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Toilet Learning


									                                                          The Basics of
                                      Caring for Children
                                                         In Your Home

            Toilet Learning
      oilet learning is a big step       ready to take that big step, but       You may want to make a copy of
T     for children and adults. Let’s
face it. Changing diapers all day
                                         the key is the child. Pushing a
                                         child who is not ready into toilet
                                                                                this tips page to share with the
                                                                                parents of toddlers. It’s important
is a lot of work. Parents may find       learning may take a lot longer,        that both you and the parents are
that diapers are becoming very           ending up with tears and frus-         working with the child in the
expensive. The adults may be             tration.                               same ways as you help him learn.

             When Is a Child Ready?
                                                                          Children will use the toilet
When the time is right, toilet learning can go quickly                      when they are ready.
and easily. Look for these signs that a child may be
ready:                                                       ested in learning to climb, run, jump, and talk at this
• Understands and follows simple directions.                 time. Don’t push! Wait three to six months and try
                                                             again to see if the child is ready.
• Stays dry for at least two hours at a time during the
• Stays dry through nap time.                                                 Working with Parents

• Seems to know when she’s                                      Toilet learning will go a lot easier if you work with
  urinating or having a bowel                                    the parents as a team. Decide together if and
  movement.                                                      when the child is ready to begin learning to use
                                                                the toilet and the ways you’re going to work with
• Wants to be clean and dry.                                    him.
• Seems interested in the toilet or
  potty chair.                                                       Talk with parents about what is happening
                                                                      with their family. If there are major changes,
• Tries to pull her pants up and down.                                 such as a new baby on the way, moving to a
Children will often begin to                                            new house, etc. you may want to wait to
show some of the signs of                                               begin toilet learning until everyone can
being ready between the ages                                             focus on it. Keeping the same routine for
of two and three years old.                                               about three to four weeks during this
Remember that each child is                                               time is helpful.
different. Many bright, nor-
mal, healthy three-year-                                                  Remind parents that toilet learning comes
olds may not be ready to                                                  one step at a time. It often takes several
learn to use the toilet.                                                months after learning daytime control for
They may be more inter-                                      children to learn to control their bladders at night.

                  Getting Started
                                                                                               Accidents happen.
• Begin by showing children what they are to do in
  the bathroom. Toddlers like to do the same things
  that others do. If you have mixed ages of children       See what works best for the child.
  in your care, the toddlers may want to see the other
  children using the toilet. Talk with her about using     • Try taking the child to use the potty chair about 45
  the toilet. Let her get used to the toilet with a spe-     minutes after meals and snacks, after waking from
  cial child’s seat or potty chair. She may want to sit      a nap, and other times when the child tells you.
  on it with her clothes on.                                 Stay with the child as she sits on the potty. You
                                                             might read a book to her or sing some songs to pass
• Read children’s books to the child about using the         the time.
  potty. Check your local library to borrow some of
  these books. Reading a book together helps the           • Limit the time on the potty chair to 4–5 minutes. If
  child understand what will happen as she uses the          the child was successful, give hugs and praise. If
  toilet and that other children learn to do this too.       the child wasn’t successful, thank her for trying and
                                                             tell her, “Maybe next time the ‘pee’ will come out.”
• Teach children words for familiar body parts, urine,       Don’t be surprised if a child urinates or has a bowel
  and bowel movements. Be sure you talk with par-            movement right after trying on the potty chair. It
  ents so you are using the same words with the              takes time to learn this new skill.
  child. Talk with the child about “peeing” or “poop-
  ing” (using the words you and the parents have
  chosen). Do not use words like                                                             Expect Accidents
  “dirty” or “yucky” to talk about
  this natural process. When you                           There will be accidents…even after a child has been
  change the child’s diaper say to                         using the toilet a number of times each day. Treat
  him, “You pooped. Let’s get                              accidents calmly. Say to the child, “Accidents hap-
  you cleaned up. It feels                                 pen. I know you’re trying hard to learn to use the toi-
  good to be clean and dry.”                               let. Next time we’ll have to stop playing sooner to get
                                                           to the bathroom on time.” If accidents take place for
• Talk with the parents about                                more than a week, talk with the parents to see if
  dressing their child in                                      there are changes at home or the child may need
  clothing that’s easy to                                        to visit a doctor to see if there are medical rea-
  pull up and down. Pants                                          sons.
  with elastic all around
  the waist are great! Stay                                         If you would like to read more about toilet learn-
  away from zip-                                                     ing, call your local Cooperative Extension
  pers, belts,                                                       Office to borrow these books from the county
  and buttons.                                                      resource library:
  Some people                                                                                 So This Is Normal Too?
  like to stay with                                                                             by Deborah Hewitt
  diapers at first and switch to
                                                                    Setting Up for Infant/Toddler Care: Guidelines
  the pull-on training diapers
                                                                     for Centers and Family Child Care Homes
  or training pants when the
                                                                     by Annabelle Godwin and Lorraine Schrag..
  child is urinating in the potty
  several times per day.
                                                           Developed by Lyn Horning, Better Kid Care Program
Some people like the pull-on
                                                           Supported by funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Pennsylvania Child Care/Early Childhood
training diapers. Others say that                          Development Training System, Developed by the Penn State Better Kid Care Program • 253 Easterly Parkway,
                                                           State College, PA 16801 • Phone: 1-800-452-9108 • Website:
training pants are better because
the child can feel the wet cloth if
                                                                                 Cooperative Extension
she has an accident, making                                                      College of Agricultural Sciences
                                                                                 This publication is available in alternative media on request.
her try harder to stay dry.                                                      Penn State is an affirmative action, equal opportunity university.

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