Toilet Training Your Child: What you need to know

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Toilet training can be a difficult endeavor for parents.  When do you start?  How do you know when to start?  What do you do first?  How do you know if your child understands what you are trying to have them do?  There are so many questions and with them come many answers from any number of sources.

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself prior to initiating toilet training with your child:

  1. Can your child stay dry for at least 2 hour periods?
  2. Is your child having regular bowel movements at fairly consistent times daily?
  3. Can your child pull their own pants up and down?
  4. Does your child demonstrate that she or he is uncomfortable when their diaper is soiled by telling your or showing you?
  5. Does your child have a consistent sign to indicate when they are having a bowel movement?
  6. Can your child follow simple one step instructions?
  7. Do I have the time to toilet train my child right now?
  8. Am I able to work with others who regularly spend time with my child to make sure we are all approaching toileting consistently?

These are just a few of the many questions which can help you decide if your child is ready to be toilet trained right now.  If your answers to all of the questions above are yes, your child may be ready to begin toilet training.  If you said no for most of the questions, you may want to wait a while longer before starting toilet training with your child.

When you decide to start toilet training your child, there are some differing schools of thought in terms of overall approaches as well as specifics.  Some resources may advise you to do child-led toileting where your child’s behaviour guides how you proceed where as others may to parent-led toileting in which case you steer the boat so to speak in terms of what your child is expected to do.  When you do pick a method, you also need to decide if your child is going to continue to wear diapers or switch to underwear exclusively or some combination of the two; if you will have regular sit periods where your child will be expected to sit on the toilet versus taking your child’s lead; and many other choices which will impact how you move forward.

You may find that some techniques from certain approaches work for you better than others.  It is important to consider the needs of your family when making these decisions to make sure that whatever you pick will work for you. Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to make sure you are supporting your child and his/her needs when you are moving through this process.

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