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Toileting by Myself


As you prepare your pre-schooler for full-day learning, it is important to help your child become more independent when it comes to toileting. The transition from pre-school to full-day learning will require your child to know when to go and what to do when they need to use the toilet. You can help your child succeed by following the helpful tips below and making the time commitment required for toilet learning success. Your child is already showing signs (external link) that he or she is ready for toileting success so it is important to try some positive strategies for toileting independence.

In general, school staff will expect your child to be independent with toileting upon entering school. If you are feeling stressed or having challenges with toilet learning, please seek help as soon as possible by calling HaltonParents by dialing 311 or contacting your local Ontario Early Years Centre (external link) in:

Readiness means that your child:

  • stays dry for several hours at a time (for help with this, try printing out an elimination record (external PDF file));
  • knows he is about to urinate and can hold it for a few seconds;
  • has bowel movements that occur on a fairly predictable schedule;
  • has the ability to sit for a short period of time;
  • can tell the difference between feeling wet or dry;
  • understands words related to the bathroom;
  • can follow simple instructions;
  • has an interest in the toilet; and/or
  • can verbally express the need to go to the bathroom.

If you speak a language other than English at home, please tell your child’s educator the words he or she uses to express the need to go to the bathroom.

Helpful tips

  • Read children’s books about toilet learning.
  • Let your child watch you use the toilet if appropriate.
  • Use common toileting/body parts words that the child understands (try to use words that are appropriate in school – avoid family/in-home slang words).
  • Let your child practise dressing and undressing.
  • Let your child sit on the toilet when she is interested.
  • Move all diapering and toilet-related dressing to the bathroom.
  • Have a supply of underwear and pull-on (no buttons or zippers) pants on hand.
  • Get your child’s attention and get down to her level before giving an instruction.
  • Posting a “routine strip” with photos or symbols detailing each step in the toileting sequence will help your child understand– an older sibling may draw this for you.
  • Understand that “accidents” will happen. React in a calm and kind way.

The "how to" of toilet learning:

  • Happily say, “It’s time to go to the toilet” and walk to the bathroom with your child.
  • Encourage your child to pull down pants and underwear—assist as needed.
  • Cheerfully say, “Sit on the toilet” and encourage your child to sit for two minutes.
  • If successful, immediately offer praise or a small reward.
  • If not successful after two minutes or so, praise the attempt and tell your child you will try again later.
  • Whether successful or not, practise wiping and instruct/demonstrate the proper technique.
  • Encourage your child to stand up, flush the toilet and pull up her pants and underwear.
  • Encourage your child to wash and dry his hands.
  • Have a consistent bed time routine which includes toileting.

Need help?

Follow the links for more helpful tips and information: