Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip Navigation LinksBoys Town Pediatrics > Knowledge Center > Videos > Toilet Training Your Child

Toilet Training Your Child


Toilet Training

Amanda McLean, Ph.D.​
Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health

Toilet training is, typically, not recommended until the child is at least two years of age.

Prior to the age of two, most children don't have consistent control over their bowels or their bladder, but even with boys, we don't recommend toilet training until about two and half years of age.

We know that the older the child is then the faster toilet training will probably go.

What are some signs your child is ready for toilet training?

You want to be looking at their physical, emotional, and their instructional readiness. So, I would want the child to be staying dry for several hours at a time and their bowel movements to be more predictable and regular.

Maybe they're going after every breakfast or after every afternoon nap.

Kids, a lot of times, will start to show awareness that they have to go. This awareness is usually demonstrated through their actions rather than their words.

They might make a squinty face or they might have a special potty stance, or like my daughter, they might run and hide and seek some privacy when they need to go.

They also might be requesting to be changed.​

What are the basic steps for toilet training?

When you're getting ready to toilet train, prior to toilet training, it's usually a good idea to let your child watch you go to the potty.

Kids are great imitators and they do what they see. If you're comfortable, bring them into the bathroom and let them watch you go.

It's also good to go ahead and get a potty chair. Set the potty chair out and let them get used to it, and get used to sitting on it a little bit. 

Then when you're ready to toilet train, it's sometimes helpful to push fluids. Give them extra juice, extra water and that gives them more opportunities to practice some of those toileting skills they're learning.

Be patient and be prepared to do a lot of practice. Rather than just asking them, if they need to go, just lead them into the bathroom and have them sit on the potty chair.

What are some good incentives for toilet training?

Lots and lots of praise, compliments and physical affection is where I would start.

Kids love adult attention, they love parent attention, so not just praising going in the potty but praising any skill associated. Pulling your pants down, sitting on the potty, any of those things you want to praise and get excited about.

You can also use some extra added incentives here and there, little things like stickers, if necessary.

I would start with lots and lots of excitement and praise.

I would not recommend any sort of punishment. If you're punishing or scolding, getting upset with your child, because they're struggling or not doing it well, it's probably not going to motivate them for toilet training.

It's probably going to cause some frustration on both of your ends so that doesn't set the stage for them to want to participate in toilet training.​​

Toilet training is a big step for kids and parents. Amanda McLean, Ph.D., Staff Psychologist at Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health, offers tips, strategies and techniques to successfully toilet train your child.