speech delay and potty training

Speech Delay and Potty Training Children

Posted on
January 26, 2023
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Potty training takes time and patience. The link between speech delay and potty training may make it more challenging for your child. However, generally speaking, most children will be ready to start potty training between 18 months and 3 years. It is important to not pressure your child to try. They will show you the signs when they are ready to start potty training.

Signs your toddler wants to start potty training:

  • They want to become more independent.
  • Your child does not like being wet or dirty.
  • Your child shows they may need to go through fidgeting or moving somewhere quiet.
  • Your child may tell you while they are wetting themselves.

These are just some of the signs indicating they may be ready to begin potty training. Typically children by the age of 3 will be dry most days. They may have the occasional accident when they are excited or upset. By around the age of 4, your child will be dry during the day. However, your child may need extra time to stay dry throughout the night (NHS, 2022).

The link between speech delay and potty training - is there an impact? 

In order to be potty trained, your child will need to have an understanding of verbal communication, and follow simple instructions, gestures, or signs. Your child may find it difficult to understand and associate words with actions. For example, “pull your pants down” may require your child extra processing time before completing the task.

Can you potty train a nonverbal toddler?

Is your child able to let you know they need to use the toilet? If your child has a speech delay or is nonverbal, they may not be able to tell you they need to go to the potty. It is important, as a parent, to read their cues. You can support them in expressing their need to go to the toilet. This can be through verbally using words, gestures, or signs. For example, "do you need the potty?" and "let's use the potty".

Potty training is an imperative skill that your child will need to learn. A speech delay and potty training are interlinked, and often, it may affect your child's progress. However, let's try some of our tips below to support your toddler through learning this skill.

speech delay and potty training
How to make potty training motivating

How do you potty train a toddler with a language delayed - 10 Tips and tricks

Potty training is hard work for you and your child. It will take large amounts of practice - it can take up to a year! Here are some tips and tricks to help you on your journey with your child to master potty training:

  1. You will need to set aside time to practice potty training. It will require commitment, but once they have it, it is a skill for life!
  2. If your child attends school or nursery, ensure you all work together and keep in contact. So that your child is potty training consistently across all environments.
  3. Be consistent with your method of delivering toilet training! Practice your chosen method for 3 weeks to see if it works. The results will not be instant.
  4. Understand your child’s routine. It would be useful to spend 1-2 weeks creating a visual chart with the times of the day your child; eats, drinks, wets, soils, get changed and sleeps. Look at your data and see if there is a pattern. For example, they wet themselves 20 minutes after each meal. Use this as a guide to when you can attempt potty training, as this will have the most impact.
  5. Use praise whenever they use the potty and use a reward system! Use items e.g. toys, stickers, and treats as a reward for completing potty training. This will help to keep your child motivated and engaged.
  6. Use visual supports to help your child understand the vocabulary and actions. Use pictures at each stage of the potty routine. For example, “pull pants down” and “sit on the toilet”.
  7. Keep it positive! Do not punish your child if they have a potty accident. Model language to your child and narrative what has happened. For example, “you are wet” and take your child’s hand and lead them to the potty. If they are successful in following your instructions, give verbal praise and use their reward system. Even small steps are a win. Reward these behaviors e.g. pulling down their pants or sitting on the potty. It's a marathon, not a sprint!
  8. Books can be used to explain the potty routine. It can show toilet training in a fun and interesting way using characters and colorful pictures. Here are some book suggestions for potty training: Pirate Polly’s Potty Andrea Pinnington, Pirate Pete Potty Andrea Pinnington, I want my potty! Tony Ross, No More Nappies: A Potty Training Book Campbell Books & Marion Cocklico.
  9. Be patient. Your child may take a little longer to learn the skills. It may take weeks before your child begins to be successful. Go at your child’s pace and be patient. This will help them learn the skills and reduce the frustration of your child and yourself.
  10. Try not to compare your child’s progress with another child of the same age. Make it a fun process and create a relaxed environment.

Although potty training and speech delay children may take more time, it is important to not avoid the learning process. Have fun with it and make it an engaging activity for your child. You may find your child wants to use the toilet instead of the potty. A trainer seat that hooks onto your toilet, may allow your child to feel safer and more confident on the toilet. A step for your child to place their feet on may support a better position on the toilet. If your child is a boy, encouraging them to sit and wee, may be easier to transition when they need t go.

Do you need more support on potty training and speech delay?

Feel free to get in touch with our team of certified speech professionals. We're here to support you. Book a free call at this link, no strings attached.

Recommended Book for parents:

American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Toilet Training: Revised and Updated Edition: Revised and Updated Second Edition (2016)

Chloe Crudgington
Speech and Language Therapist
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