Spring has arrived, and for Ngala helpline staff, this also means many calls for information on toileting from parents of preschoolers. Here are some tips to help get your child toilet trained.

Toileting is something that varies from one child to another. All children are unique and as such develop awareness and readiness for bowel and bladder control at their own pace. This is not a race, just part of your child’s learning journey. Children learn to roll, sit, crawl and then walk in order but the last motor skill to learn is toileting. A plan…

By 3 years of age, 60% of children are toileted and by 4 years of age, 98% are considered competent.

What do you need?

Can your child reach the door handle of the toilet? If not, leave the door open.

Does your child need a step or two? Children need to have their feet resting on the floor or a step.

Consider whistling or blowing bubbles while your child is on the toilet as this will assist in pushing (yes, it involves the same muscles).

When out and about, make sure you know where the nearest toilet is located.

Offer plenty of water, fruit and vegetables and exercise to promote a healthy bowel.

The long term goal is for your child to wee or poo into the toilet. To develop this skill you need to teach them to listen to and respond to their body.

What is your child’s role in successful toileting?

  • To take ownership and responsibility of the toileting process.
  • To communicate the need to go to the toilet and be able to identify what that need is (wee/poo).
  • To discuss their feelings and progress at any time.


What is your role as a parent during this time?

  • Praise your child – do not punish or criticise (ensure that praise is directed at the effort not the end result (i.e. the poo or wee) eg. “it was great how you listened to your body”.
  • It is important to use words that can be easily understood like ‘wee’ and ‘poo’ as well as appropriate words to describe your child’s anatomy.
  • Assist your child by giving him/her the language to describe what is happening eg. “Is your body telling you something?”, “Have you got a feeling in your tummy?”, “Do you need to do a wee?” (if you observe them doing the ‘wee dance’).
  • Keep a diary – this gives you an accurate picture of how your child is going with his/her toileting skill as well as give information on any patterns that may cause possible disruptions to their daily routine (eg. illness, travel, changes at home – i.e. a new baby)
  • Stay calm- toileting is a skill that takes time to develop.


Contact the Ngala Helpline, your Child Health Nurse, or your GP if you have any concerns or need further information. Remember, each child is unique and some children may need more time and assistance to achieve successful toileting.


More info…

Ngala facilitates Successful Toileting workshops regularly. Ngala can also provide parenting workshops for your school or playgroup. For more information go to www.ngala.com.au or call the helpline on 08 9368 9368 or for country callers 1800 111 546, between 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week.

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