Toilet training can be a significant milestone for children, especially for children with developmental delays. It’s an exciting time, providing an opportunity for independence and teaching responsibility.
Introducing toilet training means breaking an old routine while creating a new routine, which has the potential to add additional stress to yourself, the caregiver, as well as your child. To make it a positive and exciting experience, here are a few helpful tips!
- Use visuals – Using visuals provides an opportunity to present expectations to your child. It prompts independence and establishes a clear beginning and end to the routine. Once your child becomes more independent and fluent with the bathroom routine, visual supports can be faded out.
- Keep it structured – The best place to start is having your child sit on the toilet for 5 minutes, followed by off the toilet for 15 minutes. (Tip: During the 15 minute off time, remember to provide lots of fluids to your child to ensure the ability to void on the toilet.) Once your child has displayed the ability to void on the toilet successfully multiple times, while staying dry during the off times, you can increase the off time by 15 minutes. For example, the next step would be 5 minutes on the toilet, followed by 30 minutes off the toilet.
- Accidents - They happen, but it’s OK! Don’t reprimand your child if they have an accident. Simply take them to the bathroom to clean them up, followed by continuing through the visual schedule routine. If you’re feeling ambitious, we recommend immediately taking your child back to the spot they had an accident. Then, prompt your child to ask to go to the bathroom. Take them to the bathroom again to complete the bathroom routine a second time (entire visual schedule, plus sitting). Reward them for doing this routine a second time, but not with a more valuable reward you’d use for voiding on the toilet.
- MAKE IT FUN – I know…I just told you to “keep it structured”, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have fun with it! Keeping it fun and exciting will create a positive environment for both you and your child. Some ideas to keep it fun are to decorate the bathroom in your child’s favorite color or play characters, get them special and highly desired toys and treats for voiding on the toilet, provide them special underwear with their favorite characters, and/or simply stay upbeat and positive! Your child may be able to pick up on your positive energy.
*This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used to replace consultation with your doctor or qualified health professional.