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Potty Training: Is There A Right Way?

The internet provides us with countless resources on potty training from research articles, websites, and blog posts like this one.  While the sharing of ideas can be of great benefit, it can also be overwhelming for those looking for concrete answers.  Potty training feels like one of those topics that has been written about by just about everyone.  In fact, in doing a Google search for potty training, over 15 relevant websites were listed.  Some even offer programs that “guarantee” success in a matter of days!  With all that we know about individual differences among children and various styles of parenting, someone like myself wonders how anyone can really know the “right” way to toilet train a child.  What may be a more important question is, what makes one method the “right” method?

In my experience working with children and their families, I have met many parents seeking the “right” or “best” way topotty training the right way teach their child a new skill.  The fact is, people (and families) are especially complex, so it’s near impossible to determine the one “best” way to do things when it comes to parenting.  What has been concluded about potty training is that there are many ways to do it successfully.  One research study I read recently examined the impact of toilet training method on dysfunctional voiding (having toileting accidents).  It very clearly stated that “there was no significant difference in dysfunctional voiding between toilet training methods.”

If you or someone you know are about to embark on the exciting task of potty training a child, here are 4 points that are consistent for success, no matter which method you choose.

Potty Training The Right Way:

  1. Be consistent and persistent— yes, it isn’t always easy but in the end it will pay off!
  2. Be flexible and expect setbacksaccidents will happen, don’t expect otherwise!  Just as all new life transitions, there is no way to be certain of how your child will respond.
  3. Celebrate successes—One mother recently described how she had a “potty party” for her child to kickoff an intensive potty-training weekend.  Be sure to provide praise for even the smallest successes (for example, if a child has an accidents on his way to the bathroom, praise him for making the attempt to go in the toilet)
  4. Remember, it’s a family process—The potty training process can be challenging for everyone involved, not just the child.  Practice patience as your young ones acquire this new skill.

Do you have more tips or suggestions about potty training?  What worked for you? Please leave comments below!

Click here to read 10 Do’s and Dont’s on Potty Training.

potty training
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Step-by-Step: Potty Training a Child with Autism

Potty training can be an overwhelming process for parents of young children. Potty training a child with autism can make the process seem even more daunting. But not to worry, with consistency and patience, children with autism can be successfully potty trained.

When to begin potty training – There is no magic age to start potty training, as it varies from child to child. Children with autism are not always developing at the same pace as their same-aged peers. However, no matter what your child’s current functioning level is, you should be able to start the potty training process around age 3.

Step-by-Step: Potty Training a Child with AutismPottyTraining

  • It is best to begin during a time when you have at least 3-4 days in a row to devote to potty training (i.e., a holiday break or a long weekend).
  • Divide potty training into two phases:
    • Phase 1 – Urination
    • Phase 2 – Bowel movements
  • Start by working on phase 1, and once your child is consistently urinating on the toilet, you can then begin working on phase 2.
    • When potty training boys, have them sit instead of stand. This will make it easier when you introduce phase 2.
  • When begin the toilet training process, begin to slowly fade out the use of diapers or Pull-Ups. If your child learns that they will go back to wearing a diaper every time they don’t go in the toilet, they will most likely wait until the diaper is on to urinate.
  • Make highly desired items (i.e., IPad, computer games, favorite treat, etc.) contingent on urinating in the toilet. Do not give your child access to these items at any other time. Restricting these items will increase their reinforcing value, making urinating in the toilet more motivating.
  • Provide natural consequences for accidents. Never yell or scream when accidents occur. Instead, have your child help with the clean-up, change themselves (to the best of their ability), and put their dirty clothes in the laundry.
  • Expect some resistance from your child when you begin toilet training. Children with autism love routines, and you are going to disrupt their normal routine as soon as you start potty training. Negative behaviors like crying and screaming are very likely in the beginning. It is important to ignore these behaviors and continue with the process. Once they learn the new potty routine, the behaviors will decrease.
  • Be consistent. Once you start potty training, stick with it! Requiring your child to use the potty one day, and then putting them back in a diaper the next can be confusing and will most likely extend the potty training process.
  • Once your child is consistently urinating in the toilet, you can move onto phase 2 and follow the same steps. It is common for phase 2 to take longer, so do not get discouraged if your child is more resistant at first.

Following these general guidelines can help with the potty training process. It is important to remember that every child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another. If you have been trying to potty train your child without any success, it is recommended that you contact a professional to assist you. Someone with knowledge and experience with potty training can write an individualized plan tailored specifically for your child.

Click here to download a printable potty chart.