Know when they are ready.

Your child might be ready any time from 18 months to four years. Knowing about using the toilet and being physically able to are two different things – brain connections that control bowel and bladder sometimes don’t mature fully until 3 years or older. They might be ready to try when they start being dry for longer periods of time. Other signs include talking about toilet stuff and watching you use the toilet (let them so they know it’s normal and everyone does it).

Get the timing right.

Pick a time when life is settled (so not when you’re moving or about to have a new baby). Summer can often be a good time to try as kids are wearing less to get on and off. Know where the closest public toilets are in your community you might need to get to them quickly.

Get a routine going.

Take note of your child’s patterns and start putting them on the toilet at regular times. Don’t leave them on there for more than a few minutes if nothing happens. Make a pleasant routine go alongside toileting, like a special book, song, finger plays. 

If they aren’t keen, but you know they need to go.

Be direct - “I think you need to go for a wee what will you use toilet or potty?  If they aren’t that keen at first you could try distract them with a book or song. Don’t force them to stay for long any longer than a few minutes when you are first introducing the idea. Try not to get angry when as soon as you put their nappy back on they fill it – just like everything new it takes time to learn and master.

Help them dress for success.

Avoid clothes with lots of domes, buttons or buckles - elastic waists are a lot easier and quicker to get up and down. Carry changes of clothes and plastic bags when you’re out and about.

Celebrate successes.

When/if they do go, give them lots of praise.Some kids also do well with rewards - so you could also try sticker charts or special treats. Keep in mind at night some kids just don’t wake when the need the toilet so it’s not something they can control.

Keep it positive.

Be patient - learning to use the toilet can be a long process and every child has accidents. Don’t freak out if your child goes back to having accidents - it might make them scared and not want to try any more. Stay positive and try not to make it a big deal – Fake it till you make it!

Be patient - night time dryness takes longer.

Staying dry at night can take longer – some kids still wear night nappies well into their primary school years.

  • Don’t cut out all drinks at bedtime. 
  • Do remind them to use the toilet before bed. 
  • It’s worth investing in a decent mattress protector. 

Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.

Need back-up? Family members might be willing to help but not sure what to do. . Be specific – “could you please bath/feed change/dress baby”

Feeling like a bad parent? Look around and check is there anything that could be dangerous to the kids? If not, relax – you’re doing OK!

Feel like you’re always on the go? Your kids are the most important thing - and they’re only young once. Think about what absolutely must be done now and what can wait.

Worried what others think of your parenting? What your kids think of you is what really matters! If you focus on them, you’re already doing a great job.

Feeling down? Talking with someone you trust can be the first step to finding help. Working out whether your feelings are temporary or more lasting is important. Depressed? Writing down your feelings in a daily diary will help you monitor whether it’s getting better or worse. This will also help you explain better if you go to your doctor.

Sick of yelling? Try singing your frustration instead. If you hop or jump at the same time, everyone gets the giggles — another great tension buster!

Feeling yuk? If no-one else can help with the kids, grab a pillow and blanket - set up camp in your lounge until you start to feel better

Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?

Stress over unpaid bills? Have a banking setup that automatically takes money out for your main bills first. Then you know what you have left to survive on.

Determined to stay calm?

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Putting it all together

SKIP’s approach is based on six things which children need from parents to help them grow into happy, capable adults.

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  • Love & warmth

  • Talking & listening

  • Guidance & understanding

  • A structured & secure world

  • Consistency & consequences

  • Limits & boundaries