Teaching Twosday: Potty Training in the Classroom, Pt. 2


Last week, I started talking about potty training in the classroom! Since there’s so much that can be said about this topic, I decided to split up the things I’ve learned into two blog posts.

The first few tips were that (1) teachers need cooperation from parents, (2) you shouldn’t begin potty training until a child is ready, (3) girls generally train faster than boys, and children with older siblings generally train faster than only children, and finally that (4) one should stick to a routine when potty training! For elaboration on those four tips, check out the first blog entry in this two-part series. Here are the next few tips!

Be patient – expect progress, not perfection!

Teachers are often short on time and trying to do a number of things with a number of different children all at once. So, when you have to take a little time out to take someone to the bathroom, it can be easy to want to rush the process by doing everything for the child (taking off their pants and pull ups, telling them to hurry while they are sitting on the potty, giving them the right amount of tissue with which to wipe – or wiping for them). Try to refrain from doing these things. I have found that when I let my kids go through the entire process on their own (despite how long it can take) they become much more mature, confident, and independent. The key when letting a child potty train on his or her own is not to expect perfection. It’s okay if a child gets to the bathroom, gets a little urine on the floor, and pulls way too much tissue off of the tissue roll. Those are learning moments. Use those moments to tell them things like, “Remember to sit all the way back on the toilet next time!” or “We only need a small square or two of tissue!” They will remember those moments and begin to get better. This is also an excellent time to teach children to dress and undress themselves!

Don’t make children feel bad about their accidents, but do make them participate in their accident!

When a child does #1 or #2 in their pants, they (in some cases) already feel a little bit of guilt about having had the accident, now that they are aware that they are supposed to use the potty. So it isn’t necessary to make the child feel worse. However, you do want the child to see how uncomfortable and how undesirable it is to have accidents. While you are getting the items needed for clean-up, allow them to feel the sensation of wet clothes sticking to their skin. Ask them (nicely) if they think that it’s a good feeling when their pants and underwear are dirty. Usually they say no. Allow them to undress themselves, so that they get a sense of how yucky it makes them feel to have their pants heavy with wetness. Obviously at this point, if you see a child in real distress over the situation it is okay to step in and help them to undress. For some children, this approach won’t work – so you have to know your kids. But for a lot of my kids, they have stopped having accidents after the first one or two because they hated the way it made them feel. They began holding it and only relieving themselves when they are either on the toilet or back into a pull-up! I should note that in this situation it is never okay to make a child clean up his or her own accident. It is unsanitary for the child who does not have proper cleaning capabilities. And it is probably illegal and can certainly get you fired!

They won’t poop right away.

Actually, I do have one child who was not afraid to poop in the toilet immediately after beginning to potty train him. The rest of my kids, however, do not poop until they are well beyond the point of being comfortable with doing #1. In fact, I have even had some children poop in the toilet by accident, and it scared them so much that they totally regressed into not wanting to visit the toilet at all! Some children stop pooping at school when they begin potty training, and it is easy to assume that the child is pooping at home. But if that child isn’t pooping at home, either – their parents may assume that the child is pooping at school! Make sure you let parents know if your child is not pooping at school – and be sure to ask whether they are pooping at home!

This completes my little bit of potty training advice! Please be advised that I am not a potty training expert and am only writing from my personal experiences of the past few years. It is such a great feeling for a teacher when a child he/she has been working with finally begins to use the potty!

Good luck with your potty training efforts!



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