What is Toilet Learning?
Toilet learning is a four stage process that shows and encourages children to learn to use the toilet in a fun, every day way, and most importantly, the learning is done at the child’s pace.
It builds the children’s knowledge and develops the skills needed to use the toilet and become independent in the process.
“Learning to use the toilet is a natural process that begins when your child’s desire to be grown up and his neurological development have reached the point where he can control his bladder and bowels.
We don’t train children to use the toilet, we support them when they are ready.”
Stage 1: Toilet Play
What is toilet play?
It’s just that. Allow your child to climb on and sit on the toilet with their clothes on or off. Let your child follow you to the toilet and let them see you use it, this is to allow the child to become accustomed to how to use the toilet and sitting on the toilet.
Bring toilet play to the children’s level by using teddies or dolls, pretending to change nappies, wipe and clean bottoms with toilet paper, washing hands, putting on a play potty or on a pretend toilet.
Introduce stories about toileting like “Zoo Poo” by Richard Morgan.
Stage 2: Toilet Practice
This stage is all about skilling, skilling and more skilling: using the flush, letting them see what it does; letting them flush the toilet after you; letting them get up and down from the toilet; standing at or sitting on the toilet; turning the cold water on to wash hands; drying hands; pulling their clothes up and down or off and on; allowing the child to dress themselves.
If clothing is on backwards or inside out it does not matter; encourage them for the effort they have made. This is about empowering the child to become independent.
Try not to correct them, but celebrate with them “You put your pants on yourself, well done!” Remember it’s them learning how to dress themselves. (That is why some times when you pick up your child from their Early Education and Care service their clothes are inside out or back to front or their shoes are on the wrong feet. It’s that we allow the child take pride in the fact they can dress them self).
Tell the child that you need to go to the toilet to urinate or defecate (do a wee/poo) when you need one so they become aware of what the toilet is used for and if Mum/Dad/Brother …. goes then maybe I should try.
Stage 3: Toilet Learning
The Toilet Learning stage is the most stressful and frustrating for the grown up as children will often have accidents as they are learning to judge and feel when and if they need the toilet. If your child keeps having accidents you may need to put the nappy or pull-up back on, wait a few weeks and try again. This can make all the difference.
Remember that children tend to master control of the bladder sooner then they can control the bowels. They may not know how, or be able, to hold off defecating themselves before they manage to get to the toilet.
Stage 4: Independent Training
Now that they have cracked Stage 3 let them go by themselves.
BUT if a child becomes wet or soiled, stay calm and be reassuring. Do not make them feel ashamed. You might say, “I see you are wet. Let’s go get some dry clothes.” Your child can get them from the supply in the bathroom and even help wipe the floor and wash their hands.
Let them change at their own pace and give help if they ask for it or if they are overwhelmed. If they have wet clothes but they are playing with a toy, you can wipe up around them and wait until they are finished before suggesting you get some dry clothes.
“There should be no pressure, no reward or punishment, no adult deciding when the child should learn to use the potty.
The environment is prepared and the child is free to explore and imitate in these natural developmental stages.”
Finally, in Early Childhood Education and Care settings we are constantly learning and researching to improve the quality of our service to families and implement best practice for the child. We are trained to do this job and this training is constantly being updated to make sure that we are up to date with best practice.
We are here to help and support you on your journey to supporting your child’s learning the knowledge and skills needed for going to the toilet.
With special thanks to:
- Article Author Christopher Cross (N.N.E.B Diploma in Nursery Nursing, CHC50113 Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care)
- Kendall Gates (Proud Larrakia Woman)
- Susan Perzamanos (Trainer/Assessor Early Childhood Education and Care)
- Dr Marie Martin PhD (Training Manager @ SOEL and EYE Training – Enterprise Based RTO)
For their insight of Australian and Aboriginal cultural and customs, as well as for their help, advice support, training and editing.