Saturday, June 8, 2013

Toilet Training Troubles

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Today I was asked by a fellow parent and friend about some toilet training tips. It's ironic because only moments earlier I was just talking to Ben about my frustrations with Hannah's toilet training progress. Both myself and my friend are former childcare workers and we have both spent much time in the "toilet training" rooms and have helped other parents toilet training many, many children in the past. But now when it comes to our own children we are without success.

I think the trick is to stay calm and keep trying until you find something that works. So here's the deal I'll share my tips if you share yours! Surely between us we can come up many different things for everyone to try.

I believe that the up most important thing to remember before even starting is to encourage your child and not to force them. If they are not interested then drop it and wait until they are interested again. Look for signs that your child is ready. They should be able to move around independently and get themselves to the toilet, have dry spells of a few hours, they are agreeable to sitting on the potty or toilet, they show signs of recognising when they are doing wees or poos in their nappy like grabbing at themselves or going to a quiet part of the room and they are interested in the process.

Invest in lots and lots of underpants. I feel that they are more effective then pull ups or equivalents as they allow the child to make the connection between the sensation that things are about to happen and the actual event. It also allows them to really feel what has happened.

I prefer putting Hannah on the toilet instead of using a potty but I think that comes down to personal preference. I just think that we are skipping the step of re-training Hannah to use the toilet after she has just mastered the potty. Also I don't particularly want the task of cleaning the potty when it can just go straight into the toilet. I use a toilet seat with a step and handles to help Hannah feel more comfortable while sitting on there. If your child is not comfortable to sit on the toilet or potty, try getting down to their level and hold their hands. I also used to sing songs with Hannah to distract her from what she was doing as an attempt to extend the time she was sitting on the toilet in the early days.

Understanding the child's toileting patterns can help. If you know your child usually does "wees" right before a shower or straight after waking up then use that to your advantage and sit them on the toilet or potty then.

Consistence is so important. Timing of sitting on the toilet- I recommend maybe every half hour when starting out. When they do get it right praise, praise, praise! Make a big deal out of it (without frightening the child). I also use smarties as a reward and an incentive but you could also use stickers or something else special.

Do Not Punish your child if they get it wrong or don't do wees. If they have an accident, just clean it up and move on. Accidents are part of the process and children need it to learn. While I was working at day care we used to say little things like "Quick you better go to the toilet, we don't want to wet Dora she might get cold!" (Dora, being the print on the underwear.)

We also used to encourage the children by sending more than one child to the toilet at a time... the luxury of having more than one toilet in the bathroom. This would encourage the children by allowing them to see their friends doing wees on the toilet so they liked to copy. You can implement this at home by allowing your child to watch you or a sibling sit on the toilet. I (embarrassed to admit) clap and cheer when I go and Hannah is watching to indicate that this is a good thing.

Finally there is an app we are trying at the moment which is the Huggies potty training app. I know there are others out there too. I think the Huggies one needs a little tweaking before it's quite right but the concept is there. It has a timer and the alarm is in the form of a phone call. Your child presses the answer button, then it prompts them to go to the potty. If they go, they get a sticker. 7 Stickers unlocks a game. Huggies also offers this toilet training guide which you can download free, you might find it useful.

You can download this free Huggies Toilet Training Guide from here 
OK, I shared my tips now its your turn!
Cue comments here...


  1. Fabulous tips Teagan. Very similar to what I did with my girls. I wanted Katie done before Emma came but I also waited for her to show signs she was ready. We started about a month before she was 2 and by her 2nd birthday, she had it down pat. We spent alot of time outside in "undies" and I also put protective stuff over the couch and an old rug on the carpet floor in the loungeroom. She got a prize (m&m) and we made a big deal of when she went such has lots of praise, wow, good girl, so proud of you etc. When she had an accident, we didn't make a big deal about it and told her that everybody has accidents and reassured her that she was still doing great. When we initially started, I would set the timer and try her every 10-15 mins until you got a feel for how often they usually needed to go. I wouldn't spend hours on there though, just a few minutes and would sing songs, read books. It's a tough gig toilet training and I think that every child does it when he/she is ready and that what works for one child, may or may not work for another and to keep exploring different methods that you are comfortable with until you find one that suits/works for your situation!

  2. Nelle, thank you so much for sharing your tips. I love the idea of spending a bit more time outside. It would really help with all the clean ups in the early days! And you are so right, what works for one doesn't always work for others we just have to keep trying. :-)