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Learning Centre

Once they‘ve started, what do we do?

How should I respond if my child pees or poops on the toilet?
If they were successful (went on the toilet) praise and a reward can be provided (e.g., a sticker on a chart on the bathroom wall, a small edible, some time watching a preferred video/playing a preferred game).

How should I respond if my child does not pee or poop on the toilet during a sitting?
If they didn’t go on the toilet, they can be praised (e.g., “good for you sitting so nicely on the potty”) and can return to whatever they were doing before they went for the trip to the bathroom. Once it is time to return to the potty (15 minutes to start) you will run through the entire routine again.

What should I do if my child has an accident?
Different procedures have been used to respond to accidents. These involve cleaning up the area impacted by the accident and soiled article of clothing, rehearsing the step of walking from the site of the accident or another location in the house to the toilet. The number of times you rehearse the toileting routine will depend on how your child responds to you (they may get frustrated after the first 2 rehearsals). No more than 10 rehearsals should be carried out after an accident. Verbal acknowledgement (e.g., “Your pants are wet”) can be given in a neutral tone of voice (not angry) as soon as you notice the accident. Another approach has been to provide a brief statement “We pee in the potty” to remind them of the new routine, and then quickly walk the child to the toilet and have them sit for 1 minute, then change them into a fresh pair of underwear and pants. Note: The body of research is inconclusive as to whether the cleaning up and rehearsal procedures are necessary components of the toileting procedure.

Should my child be asking to go to the bathroom or should I be prompting and taking him/her every time?
There are a number of different ways to increase your child’s independence with going to the toilet. These are an important part of the toileting plan, as the goal is for your child to be able to independently carry as many of the steps involved in using the bathroom. Although initially you are going to be prompting them to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes you are going to want to include a prompt for them to ask (e.g., “say ‘toilet’”, have them sign for the potty, have them hand over an icon for the potty). Eventually, you will want to fade out those cues to have them ask with the goal of them asking on their own.

Is a separate plan going to be needed to tackle bowel movements?
No.  The goal is to capture both pee and bowel movements in the toilet during the regular sittings on the potty so separate training is not typically needed.

Some things to avoid while toilet training.

  • Avoid scolding, punishing or shaming your child for accidents.
  • Avoid sounding or acting frustrated or angry towards your child for having accidents.

How long will toilet training last before my child is out of diapers and not having accidents
Research has found that using variations of these toilet training procedures has resulted in children with developmental disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder being toilet trained within 4 and 27 days. (SIDE NOTE: Whether the overcorrection, restitution, positive practice procedure were used, how many minutes children were expected to sit on the toilet, use of preference assessments all factored into variability in results.)

When to contact someone for help.

  • If your child is holding their pee or bowel movements contact your child’s doctor as soon as possible.
  • If your child is having a number of small pees throughout the day and is showing signs of discomfort or distress, grabbing at their genital region, contact your child’s doctor as soon as possible.
  • If your child is not showing any of the readiness signs to start toileting talk to your child’s doctor to discuss your options.
  • If your child becomes constipated contact your child’s doctor as soon as possible.
  • If your child is showing signs of constant wetness, wetness following laughter, a weak urine stream, painful urination, or blood in the urine contact your child’s doctor as soon as possible.