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Any Tips on Babysitting Kids Who Are Still Potty Training?

How do you babysit a boy and girl who are still in the process of potty training?
– Doriana*

Learning to use the toilet is a developmental milestone for kids, so a babysitter needs to be aware of what’s going on. The good news is it usually requires just a small adjustment in a child’s routine.

Being consistent with the parent’s potty training plan is the most important thing you can do. If the plan gets changed, the child will become confused and have more trouble staying on track. So you know how to communicate with the child, ask the parents which words they use to describe the process of toilet training and be sure to use the same words.

It’s helpful to pay attention to which stage a child is in. Kids who are just starting to learn to use the toilet will probably still wear diapers much of the time. Kids who have been learning to use the toilet for a while might only wear diapers when they’re sleeping or not wear them at all.

Here are some tips when it comes to potty training:

  • Ask parents if there are good times during the day to get their child to use the toilet. For example, kids often need to go between 15 minutes to an hour after eating or drinking. The parents will be able to tell you the best timing for their child.
  • Remind kids about potty training by asking them if they want to use the toilet at regular times throughout the day.
  • Kids can’t always tell when they need to use the toilet — or they get distracted by play or other activities. So watch for signs that a child might need to go, such as grabbing the front of a diaper or pants, or squatting, grunting, or straining as if starting to poop.
  • Lots of kids poop at regular times during the day. Ask parents when this might be so you can be prepared to put the child on the potty at that time.
  • Don’t force a child to use the toilet. Potty training shouldn’t be stressful for the child.
  • Stay calm and don’t scold if a child doesn’t make it to the potty on time. Accidents are part of the learning process for kids.
  • Lots of parents like to reward their kids with stickers or other small tokens as they learn to use the toilet. Regardless of what parents do, you should always praise a child for sitting on the potty — even if nothing happens!

These tips apply to boys and girls — there’s not much difference when it comes to teaching both to use the toilet. In fact, boys may feel more comfortable sitting to pee rather than standing at first, so ask the parents what they prefer.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: February 2013

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.