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Toilet training

What to expect

Toilet training can be a long process that involves a lot of practice, patience, accidents and washing. Every child responds differently and will gain toilet independence when they’re ready. As a general rule, children develop daytime toilet independence at around 3 years old. Do not attempt  toilet training until your child can tell you that they need the toilet.

Useful strategies and tips

Break the activity down into achievable skills, for example, managing clothing, wiping or washing hands. Then build up and move on to the next skill once they achieve the first one.

Rewards can be really helpful and encourage your child. This could include:

  • verbal praise
  • sticker charts
  • money box
  • toys/something of interest
  • hugs and kisses.

Picture cards can help as a visual cue. Put them up to show the order of the toileting routine to help your child remember the sequence. Ask your child ‘what’s next?’ to help guide your child.

How to help your child with their bottom wiping skills

Children sometimes find it easier to grasp a new skill by learning it backwards, known as the ‘backward chaining’ method. Start by completing the last step first. Your child can gain a sense of success and maintain motivation.

Useful tips

Help your child to practice:

  • passing objects from front to back with your child standing and facing away from you. Pass them an object between their legs and ask them to reach for it
  • sticking sticky tape/pegs at the back and bottom of your child’s t-shirt. Ask them to reach behind to retrieve the tape/pegs
  • reeling off toilet paper and counting how many sheets needed for a wee and a poo. Practice scrunching and folding into a useable tissue.

You should also:

  • encourage your child to help wipe surfaces around the home
  • practice wiping games with food spreads – create a target and aim to have the least amount of smearing in each target section.
  • use wet wipe style toilet paper
  • each how to wipe from front to back.

How to help boys with their aiming skills

Ensure your child can reach the toilet so they can stand and wee. A secure step may give your child a better height above the toilet.

Drawing or buying an aim symbol to put in the toilet bowl can also help. Encourage your child to aim for it.

Toilet equipment

Standard toilets can be much too big for children learning to toilet train. Toileting equipment can make using a toilet easier. This includes:


They help your child to reach the toilet and keep their feet flat when sitting. This can make them feel more stable, at ease and more confident.

Toilet seat inserts

The opening of a toilet can be too big for children too and your child may feel unstable when sat on the toilet. An insert can increase their confidence and reduce avoidance and fear.