There are many theories on how to potty train a child. However, there are some developmental stages that the child must have met for him to be successful. The child must be able to:

• Walk by himself to the toilet or potty chair

• Be able to sit by himself

• Dress himself or be able to pull down his pants and pull them back up again

• Stay dry for up to two hours.

• Tell you when they need to go

• Follow basic directions

• Be interested in going in the toilet or in wearing underwear.

Many times, parents will begin potty training with their child because the parents are ready and want to be finished with diapers. Take your time, if your child shows no interest, it will take longer for them to master toilet training. Follow your child’s lead. You may be motivated, but if the child isn’t you won’t be successful.
If your child goes to childcare, talk to your provider and discuss how you both can facilitate continuity in the toilet training process.

Beginning to toilet train:

• Provide a small potty chair so the child can access it by themselves

• Let the child become familiar with the potty chair by sitting on it with their clothes on

• As you progress let the child sit on the potty without a diaper

• Stay with the child, read a story or play a game while the child sits on the potty

• Praise the child even if it is just for sitting on the potty

• Let the child watch you put their bowel movement in the toilet so they can see that is where it is supposed to go

• Let the child flush the toilet

• Take the child to the toilet frequently

• Have the child sit on the toilet after meals and before bedtime

• Let the child sit on the toilet as long as they want to.

• Do not force the child to sit on the toilet until they go

• Watch for signs that the child needs to use the potty and get them there quickly. This will help the child identify those feeling as needing to go to the potty

• Never, never embarrass or humiliate a child for an accident

• Dress the child in clothing that will make it easy for them to pull down and up their pant. Avoid belts, overalls and one-piece outfits

• Teach the child to wash hands after using the potty

• Avoid power struggles, if the child resists, take a break and try again in a few weeks

• If the child has successfully remained dry for a few weeks, take away the diapers. Start to put the child in underwear. Switching back and forth between diapers and underwear can give the child mixed messages.

Children are often potty trained during the day but not at night. They can sleep so soundly that they do not wake up to use the potty. Do not embarrass the child for wetting the bed. Instead understand that the child needs more time to be able to go through the night. Put the child in disposable training pants and use a mattress pad.

Occasionally a child that has successfully potty trained will regress. A new baby in the family, illness, hospitalization, family problems like divorce can cause regression. Be patient with the child and give positive encouragement.

Remember children will have accidents. Don’t scold or shame the child. Reassure them that even though they had an accident they will do better next time