Potty training a child with a developmental delay

The most important thing to remember when potty training a child with a developmental delay is that they may not be potty trained until your child is much older than their peers. As a parent, you may want him to potty-learn sooner, but like any child potty-learner, he won’t learn it until he’s ready. You can start potty training your developmentally delayed child when he’s ready. Your little one may get stuck in the pre-potty step for a long time before he sees a success in training, but be patient. He will figure it out eventually.

Here are some pre-potty training ideas you can do with your child with a developmental delay.

-Teach him the words for urine and feces. You can use whatever words you want for this. During diaper changes, talk to him and be sure to tell him about “pee” and “poo poo.” If you’re not speaking yet, don’t worry, your receptive language (what you understand) may develop before your expressive language (what you can say).

-If he’s walking, take him to the bathroom when you go to the bathroom. Let him flush the toilet or sit on the toilet. If you don’t want to sit on the toilet or if you freak out, back off and have fun. Having him sit on the toilet when he’s not ready will only make potty training more difficult.

-Give him a potty or a potty. Don’t worry if you don’t use your potty anytime soon. Let him sit when he wants. You may not actually pee on the potty, but it does allow you to enjoy your potty and being a big kid.

Signs that your child is ready to start potty training.

– You can walk alone to the bathroom.

-He can take his pants off and on by himself.

-Can understand simple instructions

-He has regular bowel movements

-He is able to communicate his needs to you

-Is interested in wearing underwear

-He is not afraid of the bathroom

-Warns you when your diaper is wet or dirty or you remove diapers

Once you start showing signs that you are ready to begin potty training, take it easy and be patient. Take him to the potty and let him sit on the toilet or potty. He may not actually go to the potty, but as long as he’s happy let him sit on the potty for a while. He may like to sit on the potty like a big kid, but not understand what he’s supposed to do. Do not worry. It will get there eventually. Let him practice sitting on the potty once or twice a day. First thing in the morning and right after nap are good times to let him try to sit on the potty. If he is frustrated or you are feeling frustrated, take some time off.

It may take months before you are successful, but one day you will be pleasantly surprised when your developmentally delayed child finally urinates on the potty. The first success is always the most exciting, but don’t be surprised if the first success is not followed by another. When my developmentally delayed son started potty training and finally succeeded, I thought “eureka, he finally succeeded.” Only to be disappointed when he didn’t do it again for another two or three months. Keep plugging in and let her practice sitting on the potty. Over time, your success stories will become more frequent and you will eventually be fully potty trained.

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