Potty Training Tips

Working in a preschool, I get asked many times by the families that I work with about how to potty train their child. I work with students on the Autism Spectrum, so you may think that there are extra steps or different techniques for training children on the spectrum. However, the tips I give parents of kids on the Autism Spectrum are the same that I used with my own neuro-typical kids. First, is the make sure that your child is ready, otherwise there’s no point in moving ahead. Signs that your child is ready include: discomfort with soiled or wet diaper, “hides” to go potty, shows interest in toilets and/or wearing underwear, stays dry for 2 hrs or longer periods, wakes from naps with dry diaper, and can pull pants up/down.

Here are the potty training steps that I used with my own kids:

Step 1: Start letting your little one observe the whole process of you using the toilet, including pulling pants down, sitting on toilet, wiping, pulling up pants, and washing hands. I know this one may weird out some people, but kids learn fastest from modeling and direct instruction vs showing pictures and describing the process.

Step 2: Start having your toddler sit on the toilet. Using a small potty chair or putting a smaller sized seat on the regular toilet will work, but make sure the little ones feet are securely on a flat surface (either floor or step stool). Here’s an example of a potty chair and a potty seat. (affiliate links)

Step 3: Change your child’s diaper in the bathroom instead of in their room on changing table or pad. This begins to help your child learn and associate that potty business is taken care of in the bathroom. I know it’ll seem awkward changing poopy diapers or pull ups in the bathroom, but you’ll be teaching your child to wipe their bottom with toilet training anyways, so this a good time to start toilet hygiene while standing. Plus, this step is important for the next couple of steps….

Step 4: Start emptying their soiled diapers in the toilet. Make sure your child sees this so that he/she learns that poop belongs in the toilet.

Step 5: Lastly, let them flush the toilet. Whether you just emptied a soiled diaper into the toilet, or you let your child observe you using the toilet, let them flush the toilet and make a point to say “bye bye” as the toilet flushes. This helps alleviate fear of the toilet sound flushing or the uncertainty to what flushing actually means. By exposing your child to the act of flushing and making it fun by saying goodbye, your child will be more comfortable with this aspect of toileting that can be fear-inducing to some children.

Now, there are many different techniques and methodologies for potty training. You can train your child over a weekend or it could take a few months. No matter which technique you choose to use, consistency is key!! For instance consider holding off on potty training if you know that you can’t fully commit to it due to vacations/traveling or life changes, such as the birth of a new sibling or moving. Just think…you can’t quit once you commit!

Here are several more tips to help you implement “operation potty training” when you are ready to commit.

Tip 1: Take note of your child’s bathroom schedule. Does your child go poops during certain times of the day?

Tip 2: Most children have bowel movements once a day. If your child is pretty regular, he/she may have a bowel movement about an hour after eating a meal. Most children urinate within an hour of drinking a large amount of liquids. This tip is one of the most considered tip for those “booty camp” or weekend potty training methods.

Tip 3: Use visuals and rewards as needed. The potty visual for this post is one that is used at my preschool to structure the potty process. This is very helpful for my students on the Autism Spectrum. However, it can be a very useful tool for other neuro-typical children as well. A reward chart can be helpful not only as an incentive for successful use of the potty, but for use as data for parents to show whether or not your child is ready for potty training or if you should revisit potty training for another time.

Tip 4: Praise your child with any positive steps, including pull pants up/down, sitting on the potty, voiding on the toilet, wiping, and handwashing. Do not express disappointment if a potty session was unsuccessful.

Tip 5: Teach boys to urinate sitting down first until they are able to control their bladder better. Then, you can move your son to standing up and learning to aim properly into the toilet.

Tip 6: For girls who have a hard time wiping after a bowel movement by reaching around the back, teach to wipe from front to back to keep bacteria from the rectum from coming in contact with vagina or urethra to prevent UTIs.

I hope these potty training steps and tips were helpful for you as begin the potty training journey. It can be a stressful period, but it doesn’t have to be if you and your little is prepared. Please comment with any extra tips or questions you may have. And, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram or on my Facebook page @otkatieyoon for more tips and info on child development, pediatric occupational therapy, and my life shenanigans.

OT Katie Approved Toy List 2019

I know some families have already begun holiday shopping. With the enticement of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, it’s hard to pass up the great deals everywhere. The toy industry is inundated with so many options that it can be overwhelming to navigate. Here is my list of great toy options for this holiday season. All of these toys are not only fun, but also addresses developmental play skills, fine motor strength and skills, visual motor processing and coordination skills, and cognitive development. I will break down the list by developmental age, but please know that you as the adult must use your best judgement to determine if a toy will be safe and manageable for your child. All of the toys listed are affiliate links for Amazon, which means that I will receive a small percentage of the purchase with no additional cost to you. As always, thank you for your trust and support, and I hope you will follow me on this blog with email notifications for new posts, as well as follow me on my Facebook or Instagram accounts. Now…let’s get started….

Newborns-1 yr old: The best thing for newborns is tummy time. Believe it or not, tummy time not only develops strength in the neck, arms, and core, but babies vision is also developing and becoming more mature. Once a baby is able to roll in both directions (tummy to back and back to tummy), tummy time can progress to supported sitting. While in sitting, babies are learning to grasp, bring things to their mouths and midline, and challenge their core strength with balancing their bodies in an upright seated position. Here are some great toys that can be used to encourage tummy time and supported sitting.

Toddlers (1-3 yrs old): The toddler stage name is derived from “to toddle”, which means to walk unsteadily, like a child of this age. This is an exciting time of great cognitive, emotional and social development. Boundaries and limits are tested and toddlers are also learning that they have a choice and voice to indicate their preferences. Although the parenting struggle is real during these years, the toddler years are also the most rewarding and fun as your little one experiences an explosion in language, learning, and personality development. These are the years that gross motor, fine motor, and visual motor skills are refined through play. Here are some great developmental toys and games for the toddler in your life.

Preschoolers (3-5 yrs old): This is when things really get fun with your little one. While preschoolers should still be playing with developmentally appropriate toys, most play during this stage is geared toward “pre-academic skills”. Pre-academic skills are foundational for learning that include:

  • being interested in books and enjoy being read to
  • understanding that letters and numbers are symbols that mean something
  • being able to retell basic parts of a story
  • identifying letters of the alphabet and its sounds
  • matching forms and letters
  • demonstrating an understanding of simple math concepts
  • scribbling
  • completing simple/complex sequences

At this age, most kids are influenced by commercialized products and toys. However, here are lesser commercialized toys and games that are developmentally appropriate for the preschool aged kiddos that promote pre-academic skills in a fun way. The amount of toys and games that are available for this age group is huge, so these are just a small sampling of what I like and would use at home or at work in my preschool.

Warmies® Microwavable French Lavender Scented Plush Hooty Snowy Owl
This stuffy can be warmed up and has a soothing lavender scent for a great sensory treat.
Little Tikes Build-a-House
I love play houses for kids, but this one caught my eye as your kids can incorporate their imagination and construction skills to build the playhouse.
National Geographic Little Kids
Nothing is more fun than getting more mail…this subscription is for preschool aged kids.

Kindergarten and Elementary Age: The possibilities for toys and games really expand for this age group and up, mainly because there are no longer any safety concerns with small toy parts. Most toys are still identified by an age recommendation primarily for the level of difficulty. Kids in these age ranges enjoy technology based computers games and apps that are educational for the most part. Also, you’ll find many more mass marketed and branded toys, such as Barbie, Nerf, Legos, and anything Disney related. Here is just a small sample of toys that caught my eye that aren’t mass marketed.

I Spy Letters
I Spy Letters
Nothing beats a good ol “I Spy” book to help train eyes to visually scan and attend to details.
Hama Beads and Pegboards in Tub (Pink)
Hama Beads and Pegboards in Tub (Pink)
This was one of my kids faves when they were younger. It’s cute to see kids fine motor skills really refine with this activity.
Mattel Games Blink – The World’s Fastest Game!
Mattel Games Blink – The World’s Fastest Game!
This game has almost a 90% rating of 5/5 stars from over a 1,000 reviewers. Check out this card game out as an alternative to Uno.
National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids
I don’t know any child who doesn’t think getting their own mail isn’t cool. A magazine subscription to an educational kids magazine is a great way for kids to learn something new every month. Seeing their own mail is also a good motivation for young elementary school kids to learn their address.
KidKraft Little Dreamers Reading Nook, Gray
KidKraft Little Dreamers Reading Nook, Gray
I’ve always wanted a window seat for my daughter, but I was never able to find anything as cute as this when she was younger. Here is a great reading nook that also serves as a bookshelf/organizer for your kids books and toys.

I hope you enjoyed my short list of “OT Katie” approved toy list. Don’t fret if you’ve already completed your holiday shopping…just save this list in your back pocket for future birthdays and holiday gifts next year. I had such a great time perusing Amazon for these great toys and games. Thanks for checking out my list and feel free to post any questions or other awesome toy ideas!! Also, don’t forget to “follow” me on my Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and please subscribe to my blog for immediate notice when new blog posts are published.