Toilet Learning

Toilet learning, toileting or toilet mastery is part of a child-oriented approach advocated by Montessori, Spock, Sears and Brazelton among others. In contrast “Potty training” are methods employed by adults to train children to use the toilet rather then a diaper. Toileting recognizes that a child is an active player in the learning process and must have reach appropriate developmental milestones and be physiologically and psychologically ready.

There is a lot of pressure on parents to potty train children at younger ages for day care and other social situations. With a child-centered approach, plan to devote attention and patience to toilet mastery on a daily basis for several months. Toilet learning is an excellent opportunity to improve your communication skills with your child and support their next step toward independence.

How to Guide Your Child Through Toilet Learning

The key elements of your child’s toilet learning experience boil down to three things.

First you need to get your home ready including finding a suitable potty chair and child-centered potty books.

Secondarily, you’ll need to learn a few strategies that help in guiding your child’s success.

Finally, you will be finding ways to support your little darling's learning process and encouraging their independence in this task.

Before beginning toileting ask yourself if you feel your little one is ready for this step. If your child does not like being soiled, seems to recognize when their bladder or bowls are “full”, can remove their pants and underpants and can get on the toilet seat safely – then you’re in a good position to begin.

Developmental Milestones

Toileting involves developing and practicing a number of steps leading to the child being able to do the following on her/his own

  1. Recognize when diapers or underwear are wet or soiled
  2. Want to avoid wetting or soiling diapers or underwear
  3. Stay dry for at least 2 hours.
  4. Recognize the physical signs that the bladder or bowels need to be emptied
  5. Move self to toilet
  6. Pull down pants and underwear (many children between 18 – 20 months are strong enough to pull pants with elasticized waists up and down)
  7. Seat self on toilet
  8. Sit long enough to empty bladder or bowels (2-5 minutes)
  9. Wipe
  10. Get down off the toilet
  11. Pull up underwear and pants
  12. Flush
  13. Wash and dry hands

However, YOU also need to be ready. Toilet learning takes time and patience – so you have to commit to whatever process you’ve chosen too.

Developmental Milestones & Age Guidelines

On average most children have reached the appropriate developmental milestones around 18 months. A child by the age of three can manage the toilet throughout the day (possibly not overnight). Overnight bladder control develops typically before or by the age of 5. Bear in mind this is a guideline, and how long the process takes depends heavily on your child’s personality and the support of your home environment.

Tips on potty training pants: many experts recommend avoiding potty training pants. While convenient, these make it more difficult for a child to recognize they’re wet. In fact, it makes being wet more comfortable, which is counter to everything you’re hoping to achieve.

Developmental Milestones & Curiosity

If you notice your child getting interested in the toilet earlier than 18 months, it’s perfectly acceptable to let them play act what you do. At 12 months children become interested in water, the bathroom functions, particularly if they observe others using the bathroom. You can talk about the steps your taking, and let the child use a doll for role-playing. Or, children might actually want to follow along themselves.

Be sure to keep your communications simple and consistent. Support this by reading a child’s toileting book after the role playing interaction.

Getting Started

When you begin your toilet learning efforts, make sure you have clothing for your child that’s easily removed. Determine what type of communication you want from your child when they feel they need to relieve themselves. “Go potty” is a common phrase that many parents teach their child. Take your child shopping and let them participate in finding a special potty chair (if they like their chair, they’re more likely to stay on it longer which improves success).

Some experts feel that it’s very important for a child to independently recognize their need to use the bathroom. Constantly asking them doesn’t accomplish “solo” efforts. It’s up to you to determine if your child is ready for this level of independence or if they need more guidance.

Cleaning up

Obviously showing your child the steps for good hygiene matters greatly. How to wipe, flush and wash their hands afterward is all part of the process.

Cleanup also applies to the inevitable accidents. Your child should participate in changing their clothing, washing up, washing up the clothing and any other mess that results. This supports a sense of responsibility and further encourages use of the bathroom.

Give it Time and Patience
Keep your methods child-centered and be patient. Soon your child will be happily using the potty and feel proud of their accomplishment.

How To Potty Train: 10+ potty training techniques. Is this not the right potty training style for you? Use our "What's your Parenting Style" guide to select the best way to potty train for you.

Leave a comment or share your story about kids potty training.

Return from toilet learning to Little Darling Potty Training home page

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