When commencing toilet training, follow these simple 10 step guidelines to help with the process. Toilet training can be stressful and cause anxiety so both the parents and child needs to be ready.

  1. You need to assess the child’s readiness for toilet training. Your occupational therapist can help to assess whether your child is ready or if you need to work on readiness first.
  2. Consistency of language and the process between all the environments and family members is very important. Eg. Using the same terms, language and cue cards. Plan what language will be used with the child and include everyone who will be involved in regular communication. e.g. parents, grandparents, therapist, carers and teachers.
  3. Ensure when you are about to start training that the main carers have the time to invest in the process. Events such as moving house, separation, or starting preschool will disrupt the toilet training process. It is important routines are consistent and familiar.
  4. Before you start training ensure the bathroom is a safe and enticing place for the child. For example ensure the toilet insert seat and step are secure and stable, if sensory sensitivities are present avoid loud hand dryers, strong air fresheners, or bright lights.
  5. Collect the baseline data of the most common times the child wees and does a poo. Ensure they can stay dry for 1‐1.5 hours during the day and sit still for 3‐5 minutes.
  6. Introduce the toilet as part of the daily routine: Change the child’s nappy in the bathroom, have dolls pretend play on the toilet, have timed sittings to practice relaxing while sitting (keep sittings, short, relaxed and enjoyable). Tell the child it is ‘toilet time’ at each assigned toilet time; don’t ask if they need to go. Have the child participate as much as possible.
  7. Facilitate awareness of wet and soiled: Have no nappy play outside, put undies underneath the nappy to increase sensation, and label ‘wee’, ‘poo’ and ‘need to go’.
  8. Use consistent teaching methods, including language, signs, pictures and demonstrations.
  9. Have a positive approach to rewarding and praising the child. Praise/reward correct behaviour only. When accidents occur, show limited attention by labelling the wet/soiled feeling, offer no punishment or reward, and continue in the usual toilet routine. Rewards should be meaningful, immediate and only given at toilet times (e.g. stickers).
  10. Avoid negative experiences and toilet battles.

This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute advice to a child or carer’s particular circumstances. Tip sheets are not intended to replace professional therapy services.

If you have any questions or would like additional information contact Grace Children’s Therapy on 1300 760 779.