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Toilet Readiness

Posted 24.02.2014 by Claire Marketos under Parenting Hints & Tips
Toilet Readiness

Summer is just around the corner and children will be spending a lot of time in their bathing suits playing with water. This is the perfect time to encourage your 30-36 month old to use the potty or toilet.

Letting them urinate outside in the garden when they are playing with water is fine to get them started but do encourage them to use the toilet as they will be expected to do so at nursery school.

  • You know they are interested in the toilet because:
  • They will watch you when you use the toilet.
  • They will ask you questions about your toilet habits.
  • Their nappy stays dry during the day, and
  • They want to wear “big boy/girl undies.”
  • You can also encourage them to take an interest in the toilet by
  • Asking them to come to the toilet with you when you need to go, so they can watch.
  • By allowing them to choose their big boy/girl undies, bathing suits.

It is imperative that you never force a child to use the toilet. Be positive and encouraging but research indicates that too much pressure on the child during this time, especially from the mother can lead to psychological disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder later in life. This is an obsession with cleanliness along with a compulsion to wash yourself constantly.

It is always best to follow the child's natural developmental path. Not all children will develop at the same rate. It is acceptable for children to begin using the potty/toilet between 2 and 4.5 years of age. It does not have to be done by the time a child is 2 or starts play group.

Some nursery schools may require the child be able to use a toilet at 3 years of age, but I would not recommend a school that is not prepared to help you with gently encouraging your child to use the toilet.

Research also shows that children who use the toilet naturally at their own pace are less likely to wet their beds when they are older.

Remember, they are still very young. Their brain has to train their muscles and it takes a while. Be patient. One step at a time.


The best way to encourage your child to use the potty/toilet is to make it a fun enjoyable experience that they can look forward to.

Having a potty/toilet party can be a good way to get a child interested in using the toilet. Try and use the same sex doll as the child.

Some boys however, may not take an interest in a doll and then having objects such as floating balls, stickers and hanging plastic insects and targets in the toilet for them to aim at can turn using the toilet into a fantastic game, even dad will want to join in. Be patient if they miss the toilet occasionally.

Get a same sex doll as the child that urinates. Collect all kinds of party goodies; hats, blowers, streamers, (not sweets).

Put undies on the doll, and take the doll to the potty/ toilet to urinate.

When it has finished have a big party for the doll, shout, dance, blow the blowers. You can also phone their favourite character like Barney to tell him. Have someone impersonating Barney on the other end in case your child wants to talk to Barney.

Do this several times with the doll. Let your little one help the doll to urinate. Then ask them if they would like to participate in the potty party.

You have to watch your child closely so you can take them to the potty/toilet when needed.

Try not to nag them about going, but rather take them to the toilet at regular intervals to try. Always invite them to go with you if you need to go.

It is essential that you throw a big party every time they are successful.

If they have an accident, deal with it in a matter of fact way. Let them choose a clean pair of undies or bathing suit to change into, and tell them it’s ok as they are still learning.

Be aware of your body language and sighing if you are disappointed with them. You don’t want your child to feel ashamed when they are still trying to master using the toilet.

Focus on teaching them to urinate in the toilet first, and offer them a nappy for bowel movements. Some children will be able to cope with using the toilet for urinating and bowel movements from the beginning. Others will need to master urinating first.

Encourage dad and their siblings to also participate in the potty party if your little one is happy to have everyone involved.

Some boys may not want to sit on the toilet for bowel movements so give them time to watch dad and his toilet habits so that they can see it’s not only girls that sit on the toilet.

The key to success is consistency. Once you begin you should not confuse your child by putting nappies on them for urinating. Stay focused on your child so that you do not miss any opportunities. You also need to continue with the party until your child no longer needs it. By being positive, encouraging, and acknowledging their efforts your child will soon learn to control their muscles and use the toilet on their own.

Good luck! It’s time to party.

By Claire Marketos: BA Psych (Hons), HDip Ed
Parenting/Educational Consultant, Speaker. Author, Child Activist

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