Toileting: What’s the Fuss?

Blog Kathie Sarles

Toileting: What’s all the fuss….

There are many good parenting articles, blogs and DVDs that address this very natural and routine milestone,( look for these in our resource center). There are also many sage and “helpful” relatives and friends that offer advice on this issue. When it comes right down to it there are only 2 people who matter in this specific skill development: the child and the caregiver (s). It is up to you and your child to decide when you are ready and what method to use.

Below are the things to think about and the steps that might be helpful on this short, but intense journey.

  • Is your child ready? His chronological age is not a factor in this specific checklist. If he/ she is between 2 and 3 it is a good time to look for the signs.
  • Is your child dry for period of two or more hours at a time? ( if he isn’t, then you should wait)
  • Is your child letting you know she is wet or dirty? ( may not want to change diaper but is aware of what is happening)
  • Is your child aware of the feeling he has to go (may squirm or jump up and down, or go behind the couch or somewhere to have a bowel movement).
  • Does your child show interest in YOUR toileting habits ( may watch you urinate or point or ask questions)
  • Does she/ he use words or signs to indicate the need to go or that he/ she went.
  • Finally can he/she pull down pants ( if motor is impaired it may be harder and you might want to wait).

Next, are YOU ready? You are a big part of the success of this milestone.

  • Do you have the time to dedicate (if you have a busy work schedule or relatives coming it may need to wait a week to start).
  • Do you have supplies? You will need mops and cleaners as accidents will happen. Your child needs to pick out the big boy or girl undies, and the special books and simple toys designated for potty time.
  • Decide on a potty… is it the big one or little one ( you know your child best)
  • Do you have a plan in mind, and are you willing to be consistent and stick to it?

Is everyone in house and at child care on board with you?


  1. Start by talking to your child about what is about to happen for about a week ahead of time. This gives both of you time to process.
  2. Go out to the store with your child and buy his favorite kind of undies.
  3. Decide if you are going to use motivators like toys, stickers or food to entice him to use the potty consistently ( if you do, talk about how this will work to your child and buy whatever at the same time as the undies)
  4. Put the diapers out of sight ( you will still need them at night for a short while)
  5. If you can start on a Friday and have that day off great; if not start on a day off like a Saturday and dress your child with minimal clothes for easy access.
  6. Encourage play near the potty or take it with you. Remind child every 15-20 minutes to go try…. When they succeed be excited and have them flush!
  7. If there is an accident, Say, “Oh No your forgot to go to the potty, why don’t you take off those wet pants and we will get new ones on?”.
  8. Be very matter of fact about accidents, but remind them that there is a feeling when they need to go and that feeling is important. Have children help with clean up and changes of clothes.
  9. Bowel movements are usually harder to catch, but if you know the time when your child typically has a BM be very aware and try to get them into potty to sit for a little while. (Don’t physically make him sit; he will end up afraid.)
  10. Have patience and be consistent with praise. Don’t put a diaper back on during the day (night time is different at first).
  11. If after 4-5 days your child is not successful, tell him that you can try again another time. Let it go. Try in a month or so once again. Most children will not need to try again; it becomes natural and they feel proud!