Be patient and listen to their concerns.

  • Sometimes going “number one” is easier to learn than “number two.” But patience and positive reinforcement are always the best ways you can help your little one learn.

Parent Tip: If you have a boy, you may be wondering how to train him. It’s best to start training by having him sit down on the seat. Eventually, you can train him to stand.

For more helpful tips on establishing a toilet-training routine, click here.

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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