Potty training was one of those things that when I worked in Early Years used to cause parents lots of stress and worries!

Potty training is something that’s much easier to do in the holiday. Then there’s no break in your child’s routine. If you’re working all the time it can be super stressful.

Ask your nursery or preschool to help you with your child’s routine but make sure to pack lots of spare pants and changes of clothes… include socks too! Children often only know they’re going to go once they’ve started going or they may be coming towards you and it’s too late!

Once your child knows they’re feeling wet or soiled is a good time to start. Lots of parents start earlier but this can actually cause distress and upset for your child as they don’t undertstand the purpose of what you’re doing. This can be made even worse if they’re engrossed in an activity when you scoop them up to use a potty.

Practice them sitting on the potty fully clothed so it’s not a scary experience. Children often find the loo seat training aids quite frightening too as they can still feel like they’re falling down the loo.

Potty training is actually linked to cognitive awareness and body awareness. Lots of exercise and physical activities can help children develop muscle tone and strength and allow nerve endings to grow and mature.

Also as a final note try not to reward with sweets! I deal with lots of people who comfort eat and have problems with emotional eating patterns which can all be traced back to early childhood. Instead lots of prise and cheering “yay you did a wee!” Children like to have a look at what they’ve done so don’t worry about this either or rush to chuck the contents away.

If you find yourself getting stressed or angry then go back to using nappies for a while so you’re not transferring your angry dysregulation and making the whole process an anxious experience for your child too.

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Top 10 potty training tips for successful toileting from www.eric.org.uk

  1. Drink plenty: Make sure your child is having 6-8 drinks of water-based fluid a day to help keep their bowel and bladder healthy. Avoid fizzy drinks, drinks with caffeine in them and sugary drinks. Don’t limit their drinks to help them stay dry as it doesn’t work. The bladder needs to be filled and emptied properly to keep it working well.

  2. Check for constipation: Your child should poo at least four times a week and the poo should be soft and easy to pass. If they’re passing hard poos or going less often than this, they may be constipated. Leaking, runny poo can also be a sign of constipation. Look at our bowel problems section or download ERIC’s Guide to Children’s Bowel Problems for more information.

  3. Use easy clothing: Clothes that are easy to pull up and down are the best; avoid fiddly zips and buttons. Choose clothes that are easy to wash and dry. It can help to practise getting dressed and undressed. Let your child choose their own pants and practise wearing them to get used to the feeling.

  4. Pick a potty: Let your child choose a potty if you’re going to use one. Keep it in the bathroom and let them practise sitting on it. You might want to have more than one potty to begin with. If you’re using a children’s toilet seat, let your child choose it and a foot stool to help support them when they’re on the loo.

  5. Get into a routine: Don’t ask your child if they need a wee or a poo as they might not know what this is to begin with. Call it ‘potty time’ or ‘toilet time’ and go every couple of hours.

  6. Keep it short: Don’t let them sit for too long on the potty or toilet, two or three minutes is fine. Keep some toys handy to occupy them while they sit.

  7. Encourage boys to sit down to wee: They might also need a poo and sitting down will help them to go. They may empty their bladder better sitting down too.

  8. Be consistent: If your child is looked after by a relative or goes to nursery or a childminder make sure you let them know that you’re starting potty training and the way you’re planning to do it. It really helps if everyone who cares for your child is doing the same thing.

  9. Give lots of praise: For each little step like sitting on the potty, washing hands and getting dressed.

  10. Be patient: Potty training is a skill which may take some time to learn, so don’t be surprised if there are lots of accidents to start with. You might decide your child isn’t ready after all, in which case stop potty training and have another go in a few weeks.

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