“Can we please start toilet training?” This is one of the first things I hear once a child turns 2. But contrary to customs, it is not age that matters but what skills the child has. In today’s blog we’ll cover those prerequisite skills and a successful (and efficient) potty training method.
Before embarking on toilet training, ask yourself these questions about your child:
1. Does my child sit in a chair for 3-5 minutes?
2. Does my child hold urination for 2 hour with diapers?
3. Does my child signal that he/she is urinating (e.g., stands still for 10 seconds, walks away from others, crouches down)?
4. Does my child follow one-step directions most of time?
5. Does my child imitate the movements of others?
Other prerequisites you may want to consider include:
1. Can my child pull down/up their diaper with little assistance?
2. Can my child indicate the use of the bathroom by saying, signing, or pointing “bathroom”?
After these skills are verified, we can move onto scheduling and the preparation of materials. Some key tips:
- Set out a weekend (minimum 2 days) to dedicate to toilet training. Within these 2 days, do not plan any unnecessary outings and if possible, avoid them altogether. Have someone there that can help you as there will be frequent trips to the bathroom and lots of accidents in the beginning.
- If you have someone there to help like a spouse or friend, make sure to label what each others duties will be and when they will be alternating. Identify stressors and try to minimize those stressors during this time.
- Keep a favorite treat or toy in the bathroom. The smaller it is (e.g., bite-sized), the easier it will be to provide. Snacks work best because there is no need to remove it throughout the toilet training process. You can use healthy alternatives here, but be mindful that it has to be a preferred snack. My favorites are m&m’s and gold fish.
- Be prepared to provide fluids throughout the day. Have plenty of water, juice, and popsicles to provide to your child. This will increase bathroom trips therefore providing more opportunities to learn.
- Identify a communicative response. This could be a picture that the child brings to you, a sign, or the word “bathroom”. Be ready to say/model this response throughout the toilet training process.
- Use underwear that is easy to remove and that you would not mind getting dirty. Remove socks and shoes. If have also seem parents choose to just stick to underwear during this process.
- Absolutely no diapers! It may seem like a better alternative, but this may lead to confusion and prolonged success as diapers will signal the child to void in it rather than the toilet.
- Accidents will happen! It is okay and normal. I have seen parents line the floors with puppy pads for easier clean-up.
What does a schedule look like? Below you’ll find a general schedule for fluid intake and bathroom trips. We have also included tips for positive reactive strategies following successful trips and unsuccessful attempts:
First hour: every 5 minutes
Second hour: every 10 minutes
Third hour: every 15 minutes
Fourth hour: every 30 minutes
Fifth hour and more: every 60 minutes
Trips to bathroom:
First hour: 10 minutes sitting / 5 minutes outside the toilet (if the child urinates during the 10 minute sitting, the child can get up immediately. The time for the next sitting is not changed).
Second hour: 10 minutes sitting / 10 minutes outside the toilet
Third hour: 5 minutes sitting / 15 minutes outside the toilet (stay at this level until the child successfully urinates into the toilet).
Fourth hour: 5 minutes sitting / 25 minutes outside the toilet
Fifth hour: 5 minutes on / 35 minutes off the toilet
Sixth hour: 5 minutes sitting / 45 minutes outside the toilet (continues until bedtime)
Consequences of correct urination:
1. Enthusiastic praise, hugs, smiles
2. Access to a highly preferred snack
3. Access to favorite toys
4. Let him get off the toilet and play
Consequences for accidents:
1. Say “Pee-pee on the toilet”
2. Immediate trip to the bathroom
3. Praise, but not reinforcer
We hope this guide helps with your toilet training goals! One on One Behavioral Services can provide individualized toilet training programs and offer 1:1 support. Please contact us or leave a comment below if you would like us to further assist.