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Hi and welcome to “What Works Wednesdays” where we share a success story from one of our clinical cases. All names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the client and family. Our intent is to show readers how successful ABA can be.

Recently, we have been sharing success stories from our feeding clinic. Today, we are going to discuss a success story about using ABA to teach toilet training. We want you to meet Christopher. Christopher is an adorable little 2.5 year old. He has curly hair, talks up a storm, and he is ALL boy! He loves to run around the yard, drive his trucks, and wrestle. He does not have a disability of any sort.

His mother approached us in August because it was time to move up in the preschool. Christopher wouldn’t be turning 3 until November but the toddlers were moving up to the three-year old class. Christopher could not move up until he was toilet trained. His mother did not want to hold him back with the toddlers. How was she going to get him toilet trained in less than a month?

“That is easy!” We told her. “You can train him in a weekend.” She did not believe us. So, we sent her the toilet training protocol with instructions on how to teach toileting skills.

For toilet training, we approach it in several steps. First, diapers and pull ups must go. Throw a party and throw them away. Well, do not throw them all away because you will still need them for overnight. Diapers and pull ups keep children dry. Children need to feel wet if they have an accident. The discomfort of being wet is often all that is needed to stop future accidents.

Second, go out and buy fun underwear or panties. Take care to have your child help you pick them out. Christopher loved Transformers so they bought him some great underpants. Celebrate growing up and moving on to “big boy” or “big girl” underpants.

Third, plan the weekend where it will happen. While this can be done in one day, for some children it may take 2-3 days to fully get the routine down. We recommend that families select a holiday weekend to ensure success before going back to work and school.

Fourth, identify a fun reinforcer or reward that will be used ONLY when success is achieved on the toilet. This can be a book, food, movie, or other preferred object. You may also find it helpful to use a sticker chart to show successes.

On the day that toilet training starts, get your child out of bed as soon as she awakens. Take her straight to the bathroom. Do not pass go, do not collect $200….I digress. Have her sit for a few minutes reading fun stories or listening to music. If she urinates on the toilet, cheer wildly. Give her the reinforcer/reward. Put on the big girl panties and do not look back!

If she does not urinate, allow her to get up. Put on her big girl panties and remind her that she must urinate on the toilet or she will get wet. You will need to take her back to the toilet every 15 minutes until she urinates on the toilet.

If your child has an accident, do not get upset. If you can catch it early enough, carry her  to the toilet to finish on the toilet. Have her assist with the clean up. Again, do not make a big deal out of the accident. Simply say, “oops, pee pee goes in the toilet”.

Once your child urinates successfully, be sure to take her back to the toilet about every hour. Over time, your child will learn to tell you that she has to go. However, initially, you will need to remind her. Always watch for the potty dance. We have provided you with an example picture. Just know that it looks slightly different for each child. When you see the potty dance, take your child to the toilet. Do not ask, “do you have to go potty?” as children often say no because they are doing something fun.

A few weeks later, Christopher’s mother emailed to let us know that Christopher was toilet trained and moving up to the Three Year Old class! Congratulations Christopher. You rocked the toilet! And your mom is awesome too!

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