Toilet Training

Toilet training is one of the subjects which parents worry about the most. A lot has been written on the subject and much of it avoids actually saying what you have to do. So here is the blunt version of how to toilet train your child.

From the age of two you can look out for the signs that your child is ready; if they know when they need to go (not if they know they've been, they all know that!), are interested in others going to the toilet or best of all if they ask because they have siblings or friends who go to the toilet

Start by getting a potty and a toilet trainer seat, and leaving them around. Show your child and explain what it is for. Tell them that if they say when they need to go they can go on the potty or the toilet. After week or so try sitting them on the toilet for a while after meals or whenever your child might open its bowels.

Some people recommend that you read to them, or to let them watch TV on the potty. NO! If you read to them they will ask to go because they want a story. As for in front of the TV, well,

  1. Your child will not get used to the idea that you have to go out to the toilet and,
  2. Do you want them to kick over a full potty on your living room carpet? Please!

Once they have had a few of successes at going in the toilet or the potty you just have to wait for some good weather and a couple of weeks when you don't have to go out too much.

Keep sitting them on the potty or toilet at the usual times. Then put them in the pants and just a t-shirt or loose dress and send them out in the garden (remembering sun cream). Remind them regularly to use the potty if they need to go. After a few days they will grow tired of having wet legs and dirty pants, and will mostly make it to the toilet or potty.

You cannot toilet train a child in pull-up nappies. They cannot tell the difference between pull-ups and any other nappy so there is no incentive to go to the toilet. You will spend a lot of money and keep your child in nappies longer than necessary. Their only use is if you have to go out or leave you child with someone. Trainer pants which absorb urine are equally useless for the same reasons, except you have to clean and wash them as well.

There will be accidents, hence the disinfectant. Some will be nasty so buy cheap pants that you can throw away if necessary. If your child is not getting to the potty or toilet at all after a week or so they really are not ready, so put them back in nappies and try again in a few weeks.

A Word about Words
You will need to teach your child the words to use for going to the toilet. 'wee', 'poo' 'toilet' and 'potty' will be universally understood by playgroup, crèche and nursery staff and will not give offence, so use these words from the start.

About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the editor of eParenting.

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