Children are aware and can be introduced to toilet learning and independence as soon as they are autonomously mobile. They will often show signs of readiness long before the adults are organised to help them achieve toilet independence. As adults we have little control of our children toileting, what we do have control of, is the environment we set-up, the routine and the time and patience we are willing to give to the task. Below are a few tips to guide and support you and your child toward toilet independence.
It is important to prepare both the home and the adults involved to successfully guide the child towards toilet independence. Prepare yourself and those that will be supporting the child during this important learning experience towards independence. Be prepared to spend 3 to 6 weeks helping your child understand and be successful in the process of toilet independence. Understand and establish a routine you are comfortable with making sure everyone involved is on board. Consistency being an important success factor.
Before the actual toilet learning routine is introduced, place a potty in all bathrooms the child has access to. The child will
become accustomed to seeing them in their proper place. Your child will start making the proper association between the potty and its function. Another option is a step stool to reach the toilet seat that can be adapted for a small child. The advantage of the potty is it can be taken on the road when first starting the routine.
- Model the proper use of the toilet, sometimes male adults will have to model sitting at first to encourage the small child to sit rather than stand in front of the potty. The child will become aware that other members of the family also use the bathroom for bodily functions this will help the child better understand what is being asked of them.
- Using cotton underwear as soon as possible and as often as possible will help your child understand his natural bodily function and the process of elimination. If the weather permits only cotton underwear should be worn when first starting out.
- Prepare the bathrooms to support your child’s independence. A place where they can find all that they need; a potty, clean underwear, a container to place wet underwear, soap, access to water and towels for their hands.
- Have a child-sized mop or some floor cloths available for cleaning up, if they urinate before getting to the toilet or potty
- Provide a stool to act as a low seat for changing underpants and to stand on to reach the sink to wash their hands.
- Provide access to a towel or washcloth on a low towel bar for your child to wash and dry his hands independently. Establishing the habit of washing hands immediately after using the toilet from the start.
- When your child starts to resist being changed on the changing table, fighting the process it is usually a good indication that they are ready to being changed in the bathroom standing up, using cotton underwear (if they have not been used prior). Again this will help them understand the link between elimination, wet underpants and the bathroom.
- When introducing the toilet or potty invite your child to sit on it at regular intervals throughout the day. Preferably every 45 min. to an hour at the beginning, soon you will figure out their pattern of elimination. Remember consistency is the key to success. Keeping a record will also help you predict the moments that the child should be encouraged to use the toilet.
- Between 12 and 18 months children will start to feel the sensation of pressure that occurs right before elimination and this is the step in getting to the toilet on time so you can introduce underpants. This is considered for some a sensitive period for interest in toileting.
- If children are given the opportunity to spend as much time as possible in cotton underpants, rather than in diapers, they will gain a greater awareness of their bodily function. Their nervous system has developed and is able to control both bladder and sphincter muscles.
- Teach your child how to undress using easy to put on and off clothing. Simple clothing with elastic waistbands are more appropriate at this time then clothes with complicated fasteners, suspenders, belts or buttons.
- Involving your child in the processes of getting changed, by inviting him to put his own wet pants in the bucket and look for dry ones will help them take ownership of the process. Show your child how to undress, clean up, flush and dress again step by step. This will take a lot of repetition on your part, staying supportive and consistent is again key to your child’s success.
- Explain bodily functions with ease using proper language. It is a natural common trait that all humans have to eliminate. It is a natural process that needs to be talked to with no shame or embarrassment.
- Show your child how to clean up; they will enjoy mopping the floor or cleaning up with old towels when they don’t quite make it to the toilet on time.
- When out of the home make it a point to explore new places to find where the bathroom is, the child will feel secure knowing ahead of time where it is located.
- When they don’t quite make it on time be gentle and never reprimand. It is a process of understanding and learning that needs gentle guidance, patience and support.
- The transition from nappies or diapers to underpants happens much sooner and more easily when it is started earlier rather than later. It will still take time for your child to be completely dry and it helps to remember that every time he doesn’t make it there on time is just another feedback mechanism for the child, another step toward success in toilet independence.
- As a guide in this process it is important to be as consistent as possible. Keep you attitude matter-of-fact, encouraging, respectful and confident. No need for any type of rewards during this learning process, this would only confuse the child. Be patient, consistent, and encouraging throughout the process
Items needed for Success
- A potty or adaptable toilet seat
- A stool, to sit and reach the sink
- Low towel rack with hand towel
- A container with lid for wet pants
- Several cotton training underwear
- A small mop or wipe up cloths
- Optional; a basket with a few books
Article Source: Voila Montessori
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