Toilet Training 101 : From Cortland Parents

We asked and you answered, “What did you find to be successful for toilet training?”

Three different parents recommended the Toilet Training in Three Days Approach, which uses lots of repetition and rewards to get your child toilet trained in a short (though rigorous) span of time. There are many different books and websites on this, we linked to one of the more “friendly” versions.

Parents also suggested that you make small modifications as needed–one Mom felt that her child needed sleep more than training at night, and didn’t do the nighttime wake-up calls. Another modified some of the rewards to better suit her daughter’s tastes. In talking with these parents, it sounds like the repetition and the manner with which you train is more important than every tiny detail.

Another parent reported that when toilet training her three children (who have an age span of 18 years total!), she talked with each child about putting them into underpants and then they “just did it.” The children all had a few accidents, but she didn’t rush to immediately change them, instead letting them feel the discomfort of wet clothing against their skin for 5-10 minutes. I’m sure parents will tut-tut this one, but she said her children learned quickly that they preferred the feeling of soft, dry clothing to cold, sticky, wet clothing and trained in a week or less.

A new Cortland family recently recommended “Elimination Communication” as a method for early toilet learning. This is very common in other countries, and is catching on in the US. Read more here, it is very worthwhile!

When children have accidents at preschool, we quietly take them to the restroom and help them clean up and change into clean, dry clothing. We talk about being the “boss of our pee-pee’s” and when the pee-pee needs to come out, we quickly run to the restroom. Having an accident is no big deal, we all make mistakes when learning something new, and children re-enter the classroom happy, dry, and hopefully a little more in control next time. We also talk about common fears: the sound of the toilet flushing, the fear of falling in, the fear of getting “flushed down the hole”…these are very real fears for children, and the more you can logically illustrate that these things are not bad or scary (take the lid off and show what makes the sound, make a circle of paper the same diameter as the hole so your child can hold it and see he or she is much too large to fit, etc.) the better your child will feel.

Time, patience, kindness, love. And don’t forget to flush and wash up!

From the Cortland Preschool Family Handbook
Cortland Preschool Toilet Training Checklist

In order for your child to fully participate in our classroom environment, it is important that they are toilet trained.

This means that your child should be:

*Wearing underwear all day at Cortland
*Able to indicate to teachers when he/she needs to use the bathroom (or just go–children are allowed to just run in at any time, there are no restrictions)
*Able to remove his/her pants and underwear with minimal prompts from a teacher. Elastic waistband pants for both boys and girls are HIGHLY recommended for the first 4-6 months following toilet training. Children are able to build confidence and success when they can easily pull clothing up and down at school. Children should wear clothing for comfort, messy play, and utility at school—keep the fancy stuff for home!
*Able to independently sit on the toilet when needed (or stand and “make bubbles in the water”)—child can hold self up on the seat without aid
*Comfortable using a child sized or adult toilet (as opposed to a potty chair)
*Able to wipe themselves after urination with no prompting from a teacher (teachers will help with wiping after bowel movement until child gains mastery of this skill—child or parent will prompt teachers when aid is no longer needed)
*Able to climb a two-step stool to access the sink and wash their hands, uses soap and water to wash hands

Occasional accidents are developmentally appropriate at the preschool level. Teachers will compassionately help your child change out of any soiled clothes and into clean and dry clothing if they have a toileting accident. No big deal, sometimes accidents happen.

Thank you for working with us to help your child gain new skill sets, independence, and a feeling of success! If you believe that your child needs help in any of these areas, Cortland staff is happy to offer suggestions and work with you. We value your thoughts and candor.

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