Potty training can be a challenge for special educators and their older students. But with the right tools, tips and strategies, it doesn’t have to be too difficult.
When potty training becomes less stressful, it is much easier for students to achieve greater success on it. The key is to find ways to make the process less stressful and more predictable for students and staff. Here are five potty training tips for older special education students that can make the transition easier for both teacher and student. They are a great place to start if your students are struggling with the potty.
Tips to help students learn how to use the toilet
1. Create a predictable routine
Older students with disabilities may need more structure when it comes to using the toilet, so a regular potty schedule can help them get used to going at the same time every day. Make sure you stay consistent with the routine so they can anticipate when their next opportunity to use the bathroom will be.
2. Offer positive reinforcement
Encourage your student to use the potty by praising and rewarding small accomplishments, such as successfully completing a routine or staying dry longer. Rewards should be determined by the age and interests of the student as well as the class budget! Sometimes the most meaningful rewards are the cheapest or free!
3. Be consistent in expectations and rules
Ensure that all staff are aware of the expectations, rules and procedures set out for potty training and that they apply them consistently throughout the day. When everyone is on the same page, it takes away some of the anxiety students may feel when using the bathroom.
4. Provide clear instructions and visual cues
Show your students how to use the toilet step by step and use visual images or cues to help them remember the process. You may want to have a laminated visual aid to hang next to the toilet or on the back of the bathroom door for students to see.
5. Provide support and guidance
Be there for your students when you go potty and encourage them when they need extra motivation. If necessary, find a caregiver or family member who can be present and provide additional assistance throughout the day if support staff are not available.
What to do when special needs students struggle with potty training
It is important to be patient and supportive if your student is having trouble potty training. Try to identify any triggers that may make the process difficult, such as fear or anxiety.
Sometimes things like lighting the bathroom or flushing the toilet can make students anxious and make it difficult for them to use the bathroom. Ask your students what bothers them about the bathroom if they are afraid to enter the room.
You can also provide additional support and guidance by using a vanity chart or journal to track successes, rewards and failures.
Additionally, offer sensory breaks where your students can take a break from the toilet before trying again.
Finally, remember to ask for help if you need it; Talking to an occupational therapist or other specialists who have experience in this area can provide you with valuable insights and advice on how to best approach the situation. You want the experience to be a positive one for the student, so that means seeking help wherever it can be found.
Fun potty training reward ideas for older special education students
When your student is potty trained, reward them with something fun! Here are some reward ideas to consider:
• Stickers, books or other small toys
• A special snack or treat
• Certificate of recognition
• Quality time with the teacher (e.g. reading stories together)
These rewards can help motivate your students to stay on track with potty training and give them something fun to look forward to when they use the toilet properly.
It is important to remember that consistency is key; by consistently rewarding success, you’re more likely to see long-term progress on your student’s potty training journey.
These tips can help your special education students and you as their teacher make the potty transition easier and easier. With a little patience and practice, every student will eventually become successful at this important milestone.