At the Child Development Center we recognize that learning to use the toilet needs to allow for differences in children's physical growth and emotional development. Many children learn to use the toilet sometime between the second and third birthday. Daytime dryness usually occurs before nighttime dryness. Of course there are always exceptions and many normal children do not become completely trained until they are between the ages of three and four.
Indicators of "Readiness"
As your toddler grows, you can watch for signs that indicate it may be time to start the learning process:
- Your child follows you into the bathroom and wants to imitate and please you
- Your child pauses during play or finds a private place to have a bowel movement
- Your child tells you when a bowel movement is coming
- Your child has longer periods of dryness or usually wakes up dry from a nap
- Your child prefers to be clean and dry
- Your child tries to pull pants up and down
Not every child shows all of these signs of readiness, but when your child shows some of them, you may want to begin toilet training.
Before You Start
Toilet training is most easily accomplished if parents wait until their child expresses an interest in using the potty. A relaxed, casual approach without pressuring the child usually has the best results. Some things you can do to prepare your child for toilet training are:
- Decide what words you will use to talk about elimination: for example "pee", "poop", "wet", "dry"
- When changing a diaper you can say, "You pooped. Let's go clean it up. It feels so good to be all clean."
- Avoid using words such as "dirty" or "icky" to describe this natural function
- Allow your toddler to observe others (yourself, older siblings) using the toilet, if you feel comfortable doing so, and allow them to flush the toilet for you
- Buy a potty chair and give your child time to become familiar with it by sitting on it fully dressed or allowing them to place a doll on the potty
Ready, Set, Go!
Once you have decided your child is ready to begin using the toilet, you need to be sure you are ready! Wait to train your child when there aren't a lot of other things going on such as a new baby or an extended visit from grandparents.
It is usually easiest for parents and the child if the child remains in diapers until some consistency in using the toilet has begun. Then you may want to switch to training pants, while using a diaper for only naps and bedtime. Dress your child in clothes that are easy to pull up and down.
Take your child to the bathroom after meals, upon waking, and periodically throughout the day. Stay with them, singing songs or reading books so they will consider going to the bathroom a pleasant time. If there are no results within five minutes, praise the effort and comment that maybe the next time the "pee pee" will come out. Help your child remember to stop playing long enough to use the bathroom.
Experts disagree about using training pants or Pull-Ups®. CDC does not recommend or use Pull-Ups® because they are as absorbent as a diaper. We believe there is less motivation to use the toilet if a child does not experience wetness.
How Long Will it Take?
Successful toilet training requires a strong partnership between parents and staff. Our teachers will begin the toilet training process at CDC when parents tell us they have started training in the home setting. Together we will agree on a consistent "plan of action" for both home and school, children can become confused about what is expected of them and the training process will take longer.
It is possible for the toilet training to take anywhere from two weeks to several months. If toilet training is unsuccessful after two or three weeks, let a few months pass before trying again. Delaying toilet training isn't a sign of failure, but a signal that your child may not be quite ready to start the process.
Oops! Accidents Happen!
Accidents during the learning process are common and should be treated in a matter of fact manner. Encourage your child to use the toilet to empty their bladder and support them by saying, "Accidents happen. Next time we will have to stop playing sooner to get to the bathroom on time." Anticipate some setbacks during illness or major life changes, such as moving or the arrival of a new baby.
While training we ask you to keep a minimum of three changes of clothes (socks, shirts, pants, underwear) in your child's cubby and replace them as they are used. Since children often wet their shoes, it is also helpful to have extra shoes on hand.
Maintaining a sanitary and healthy classroom environment is essential during toilet training. If your child is having consistent accidents at school, CDC may need to temporarily put them back in diapers.
When Will My Child Move to Preschool?
Toddler children may move to the preschool program once they have reached three years in age, are completely toilet trained, and are consistent while using the bathroom. CDC considers children to be completely toilet trained when they:
- Can anticipate the urge to use the toilet
- Can initiate going into the bathroom on their own
- Can get there on time
- Can pull down their own pants
- Can use the toilet
- Can wipe their bottom
- Can pull up their pants
- Can wash their hands
To ease the transition into the preschool program, toddler staff will take your child to visit the new classroom for short periods of time during morning hours. We try to move at least two children at the same time so that they are making the transition with a friend.
During the time your child is visiting in the new classroom, we ask parents to set up a meeting with the director to visit the preschool and talk about the program curriculum. Most children are able to complete the move within a week or two. However, if necessary, we can extend the visiting time.
Children who complete toilet training at a time when there is no additional space in the preschool classroom will make the transition as soon as space becomes available.
What if my child isn't toilet trained by age three?
The Child Development Center Toddler Program is designed for children who are less than three years in age and our Preschool classrooms are not set up for diapering or toilet training needs. Therefore, toddlers who have not completed toilet training by three years and three months of age must leave the Center for a brief period until the child has completed toilet training. Once the toilet training process has been completed, we will be happy to welcome them in the preschool program.
Partners in the Process
Please communicate freely with CDC staff regarding progress made both at home and at the Center. Any concerns may also be discussed with the Director.
We look forward to assisting you with helping your child take this important step toward independence!