Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Toilet Training

Adaptive (Self-Help) Development: Toiletting Skills for Infants, Toddlers and Children1

Toilet training is an area of development that many parents struggle with. Although we would like to see our children get toilet trained early and quickly, each child has their own timetable with regards to when they are ready to be toilet trained. The ability to hold one’s bowel and bladder is largely a biological/physiological function (see full Glossary) and cannot be rushed. It’s therefore important not to force a child to sit on a potty or a toilet seat before they are ready. Children are also more likely to be toilet trained quickly when they receive praise when they do use the toilet, rather than being criticized when they have a toileting accident. Most children are usually not ready to be toilet trained until they are two years of age or older. Parents who wait until after the second year of life to toilet train their children are usually able to do so much faster and with fewer accidents than parents who choose to start earlier.

In order to develop good toileting skills, children usually go through the following:

  • indicating that their diapers are soiled and are bothered by it
  • staying dry for a few hours, while wearing diapers
  • urinating when placed on toilet seat or potty
  • having bowel movements when placed on toilet seat or potty
  • seldom having toileting “accidents” (i.e. usually indicating a need to go to the bathroom)
  • wiping self after using the bathroom
1 see References

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