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Toilet Training “Triumph!”


We don’t teach algebra in kindergarten because 5-year-olds aren’t ready. So how do you know when your child is “ready” for training?  To begin training, several of the following “Readiness Signs” should be present:

  • Produces regular, soft, formed bowel movements
  • Pulls pants up and down
  • Imitates bathroom uses of others
  • Uses words for urine and stool
  • Understands and follows verbal instruction.
  • Desires Independence
  • Can remain “dry” for at least 3 or 4 hours at a time.
  • Anticipates need to eliminate.
  • Puts some possessions in their proper locations
  • Physically or verbally acknowledges that bowel movement is happening.

Using a Potty-Seat/Toilet

  • Assist your child if needed to use the bathroom several times throughout the day.
  • Encourage your child to use the bathroom at regular, set times throughout the day (e.g., when waking up, before leaving the home, before meals, before naps, before bedtime, etc).
  • Instruct your child to let you know when a bathroom is needed.
  • Make sure your child knows the location of the bathroom when in unfamiliar settings.
  • Dress your child in clothes that are easy to remove (e.g., no belts, no overalls).
  • Look for signals that your child needs to use the bathroom, such as crossing legs, or fidgeting.  Direct Your child to the bathroom. Fade away any prompts as your child begins to independently go to the toilet alone.


  • Provide a stable place for your child’s feet (to increase feelings of control).
  • Prompt “toilet sitting” frequently throughout the day (without pressuring for a “product”)
  • Make sure your child is ready (see above checklist).
  • Coordinate a philosophy and plan with all people involved (spouse, caregivers, school).
  • Recognize that training could be a lengthy process.
  • Praise, praise, praise (also use charts, stickers, etc.).
  • Ensure sufficient fiber intake if bowel movement withholding occurs.
  • Consult the Pediatrician as needed.


  • Don’t start when many other changes are happening (e.g., new baby, moving to a new home).
  • Don’t pressure your child (there is no evidence that pressuring helps training progress more quickly and pressuring your child will likely strain your relationship).
  • Don’t get upset about what others say (even if your mother tells you that you were toilet trained at your 1st birthday party!).
  • Don’t punish your child for accidents (most kids have accidents for up to 6 months after being trained! 12% of kids wet the bed after the age of 5!).