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6 Easy Steps to Start Toilet Training Your Toddler

Key points to remember:

  • Toilet training isn’t easy but necessary.
  • Don’t rush things. Make sure your child is ready before starting the process. Use their prompts to guide you on when they are ready to start the transition. 
  • You can do some things to make the process easier for your child and yourself, so just be patient!
  • Set aside a time each day to work on potty training.
  • Use positive reinforcement when they do something right! Make sure you have plenty of toys and distractions for your child during this time.
  • Be patient, but also be consistent. If you go away for the weekend or something, don’t expect your child to remember what they learned in the meantime!

Things you need to begin potty training:

Before we begin, here are some things you’ll need to start this journey:

  • A potty or the toilet – can be used to teach a child how to use the toilet. One might be better for your child than the other. Or you can suggest that your child use both.
  • Step or footstool- if your child chooses the toilet, your child might need a step or footstool to get on the toilet and put their feet up while sitting on a smaller seat that fits securely inside the big toilet seat.
  • Pull-ups and training pants- if your child isn’t wearing a diaper, they are more likely to understand what it means to go to the bathroom. So it might be time to get some training pants or pull-ups.

When is the perfect time to potty train children? 

You’ll be surprised to know that there is no magic age where children should start learning how to go to the toilet. This is one of the first challenges your child will experience in early childhood learning. Some start developing the necessary skills to be aware of the concept from 20 months of age. However, most families don’t begin toilet training till their child is nearly three years old.

Using the toilet is one of the first skills your toddler will learn. This can be a daunting process both for the parent and the child. There isn’t a one size fits all guide to this process. Some find this an easy task, and there have been some who were really challenged. There can be no telling as it is different for everyone. 

If you’re planning to start toilet training your child or you’ve started and found it challenging, then continue reading on as we share the six steps to start toilet training your child.

1. Figure out if your child is ready to start toilet training

Since this is a learning process, it is best if your child is open to learning. It will be hard for you and your child if they are unwilling or uninterested in undergoing this process. Only start toilet training when your child starts showing signs of readiness. 

What are the signs my child is ready?

Some signs may include:

  • Being interested when you or others in your family use the toilet
  • Asking questions or copying the behaviour
  • Having a dry nappy for long periods
  • Waking up from nap time with a dry nappy
  • Pulling at a wet or dirty nappy
  • Telling you they are going or have just gone in their nappy
  • Doesn’t resist learning to use the toilet

2. Create a routine

Note the times when your child often pees or has a bowel movement such as after mealtimes, before bath-time and bedtime. Then pop your child on the toilet at these times. This helps them get used to the idea of going to the toilet and accept it as part of their routine. Try to be encouraging and use happy, positive language to express how proud you are of them trying. 

You can even involve your child care centres by letting them know that your child is undergoing potty training so that they can incorporate steps that align with your training. There are a lot of daycare centres in Sydney or even across the country that offer collaborative care which will allow you to do so. At Kids Club, the children (18 months +) are encouraged to sit on the toilet every nappy change to become familiar with the idea.


3. Demonstrate & explain

Children learn by imitation. Show and explain what you do when you go to the toilet—pulling down your pants, wiping, pulling up your pants, flushing and washing your hands. You can make this process fun by introducing it as a game, like role-playing. This way, they are more open to participating by thinking of it as a fun activity.

If you have a son, it is easier for them to get used to the toilet by practising sitting down first.

For girls, remember to teach them to wipe from front to back to minimise the risk of urinary tract infections.

4. Training Pants

Adding training pants that pull on and off like underwear enables your child to undress on their own, giving them independence. These disposable training pants allow the child to feel wetter when they pee, making them want to sit on the toilet more regularly. This way, they are more likely to feel confident in going to the toilet since they feel like they are in control.

5. Handle setbacks gracefully

Toilet training can be as difficult for parents as it is for the child’s learning. Setbacks are only temporary, and most children will have accidents before being able to stay dry all day. Don’t get angry, feel defeated, or punish your child. After all, they only recently learned how to hold their bladder, and they are still learning why it is important to go to the toilet. Mastering this talent will take time. If your child seems ready and is no longer interested or shows signs of distress or anxiety, give them a break for a few weeks and then try again. You will have an easier and happier time if you wait until they are ready. It is important to reinforce their confidence so they won’t associate negative feelings with going to the toilet. 

6. Additional helpful tips to make it all a little easier

  • Let your child choose a potty or toilet seat they like. Make the process more inclusive by letting them choose their potty. 
  • Read up and research more on the matter of toilet training. There are plenty of good books on the subject, such as:
    • “Once Upon a Potty” by Alona Frankel
    • “Whose Poo?” by Jeannette Rowe
    • “Girls Potty Time and Boys Potty Time” by DK Publishing
    • “Potty Superhero: Get ready for big boy pants!” by Parragon Books
    • “Where’s the Poop?” by Julie Markes
    • “Big Girl Panties” by Fran Manushkin
  • Keep track of the progress by using a Potty Training Chart.
  • Buy a Potty Training Watch.
  • Buying undies with their favourite character on them encourages kids to stay dry.
  • Make the experience a bit more fun by adding a Potty song*? 🙂

Tinkle, Tinkle on the Potty,

When there’s pressure in your tummy,

Like a good girl (boy) wipe your tusch,

Then flush it down with a woooosh!

Tinkle, Tinkle, on the potty,

And wash your hands like Mommy! (Daddy).

*This song was originally posted here.

Remember: Reinforce their pride and always stay upbeat and positive towards their achievement!

What should you not do when potty training?

When you’re potty training your child, it’s important to keep in mind the things that could make the process more difficult. Here’s our list of 10 things NOT to do when potty training a toddler:

  1. Ignore your child when she has an accident
  2. Let your child run around naked.
  3. Give up too soon
  4. Make fun of your child for using diapers or pull-ups.
  5. Pressure your child into using the toilet before they’re ready
  6. Use negative reinforcement to punish accidents.
  7. Yell at your child after an accident instead of helping them get cleaned up and calm down
  8. Let your child eat or drink right before bedtime, so they have to get up at night to use the bathroom.
  9. Expect too much from your child on one day, such as going all day without any accidents or having perfect bowel movements every day for several days in a row.

Ready to do potty training with your child?

There are a variety of signs that your child is physically and mentally ready for toilet training. Some of these signs, such as being able to sit upright, will be obvious to you. Other signs may not be so obvious, but they are just as important to take note of. The most important thing is that you are making an effort to start toilet training your toddler. This isn’t an easy task, and you might not get it right away. But with a little effort and some patience, you can make great progress when toilet training your child, and everyone in your family will be happier for the work. 

Good luck!

If you want to learn more, call Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres or book a tour now of your closest Kids Club Early Learning Centre, click here to view your closest Centre.

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