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Toilet Training: Making it easier for everyone

Here are a number of things you can do to make toilet training easier for both you and your child:

  • Help your child become familiar with what toilet training is all about. Before and during the training process, read stories about toilet training. There are several in the "We Recommend" section of this website. Explain to your child in simple terms how food and drink become "poo" and "pee," and what the potty and toilet are used for. Remember, to a little child, a toilet is a big hole that makes a lot of noise. It's common for some children to think they might fall in and disappear, or that a monster might come out of the toilet after them.

  • Choose a low-stress time to begin your child's toilet training. Toilet training works best when both you and your child are relaxed. Avoid times when he is dealing with change, like the arrival of a new baby in the family, or starting daycare.

  • Help your child get started by saying that it's time to start using the toilet like Mom or Dad. Allow her to watch other young children or family members on the toilet, to help her get the idea. Let your child just sit on the potty to get used to it. Some families find that using a potty-chair allows children's feet to touch the floor, helping them to feel more secure.

  • Stay near-by while your child is on the toilet or potty, and don't make him stay any longer than he wishes to. Dress your child in loose clothes that he can easily pull down, and use training pants or "pull-ups."

  • Help make "going to the washroom" part of your child's routine, by giving reminders like, "Let's take a potty break." Encourage her to use the toilet or potty right after meals, and just before and just after sleep. And when she says she has to go, act fast!

  • During the process, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

    • If your child resists toilet training, back off and try again later; forcing him will only make it more frustrating for both of you.

    • It's very important to praise your child's attempts, even if he misses.

    • Never blame, shame or punish your child for any accidents. Accidents are common until about five years of age -- ask any kindergarten teacher! And even when your child is staying dry during the day, naps and nighttime will still pose a challenge -- this kind of control will take longer.

Also, a child who has learned to use the toilet may start wetting her pants or the bed due to stress or change. This is common and doesn't usually last long, in terms of daytime dryness, but night-time bedwetting may take longer to reinstate.

Finally, remember that every child is different, so don't worry if your child takes longer to be fully toilet trained. But if you are concerned at all that your child may have a physical problem, check with your child's doctor right away.

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