If you think your toddler is still too small to be potty trained (the general advice is from around two and a half years old) there are ways you can introduce them to the idea of potty training without formally teaching them. The intention is to get them used to seeing things and doing things so that when the day comes and you do decide to potty train them- it won’t all seem so new and scary. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Let them see you go to the toilet: Most people like to be alone when they are in the bathroom, but this is a a good way to show your little one what to do on the toilet and a chance to create some dialogue around it- ‘mummy is having a wee wee on the potty’. It is helpful if the parent they are watching is the same sex or they may get confused. 

Let them flush the toilet: You can either ask them to help you flush the toilet after you’ve been or drop some toilet paper down and show them what to do. Explain what you are doing- ‘daddy is flushing his wee wee down the toilet, bye bye’. It may sound silly, however some children feel like they have lost a piece of themselves when they go to the toilet so telling them early on that it’s ok to say goodbye to this waste product means they are less likely to have an attachment to it when it’s their own. 

Have a potty in the house: They may not know how to use it, but if you have one in the home already, when you reach a point where you want them to use it, your toddler will hopefully have let go of any fears surrounding this new addition. Encourage them to sit on it so they know how to assume the position and tell them what it is. If you give them fun things to do while they are on it, they will come to associate it with positive feelings rather than negative ones. You could put one in your bathroom and ask them to sit on it while you sit on the toilet so they associate the room with the potty and the action. 

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Books and videos: There are plenty of cartoons that broach the topic of potty training as well as books that break it down more simply for toddlers. You could start reading to them or letting them watch such shows a little before you plan to potty train so they can see that it’s a normal, natural part of life.

Bring it into conversation: If someone you are with leaves to go to the bathroom, let your child know where they are going (providing they are ok with it!). ‘Grandad is going to the potty because he needs a wee wee’ or ‘Auntie (name) has just been to the potty’. Let them know that it’s ok to talk about it. The more open you are as a family about your bodily functions and bathroom trips- the better. Your toddler is more likely to tell you when they need to go because that is the norm in your household. 

Let them see other children go to the potty: Perhaps they have an older sibling or cousin- if so- let them be present when they go to the toilet. Children learn from other children and they copy what their elders do, so if their older brother or sister is potty trained their desire to follow suit will be stronger.

Try to avoid negative toilet talk around your toddler: If you are suffering from any toilet troubles yourself, try not to let your toddler hear or see anything that would make them distressed about this room in your house. The last thing you need is to instil any fear in them because of your own experiences. It doesn’t mean that they will suffer in the same way, so try to keep such conversations as far away from them as possible. 

Good luck to all the parents out there who are on the cusp of potty training! 

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