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Potty Training a Developmentally Delayed Child

Potty Training a Developmentally Delayed Child
By Patty Hone

The most important thing you need to remember when potty training a developmentally delayed child is that potty training may not happen until your child is much older than his peers. As a parent, you may want him to potty train sooner, but like any potty training child, he isn't going to be potty trained until he is ready. You can start pre-potty training your developmentally delayed child whenever you are ready. Your little one might stay stuck in the pre-potty training step for a long time before you ever see a potty training success, but be patient. He will figure it out eventually.

Here are some pre-potty training ideas that you can do with your developmentally delayed child.

-Teach him the words for urine and feces. You can use whatever words you want to for this. During diaper changes talk to him and make sure to tell him about "pee pee" and "poo poo". If he isn't talking yet don't worry, his receptive language (what he understands) may develop before his expressive language (what he can say).

-If he is walking, take him to the bathroom when you go to the bathroom. Let him flush the toilet or sit on the toilet. If he doesn't want to sit on the toilet or if he gets scared, back off and go have some fun. Making him sit on the toilet when he isn't ready will just make potty training more difficult.

-Get him a potty seat or potty chair. Don't worry if he doesn't actually use his potty seat any time soon. Let him sit on it when he wants to. He may not actually pee on the potty but let him enjoy his potty seat and being a big boy.

Signs that your child is ready to start potty training.

- He can walk to the bathroom by himself

-He can take his pants on and off by himself

-He can understand simple instructions

-He has regular bowel movements

-He is capable of communicating his needs to you

-He takes an interest in wearing underwear

-He is not afraid of the toilet

-He lets you know when his diaper is wet or soiled or takes diapers off

Once he starts showing signs that he is ready to start potty training take things slowly and be patient. Take him to the potty and let him sit on the toilet or potty chair. He may not actually go on the potty but as long as he is happy let him sit on the potty for a while. He may enjoy sitting on the potty like a big boy but not actually get what he is supposed to be doing. Don't worry. He will get it eventually. Let him practice sitting on the potty once or twice a day. First thing in the morning and right after nap time are both good times to let him try sitting on the potty. If he gets frustrated or you get frustrated take some time off.

You may go through months before you have one success but one day you will be pleasantly surprised when your developmentally delayed child finally pees on the potty. The first success is always the most exciting but don't be surprised if the first success isn't followed by another. When my developmentally delayed child started potty training and finally had a success, I though "eureka, he's finally got it." Just to be disappointed when he didn't do it again for another two or three months. Keep plugging along and keep letting him practice sitting on the potty. In time his success stories will be more frequent and eventually he will be completely potty trained.

Patty Hone is a wife and mother to four kids. She is also the cofounder of Justmommies. For more tips visit Justmommies social networking for moms and be sure to check out Justmommies Baby Names at

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