Ahh feel that warm summer breeze? The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and there is laughter abound! The summer is synonymous with popsicles, warm weather, sandy toes and in my world...toilet training!
Since it’s one of the questions I am asked most frequently I figured I’d offer my two cents; but first, a warning...there a million and one ways to do this. What I am offering is an account of what has worked for me. At any given time I have 5-10 clients working on toileting goals—I am by no means a know-it-all, but I have been there and done that with kids that other professionals have vehemently declared “he/she is NOT ready”. So though I understand why "readiness signs" are an important developmental consideration they may not be the best indicator of when it's go-time (especially in our kids with more nuanced needs).
I have toilet trained neurotypical kids, kids with complex profiles and multiple diagnoses, kids who were 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8...you get the idea.
Here are my top 10 tips to getting it done!
1. Lose the pulls ups. No really---throw them out. Your wallet will thank you, and your journey to diaper freedom will be much easier.
Kids need consistency. It’s really important that you jump in with both feet. The only exception is at the very start of the process (there is an expiration date on this allowance) when I would say it is OK (not ideal, just OK) to put a pull up on when transitioning.
For example, for the first 1-2 weeks of toileting you may, if you must, put a pull up on to get in the car, or to hop on public transit. This is a short term plan and should be faded out as soon as possible and is only a viable option if you absolutely have to go somewhere.
2. Plan to focus ONLY on toilet training for a set period of time and get comfy because your kid may not be on your time table. One of the best ways to achieve consistency is to plan to stay home for as a long as it takes to develop a toileting routine without diapers. If you plan to stay home, go in the backyard, walk to the park, etc. (i.e. not in the car or go on public transit) you’re setting yourself up not to need pull ups even for transitions. Consistency is EVERYTHING!
3. Get a timer! Get a timer from the dollar store, or use Siri, and plan to start with bathroom trips every 20 minutes. Sit for 5-10 minutes and then re-set the timer. Once you're having fewer accidents, move to 30 minute trips, 40 minute trips and so on until you're nearing the 1.5 hour mark.
Timers will help you stay on track with your trips and help you monitor the duration of your trips—you don’t want to spend too long on the potty because you want toilet trips to be purposeful.