Toilet training is hard work. Some children will just get it but other children will struggle throughout the entire process. Here are a few little tips to help make it easier for you and your little one, regardless of how difficult or easy it is for them it’s always important to remember these points.
Always keep it positive
A discouraged child finds something new far harder than a child who feels supported. Celebrate every win no matter how big or small, and try not to sweat the accidents. I know it’s easier said than done but know that the process will be far less painful the more positive you can be.
Use positive language and if need be, use positive reinforcement like a reward chart. It might also be good to focus on one part of toilet training at a time. Our magnetic reward charts and toilet training focus magnets are designed to maximise the effectiveness of toilet training, one part at a time.
Give them time and space
I know that we want to limit the number of accidents and increase the success rate right from the start, but this is not something you can control or force on your child. Of course your child will need a reminder to go at particular times, but don’t ask them constantly if they need to go. Don’t make them sit on the toilet for the majority of the day. The more you stress and fret about it, the more they will and the more difficult they will find it. THEY need to figure it out and they need time and space to do so – always hovering may actually make it harder for them.
My eldest daughter hated anyone watching her so toilet training was a nightmare. That was until we invested in a cheap little pop up tent to put over her potty… then we had a totally different child. Don’t underestimate your child’s need/desire for privacy (even though they hate you going to the toilet without them!).
Create a mental timetable
If they really are struggling it gives you a great opportunity to ‘map’ out their timetable. You can work out when the best times are for them to visit the toilet and try to stick to them. As soon as they wake up, after snacks and lunch, before and after a nap, etc. You know your child best and you are the best person to work out a toileting schedule.
Long car rides and shopping trips are a nightmare when you have a toilet training miss or mister. If you’re really nervous about the car, use disposable nappy change mats on their car seat. They’re cheap and give you a little piece of mind. Before you leave to go somewhere, your child should always TRY on the toilet, if they can’t do anything that’s fine, you praise and trust them. When you get to a shopping centre, you go to the toilet first (to save the dump of trolley and mad rush out of the supermarket at the worst moment possible). You once again visit the toilet on the way out of the shopping centre – make it your routine.
The 'puppy child'
My youngest daughter was like a puppy. She would pee every 10 minutes, just a little puddle. It took her a little while to figure out how to pee a lot in one go, but she got there. Sometimes it takes time for them to listen to their bodies and know how to tell their body what to do. If they stress about their accidents, they can’t think and focus on how to control their body. It’s so important just to say ‘uh-oh, it’s ok’.
Listening to their body
We’ve all seen our child or even other people’s children holding themselves like they’re about to burst, and half the time they don’t even realise it. Talk to your child about listening to their body and picking up on the signs their body is telling them to go to the toilet. Talk about how important it is to listen to your body and how we must do what our body says.
My eldest went through a stage where she believed she could make it go away and she could keep doing what she was doing. It can be difficult to deal with and depending on your child’s age, you can converse with them about how important it is to listen to what their body is telling them.
Finally, trust your child to handle this process themselves. Don’t ask them constantly if they need to go. Sometimes we feel the need to remind them about it because they get so preoccupied with play, but if they’re not showing any of the ‘need to pee’ signs, chances are they don’t need to go. If you have a suitable toileting schedule in place, you need to trust them at the other times. If you have a puppy child, you’re likely to go through a few more minor accidents until they’re able to listen to and control their bodies better. Even with the puppies though, let them go.
When you can clearly see that they do need to go, tell them to go. If you’re positive about toileting and not badgering them constantly they’re likely to respond positively to your instruction and they’ll master it in no time!