There are many articles and books on how to toilet train your child. They usually start with a list of signs that show that your child is ready to begin toilet training. One of the main signs of readiness is awareness. Is your child aware that they need to go to the toilet? Are they aware when their diapers or clothing are soiled?

Sometimes, children do not develop this awareness until much later. Habit training is a technique that relies on schedules and routines for toilet training, thus shifting the focus from the need for the child to be aware that they have to go. Habit training can also be a step in teaching your child awareness. Often when a child has been habit trained, they become sensitised to the feeling of being wet/soiled.


Five Steps of Habit Training

Step 1) Track your child’s elimination. Write down the times that they usually go. This is crucial to developing an effective toileting schedule. Identifying your child’s elimination times correctly will greatly improve your chances of being successful.

Step 2) Choose a time approximately 5 – 15 minutes before their habitual time to bring them to the toilet. It is very important that once this schedule has been made, you are consistent in taking your child to the toilet at the specified times.

Step 3) Buy your child comfortable underpants and take the diaper off during the day for good, while you’re at home. It may be tempting to keep the diapers on to avoid the inevitable mess that will occur in the event of an accident, but diapers are designed to keep moisture away from the skin, thus decreasing the sensation of wetness which is crucial for developing awareness. If you must use a diaper, have your child wear it over their underwear so as to contain the mess without eliminating the wet feeling.

Step 4) Every time you take your child to the toilet, teach each step as part of the routine. Going to the bathroom involves much more than just sitting on the toilet. Undressing, dressing, wiping, flushing, and handwashing are all important steps in a toilet routine. A visual schedule posted on your bathroom wall can be particularly helpful in teaching your child the routine.

Step 5)  Don’t be discouraged or upset when accidents happen. Just calmly clean up the mess and continue with your day.