Toilet Training Resource Pack
Successful toilet training can be demanding for both you and your child. The child requires sensory awareness, balance, the ability to communicate and sitting tolerance, they need to be comfortable and feel secure. If a child does not feel balanced and secure when sitting on the toilet, they may feel very anxious. If they are concentrating really hard on being able to maintain their sitting position on the toilet they will find it really difficult to concentrate on actually using the toilet, resulting in less success. Please remember that all children are different and some take much longer to master toileting skills.
Toilet training requires time, patience and perseverance. Toilet training can take a long time for some children to master. Always use the same words to ensure understanding, for example; “going to the
toilet” or “going for a wee wee”. How does your child communicate their need for the toilet; verbal, Makaton, pulls trousers down. Make sure that all carers for your child know this to avoid unnecessary accidents.
Children follow seven stages of toilet training as they
1. Show interest in toilet/potty
2. Express the need to use the toilet
3. Will sit on the toilet
4. Will use the toilet
5. Using the toilet if previously used the potty
6. Consistently uses the toilet at home
7. Uses the toilet in the community
Look and Listen
Starting too early can make the whole process take longer! Here are some things to look out
for to help you recognise when they are ready;
• Young children need their bladder to be at least half full before they can wee.
• Are they interested in using the toilet?
• Do they stay dry for a couple of hours?
• Have they developed a pattern of opening their bowels or bladder?
• The child needs to be able to identify when they are wet.
• Do they seem uncomfortable when wet or dirty?
• Do they grunt or squat when they open their bowels?
• Do they tell you when they are about to wee?
• Can they sit for about 5 minutes
- Here are some things to try to help encourage your child to
use the potty or toilet:
- Share what you are doing with pre-school and what stage your child is at.
- Please don’t worry about your child having accidents at pre-school. It is part of our job.
- Letting your child go to the toilet with you, and immediate family, enables them to understand that everyone uses the toilet.
• Use the potty when you expect to see success to make it as positive as possible.
• Dress your child in practical clothing and send spare pants and trousers into pre-school in case of accidents.
• Ignore saying anything negative about accidents, just clean up and talk about something else, talking about the accident can reinforce this behaviour as the child may realise that they get attention for wetting themselves.
If toilet training seems to be going backwards, increase the level of
praise again to regain momentum. It’s easy to get out of the habit of
praising success. Ignore accidents completely and try not to show
disappointment if they don’t do anything on the potty/toilet. If
child/young person wets themselves when not on the toilet, take them to
the toilet as quickly as possible, try to get them there so some of the wee
goes in the toilet and they continue to make the connection between
weeing and the toilet.
What if the Child is not Aware
There are a number of ways you can teach a child to
recognise when they are wet or dirty.
Hints and Tips
• Communication – if your child is non verbal think about
ways to help them communicate, this could be using signs, symbols
or photographs. Speak to Speech and Language Therapy about what
the child’s level of communication is and the best
ways to communicate with them.
• Often the sensation of wetting/soiling heightens awareness when
your child stops wearing nappies and this can
encourage bladder control. It’s often a good idea to start
encouraging awareness during the finer weather when your
children can run around in the garden or the house without wearing
Children usually follow a toileting pattern; here are some
tips to encourage a pattern;
• Regulate mealtimes and drinks.
• Having a warm drink can stimulate the muscles in the intestines encouraging bowel movements.
• Give your child a big drink 30 minutes before they are expected to need the toilet to increase the chances of success.
• Start to fill in a training chart and check the nappy at half hour intervals this will help you determine a pattern of when and how often your child wets/soils.
• After a couple of weeks you can then take your child to the toilet at set times based on your observations.
Potty Vs Toilet
Children should feel safe and secure, in order to sit on the
toilet they must; be able to balance, have good sitting tolerance, have
their feet supported, feel comfortable and be able to relax!
You may have to motivate your child, to do this.
Make the experience fun and positive;
• Play on the potty/toilet – blowing bubbles
relaxes the child and can also stimulate the
muscles to encourage them to open their bladder.
• Sing a song
- Read a book
• Monitor the time spent on the potty to prevent boredom.
• Encourage the child to rest their hands on their
lower tummy to develop an awareness of their muscles and when
they are working.
• If you continue to encourage a routine without any success you may
wish to discuss this with parents/carers and suggest that they
discuss it with their consultant if they too have not had any
Children with ASD and Learning Difficulties
Children with ASD and learning difficulties often find toilet
training particularly difficult as it involves; changes in routine, increased
expectations, understanding of a complex process including planning and
sequencing, a range of sensory experiences.
- Hints and Tips
Try to be consistent and use visual aids to support the child/young
- Try and change routines gradually for example, start off
sitting on the toilet with the lid down to wash hand and face. Don’t
encourage ritualistic or obsessive behaviours as these can be very
difficult to break. Please ensure your strategies with us to ensure a consistent approach
Some children can be very sensitive to sensory input such as
touch, sounds and smells, others can be under sensitive to these things.
You need to bear this in mind when toilet training as certain sensitivities
may impact on success of toilet training. e.g. a toilet flushing for sensative to noise may cause upset and anxiety. Prepare the child before flushing. Ear defenders may help some children.
- The feel of the toilet seat – Some children/young people are very
sensitive to touch and they may feel that the seat is too cold, hard or too
hot. Try to compensate for this when possible so that the experience is
not negative for the child/young person.
Some children smear their poo, this may be due to a lack of
understanding, behavioural difficulties or they may be sensory seeking. It
may be that the child is bored and does not know what else
to do in this time. It may be that the child has done this in
the past and received a lot of attention from doing it. It could also be
that the texture or smell is something that the child/young person
Hints and Tips
• Minimise social interaction or talking whilst cleaning up.
• Dress your child in clothes which discourages putting hands down pants.
• If the child/young person appears to like the texture consider
encouraging them to play with other similar textures such as play
doh, shaving foam or gloop (cornflour and water).
Refusing to use the Toilet or Potty
When children first stop wearing nappies, they may hold their wee and poo until they can go in a nappy. This may be because they find it difficult to learn a new way of toileting. It could be because they are uncomfortable on the potty or toilet. It may also be because the firm pressure of the nappy helps them relax.
In order to achieve success with bottom wiping the child
needs to be able to demonstrate a good range of movement for reaching,
the ability to balance whilst wiping, body awareness, touch awareness and
Hints and Tips
• Encourage your child to stand to wipe if possible, they
may need a grab rail to help them balance. It may also help them to
have a stool which they can place one foot on to make wiping easier.
• Guiding your child hand so they can develop an
understanding of where to reach for – play games to encourage this
skill such as getting your child to pass a balloon
through and around their legs.
• Use wipes or damp tissues so that the child/young person can feel
where they have wiped.
• Encourage the child/young person to look at the tissue they have
used before throwing it into the toilet so that they can see for
themselves if they are clean or not.
Hitting the Spot
When boys are able to distinguish between when they need to open their
bowels or their bladder they may like to stand to wee. Some boys can
struggle with aiming successfully, as this task requires; good hand-eye
coordination, balance and concentration.
Hints and Tips
• Ensure the room is free from distractions such as noise by closing
the door, try not to interrupt concentration.
• Consider putting ping pong balls or cereal in the toilet for boys to
aim at – don’t worry these items can not block the toilet.
Poo Facts and Suggestions
• Ensure your child has lots of fruit and vegetables and
• Sitting on the toilet after mealtimes is more productive, eating
pushes food through the bowel.
• Consider poo in a positive light.
• The rule of three – no more than 3 a day and no less than 3 a week.
• Tip the poo from the nappy into the toilet so your child can learn where it goes, say “bye bye poo, off to poo land”.
• Change your child in the bathroom so they can
associate the room correctly.