Toilet Training and Children
Toilet training is a developmental milestone that many parents will remember for their children for the rest of their lives. Though some parents seem to think that toilet training is a competition – whose child can be trained earliest whose child will catch on the quickest – this should never be the case. Each child will display a unique ability to be toilet trained when the time is right for them and no one else. Although there are ways for you to monitor this readiness, it would be unwise to attempt to proceed with toilet training before you see signs that your child has a chance of succeeding.
Physical and Emotional Readiness for Toilet TrainingReadiness for toilet training will require both physical and mental abilities in each child. Physically a child must be able to hold in urine for several hours, though this will only occur when his/her bladder muscles have developed to an extent that will allow him/her to “store up” this liquid. Mentally the child must also be able to differentiate the signs that they are in need to use the toilet. Not only will the child need to recognise the physical clues that they need to urinate (or defecate), but they will need to recognise them before they complete these actions. In short, not only must a child be able to “hold it” until (s)he reaches a toilet, but (s)he must also be able to interpret the physical clues that will motivate him/her to find the toilet in the first place.
Signs that a Child May Be Ready for Toilet TrainingObviously asking your child if (s)he is ready for toilet training is not possible, so instead you will need to interpret clues to determine if your child is ready for toilet training. Many parents rely on hints such as:
- If their child’s nappies remain dry for several hours at a time.
- If their child announces when (s)he needs to urinate or defecate.
- If their child shows an interest in the toilet.
- If their child shows a frustration or dislike for their nappies.
- If their child shows an interest in grown-up underwear.
- If their child shows interest in other children who have been toilet trained.
Tips for Toilet TrainingOnce your child is physically and mentally ready for toilet training, as well as showing no fear or dislike for the task, it may be time to start. Unfortunately there is no one standard method of toilet training that works for everyone, so most parents settle on whatever means feel comfort and seem successful for their family. Many parents choose to:
- Make a special outing of buying a child’s potty and allow their child to pick it out.
- Allow their child to play with the potty and sit on it fully clothed when they so desire.
- Explain the toilet/potty to their child and allow their child to flush it several times to get used to the noise and/or action.
- Ask their child if (s)he would like to attempt to use the toilet – and proceed only when their child seems interested.
- Allow their child to look into the potty or toilet bowl after a successful event.
- Stop toilet training for a little while if it has become frustrating or scary for their child. There is no harm in taking a “breather” and starting up again later.
- Investing in “pull-ups” or other nappies designed for older children who are toilet training, just in case.