We believe no there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to toilet training. It is a completely unique experience and you should always stick to what works for you and your little one.
We’re passionate about providing parents with the support and advice they need to tackle toilet training their little ones, and we know every journey is different. And, hopefully by now, we might have even been able to help you navigate part of that journey; whether that’s through our how-to toilet training guide with parenting expert Laura Aimes, or helping you understand why children feel anxious to go to the toilet at school, and how you can help them manage those fears . Whatever the need, our Family Hub is designed to be a safe space for all parents to visit to find out a little bit more about the wonderful world of toilet training.
We want to open up the conversation on toilet training children who are neurodiverse, or have different educational or physical needs through stories from real parents who have shared their lived experiences. We also know that there are so many existing resources of brilliant information for anyone starting out their toilet training journey, including: charity websites, parenting forums and community groups. We’ll include the links to some useful websites at the end of this article.
We’re so pleased to share Lisa and Megan’s stories, who talk to us about how wonderfully creative and courageous neurodivergent children are and, just how much they can teach us so too. We believe that we should champion the many positive aspects of being neurodiverse, rather than focusing on any of the challenges, to help build a toilet training routine that works for them, and your family.
Lisa Parker, mother of Michael, Jaxon and Blake, tells us how much you can learn by letting your children be your tour guides:
“In 2017 I found myself suddenly navigating a completely different parenting journey to how I imagined my parenting life to be. My name is Lisa, and in 2017 I gave birth to identical twin boys; Michael & Jaxon. Although my twins were born prematurely and spent 10 days in neo natal care, we were pleased to welcome 2 healthy gorgeous little boys into this world. In 2019 our family was finally complete as we welcomed another gorgeous little boy, Blake.
In 2020 Michael & Jaxon were diagnosed with a rare chromosome deletion and autism spectrum disorder. Blake was also diagnosed Autistic in 2022. My boys have taught me so much on this journey, they show us how they see the world and they bring absolute joy to our little family. All 3 boys are nonverbal so we are faced with difficulties when it comes to communicating but we use other resources to help us communicate with them and they have their own little ways on how they communicate with us.
Toileting has been one of our many challenges on this journey, we had tried various types of potties, mini toilets and the toilet seats with steps/ladders that sit over your toilet, but nothing was working. I spent weeks researching strategies, speaking to professionals, and reaching out to other parent carers and took all their top tips on board and implemented them in our toileting routine, but I still struggled and, if I am honest, so did my boys. As they grew, the potty and mini toilet was becoming too small for them so the toilet seat and ladders became the only adaption that would make sense, even though they feared the big boys toilet.
My boys are our tour guides, we learn from them on this autism journey. One of the biggest lessons that I have learnt is that they will tell us when they are ready. However, to encourage positive toileting we allow our boys to take an object of their interest to the bathroom which helps them feel safe and less pressured. We would take a piece of play dough for example, which the boys love to roll around in their hands or even on their face as they sit on the toilet. This was huge milestone moment for us because Jaxon always feared the big boy's toilet, but not anymore.
Promoting a consistent routine also helps my boys, so that they have a sense of stability. We use symbols or picture cards of the toilet and use simple words such as “toilet time” when showing them the symbol so that they understand that it is time to go to the bathroom. As part of their toileting routine, we include personal hygiene and I show the symbol card for washing hands and again I use a simple phrase such as “wash hands” to help them understand what we are doing next. Washing their hands is their favourite part as they love water play, it is a win-win. Once we have completed our toileting routine, I offer my boys a little treat to celebrate their achievements, even if they did not do anything on the toilet, they still followed the routine successfully. Little rewards for little achievements brings big results in our family.
I like to keep a diary of their progress, promoting positive toileting with 3 nonverbal children can be difficult to keep track of, so a diary and chart pinned to the back of the bathroom door helps me to schedule our next toilet trip and keep track of their progress .”
Megan Cummings, mother of George, Freddie and Willow, tells us the importance of celebrating every success:
“Three children in, and toilet training has become a massive part of parenting for me and my husband. George and Freddie took to it quite easily and we cracked it within a week with them both.
Willow however, has been completely different. Willow was born with Down Syndrome so it takes a little extra help and encouragement for her to hit her milestones.
We’ve learnt so much from teaching her to use the toilet, and my number one tip for anyone trying to toilet train any child is to not feel like it's something you have to do by a certain age. Willow was still in nappies until she was maybe five or six years old, but we constantly felt the pressure to make sure it was done earlier, putting pressure on her to try before she was ready got us absolutely nowhere so we waited until she was ready herself and it was a breeze.
My second piece of advice is that there will always be accidents. I got so frustrated every time there was an accident but it’s natural, and accidents are all part of the process, so try not to make accidents a negative thing.
My third tip would be to always celebrate successes with praise and rewards. We've handed out so many stickers and sweeties to the children when we've been toilet training, as all children love a reward, if they know there is a reward then they will carry on making good progress.
My last tip would be to stay consistent - this is key throughout the toilet training journey. Stick to the routine, remind your child to use the toilet regularly, and be steadfast with your approach. Where possible try to avoid switching between nappies and underwear, as it can confuse your child and delay their progress.
Remember, every child is different, and toilet training can take time. Stay positive, provide support, and celebrate each step forward. With patience, encouragement, and these tips and tricks, you can help your child successfully navigate this important developmental milestone.”
"We know that there are many other stories and experiences out there, but we hope that this article has given you some useful tips to incorporate into your routine, or perhaps given you some thoughts to consider, whichever stage you’re at. Thank you to Lisa and Megan for sharing their wonderful stories! If you are looking for some additional information, we’ve listed some useful resources below.