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Tips From Our Teachers: Potty Training


 While there’s no one-size-fits-all method for teaching a child to use the toilet, KinderCare teachers help families navigate this development milestone every day in our centers. The following tips are based on observations and insights from some of our teachers. For more information on toilet learning, The American Academy of Pediatrics’ website HealthyChildren.org is an excellent resource. 

Is Your Child Ready?

  • If your child is in a learning environment, ask your child’s teacher if he or she has seen signs of readiness or interest – especially if there are other children in the class who are learning to use the toilet.
  • The child doesn’t need to have actually used the toilet before, but he or she should be able to understand the concept of toileting and what the toilet is used for.  
  • Look for signs of readiness, like being able to “hold it” for a couple of hours. A dry diaper after two hours could indicate your child is “holding it.” (Always make sure your child is properly hydrated, because dry diapers could also signal dehydration). 
  • Other pre-requisites for toilet learning include awareness of the physical signals that mean he or she needs to use the toilet, verbal ability to communicate the need to go to the bathroom and the ability to follow simple instructions. 

Basic Tips

  • Try talking it through with your child – explain what’s going to happen and what you would like your child to do.
  • Give your child the option of using the toilet, but make sure it’s truly a choice. For example, ask, “Do you want to wear underwear or a diaper?” not “Do you want to use the potty or not?” 
  • Don’t push too hard. If your child resists or seems anxious, stop and try again later. You don’t want your child to have negative associations with using the toilet. 
  • Get to know your child. Your child’s temperament and personality can give you clues as to the best approach to take when helping him or her learn to use the toilet.

Potty Training Weekend

  • While no single method works with every child, we’ve seen some families successfully potty train by spending a weekend devoted to it. This may sound daunting, but can be manageable if you keep any trips away from home short. Don’t schedule your potty training weekend before a long trip if you’ll just be putting your child in diapers again.
  • Let your child wear underwear and a long shirt, and keep potty chairs around the house. Have your child try every 30 minutes or so, depending on your observations of your child’s needs. Remember not to push too hard, and cheer enthusiastically for all attempts, whether they are “successful” or not.  

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