Toilet Training

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

All parents have to toilet train their children from a certain age. The toilet training process involves a number of actions starting from the child understanding that he is about to urinate or have a bowel movement, going to the bathroom and lowering down his / her pants and underwear, sitting properly on the toilet seat, wiping off from front to back completely, effectively using the toilet paper and discarding it into the toilet, flushing, and putting the pants back on.

Toilet training should ideally start when your child is about 18 months old. However, please do understand that it may take a while for your child to be completely trained. It is naturally for children to need help from parents until about they are 5 years old. Some children may be ready to get trained later compared to other kids. The key is to judge when your child shows signs of readiness.

There are no pre-set rules that indicate the readiness of a child. However, there are certain signals that suggest the affirmative. These are:

  • When a child is able to sit down calmly and play without getting too excited
  • When the child is relatively organized and keeps his / her toys and other belongings in place
  • When the child helps the parent in dressing himself / herself up
  • When the child is able to understand and follow certain simple instructions given by the parent
  • When the child urinates and has bowel movements regularly and consistently over a period of days
  • Indicates urine and bowel movement with a name
  • When the child gains the ability to remain dry for at least a couple of hours

The more the signals, the easier would it be to toilet train the child. Remember, these are just indicators that suggest that a child is ready to train. Quite a few children may not show such signs until they are well over 2 years of age. Toilet training may still start before the age of 2.

Parents play an important role in getting the child ready for toilet training. This is more popularly known as pre-toilet training. One of the first facets of pre-toilet training is making children understand what happened when they urinate or have a bowel movement. A good way to do this is by having a name for such activities. Another facet is concerned with proper changing of diapers. Always change a diaper as soon as the child urinates. This will prevent him / her from becoming too comfortable with wet and dirty diapers. Also, if possible always change the diaper in the bathroom. This will indicate the purpose of using the bathroom.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,