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When to Start Toilet Learning

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>> Expert Advice from our ECE Expert: Kim Davies <<

Every toddler develops at their own pace, and it’s most important to take accurate toilet readiness cues from them. Typically, girls tend to be ready for toilet learning before boys, however with either gender; parents should resist the urge to introduce their child to toilet learning if the child is not ready. Major signs that your child is not ready include their outright resistance or avoidance of the toilet, their being stressed-out or crying about it, or if they adamantly prefer to eliminate into a diaper/pull-up, rather than the toilet.

When toddlers are developmentally ready for toilet learning they will give you certain signs or cues. They begin to be interested in putting things away where they belong, they start naming body parts and develop the ability to pull down their own pants and pull them back up. They may begin to pretend-play using the toilet with toys. You may notice that their diaper is dry in the morning or they may be going a longer time during the day without soiling themselves, meaning that they are able to hold their bladder rather then letting it dribble. Another sign of toilet readiness is when your toddler begins to show regularity in their bowel movements or when they know they have to go to the washroom and can verbally communicate having to use the toilet to you. They maydemonstrate a more obvious interest in the toilet, verbally asking questions or through actions such as imitation, flushing the toilet and touching the toilet paper. They may begin to verbally communicate with an adult that they are uncomfortable in their dirty diaper, or even ask to have their diapers changed.

If your toddler is demonstrating these cues, or similar signs, then this is the time to start thinking about toilet learning. Remember to be patient and consistent. Toilet learning takes time, as you wait in the washroom while your toddler sits on the toilet and you both wait for them to use the toilet.


This entry was posted in: Helpful Parenting Tips


Nikki is the owner/director of Seasons Family Centre. She completed a diploma in photography at Fanshawe College, followed by a degree in psychology at the University of Western Ontario. Shortly after she finished a post-graduate diploma at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute. She is a Registered Canadian Art Therapist. Over the next few years she extended her education through various courses in psychology, counselling and play therapy at George Brown College, Hincks Delcrest and Cross Country Education. For the past several years Nikki has been running art programs all across the city of Toronto at various schools, community centres, libraries and private homes. She also runs play therapy groups at Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Offices as well as private art therapy sessions. Nikki has taken several courses in baking and cake decorating through the Wilton certification program.

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