How to Stay Calm During Toilet Training

We all know how children of a certain age get into an endless loop of asking “Why?” It can be extremely annoying but it illustrates something in the nature of the child. Young children need reasons for doing things. “Because I said so!” is not helpful to them. If all of a sudden your pleasant life was interrupted by someone asking you to do something unpleasant several times a day, then you would ask “Why?” as well.


Learn About a Toddler’s Development

Toddlers’ kidneys don’t hold much. Their bladders can only send so much to them. A toddler can successfully use the toilet and then five minutes later have an accident because the bladder has sent another “shipment”. If this sounds familiar, try hanging around the bathroom for a while to see if a second trip to the toilet is needed.


Expect some accidents, especially at night. Very often toddlers dream they are on the toilet and then realize that wasn’t so when they wake up in a puddle. Plan ahead and read about things like how to get pee out of a mattress or which mattress covers are the most absorbent so accidents won’t be so upsetting. Stressing your toddler by your reactions to their accidents can even cause a setback.


Get Into the Mind of the Child

Toilet training is a huge annoyance to most toddlers. It takes them away from that very interesting thing they were doing and they can’t see the reason for it. Their diapers have worked perfectly fine so far and have not caused any interruptions in play. Instead of the usual things people tell toddlers like “You need to be a big boy” or “You can’t go to school if you’re not toilet trained”, parents need to come up with something better. After all, toddlers might feel they’re big enough already and may not care if they ever go to school.


Instead, think of something extremely meaningful to the child. What do they want and what motivates them? If all a little girl wants is to dress like her big sister, the parent could point out that diapers won’t look right under leggings. Once the diapers are exchanged for less bulky underwear, though, a shopping trip for leggings will happen. Maybe a little boy really wants to start swimming in the “big pool” at the local gym every day. A parent could remind them that diapers aren’t allowed in that pool but, yes, they can get swimming lessons as soon as they’re toilet trained.


Find out what motivates your child; it won’t be the same as any other child’s motivation.


Make a Chart

Have your toddler help you make a motivational chart. Then pick out some stickers together. Every successful toilet trip gets a sticker. Accidents don’t get a sticker, but they shouldn’t get anything unpleasant either, like a red X. Both you and your child should develop a matter-of-fact attitude toward accidents and make as little a deal of them as possible.


Decide what happens after a certain number of stickers is earned. You could start with three stickers and then increase as more triumphs occur. Decide ahead of time what will happen (within reason) after that last sticker is on the chart. Have it be something that can actually happen and also something that won’t break the bank. Remember, if all goes well, your child will be meeting and surpassing their sticker goals quickly. Some ideas for motivational rewards are a bouquet of supermarket flowers or a visit to the local farm. Make sure you don’t have anything unreasonable as a goal, like a new puppy. Also, it’s best to avoid any kind of food treat. Food and the toilet should not hold a connection in your child’s mind.


Don’t expect miracles overnight, but try some techniques and see what works the best to keep you both calm and successful, and know that this period will end.


Written by Finn Pierson