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Many children struggle with toilet training. Autistic kids can have a difficult time making the transition from diapers to the toilet. ABA Therapy offers several tried and tested strategies for training children. There are many things to consider when training your child. This post will outline many things you need to keep in mind.
Toilet Training Readiness Signs:
Children will engage in specific behaviours when they’re ready to begin toilet training. Some of the things to look out for are:
- Wanting to be changed if wet or soiled
- Always going to a specific place to have bowel movements (e.g.: behind the couch)
- Touching/pulling on diapers
- Asking questions about the toilet
- Curiosity, wanting to watch others use the toilet
2 Approaches to Training: schedule training and intensive training
When you’re looking to toilet train your child you have to decide if you’re going to schedule train or teach initiation.
When you set a specific schedule that you’re going to have your child try to use the bathroom.
The most efficient way to set the schedule is to take data for a few weeks on when your child is wet and dirty. Most people have a routine or ‘schedule’ that their body follows for how frequently they urinate and defecate. Your child will be MUCH less stressed out about trying to use the toilet if most of the time they actually have to go when you get them to try. If your child is peeing every 2.5 hours, their schedule would be a trip to the bathroom every 2 hours and 15 minutes. Once the child is reliably holding between trips and is voiding in the toilet you can begin to lengthen the intervals to encourage the child to request a bathroom trip.
When you take a very intensive approach to training.
Some families choose vacations from daycare/school or times when they will be staying home for a few days consecutively. Usually, the child stays naked from the waist down and near the toilet or potty. Every 10-15 minutes they are prompted to ‘try’. This approach is very effective for children who are not holding for long periods of time. By frequently trying you increase the likelihood that the child will be successful and you’ll be able to reinforce their correct toileting behaviour.
Potty or Toilet?
Many families ask which set-up is better. There are pros and cons to each.
- Not always available
- Child might outgrow it
- You have to teach using a toilet after
- Needs to be cleaned after each use
- Available everywhere
- Less generalization required
- You can model the behaviour for the child
- Not usually child-sized
- Flushing can be loud
Diapers, Pull-ups and Underwear
Transitioning from diapers to underwear can be stressful! From the child’s perspective, it’s a huge change and from the parent’s perspective, it can mean A LOT of laundry. It is important for the child’s learning to make this transition smoothly. It can be very confusing for the child if they’re back and forth between underwear and diapers.
Diaper technology is so advanced that children do not feel any discomfort when they’re in a wet diaper. Which is wonderful for babies but not an effective motivator when toilet training. We always recommend transitioning to underwear full time during the day and pull-ups at night. If necessary, some parents will put a diaper on over top of the child’s underwear to help contain any accidents
There are lots of things to consider when starting a toilet training program. Next week’s blog will cover reinforcement, daytime vs nighttime training and urine vs bowel training. Contact Side by Side Therapy to discuss your child’s toilet training needs.