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Sharing Ideas About Potty Training

Learning to go to the toilet is part of your child's natural development.  Usually between the ages of two and three years, your child will be emotionally and physically ready to use the toilet.

Children are emotionally prepared to use the toilet when:
- They can communicate the need to urinate or have a bowel movement;
- They understand what is expected of them when on the toilet;
- They are willing to urinate or have a bowel movement in the toilet instead of in a diaper.

Children are physically prepared to use the toilet when:
- They can control their bladder, so it can hold more fluid;
- They can control the sphincter (or anal) muscles that hold onto their stool.

Every child's physical development is different, so your child may be ready at a different time than a brother or sister, your friends' children, or other children in the child care program.  Toilet learning is not always quick or consistent. "Accidents" do happen.  Patience, support and understanding are required.

Signs of Readiness
Your child is ready for toilet learning when your child:
- Stays dry for longer periods
- Recognizes when diaper becomes wet or soiled
- Uses consistent words or gestures to communicate
- Demonstrates interest in the toilet 
- Is able to get to the potty or toilet and sit on it
- Is able to pull loose pants down

At around 18 months it is time to start giving the child words and skills that will help in potty training
- Talking about, teaching words (i.e. peepee, wet, dry, poop, clean, potty etc.)at diaper time and also when child is with you in the bathroom.
- When you see child going potty in diaper, tell them what they are doing.  Are you going peepee in your diaper?  etc.
- Start working on pulling up and down their own pants/shorts at diaper time.
- If you and your child's caregiver talk about your child's readiness, it is a good idea to use the same words and routines for toilet learning at home and in the child care program.
- It is important to remember that parents and caregivers can only help toilet learning when a child is ready; it is the child who controls the outcome.
- Generally, children's satisfaction over results encourages them to continue the learning process. Encouragement and verbal praise from adults provide positive support. However, it is not a good idea to reward children with food or candy.

- Make toilets feel safer by having the child sit on a special sat and/or by placing a secure stool or box under his or her feet while sitting on the toilet.
- Never force a child to use a potty: it only sets up a power struggle and negative feelings towards the potty.
- Encourage a child to sit for short periods of time and make sure to respond to the child's need at key times.  These are after meals, before naps and after waking up dry from a nap (once the child is comfortable and awake).
- As success and desire grow, remove diapers and pants for a short period. Encourage the child to do this by himself or herself.
- Leave the potty in the same area as the child and remind the child to use it periodically.
- Try removing diapers during the day once the child gets the idea and timing improves. Most children will stay dry during the day before they can be out of diapers at night.
- Consider that some children watch older brothers and sisters or parents use the toilet and that this can provide role modeling.
- Praise your child for making it to the toilet on time, but do not get angry if your child has an "accident." Instead, reassure your child  that  accidents sometimes occur, and when they do, it is not a big deal.

The Importance of Patience
Your child may show all the signs of readiness but may not be ready to start toilet learning. This would be the case, for example, if the child was in a stage of "no's" all the time, having temper tantrums, or going through a stressful or disruptive period (caused by a move to a new home or a new child care center, a divorce, etc.)
At times, a child who has learned to use the toilet goes back to diapers, possibly due to stress factors, such as a new baby in the family. This is common and usually does not last long.

As with walking and talking and all other areas of development, each child is different.  Yes, there are some guidelines but they are just that, guidelines. I will be just as happy as you, when your child no longer needs to be changed several times a day.  I will be even happier knowing that it was a pleasant experience and not a battle all the way.   Potty learning can only be accomplished when a child has the ability to realize the need to go and the communication skills to express that need.  A lack of being potty ready is in NO way a reflection of a child's intelligence or lack of skills.  If you wish to inform me the potty accomplishments of a child other than the one we are discussing you will be reminded of my policy.  Please for the sake of your child's development make every attempt to never begin to compare children against each other in matters of such little importance. I promise you that your child will not go to Kindergarten in diapers.  How many adults do you know that still wear diapers?  I can recommend several resources for you to read if you are interested or disagree with this point of view.


Toilet learning should be a positive experience for a child. It should take only a short period of time, if the child is ready. Toilet learning is as individual as learning to walk. There is no right age by which all children should be using the toilet. Problems in toilet learning usually arise because adults do not pay attention and the child isn't ready.

AFTER you have consistently begun at home for an entire weekend I will begin the process in daycare for a 10 day trial period.  If the child loses interest, is fearful, or has too many accidents, your; child will go back into diapers until we decide together that your child is ready to try again.

Have your child wear loose fitting clothing he or she can manage independently, such as elastic waist pants that are easy to pull up and down. Do not dress your child in overalls or T shirts with snaps between the legs.
Please bring a bag with at least three sets of extra clothes, including socks, every day clothes.   Label all clothing with the child's name. Bring an extra pair of shoes as well.

Here, we leave the door to the bathroom open, both for easy access and to encourage the child's interest, seeing other children use the toilet. The child goes to the potty with a "buddy" for positive reinforcement.

The child will be told, "You need to go potty now," (or whatever term you prefer) every 30 - 45 minutes the first and second week, as necessary.

Unfortunately, because of health regulations, teachers cannot wash out soiled clothes. We will put them in a plastic bag for you to take home and wash.

I will only continue potty learning with your co-operation.  This means that you MUST commit to continuing potty learning at home, the market, grandma's house and anyplace else you go.


Where would you like to go next?
Potty Training at
Kim's Kids Handout