3 - 4 years finessing toilet training

3 - 4 years finessing toilet training

So you’ve got him out of nappies, now all you’ve got to do is teach him how to manage his toileting independently and you’ll be free!

While some children will be able to manage on their own by three years, others will continue to need your help to get their pants up and down, and to get on and off the toilet. Perfectionists may want help long after they need it, but in the end every child gets there in his own time.

Accidents are bound to happen – sometimes his clothing may slow him down (abandon all thoughts of overalls at this age unless you want to do a lot of washing), and other times, he’ll be so involved in a game he’ll delay taking a toilet break until it’s too late. Don’t stress about these little setbacks; after the initial excitement of being nappy-free, children often slide a little as the novelty wears off. Just persist with your methods – perhaps start gently reminding him again when you think it’s appropriate - and he will eventually do the right thing.

As he starts to move away from you into the outside world, make sure he knows how to find a toilet, and who to ask for help. Even successfully toilet-trained children often have accidents when they start a new routine, such as pre-school, because they’re not clear when they should go to the toilet, or even if they’re allowed to go.


Signs there could be a developmental problem include:


  • He isn’t reliably toilet-trained (daytime only) by the time he is four years.
  • He regresses to nappies after being toilet-trained.




All children are different and develop at different rates, so don’t be overly concerned if your pre-schooler is acquiring new skills at a different rate to those around him. But if you are worried about his development, or it seems to have stalled or be going backwards, talk to a health professional.




This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include SA Government’s Parenting and Child Health and ABC Parenting

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