Toilet Training 101

Dr. Vandana Gandhi, Founder and CEO of British Orchard Nursery shares her advice on teaching children toilet independence



The right time

Before beginning the process, ensure that the time is right. Make sure that there are no significant changes happening in your child’s life that may interrupt his or her routines. For example, if a family member is visiting for a few days – that may not be the best time to start; or if your child is not fully settled at the nursery – you may want to wait until your child is more comfortable and confident. Remind yourself that there is no deadline for getting your child out of nappies. Every child is different. Some children may become toilet independent in a month, whereas other children may require a few more. An important indicator to whether your child is ready or not, is to assess whether they show an interest. To support building your child’s interest, you may choose to show your child the toilet, and explain to them how it works. Allow them to flush the toilet a few times too!


Foster a partnership

Speak to the nursery staff as this is an important step in your child’s life. Discuss strategies that you want to try or ones that you have tried. Consistency from home to nursery is crucial at this stage. Some points to discuss with the staff include how frequent and for how long should your child be encouraged to sit on the toilet, how your child communicates his or her need for the toilet, and ways in which your child is reinforced when he or she is successful.


From nappies to waterproof underwear

Nappies are easy for parents, because they limit the “mess” created. However, they are also strategically designed to provide your child with comfort, limiting the sensation of being wet. Alternatively, you can try using waterproof underwear or training pants, that are absorbent enough for your child to feel the wetness if he or she has an “accident”. This will definitely encourage your child to use the toilet. Another motivator is to allow your child to choose what underwear (colour, prints, etc) they would like to purchase, and wear, as they make their transition from nappies to underwear.


Accidents are part of the process

Becoming toilet independent is a new and exciting concept to your child. The continuous support from family and classroom staff is essential. Your child is in the process of making huge, positive transitions as they switch from wearing nappies to using the toilet. Toilet accidents will occur and it is all part of the process – refrain from getting frustrated and avoid scolding or overreacting, as this will only intimidate your child and cause unnecessary stress. To support your child in achieving this big milestone, continue celebrating all the little steps within the process – like walking with you to the toilet, sitting on it, attempting to use it, and finally, using the toilet effectively and flushing the toilet. Make sure you teach them to wash their hands after too!

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