Potty training children can be challenging for several reasons. While using the bathroom requires children to use many motor skills, it also requires them to tolerate a variety of sensory input.
Children must be able to sequence the steps of a bathroom routine, including sitting on the toilet, flushing, and washing hands. The following are tips to help improve your child’s sequencing:
- Use a visual schedule to familiarize the routine.
- Use positive reinforcement strategies such as a sticker chart, verbal praise, and/or time with a preferred toy following the bathroom routine.
- Read social stories about using the bathroom to increase your child’s familiarity and understanding.
Children must be able to sit on the toilet unsupported for short periods of time, which involves control of the head, neck, and trunk. The following are tips for improving seated postural control:
- Use a potty seat on the floor.
- Use a ring seat reducer and a footrest.
- Try sitting backwards on the toilet seat.
Children must identify the need to release bladder and bowel movements in order to identify the need to use the bathroom prior to an accident. The following are tips for improving your child’s body awareness:
- Establish a consistent toileting routine and use alarms to prompt your child to go at specific times during the day.
- Use compression clothing to provide deep pressure tactile input throughout the day to improve your child’s interoception.
Children must be able to tolerate auditory input (i.e. noise of toilets flushing), olfactory input (i.e. variety of smells), tactile input (i.e. while wiping self), and visual input (i.e. fluorescent lighting). The following are tips for tolerating a multisensory environment:
- Offer headphones or earplugs.
- Offer essential oils or a preferred smell.
- Try wet wipes instead of toilet paper.
- Dim the lights or turn them off.