Toilet training your child

Children generally learn how to use the toilet between the ages of 18 months and 4 years. When it comes to toilet training, some children take a week, others, a year. The key is to follow your child’s lead and not to worry or make comparisons with other children.

Some of the common signs that your child is ready for toilet training are:

  • having an awareness of bodily functions,
  • asking to have a dirty nappy changed
  • being able to follow simple instructions
  • get to the bathroom unaided and remove clothing.
The first stage of toilet training starts with familiarising your child with potties, toilets and how the whole process works. A lot of this your child will learn from observing so if you’re comfortable, let your child watch family members go to the toilet. It is a good idea to talk about everything that goes on around toileting and why we do what we do from wiping to flushing to washing hands.

Talk about using the toilet in an informative way offering plenty of information, but no pressure. Follow your child’s lead, and once their natural curiosity kicks in they will become very interested in the process and keen to have a go themselves.

It is not essential that your child actually uses the potty at this stage. Have it available and offer it with no pressure at a regular time each day.  Bath times are a good option as your child will already be getting undressed.

Some children are happy to take up the offer of sitting on the potty whenever it is suggested and wee readily. Other children have a blanket refusal policy. That is absolutely fine. Relax, resist the urge to put any pressure on your child and wait until they show more interest.

As with any developmental phase, the length of this familiarisation stage varies from child to child. It could take only a couple of days, or months. It is vital as said before, to follow your child’s lead and to avoid worry or making comparisons with other children.

This phase is all about practice, practice, practice and more practice. The focus is on helping your child to listen to his body and recognise the feeling of needing to go to the toilet.

Real learning comes through doing. Your child needs to learn to identify the sensation of needing to go, and then figure out how much time they’ve got to act on that feeling. This learning happens through your child experiencing wet pants.

Some parents like to use pull-ups in this phase of toilet training. Pull-ups are designed with this pivotal learning experience in mind – they aren’t as absorbent as standard nappies and have a learning liner incorporated into the design which temporarily allows children to feel wet.

Some parents opt to use training pants exclusively during the toilet training process, whilst others only use them when out and about, and some avoid them and go straight from nappies to underwear. It all comes down to your personal preference.

To help your child experience successes it is helpful to give your child lots of fluid to drink followed by plenty of potty time. Timing is still pretty hit and miss at this stage, so encouraging frequent trips to the loo helps ensure more hits than misses.

Your child is now familiar with how the whole process works, understands the sensations around needing to go to the toilet and can confidently use the potty independently.

The goal from now on is to get more in the potty or toilet than in pants or on the floor. Your child still needs frequent reminders to use the potty, but gradually your child will start to figure it out on their own.

Positive reinforcement at this stage is key. There are a range of options to choose from – using sticker charts, offering a favourite healthy snack following a successful trip to the potty, or some time watching a favourite DVD can all be very motivational. Lots and lots and lots of verbal praise is also very encouraging for your child. Remember to avoid criticising or telling your child off when the inevitable accidents occur.

Stay calm and reassuring saying, “Never mind, accidents happen — next time you’ll make it to the potty.”

When your child is developmentally ready to transition from nappies to knickers and has been given all the information and practice they need, you might be surprised by how quickly they master the art of using the potty or toilet independently.

Useful Resources

  • Summer is the ideal season for the practice stage of toilet training, as children can be outside a lot and don’t need as much clothing. It can also be helpful to pick a week where you know you can be at home with your child without the complications of going out and about or needing to use childcare facilities, to work on this stage.

  • Girls need to be shown to wipe from front to back when they have had a bowel movement, to help prevent infections occurring.

  • At night time putting your child in nappy pants which pull on with an elasticated waist (so feel a bit more grown up) but have the same absorbency as a traditional nappy, protects your child from the disappointment of waking up in a wet bed.

  • It is completely normal for children to regress during times of increased stress and upheaval e.g. moving house, starting daycare or kindy, illness or the arrival of a sibling. Keep a calm, relaxed approach downplaying accidents and praising success. Parental pressure and reprimanding doesn’t help.

  • With any regression and, in fact, throughout the toilet training process, it may help to keep in mind that that anxious parents create anxious children, and anxious children are more likely to wet or soil themselves.

At Tall Poppies Education, we love to ensure learning is fun!

Learning happens naturally when our learners are provided with the opportunity to explore their own interests, during play.
Our job as educators is to ensure that we provide authentic and meaningful play opportunities, that support individual interests and abilities.
When we allow our little learners to explore their interests, then the fun naturally happens!

With a small ratio of 1:4, we are able to go on regular excursions into the community.
Going on walks to the beach, as an example, provides endless fun, where our learners make sense of the natural world. We can grab the opportunity to talk about the environment around them, find crabs, and count them too!

When playing in the home, we have plenty of resources our learners can engage in that are fun. Play dough, dress ups, puzzles, games, sand and water play, music, arts and crafts…the options are endless! When using these resources the learning and fun happens simultaneously!

We also love to engage in activities like baking, which encourage mathematical thinking, literacy and social skills. This is most certainly fun for our learners all the while providing great learning.

The close relationships formed between our learners (and their educator) ensures that they feel safe and secure and are able to have fun from one day to the next. Learning, play and having fun all go hand-in-hand!

Useful Resources

  • A safe environment to play in

  • Stimulating resources

  • Engage at the child’s level

  • Imagination to create new environments

Some school ready tips!

As parents/caregivers it can be challenging to know what to do to prepare your child for school. There seems to be so much to think about which can feel overwhelming and confusing. There are many things that parents/caregivers can do to help children to be more prepared for school life and it is important that that skill development is not limited to just numeracy and literacy as there are a number of social skills that children also to master.

Children will need to be able to dress themselves and also put on their own shoes. Tying laces can be tricky so when you buy your child’s school shoes make sure they are able to put them on and take them off themselves.

Encouraging your child before they get to school to practice getting dressed and putting their shoes on is very important.

Send a spare set of clothes in your child’s bag. On the odd occasion a child may forget to go to the toilet or leave it just a little too late. If they know they have something to change into they can take care of themselves without having to go and seek help.

Your child must know where they keep their bag and that it is important to keep all of their belongings together. Keeping all their stuff together will also save time at the end of the day when you pick them up, as you will not have to go looking for random items.

Your child should know to eat a snack at morning tea time and save the biggest item for lunch. It is important to give children a range of foods from all the food groups, and also items you know they enjoy and will eat.

Children should be able to unwrap items of food and be able to open any packaging. If your child struggles with this just ensure you make a small cut in the packaging to help them, until they are able to do it themselves.

Children are not encouraged to share food or drink bottles at school, so do ensure your child is aware of this. It is advisable for all parents/caregivers to know what the lunch box policy is.

Most schools have water fountains available for children to drink from, however it is always advisable to send a drink bottle with your child and encourage them to consume water throughout the day.

School visits are very useful to help your child to become familiar with their new school. Before they start they are able to go and spend time in the classroom, getting to know their teacher and the other children they will be spending time with.

It is important for a child to be familiar with the learning environment, where everything is kept, where to put their bag, where the toilets are. Having this knowledge will help a child to feel more comfortable and therefore confident when they begin at school.

Useful Resources

  • Encourage your child

  • Familiarise them with their belongings

  • It takes time to get the right lunch box food

  • Visit the school before starting

Schemas in Children’s Play?

‘Schemas are patterns of linked behaviours, which the child can generalise and use in a whole variety of different situations. It is best to think of schemas as being a cluster of pieces which fit together’. (Bruce, 1997) 

A schema is seen to be a pattern demonstrated by your child through their actions, language or play. Alternatively, schemas is a fancy word to describe the urges that children have to do things like climbthrow things and hide in small places.  

Schemas are formed during childhood as a way to make sense out of our world. They are normal and natural reactions to events. Children reveal schemas when they are playing and trying to find out more about the world. By identifying your child’s schema(s) we can plan learning in ways that will interest them the most.  

Some of the most common types of observed schema include: 

  • Patterns of movement emerge in which children move their arms, legs and bodies in horizontal and vertical lines e.g. pushing, kicking (horizontal trajectory) and dropping objects or putting things in and out of containers (vertical trajectory).
  • This develops into exploration of straight lines (up, down or horizontal).
  • Babies can often be seen reaching out for objects, kicking their legs, opening and closing their hands, waving arms up and down or side to side, throwing, pulling, pushing, pointing, rocking, climbing or stepping up and down.
  • This is observed when children turn or rotate themselves or objects. They will spin, twist, roll and turn objects and roll their bodies.  
  • Rotational schema are usually energetic and children will be seen running and spinning in circles, riding around and around on bikes or twisting ribbons, scarves and ropes
  • Children can be seen joining lines or building structures with different materials to form an enclosure. These enclosures can be round, square or rectangular. Children may build fences or walls around objects or fill in an enclosure they have drawn or built.
  • They can also draw borders around their art creations, or may arrange the food around the edge of their plate or ride a bike around and around an enclosed space they have constructed.  
  • Children are often seen covering objects or themselves with different materials. Children may be seen to cover themselves, hide, camouflage and conceal themselves or objects. This could include dressing in a number of hats, scarves, necklaces and bangles. Making dens under blankets or using furniture to construct a cave. Children may fill bags with all sorts of bits and pieces from around their environment, paint or glue over their hands and then peel it off or paint over a picture with a single colour.
  • They might also wrap items up in pieces of paper or materials.
  • Children will become intent on moving objects from place to place. The objects may be carried in their hands, pockets or through filling containers such as buckets, trolleys, wheelbarrows and bags, these collected objects are then placed in piles around the environment.
  • Children will be seen joining things together, tying things up using rope, tape, string or ribbon.
  • They could also be seen tying toys together using ribbon, building chains out of objects, fastening fabrics together to suspend things from chairs or trees in the garden.
  • (This can lead to a disconnecting schema where the child builds something that they can demolish through untying knots etc)
  • Children are seen positioning, ordering and arranging objects or themselves.
  • At times children might be obsessive in placing items in the exact place (e.g. on top, next to, in front of, around the edge, beside, behind) of an object or person.
  • Children may be observed lining up objects in order of size, colour or shape.
  • Some children may not wish their food to be mixed together on the same plate.
  • Children will be observed looking at things from different viewpoints such as hanging upside down, looking through their legs, looking at things upside down.
  • Children may enjoy building ramps to see higher up, rolling, climbing or standing on a ledge to see in a higher position.
  • The children might also put objects or themselves in different places / positions

Useful Resources

  • A safe environment to play in

  • Stimulating resources

  • Engage at the child’s level

  • Imagination to create new environments