Learning to use the toilet is an important milestone for both parent and child. It’s a big step for toddlers, as they are required to move out of a comfort zone and learn how their little bodies work.
“Parents and caregivers should enter the potty training phase patiently and with few expectations of how it should go,” advises Michelle Mendonca, Clamber Club Expert and Clamber Club Preschool owner. “What works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another. Although teachers are very keen to assist parents with the potty training at school, it is vital that they keep it up at home,” adds Michelle.
How can you help make potty training easier?
“Children are often unsure or intimidated by the toilet, so anyone training them needs to make them feel safe and relaxed,” says Mendonca. Here are Michelle’s top tips:
- When introducing the toilet to a child, consider getting a toddler toilet seat with a smaller hole that fits on top of the big toilet seat and a step so that they can climb up by themselves. The step will make them feel more stable.
- Encourage independence and reassure them that they are ready to use the toilet.
- Often the idea of wearing underwear with popular characters printed on them is very appealing to the child, and assists the process.
- How they progress will also depend on the reaction they get when they use the toilet. Positive reinforcement is key. Every visit to the toilet should be met with a lot of excitement and praise. Receiving positive feedback makes children more motivated.
- Children using the toilet for the first time should wear clothes that are easy to take off or pull down. Avoid complicated buttons, dungarees and too many layers of clothes. Not being able to remove their clothes in time could negatively affect their experience with toilet training.
- Most children still need to wear a nappy at night for a while but letting them drink less before bedtime usually helps to get them off the nappy completely.
- “Setting a potty alarm that goes off every 20 minutes has worked really well in our preschool,” says Michelle. Have a pleasant alarm tone that won’t cause panic, or sing them a special toilet song to let them know that it’s time to visit the toilet.
In the beginning there will be hiccups, they might not do anything when you put them on the toilet and then have an accident 5 minutes later. This is normal, use a reassuring voice and put them at ease. Pack extra changes of clothes in your child’s school bag just in case.
Choose what works for you and do what is consistent with your parenting style. Stay positive, be encouraging with progress and patient with any failures. Happy toilet training!