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.

Why I Love This Activity…

Photo Cred on IG: @play.and.lear.activities

While perusing Instagram one day, I ran into this awesome activity idea by @play.and.learn.activities. I couldn’t help but become a huge fan of this simple idea of using everyday home items to create a developmental play and learn activity. In the picture you’ll see what looks like a tray filled with toys and a yarn web to make it more challenging for the little one to retrieve the toys. However, as a pediatric occupational therapist, my brain got super excited at the many developmental skills this activity addresses and the different ways to upgrade and downgrade this activity to customize it to different children’s abilities. To upgrade and downgrade an activity means to make the task more difficult (upgrade) or more easy (downgrade).

The pure thought process of thinking of what developmental milestones and functional skills are addressed in a specific activity, and how to upgrade/downgrade the activity is called “task analysis” in the OT world. It’s such an integral part of our profession, and what sets us OTs apart from other therapies, that my grad school program had an entire class designated to teach us this important skill. While it’s been a while since I’ve done a detailed task analysis for an activity like I did in grad school, it’s still a thought process I use everyday to determine my daily treatment activities.

For this particular activity, I love how the baby has to maintain an appropriate upright sitting posture, which is difficult for babies with lower tone and core strength to be able to do. In this picture, you see the baby stabilize sitting up by using the non-working arm as a support, thus helping to bear weight and strengthen this arm, while the working hand is reaching into the tray to retrieve toys. Notice that I didn’t say dominant and non-dominant hand because at this young age, there is no expectation of hand dominance being established. In fact, developmental speaking, babies are learning to use both hands collaboratively and interchangeably. Hand preference begins around ages 2-4, but hand dominance is not established until about 6 years of age. Visual processing and motor planning is addressed in this activity by looking at a target toy, planning how to approach the toy, and managing the retrieval of toy through the “web”. Fine motor strength and skill is addressed with the type of grasp and ability to maintain grasp until the toy is pulled out.

Here is a developmental milestone chart for your reference. Please remember that developmental milestones are just guidelines as each child is unique in developing at his/her own pace.

To upgrade this activity: -add more webbing -use smaller toys -use tools for retrieval (ex: tongs, scoop, chopsticks) -extend play opportunity by retrieving puzzle pieces or snap together toys

To downgrade this activity: -use less webbing -use less toys -use bigger sized toys,

In case you need some supplies to get you started, here are affiliated links for products that will get you started on creating your own version of this fun activity. All of the toys listed below can also be used in other creative play schemes as well. Please comment if you’d like more informational posts about task analysis, pediatric occupational therapy, or more developmental play ideas. Enjoy!

How Monkey Bars Help Your Child’s Brain

Photo Cred: Reader Report File Photo https://www.stuff.co.nz/

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I know that core strength and upper body strength and stability is the foundation for building fine motor strength and coordination skills for play, self-care, and academic skills (cutting and handwriting). The most popular question I get asked by parents of primary grade level students is in regards to their child’s poor handwriting. While there are many components that I consider as a therapist as to why a student is having difficulty with handwriting, including body positioning, access to appropriate writing tools and paper, learning abilities, I often find that handwriting legibility issues are related to decreased fine motor strength. The best way for kids to develop their fine motor strength is to develop their core strength and upper body strength through play.

This awesome article is by a teacher who breaks down the science behind building neural pathways of the a child’s brain through myelination. I love how she explains in in simple to understand terms. There is so much research highlighting the neuroplasticity of children’s brains…this is a fancy way of saying how the brain is sooo trainable. However, in order to train the brain, active and repetitive movement is needed, and oftentimes in the case for kids this is frequent engagement in gross motor play. The best quote of the article cites a passage in the book,  “A Moving Child is a Learning Child, ” which states “Climbing, hanging, swinging, and any other high-energy activities that build strength in his upper body and core muscles are vital precursors to fine motor skills”. (McCarthy, C. Connell, G. p.236).  YES!!! MONKEY BARS!!! One of my favorite playground equipment! I always made it a point to make sure both of my kids mastered the monkey bars at our home playset and at their school playground. I can get lost in breaking down an activity analysis of monkey bars, but in short, the benefits include: core strengthening, upper arms strengthening, reciprocal upper body coordination (advancing one arm after the other to the next rung), weight bearing (excellent for joint stability), proprioceptive input, and vestibular input.

Here is the link to the article, and as always, please leave a comment or question below on your thoughts of this article or my post.


Sleep Disorder Misdiagnosed For ADHD

Our son's Sleep Disorder was misdiagnosed as ADHD & a "behavior problem"
Photo Cred: Your Modern Family

With ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) diagnosis on the rise, this article took me by surprise and concerns me. Most parents understand the importance of sleep. We’ll read books about it, set up a bedtime routine, and pat ourselves on our backs when our kids are finally sleep trained. One of the first questions I’ll ask my preschool parents whom I’m interviewing for an evaluation is about their child’s sleep habits and routines since more research shows the impact of a child who is not getting enough sleep. However, what happens if you think your child is getting the right amount of sleep, but it’s their quality of sleep, or lack thereof, that is so bad that it impacts them functionally? Check out this informative article by Your Modern Family in which they describe how they realized their son had a sleep disorder that was masked by an ADHD diagnosis and behavioral issues.


Just a few more Prime Deals

Just when you thought Amazon was done with their deals marathon there’s just a couple more hidden treasures that I found that were worth sharing. These are both lightening and deals of the day, so grab them while you can. Remember these are great products for use either at home, school, or as gifts.

Look at how big and colorful these pieces are…perfect for little preschool hands. Work on shapes, color, and number recognition skills with your 3-5 yr olds with this great set. This is a lightening deal!
This is a balance bike for babies ages 10-20 months old. It’s such a cute and more functional alternative to the typical bulky ride on toys. This is also a lightening deal.
This is an amazing deal of the day for teachers. This adorable caddy holds 24 blunt edge scissors that have anti-microbial protection, and the best part is the $22.49 price…hurry and snag this set for your class!

Amazon Prime Day 2

Here are the lightening and deals of the day for Day 2 of this shopping bonanza. I’m curious to know what are your best/favorite prime day purchase, so please leave me a comment 😀 Again, I’ll be posting about anything that catches my eye as an OT, a mom, and a girly girl who love fashion and self-care…..here we go!!







This back pack has been on my personal wishlist, so with it only being $19.18 with an extra $5 off coupon, I have to get it. Never mind that I already have some cute backpack purses, but this is a sale I know I’ll regret passing up. This is a lightening deal, so hurry and snag it.


This wood block puzzle set is a lightening deal that must be grabbed ASAP. I love how it has shapes, colors, numbers, and stacking rings. Get a set your little and don’t miss this deal.
It’s so much fun and magical to watch children enter the world of pretend play when they are provided with the right toys to stoke that imagination. Here’s a lightening deal for an 11 pc set for $14.03.
Here’s another get pretend play set that every child needs. It’s amazing how kids know how to use each tool just from what they observe and experience from their doctor visits. This set is 41% off and the deal ends in 2 hrs, so get this 19 pc set for $23.42.

Amazon Prime Day!!

If there ever were a sale of all sales and a Christmas in July, then it would most definitely be called Amazon Prime Day. This year, Amazon decided to extend this crazy shopping timeframe from 1 to 2 days. This means more crazy (and not so crazy) deals that you may or may not have ever known you needed. I will admit that I’ve made several “not so needed” purchases, but most importantly, I’ve been given a chance to get some items that I’ve wanted or needed for my work. I also may have purchased some stocking stuffer gifts for Christmas….with these kind of deals, it was bound to happen.

This year, I have the opportunity to share my finds on this blog, Instagram, and Facebook. My hope in sharing these deals is that it can give folks ideas on different types of toys and therapy activities while saving them some money in the process. For the list of prime deals that I found, both lightening deals and deal of the day, please jump over to my “recommended products” page. I hope you’re able to find some great deals, and if you do, please feel free to comment and let me know what you got, so I can keep it in mind for next year. Happy shopping!!

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
Not an Amazon Prime member?? No worries, click on the link to get a free 30 day trial membership to access all of the Prime Day deals going on right now.

This set is not a part of the Prime Day Deals, but it’s such a great set for the price!!! I love that there are visual, tactile, and even auditory sensory components to this set.

This is a great deal for a Melissa and Doug set. All of their products stand true to durability and great developmental play opportunities. Join the waitlist and cross for fingers to get this great deal.

This is a great bounce ball and works on strength, endurance, and balance, plus, it’s just fun to play on. Grab yours now!

The green and blue combo is a cheaper price for some reason, so stock up and don’t forget to add some lids to your order so you can take your cups to-go mess free.

This image has an empty alt attribute
Give yourself some sanity by getting your kids to organize their junk, I mean stuff, in the car. I love the ipad holder in this!
This image has an empty alt attribute
I have this one and it’s awesome!! It even works with my pop socket in place. Just adjust your pop socket to be a little bit above the middle of the back of your phone, and then place the magnet under your phone cover on the bottom half of your phone….works perfectly!!
This image has an empty alt attribute
A great first musical light up toy for babies!
This image has an empty alt attribute
This is a lightening deal for this color set only. It would make a great gift set!
This image has an empty alt attribute
Turning pages in a book is a pre-reading milestone that babies can learn. Start off with chunky board books for little fingers to manage easily.
This image has an empty alt attribute
ok, this is a tricky one….once you click on the link look for the “view newer model” to get the cheaper price of $49.99 with prime free shipping. This is a great lightening deal so pick up one for yourself and as a gift for a friend.
This image has an empty alt attribute
Here is a great sensory filled combo if you have the space for it. This is a great lightening deal at $79.99.
This image has an empty alt attribute
Here is a fun way to encourage your picky eaters to finish a full meal. Make eating a game and everyone wins!!
This image has an empty alt attribute
Another board book set for babies to toddlers. This is lightening deal at 43% off for $14.21. Also, if you purchase both book sets together, then you can get an extra $5 off with promo code: PRIMEBOOKS19
This image has an empty alt attribute
Here’s a fun book for older kids (grades 1-3) that screams, “take me on a road trip”. This totally awesome book is in my cart right now.
This image has an empty alt attribute
This craft set is super cute and will make a great gift or stocking stuffer if you can save it until the holidays. It’s a lightening deal at 47% off so grab a couple sets so you don’t have any regrets 😉
This image has an empty alt attribute

This is not an a Prime Day sale item, but it is on sale right now. I’ve been eyeing this set for a while after seeing posts on it on Instagram…pretty, fun, and educational…can’t beat a combo like that. This is a nice change up from straight-edged tanagram pieces.
This image has an empty alt attribute
Another non-Prime Day sale item, but I’d grab a set or two of these real quick in case the price changes as Amazon is known to doing. At $12.90, this is a great deal!
This image has an empty alt attribute
Anyone who works as a teacher or therapist in the schools can totally use their own laminator. This is an amazing lightening deal at 63% off of it’s original price!!
This image has an empty alt attribute
A great game for older kids…think Tetris, but old school bc you get to manipulate the wooden pieces by hand to make them all fit perfectly into the frame. A great challenge for both older kids and adults!
This image has an empty alt attribute

Imagine all of the fun kids can have playing in this tent wonderland. It comes with a basketball hoop and ball pit too. My favorite part is how much crawling and strengthening kids are getting while having fun. This is a lightening deal.

This image has an empty alt attribute
Here are a couple of popular grips to encourage a tripod grasp. I’ve used both and they work well with specific kids…it’s trial and error to figure out which grip works best for each child.
This image has an empty alt attribute
This image has an empty alt attribute
A great toy for littles to work on bimanual hand coordination, color matching, and counting skills. We have toy like this at my preschool and it is super popular!! Again, another lightening deal!

Classroom Decorations Impacts Attention and Learning

Well, I hate to say it, but it’s that time during summer when the countdown back to school starts. Teachers start planning for classroom and bulletin board decorations and school supplies are purchased and organized. 

In all the years that I’ve been a school OT, I get asked every year for consultations about issues w/students’ attention levels. While I love, love, love a beautifully decorated classroom, the downside of an overly decorated classroom is decreased attention by the kids….and, who could blame them. I would enjoy admiring my new, fun-looking classroom too!

Here is an article from the Association For Psychological Science that addresses the issue regarding classroom decor and children’s attention. I know there are certain guidelines and directives that teachers must follow for having a certain number and specific content on their classroom posters, so I know teachers face an uphill battle when trying to meet requirements from admin while personalizing their classrooms into a fun learning environment. This article does not give specific guidelines on what qualifies as an overly decorated classroom; just that there is a relevance to attention levels. There is a helpful picture comparison of the rooms used in the study of a heavily decorated room and bare room to show the contrast. My hope for posting this info is to just give teachers some food for thought about classroom decor and the unanticipated implications it has on attention. 


My First Blog Post

Welcome and nice to meet you!

Hello!! Thank you so much for joining me on my first blog post. I’m so excited to share my passion for everything related to who I am….so, who am I?? Well, I’m a wife to an amazing husband, a mom to a vivacious teen daughter and spunky son, a follower of Christ, and the main reason that I even started my social media platform and blog….drum roll….you guessed it…an occupational therapist!!! Everything you see on my blog, my Facebook page, and Instagram page will be related to what I know, what I’ve learned, and what I love.

A little history about my professional life…I graduated with a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2002…seems like a lifetime ago…I began working with adults in inpatient rehab for 3 years before I switched to pediatric occupational therapy in a school setting. That switch was the hardest thing for me at that time, but it was a choice made to foster a better work schedule as my husband and I were planning on building our family. Every day for the first 6 months, I doubted my choice to switch from adults to kids…even in grad school, I swore that I wouldn’t work in pediatrics, and now here I was trying to figure out the workings of children. With the help of an awesome mentor, colleagues, and special education team, I was able to grow in confidence with my skills and now I can’t imagine not ever working with children. I’m so thankful for my medical rehab background and I still love keeping that part of brain challenged, so you may also see some posts related to adult therapy in the future.

I can’t wait to keep sharing my experiences, thoughts, and lessons learned a pediatric occupational therapist, mom, and wife. And, don’t be surprised if I sprinkle in tidbits about lifestyle trends and even about my spiritual journey because that all makes me who I am. Please follow me on FB and IG @otkatieyoon and subscribe to my emails for updated blog posts and happenings. See you soon!

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.