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Typical Development of Toileting Skills

It is important to remember that all children develop at different rates. Below are some general guidelines for how most children develop toileting skills, as well as some of the reasons that parents might ask for help when it comes to toileting or potty training.

By 2 years of age, your child may:

  • Let you know when she has wet or soiled her diaper
  • Let you know when she needs to use the washroom

By 3 years of age, your child may:

  • Be able to use the toilet during the day with few accidents
  • Go to the toilet by himself, but still need help with wiping and clothes
  • Need reminders and/or diapers at night

By 4 years of age, your child may:

  • Be able to use the toilet during the day and night with almost no accidents
  • Need a little bit of help with wiping and some clothing

By 5 years of age, your child may:

  • Be fully independent
  • Note: It is still very common for children at this age to need reminders or diapers at night

When to Ask for Help

You may want to ask for help from an occupational therapist when:

  • Your child is extremely fearful or anxious of the toilet/potty
  • Your child has extreme emotional reactions around toileting, either at home or in public
  • Your child has physical difficulties making it hard to get on/off the toilet, wipe bum, or manage clothing
  • Your child has unusual behaviours around toileting such as smearing poop
  • Your child has developmental delays in one or more areas, such as motor skills, speech/language, thinking skills, social skills
  • You have been toilet training for months and have not made any progress

If you do have concerns about your child and would like some help, you can contact us and/or make a referral.

You should talk to your doctor when:

  • Your child has frequent constipation
  • Your child is holding poop in on purpose, causing constipation
  • You see any blood in the stool/urine
  • Your child is crying while passing stool/urine, or saying that it is painful