Did you say Toilet Training?

Did you say Toilet Training?

Written by Mimi

Toilet training is an important milestone that your child as a toddler (18 months – 3 years old) will master to gain one more step towards independence. 

However, to be able to reach that point, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Your child needs to understand that a change is coming, no more nappies! 

What’s happening? Moving from a zone of comfort to a place of uncertainty?

  1. Make the connection between the physical act of “going” to the toilet on the potty/toilet and the wet and dirty clothes that are the consequences. 
  2. They need to realise that they can control the result: so, choose to “go”, sit and do like their parents or older sibling.
  3. But, even if the desire to use the toilet is there: Hooray! The child still needs to master all of the physical skills and coordination involved. Plus, learn to pay attention to her/his core body signals sent in its body.

This is a lot to learn for your little one!!!

Children cannot reach their full independence alone. That is where you came to their rescue! Oops! You do need to be ready in your head, in your home, with your family too. 

Your baby is growing, and he/she is getting more independent! 

The goal of supporting your toddler towards autonomy is one step at a time as: it takes time, perseverance, patience, love, laughter, celebration and consistency when using the toilet. 

When your child reaches 18 months or later, she/he may be ready to work with you on toilet training actively. Remember, there is a need for a level of awareness, a level of understanding, and a level of interest in grasping those new skills. This is especially when knowing that every child is unique and grows at a different rate than their peers around. 

Then, how can you prepare your child for toilet training? 

Here are a few tips (learning process) to show your child how:

  • To take the nappy off by peeling the straps using pincer grips.
  • To pull down their trousers by putting their thumbs on their trousers’ sides and pull first the back, then the front. This allows your child to practice pulling up and down pants and underwear, which takes both coordination and hand strength.
  • To sit on the potty after each nappy change; only if your child is interested. That will create a habit, with or without a result. As long as you regularly and consistently invite your child to go to the toilet.
  • To stand up on a step near the sink after each nappy change to wash their own hands – for that, the child will need to learn to turn the tap on and off, press the soap bottle or handle the soap, rub their hands and rinse and dry their own hands.
  • To realise what he/she is doing when for example your child does the poo – by naming the action: “I can see that you are doing a poo!”, “you are doing a wee?”

You can choose a particular order to teach your child, according to their interest and ability. Remember that each of these steps has more than a few parts to take into consideration. 

All can be taught or role-modeled independently. 

They all take time to master!

After consistency and patience, your child may be more up to staying longer sitting on the toilet and more often. After hope and frustration, because it may take some time, your child will gain awareness of her/his body and will understand and initiate the process.

When you start the process of toilet preparation, I dissuade parents to use pull-ups. The reason is that they are too efficient at keeping your toddler unaware of being wet or dirty. 

Nevertheless, at some point, you know if your child has reached the understanding, the interest and communicates it verbally or not. Your child himself will notice some signs, and gradually will be able to initiate going to the toilet for a wee more often.

The learning is at the fingertips! It is only a matter of practice and repetition!

Here we are! 

Communicate with your child’s key person and have a conversation with your entire family and those who might be involved with your child when toilet training begins.

  • Explain how you intend to proceed. 
  • Communicate the routine you want to underpin.
  • Tell the vocabulary you plan to use.

At Willows we encourage parents and teachers to liaise to support any sign of readiness. 

The key person will email you the toilet training policy and information to get prepared.

We recommend starting the toilet training process over a weekend, or during holidays when you will be focused and ready and when your child will feel comfortable to go on the potty/toilet seat. The toddler should have mastered some skills of the process, maybe washing hands, or pulling up and down trousers but definitely sitting on the potty, and communicating interest in using the toilet. 

Depending on your child’s age and personality, it is preferable to create some anticipation by letting your toddler know a few days before. For example: “No more nappies during the day” or by choosing knickers/pants together; those that your child likes, and you will save them for the D-day weekend. 

Let’s proceed!

  1. Have your child spend the day in tops and underwear, so it’s as easy as possible to get ready to use the toilet quickly. It will be much easier for your child to simply pull down the knicker/pants and not have to also wrestle with trousers or dress. 
  2. Point out what you are noticing in your child (signs of a need to go), then invite your child to use the toilet. With practice and repetition, your child will notice these signs himself, and gradually be able to initiate more often. 
  3. Create your routine such as every 15mins, 20mins, 30mins let’s sit and have success as you know now when your child needs to urinate.
  4. Give lots of water to create the desire of wee. At first, your child may have a lot of accidents. Stay confident and positive. 
  5. Praise and celebrate – when sitting on the toilet seat, when doing a wee, when pulling down and up underwear. (some parents use toilet training charts and stars).
  6. Teach your boy to sit on the toilet to wee and reach down to point his penis downward into the toilet. It will be easier for him to learn to differentiate between the urge to wee and the urge to poop and the muscles needed for each. 


It is not the end of the world! Stay positive and remind your child of key ideas. Use a clear and constructive tone and language and, focus on what your child can do next time, rather than what he didn’t do. Continue inviting her/him to use the toilet. Remind your toddler what you want you him/her to learn and understand. Accidents will become a souvenir.

Let’s start with confidence now!