Toilet Training Tips for Every Family

It's summer, and so naturally our thoughts turn to ... potty training? Actually, the warm less-structured days are perfect for getting your child with the potty program, especially if you have a school or day-care putting the pressure on to ditch the diapers by September. My son was one of those late learners, and even though he was in special-education classes, I had plenty of folks telling me he better get trained or else. One occupational therapist even accused me of "infantalizing" him by letting him take his own time on this skill; but in fact, when he was ready, he trained quickly enough to let me know that I had done the right thing.

Toileting is a pretty tricky task for kids with developmental delays, attention problems, sensory-integration issues, motor difficulties, and many other special needs. For my son, I found the thing that really got him focused on the job was having him go around the house without pants, a technique that's particularly well-suited for warmer months. He sat on a potty chair no matter what else he was doing, and if we had to go outside (which we tried not to), we slapped a pair of loose swim trunks on him. Something about being pantless seemed to focus his attention and his sensory awareness on the very part of the body he most needed to attend to, and he was trained in a day.

It's a great accomplishment for both you and your child when the toileting is successful, but to be honest, there were times when I missed having a kid in diapers, usually when I had to confront a dirty public-restroom toilet with a boy who likes to touch things and put his hands in his mouth. Never knew how good I had it with that changing table!

If you think your child is ready to try toileting (or just has to be ready), these articles can help: