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Learning to Use the Toilet


toddler in bathroom with toilet paper roll


When your toddler's ready for toilet learning, wait for a stable time to start.  It's best when there are no other stresses going on, such as a new daycare, a new sibling or a big move.

Here are some more tips for teaching your toddler to use the toilet:

  • Use reminders: “I’m going to the bathroom – do you want to come too?” or “Your potty chair is waiting for you.”
  • Give lots of praise for action. When your toddler is successful, give praise but direct it at actions rather than “being good.” Encourage your toddler by saying something like, “It’s great that you went pee in the potty chair!” Don’t use food or candy as a reward.
  • Let you toddler watch you go to the bathroom. Explain what you are doing (if you are comfortable with it). Observing a same sex parent or sibling is worth a thousand words. 
  • Encourage your toddler to sit on and play with the potty chair. You can also ask your toddler to help dolls use the potty chair.
  • Explain how using the toilet is a good change: “You won’t have to wear diapers anymore.” “You will be able to wear underwear like big kids.”
  • Keep a potty chair next to the main toilet.
  • Get a toilet seat that fits on top of the regular seat, if your toddler is interested in the big toilet. Make sure this seat is stable, and provide a solid step stool so your toddler can reach the toilet.
  • Let your toddler claim the potty chair as “mine”.
  • Use training pants or clothes with elastic waists that can be pulled down quickly and easily.
  • Pants are optional. You may choose to let your toddler go without pants around the easily cleaned parts of the house or yard. If your toddler feels the urge, she can sit on the potty chair quickly.
  • Place your toddler on the toilet immediately after waking.
  • If your toddler gets bored while sitting on the potty chair, give him something to do, like looking at a book. Check your library for books about toilet learning.
  • Don’t use sweet treats as rewards for success. If you do use a reward system, try stars on a chart, a coin in the piggy bank, or a song of success.

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Toilet Training

Last Updated: August 12, 2013