Toilet Training can be a very complicated and hard task for any parent. Not just for a parent of a child with special needs!
The old wives tale says to basically not even bother toilet training in the cooler months of the year. To me, this is untrue. To me, whatever the weather, any day is a good day to start and make some progress towards toilet training your child.
So today, I am going to share with you the tips that I have on the toilet training process!
Now, some background information….
I have a 9-year-old son named Coleby. He has autism, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, optic nerve hypoplasia and some hormone issues.
In the past, I have tried to toilet train him multiple times. Actually, it is probably too many to count!
In Australia, we have summer school holidays from about the middle of December until the end of January/start of February. So around, 6 weeks. I chose to attempt to toilet train my son during these holidays as he was with me all the time and I didn’t have to rely on the school to follow a schedule.
I have done a lot of reading on toilet training and have tried so many ways and ideas. I found that a combination of a lot of them worked great for us.
So over the 6 week period, I managed to day time toilet train Coleby, who was completely incontinent for both urine and feces.
Please don’t be discouraged if your child is not toilet trained within this time frame. When they get it, they get it! I think that is the biggest down fall with most toilet training things I have read. Not every child is the same, they don’t progress through stages the same and they don’t always learn the same. Just like adults, they say that your either an audiometry (hear), kinesthetic (do) or visual (see). Try to adapt, what you read or learn to suit your child.
Like I have said before, I have tried multiple times in the past and he was ready this time!
In week one, there is a lot of preparation work to be done. The goal of this week is to basically make your child get an ‘I’m Wet’ feeling.
So how do you make your child get the ‘I’m Wet’ feeling?
Well, Coleby was in pull ups during this time as I couldn’t find nappies to fit him. I placed a piece of material in his nappy. Most nappies have a liner that draws moisture away from the skin. So by placing a piece of material, a face washer, dish cloth or anything really that is like these items, in their nappy, your child will get an ‘I’m Wet’ feeling.
I found with Coleby, that I knew as soon as he went to the toilet. He would say ‘I’m wet’. Although, his pants were dry the insert in his nappy made him feel wet!
This also makes your child aware that they are going to the toilet. Switches them on a bit to different feelings they have and then what happens!
So I did this for about 7 days. I actually bought an old sheet from the local op shop and cut it up into little squares and used them for the inserts. I also used the blue ‘chux’ clothes that are generally used for household cleaning.
So this week is all about continuing on with the ‘I’m Wet’ feeling in Week One and establishing a toilet schedule!
This week, you will need to be actively involved with your child in establishing their toileting pattern.
So I used a chart, like the one pictured. This is to help you record when your child is urinating or doing a number 2.
Basically, I would set a timer every hour and keep checking those liners. As soon as they were wet, Coleby would tell me he was wet. I would change the liner, reset the timer and record it on the chart.
This chart is going to help us to determine the frequency your child is urinating or doing a number 2. After a few days, you can clearly notice a pattern. For Coleby, it was pretty much every 2 hours.
I did this for a week, just so I could have a pretty good analysis of his toileting patterns and a pretty accurate schedule could be identified.
This week is the beginning of the actual toileting! For the past 2 weeks, your child has had the ‘I’m Wet’ feeling and now you have a toileting schedule.
First up, I created a task analysis. This is pictured. Basically, it is the whole task broken down into steps. I stuck this on the wall in our bathroom for Coleby to look at. I would say each part then assist him to perform it.
So Coleby’s toileting pattern was basically every 2-2.5 hours. As soon as he woke up I would change his pull up and put an insert in. When he told me he was wet, I took the insert out then set a timer for 2 hours.
When the timer went off. We would go to the bathroom to the toilet. Read our steps as we did them together.
My son had a hard time sitting still. I bought a special ‘toileting toy’ just for toileting. It was a Fidget Spinner. So he would sit on the toilet.
Each time it was time to toilet, I would set another timer for 10 mins. Coleby would sit playing with his Fidget Spinner and when the timer went off again. This was called toilet timing. Then, repeat this cycle every 2 hours.
Yes, not all the time would I catch him for the toilet but it is work in progress. No one can do something the first time, every go. It is something that needs to be practiced.
I think it was the 3rd or 4th time on the 2nd day of doing this that he actually did a wee! For the first time ever, on the toilet!
Yes, I did make a big deal out of this! We clapped, we cheered and we gave high fives! The encouragement really helped Coleby. he became excited about doing things on the toilet!
So I repeated this every day. Every 2 hours I toileted Coleby for 10 mins. And gradually, it became part of our routine.
Week Four…… Now I say Week four but it is more like the next step. If you feel you need to stay on the previous step please do…..
This week is similar to Week Three. Continue using the visuals and toileting every 2 hours or whatever your child’s toileting pattern was. You can increase the time between toileting trips this week by 30 mins – 1 hour.
You will notice that nappies or pull ups will be becoming less and less wet. This is because the brain is starting to be trained to hold for longer.
Week Five…… Or the next step!
This week you may be doing a lot of washing! So sorry in advance! But it will be worth the end result!
At this stage, your child may be telling you they need to go to the toilet!
I put Coleby in undies during Week Five! We toileted every 3 hours. Yes, sometimes there were accidents but that wasn’t a problem.
Never, ever make an accident a negative experience. Never yell or get angry or make your child feel bad for having an accident. This may inhibit their progress.
Week Six….. Or the next step!
This is the same as Week Five. Undies on during the day. Toileting every 3 hours. Use the visuals.
I noticed at Week Six that Coleby wasn’t telling me that he needed to go to the toilet as much, he was taking himself. Yes, sometimes he urinated on the floor and he still needs help to wipe but this was a huge step!
The Seventh Week…..Or the next step!
Coleby went back to school in Week Seven!
We started back in Week Three. He had to be shown the toilets and taken every 2-3 hours. But after a few weeks, we were back to him taking himself!
So since the 13th January 2017 (Today is the 17th June 2017). Coleby has been in undies during the day!
During the night, Coleby is still wearing a pull-up.
I find that of a night, if I toilet Coleby at about 830pm and when I get up at 1230am to give him medication, that at 5 am when he wakes up he is 9 times out of 10 dry. If I miss the 1230am toileting, he will fill his pull up and most likely wet the bed.
So I hope that I have helped you in some way by sharing our experience. I think passing on tips and the process I have used for my son can, in turn, help with toilet training your child. And especially, toilet training your child that may have special needs.