Friday, January 25, 2013

Potty Training Part 2 - After Training, what to do??

Whew!  Successful potty training finally accomplished!  Or is it?

Toilet training is most successful when your child is in charge and when you stay non-judgmental and matter-of-fact during the process, so your child can feel pride in his achievement, not yours.  Even so, it is common to have setbacks in both bladder and bowel training after control is learned.  They are as upsetting to your child as they are to you. (For additional info, check out our other blog post about potty training!)

I ask three questions when a setback occurs:
1) Has there been a change?
2) Is there an illness?
3) Has the child experienced trauma?

Illness such as a bladder infection is easily ruled out with a simple urinalysis (not invasive procedures like catheterization, ultrasounds, etc).

Trauma is often accompanied by behavioral or emotional signs besides toileting accidents.  These cases can be treated by your pediatric health care provider.

Change, however, can be enough to derail most children.  “After any family stress, such as a move, a parent’s absence, or a new baby, expect your child to fall back a few steps.  This often happens as a child faces a Touchpoint, a demanding new developmental advance or any new fear.  You need not feel defeated when your toilet-trained child suddenly wets or soils again.”  (Brazelton and Sparrow, Toilet Training the Brazelton Way, p.40)

What to do?  Realize that, as distressing as setbacks are, they are the norm (just not a norm parents want to share much).  Reassure your child that she will get herself back on track when she’s ready.  Let her choose whether she needs diapers or training pants again for a short while.  Help her change her sheets and put them in the washer, but don’t point out her failure.  When she’s ready to try staying dry again start with daytime, then add nap time and finally nighttime.  (Nighttime dryness takes the longest to achieve.)

Trust your child to be in charge of regaining control.  He will do it for himself, not you, and will never forget his feeling of achievement.  And you’ll be delighted at what he’s capable of on his own.

For other resources check out this great book by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.

Contributed by our Child Development Specialist, Robin Lindsay, MSN, FNP.


  1. what is the earliest age a baby can be toilet trained I have a friend who keeps telling me her daughter was toilet trained at 10 months old i find this hard to believe and I feel that she is compairing my child to hers. This makes things very frustraiting me indeed I asked her so what happened when you went out was she in underwear and after a short pause it was oh yes.... do I just not assoiate with her while I am training my child as I still know that her child is in dispoables (Hense she is not toilet trained AT ALL) BUT she compaires both children. Please give me some advice its not after all a competiton to see who is trained 1st.

    1. That can be a hard situation to be in. Honestly, every child is different and ready at their own pace to be toilet trained. I would say that the most important time that they should be potty trained would be when they are five years old and they are about to start school. It is typical that 3 year old children are still learning how to be more comfortable with transitioning from diapers to underpants. The book, Mommy! I have to go potty!, gives great advice on when you should start potty training and is very helpful as a guide. Around ten months you should start using toileting words(clean, wet, dry, sit, go) around your child. Around 18 months you should start taking your child with you when you use the toilet, talk about what you are doing when you are in the restroom, and let your child flush the toilet for you. Most families start potty training when their children are between 23-31 months of age. On average, children become toilet users between the ages of two and a half to four years of age. Check out our blog post on ideas you can do to help your child become potty trained-
      Hope this helps!

  2. Hi,
    I am a childcare practitioner and work in a private nursery and I'm qualified in child care, learning and development. While I was training we were taught that the earliest a child is developmentally able to potty train is 18 months because this is the earliest they can be aware they are peeeing or pooing and make the connection with what is happening. I remember our tutor saying that some parents swear blind their kids were potty trained earlier than this but she reckoned that these parents perhaps just had children who tended to go at regular intervals making it easier for them to anticpate and sit them on the potty, so the potty going was parent led rather than something the child had learned to do. It is hard when you are friendly with a competetive parent. As you know children develop at different rates. Comparing them doesn't really help but can be difficult to avoid! My own son is 2 years and 10 months and his speech developed more slowly than his younger cousin but I consoled myself by remembering that his physical development was quicker and he walked first! And, if it helps, my son isn't potty trained yet. Good luck and try not to worry.

  3. This is great info. For those asking how early to potty train: Maria Montessori (founder of the montessori style of education) believed there was a window of opportunity between 12 and 18 months for potty training and this was the easiest time and if this window was missed most children would be much harder to train and not train til near age 3. If you're interested in this early potty training do a Google search for montessori potty training and you will find great info. Montessori schools all over the world have great success with this method.

    That being said don't be discouraged if it doesn't work during that age window or if you choose to wait til your child is older. Every child is different and every parent must do what they think is best for their child. While we are in a Montessori education setting for our 4 year old her younger brother that is 2.5 is not having much success with going potty still. So i am looking to try some of the things in this post to help him along

  4. My daughter is 2.5 years old and has been going on the potty since she was 19months old. She is smart beyond her years, there is not a thing she cannot communicate and has vocabulary like a 5 year old. She will always go poo on the potty and will tell us when she needs to go. But when it comes to going pee, she will only go on the potty when she is totally naked. That's the only way she can tell she needs to go. The minute you put underwear or a pull-up on her, she will pee in it. We get frustrated (without her knowing) because she is such a smart girl that we feel she should have it down by now. Any advice??

    1. That is a great question! First, we would suggest taking her to her pediatrician just to make sure that there is nothing in the way of her learning to pee on the toilet, such as a urinary tract infection. If everything looks good and she doesn't have any infection the other thing that it could be is that she has simply not fully grasped the difference between underwear and her pull up, hence the reason she will go pee in her underwear but go in the potty when she is totally naked. Its a common problem. It is also very normal for a child to master one thing before the other (such as going poo in the potty before going pee). This happens because they are two totally different things involving two totally different parts of the body. Our advice would be to not worry about it too much and keep practicing with her and putting her in underwear. Having patience will be key. She should get it down soon enough.

  5. How do you transition from using the potty at home to wearing either diaper or underwear out in public, basically how to do you potty training when you are out and about?

  6. Kristina, it is different for each child. However, we do have some tips that should help. First, before going out sit your child on the toilet and have them use the toilet before you can leave. Throughout the outing you should encourage your child to go to the bathroom if they need to. Secondly, because the toilet/situation may be new and unfamiliar to them it is important that you provide support if they do decide to use the toilet. We would also recommend keeping the outings short, while your child becomes more comfortable with potty training. If they do have an accident in public it is important that you are supportive of their mistakes. Hopefully this helps!