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 day. • 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. 1-5 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: betterkidcare.psu.edu. 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.